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Completing that summer in New Jersey was my final ride, an exploration day at Jonathan Woods Preserve in Booton. While far from an all day epic or trail system worthy of driving to NJ from out of state, Jonathan Woods embodied a bit of that raw old school unimproved trail riding, where horse paths have been reclaimed by the forests and converted to singletrack through time rather than intentional construction. Riding several hours in NJ without seeing another hiker or rider is next to impossible in the most densely populated state, however at Jonathan Woods, you can really forget yourself and enjoy getting lost in a peaceful woodland just 30 miles west of New York.

Rolling through the thicket is hardly a place to claim a KOM on Strava. Instead anyone willing to roll these trails will be reminded of the days where an Avocet Speedometer was considered advanced technology on a steel Fat Chance. For those looking to really be aggressive, a Rockshox Judy would turn the trail chatter into slightly less trail chatter when perfectly lubed and tuned. Long before races, KOMs, bike parks, and shuttles, riding was very much about the simple adventures and joys of getting lost in nature.

Jonathan Woods offered unlikely surprises like this area of tall pines where New Jersey Oaks and Maples meet Vermont pines or these granite rocks were stacked tall by the Ogre of Ogden on his way to a local dinner for morning corn beef hash and buttermilk pancakes.

To clock some decent weekend miles, I parked at the Tourne County Park and looped the Tourne, followed the river, and climbed up Glen Beach to the entrance of Jonathan Woods off Kitchell Rd.

My understanding is these trails were really hammered by Sandy back in 2012 and took quite a while for local maintainers to clear all the downed trees. With the Morris Country Park service now overseeing resource management, a master plan for future development should be on the table for public discussion in October. Toning down the raw elements, constructing some new singletrack in accordance with modern standards for sustainability, and preserving the natural woodland feel could easily launch this area on to the top of my riding list. Linking Jonathan Woods to Split Rock would open up endless opportunities for exploration and longer rides without riding riding in circles on a postage stamp. Lewis Morris and the Tourne have some great trails, however the limited size of these parks, usually means repeating the same trails or finding yourself back at the start after 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, this little diamond in the rough offers a little local adventure with some fun technical moments following the ridgeline along the red trail shortly before the Hog Pen Rocks.

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Beyond the inherent difficulties of spending an extended time with the folks when you hit the big 40, finally unpacking boxes dating back to my college years, high school, and from our first apartment in Germany was a bit of a trip down memory lane. Selling my two old jeeps also weighed heavy on the heart, however cleaning out the garage as a step towards helping them along the road to retirement was long overdue. At this point, time really is a limited resource and wrenching on old jeeps is no longer a hobby with any sort of high priorities on my list.

The 1962 CJ5 required a new thermostat, cooling system bleed, a thorough cleaning, and a new starter after the seized flywheel resulted in starter shaft cracking on the first attempt to get her running. Really the work was a long day in the high humidity and the mosquitoes presented more frustration than undoing rusted bolts. A real nice gentlemen moving from NY to FL took the Jeep along with him and became hooked on wrenching within the first week of ownership. Such a great classic deserves a loving home instead of 150 year old damp Jersey garage.

Saying goodbye to my 1982 CJ7 was much harder as I had invested so much time and effort into the restoration and enjoyed so many trips with the lady and dog in the desert around Las Cruces, NM. At the same time, memories of breaking u-joints, sheared drive shafts, hours of tinkering with the old carb, and popped head gaskets serve as a reminder that beyond nostalgia old jeeps are nothing more than old machines. With dreams of taking to the road in an RV or finally buying a small place in Durango, CO, I can safely say my classic car days are most likely over for good.

 

 

 

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After 24 hours of driving with a few hours sleep at a random casino in Black Hawk, the nearly 9000 ft of elevation, and the absolute worst hotel coffee imaginable, the first ride of the trip was more of a warm up than an epic. Clocking just under 12 miles, this was my first foray into the Nederland, CO trails, known as the West Magnolia Trail System. Through the years, I have managed to hit many of the front range riding spots such as Apex, Horsetooth, Betasso, Deer Park, and White Ranch, so the last areas left on my list were Magnolia, Centennial Cone, and Golden Gate.

Reachable directly from downtown Nederland, the Magnolia Trail System is just a short pedal up the Eldora Ski Mountain Access Rd and starts directly before the school. A nice short punchy climb up Clear Cut introduces the system with a rocky start that promises more technical to come, however once up top on the ridge, the trails turn incredibly fast with berms and the logical planning of a mountain bike specific system. Getting lost is nearly impossible as the system is rather small, well mapped on Trailforks, and features relatively clear signs posted at parking areas. My only complaint is the forest service trails are marked with numbers such as 9304 instead of names which correspond to trail names given on Trailforks or MTBProject. More than once, I picked a trail without looking at Trailforks thereby ending up on short grunty climbs with loose gravel. Unfortunately, the most well known trail, School Bus was left unexplored to ensure a timely return back at the truck before the towering thunderclouds let loose their afternoon deluge.

 

 

The plan to hit Fruita for an evening ride was also washed away by relentless showers and thunderstorms, but we did manage to check out Powderhorn Ski Area outside of Grand Junction along with the Colorado National Monument. Fortunately, Reno and Lake Tahoe promise perfect weather for the weekend.

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