Third leg Thrice Across Jersey on Rails, Roads and Google Trails

46 miles today, for a total of 123 since leaving the Atlantic at Coney Island.

Today’s bike destination was Hackettstown, NJ. I picked Hackettstown because it was the furthest west you can go and still take a train back to New York City – the end of the NJ Transit Morris and Essex line. There was one NYC event that I could not skip for my bike trip- the Riverkeeper Fishermen’s Ball benefit, where the Pace Environmental Law Program was an honoree. So I booked an AirBnb for the night, figuring I could hop a mid afternoon train for the evening event. But when I checked the schedulle it turned out that the last train that would get me to the city on time left at noon.

That meant getting a really early start to try to arrive at 11 to leave time to shower and change and walk to the station. So I left David’s at six am and rode west through the sleepy suburban hills of Verona and Hanover, following the track the Google maps bicycle routing function laid out for me.

But stoplights, wrong turns, the maze of little roads Google sent me on, and an interminable hill out of Morristown slowed me down, and I began to seriously doubt I would make that noon train. But then after a near head on collision with a car drifting across the center lane while I zoomed down the backside of the hill, and a missed left turn, Google showed me to the Black River Swamp bike path, which meant some flat uninterrupted miles slowed only by the soft path and occasional mud slicks. Suburban houses gave way to woods and horse farms, with the scent of spring blossoms in the air.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much of today’s ride ended up being on bike paths maybe as much as ten miles worth. 

I have mixed feelings about the Google bike mapping function though. Google has a knack for finding routes on little roads with no traffic – and for finding bike paths you never would have known about.  You find yourself heading down a suburban cul de sac with no apparent outlet and then there’s a bike path at the dead end. Or the bike path drops you off at a high school parking lot, and Google seems to think you should ride across the basketball courts to get to the continuation of the bike path. 

 I transfer the Google routes onto my Runtastic bike app because I find the Google voice directions really confusing, and I don’t want to waste the phone battery. So I try to navigate the thick gray line that the Google route lays over the Runtastic base map, obliterating road names. Sometimes I have to ride a few hundred yards past an intersection to figure out whether I am still on the right track.


Then there are the times the Google bike routing function goes really wrong. Try mapping the route to the top of Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park, and the Goog will try to send you up the Appalachian Trail. After some pleasant miles on the Black River trail and the Columbia bike trail, Google tried to send me up Schooleys Mountain on a hiking trail called “Patriots Path.”  

  Google wanted me to bike up this on a road bike! The alternative was Schooley’s Mountain Road – which earned its name, with a steep 500 foot climb. But the downhill on the other side dropped me into Hackettstown at eleven am, right on time.

The Everett House B&B looks just like a B&B should, and was a sight for a sore cyclists eyes. Especially with a fridge full of snacks and a note from the hostess that I should help myself to any food in the place.

  I ate, showered, changed, hopped on the noon train to Hoboken and graded most of my environmental law final exams while the same New Jersey landscape blurred past outside the window. I met Robin at the Riverkeeper event, delivered my remarks without a hitch, and we were all treated to Debbie Harry (recipient of the Riverkeeper Big Fish award) giving an inpromptu performance.

Robin is driving me back to Hackettstown and my bike journey, so that makes it three Jersey crossings today, by trails, rails, and roads.


2 thoughts on “Third leg Thrice Across Jersey on Rails, Roads and Google Trails

  1. Wow Karl-you tackled some big hills! I used to live in Randolph and biked that area often. When I was riding With a group we could hit the high 30s on the back side of Schooley. Love reading about your adventures.


  2. Hi Karl-that last comment was from me. Somehow my WordPress profile displayed as Melissa. All fixed now. (If you haven’t seen her photos you should take a look). Please delete both comments- it’s a little weird to have posted as Melissa. Thanks! Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

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