To the Jersey Shore and back — a summer bike bucket list item DONE

We biked 78 miles and splashed around in the ocean.

No food allowed on this beach, so the seagulls aren’t quite as aggressive as those in Ocean City.

Where to ride our bikes? That’s a regular question in my house because we don’t like riding the same route time after time. (Besides, what would I blog about?)

The 2019 list included an interesting challenge: to the Jersey Shore and back in one day.

Now I’ve biked it one way (to Ocean Grove, lousy route), almost there (to Allaire State Park) and even one way and partway back. But the Brit never had. And this was his goal.

So when some friends said they’d be in Sea Girt this weekend and wasn’t it time we got our annual dip in the ocean, we knew it was time.

So off we headed on Sunday morning. This would be roughly 38 miles each way, mostly on quiet roads but also on a bit of trail.

We knew the start of our route well — we use it for some of our eastward explorations (it helped get us to Freehold when we went looking for Bruce Springsteen’s childhood homes, for example). We had tested out half of the route earlier in the year, as we geared up for our P2P ride (read about part 1 and part 2 here). Then we tried out to Allaire and back (a different route from the one I’d done in the past; pro tip: aim for the road with the campsites and that connects to the trail — much nicer.)

Sunday’s route was a modification of my original Google Maps route, using Lemon Road near the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell that I swear avoided a hill. Thumbs up! Not, of course, that we didn’t arrive in Sea Girt sweaty and famished.

And of course we spent more time with our friends than we had (rather ambitiously) planned we would. So it was 4:30 pm or a bit later when we started home, knowing daylight would quickly fade about three hours later. But fueled by an eggplant parm sub and, later, 20 or more ounces of Gatorade chugged as fast as I could, we made it home before dark.

The trail along the route is the Edgar Felix Memorial Bikeway connects Allaire State Park and Manasquan, next to Sea Girt. It is part of what was once envisioned as The Capital to Coast Trail, an off-road route connecting Trenton with the Jersey Shore. It sadly seems to have died, not withstanding that Howell has talked about extending the trail from Allaire to the Manasquan reservoir.

That said, there are still signs and even this map of the vision:

Why not do a mix of road and trail in the interim, as the East Coast Greenway does? Much of the route we took could work, if you can accept quiet roads with no shoulder/bike lane.

But it does make me appreciate projects like the East Coast Greenway even more. Imagine how much much harder it is to create a 3,000-mile route! And yet there is more and more progress.

We haven’t been super diligent in our training during this hot and humid summer, so we pulled off this ride on the strength of regular 5-mile rides to work and gym time (me) and tennis (him). And while it’s good to know we can do this — after all, we’ll have a 70-mile day during our 400-mile ride down the Florida coast with the East Coast Greenway in November –we were definitely dragging at work today!

Author: alliumstozinnias

A gardener (along with the Brit) who has discovered there is more than hybrid tomatoes. And a cyclist.

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