Tips for NJ Pines Rides

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BinDerSmokDat
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Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:39 pm

Below I've compiled a primer for riding in the Pines.
This is the information that regular Pines riders all try to convey to fellow riders who come out, so they can better their skills, get the maximum enjoyment from a ride and most importantly, stay safe.

Attendees to the various Pines rides have a wide range of off-roading experience.
Even someone who has experience Uraling on gravel roads and rocky trails in their home locale, may find the Pines offers new kinds of challenges. Or maybe they have extensive off-road experience but not in large groups.
Other times people message me with questions, particularly if it is their first ride.
I thought by sharing this info here, people can get familiar with the information and concepts in advance so that way they aren't trying to recall in the moment how to deal with specific challenges.
I also didn't want to clog up the Pines ride post(s) with all of this; I can just refer people here in the future.

In some cases, like modifications, tire selection or apparel, you need this info in advance; it's too late once we hit the trail.

None of this is chiseled on a stone tablet anywhere, except the safety stuff.
We want to end the ride with the same amount of riders we left with.
Other than that the main rule is to go out and have fun.
We all have mishaps be they mechanical ones or lapses in good judgement.
We always pitch in as a group to get things fixed or at the very least get everyone and their bikes back to camp.
None of this is aimed at anyone in particular.
If you asked me "Who did dumb thing X?" I'd say "Which time? It's happened a dozen times."
(More than a few of the times it was me. :oops: )

I'm not an expert. I have learned much of this the hard way; sometimes the lesson didn't stick and I get to learn it all over again. :P
I kept modification talk to the minimum; just the simple removal/addition of small things to make life on the trail easier.
Take the below information as a baseline and then apply your own critical thinking as to how it pertains to you, your rig and your skills.

Apparel- This is off-roading. There are stumps, sticker bushes, rocks, trees, animals, water crossings, etc. Equipment that works on pavement on a Harley Glide going to Starbucks can be lacking off-road. It is tempting to go with a short sleeved shirt and open face helmet, especially on the hotter rides and some guys do. But you might be hating life if we go down a trail lined with sticker bushes or a branch whaps you across the lip or eye.
Wear boots. At a minimum something over the ankle. Ideally combat boots, work boots or MX boots. A few of us wear knee high rubber boots. While not the ultimate in protection, they offer more than you think and keep your feet dry when walking the water holes and unsticking bikes. Waterproof is nice on the colder rides and highly suggested on the January ride.
Gloves with some sort of protection on the back, they will save your fingers, especially if you don’t have bark busters mounted.
Consider some sort of padded riding jacket and pants, full face helmet, eye protection and armored gloves. Think dual sport or MX style stuff.
If you have a monkey, I strongly suggest they dress MORE protected than the rider. They can’t move around and duck as much as the rider can, they sit lower and are more likely to get splashed or catch a branch to the face. I recommend a full-face helmet, jacket and gloves for them.
Good gear can be the difference between continuing on or ending your day early...or worse.

Farkles- If you have anything bolted to the bike that is NOT essential for riding consider removing it. We sometimes get wet, dirty and things rattle/fall off with all of the vibration. Things that fall into this category, radios, car-type GPS (not waterproof) in weak clip mounts, bells, whistles, flags, horns, ammo cans not well secured, sidecar carpet kits, armrests, tools, shovels, etc. Leave your handlebar mounted Soviet-era combination sextant/astrolabe at home.

Flow- Part of the fun of the JDH is having so many riders and bikes in one spot.
We rarely get to spend this much time with other Ural riders, gabbing and checking out rigs.
But we also have people who came to ride, sometimes traveling long distances to do so.
To balance things out, we try to keep the ride part moving along so that nobody feels like they didn't get enough riding in.
Try to respect that as we poke and prod people to mount up and get back to riding.
Keep your gear on unless the ride leader and/or sweep say it's time for a break.
When we stop for a break, do the necessary things before you start to socialize.
Ditch that extra layer, light up that cigarette, go pee and check that loose bolt before you get caught up gabbing.
I guarantee there will be plenty of time to discuss all the differences between Ted's 2004 and Eugene's new 2021.
And nobody has ever complained about a lack of camaraderie and discourse once the fire is roaring and beer is flowing back at camp.

Fluids- If you are close to an oil/gearbox/final drive change before the ride, consider holding off. We will sometimes have to cross water. When a hot gearbox or final drive hits cool water, a vacuum is created. This can draw water into the vents or bad seals, especially if the bike is submerged for a few minutes until we get the bike out. Also, off-roading can really cook your engine oil. Think high revs in sand and mud with low ground speeds. Better to change out all the fluids AFTER a ride. Do however check all fluids and top off if needed BEFORE the ride.

Horses- The Pines are a Mecca for horseback riding. When we encounter horses on the trail, we bring the line of bikes to a stop. The riders will then move off the trail and wave us through. We proceed slowly and quietly as not to spook the horses. Slow, steady and no throttle blipping or revving. We are Soviet Steeds so we know better than most people what it's like to be astride a temperamental beast. ;)

Maintenance/Inspection- The trails WILL find the weak spot of your bike and then make it FAIL. Check bolts, especially swing arm and pinch bolts. Check for cracked frames, swingarms and rims. That electrical gremlin that pops up occasionally? Sort it out before you are trying to start a drowned bike 12 miles from the nearest pavement. Exhaust hardware should be checked for tightness. Rotate any pipe clamps so that the clamp part is on top of the pipe and presents a smaller target to getting snagged. Check sidecar struts, doglegs and the two steel strap plates that mount the sidecar to the frame at the front. Grab your wheels, especially the sidecar wheel at 9 and 3 o'clock, then wiggle hard. If loose, check bearing tightness, spoke tightness and for sidecar wheel, the spacer inside the sidecar hub.

Monkeys- Make sure your monkey is prepared physically and mentally for off-roading. (See Apparel, Water/Mud/Obstacle Crossings) If your monkey has only ever been a monkey on pavement or is gun shy about getting dirty/wet/muddy, explain to them the risks. Monkeys are subject to some pretty jarring forces off-road. Because they sit on their butts with their legs forward they can’t absorb the bouncing and landings like the rider can. Shorter monkeys whose legs don’t reach the footrest will not be able to brace themselves. The grab bar is thin and doesn’t always allow for the best grip without modification/gloves. Generally speaking, children and dogs don’t do well off-road and I’d highly suggest not bringing them. A monkey also may have to jump out for certain obstacles and ideally they would help push as they are the closest person to you when you bog down.

Narrow Trails- We try to stick to stuff that is two track. Ideal trails are just the width of a Ural. But occasionally things may be more overgrown than the last time we came down a trail or we’re human and take a wrong turn (There are no street signs in the Pines.) Even when a trail is wide enough for the bike, branches may overhang or the best line may put you or the monkey into the shrubs. For that reason, consider removing the hack and bike windshields before the ride if you don’t want them scratched. Ditto for the left mirror, it can get whacked by close branches, the right mirror is usually safe. If you are very particular about getting some stripes on your paint, consider applying some shelf liner or clear vinyl protection sheets to the sidecar nose and hack fender.

Nourishment and Drinks- We eat a hearty breakfast before we head out and eat a hearty dinner when we get back. Lunch is on the trail so bring snacks or a sandwich. Bring plenty of fluids, especially if the weather is hot. Some of those fluids should be bottled water. If you have to w@$# a cut or need to rinse dirt out of your eye, you'll want water and not Red Bull.

Obstacle Crossings- There will be times when a patch of mud, water or some other obstacle requires some thought or a group effort. Sometimes it can be a series of obstacles one after the other. The ride leader will stop and call up the whole group to discuss the obstacle and the best line through.
In some cases the obstacle is actually several water holes or mud crossings. In those cases let the rig ahead of you clear all of the obstacles before proceeding, otherwise they may bog down and you will be forced to stop and get stuck too.
At times mud or water is so deep that the best course of action is for the monkey to get out and walk around while the rider navigates the obstacle solo.
There are occasionally small trees that come down across the trail. They range in size from a few inches across to about 5-6”. Depending on how they lay and the terrain, we usually just drive over them. Just slow down a little and then give the bike some throttle just as you approach. This unloads the front end and lets it go up and over a little easier. If the log is big enough or if it is crossing the trail more than a few inches off the ground, we stop and move/cut it.
Note: While every rider is ultimately responsible for choosing their own line, take the guidance of ride leaders under serious consideration. They are trying to give you the best info to succeed and have made the very mistakes they are trying to help you avoid.
Scenario: the ride leader and sweeper carefully walk a long water crossing, identifying the shallowest line to take. Several riders made it through but someone decided that the proposed line looked too deep so went left instead of right. Their bike is swallowed up in a deep rut they didn’t know was there and we spend a lot of time draining carbs and pulling spark plugs.
Another scenario: A muddy trail winds back and forth between trees. The rig must follow a very specific line to avoid getting stuck. The ride leader recommends NOT using 2WD because it will not allow tight enough turns. A rider decides that 2WD is necessary so engages it and then can’t make a tight turn, jackknifing the rig across the trail and requiring winching out.
In neither situation is anyone hurt but a lot of guys were left standing around not riding while things were remedied.

Raised Breathers- It is a good idea to raise the breather venting on the FD, the carbs and to a lesser extent the gearbox so that when you cross water you aren’t getting water inside. The gearbox vent is less critical than the Final Drive as the gearbox vent sits higher and holds a higher volume of oil. If you got a few ounces of water in the gearbox, it wouldn’t hurt anything too bad and you probably wouldn’t even know it until you went to drain it and saw the cream-colored oil. But in the FD there is precious little oil to start with and little space inside. An ounce of two of water here and the FD would puke out the vent and or worn seals, possibly coating your rear brakes in oily gunk.
To raise the FD breather on the older bikes, you pull the dipstick and install an M14 x 1.5 barbed fitting in its place. If you can’t get hold of a metric barbed fitting, go to a hardware store and get a nylon barbed fitting that is close (bring a drain plug with you to compare), 9/16” ideally but 1/2” will work. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape and install. Do NOT use a brass NPT fitting! It will seem like it fits due to the taper at the start of the threads, but it will damage the threads in the FD when cinched down.
Attach some hose to the barbed fitting (hose clamp optional, a zip tie pulled tight works too) running it up and under the seat or into the rear brake light mount. Point the end of the hose down and rearward so it can’t collect rain. You could put a filter on it but really not necessary. Leave enough slack for articulation, you don’t want the hose ripping off and defeating the purpose.
Same for the gearbox but the size of the vent escapes me at the moment. I find the gearbox is not as necessary, mine isn’t currently vented and I’ve rarely found water in it.
The stock carb breathers are small black caps, about the size of tire valve caps, found on the carburetors. For these just pull the caps and attach the appropriate sized hose. Route the hose somewhere up under the tank or seat. Again, a filter isn’t necessary, just rout them so they face rearward and down so they don’t ingest rain. This vent equalizes the pressure in the carb bowls and a good splashing in deep water will sometimes allow water to enter. I'm not sure what is needed on the fuel injected bikes, but ask around about venting the throttle bodies.

Recovery- If someone gets stuck, we all help push them out. 90% of the time 1-2 people pushing/pulling can free a bike. Usually it's the guys immediately in front of and behind the stuck rig that can get to the person first. So if someone bogs down and you are close, lend a hand. Next time it might be you. If winching or a strap is needed, the appropriate people get involved. You don't need to bring a strap, winch, etc, we'll have someone that can help you out. If you get stuck, especially in mud or water, etiquette dictates you get out your own strap, if you have one, so the good Samaritan pulling you out isn't stuck with a wet strap in his trunk. If the water is deep, someone might toss you a strap, but it's up to you to reach into the murky water up to your shoulder and hook it up. :mrgreen:

Ride order- Occasionally we'll suggest that certain people ride in certain order. For example, we may put an experienced guy right in front of the sweep rider so we have someone skilled back there to help him out. Ditto having an experienced person behind the leader, who knows when to hang back because of sand or an upcoming turn. We might stagger new riders so they are following someone more experienced and can pick up pointers as they ride. We might stagger 1WD and 2WD bikes so there is a 2WD that made an obstacle in front of the 1WD that might need a tug. If someone says "follow Ted" don't take it as a slight, their just trying to keep the ride flowing smoothly.

Sand- It makes up 99% of the surfaces ridden on a Pines ride. There aren’t many gravel or hard pack roads. It ranges from coarse sand with some organic matter mixed in that makes it somewhat firm to red clay sand to white sugar sand and everything in between. A good visual tip that deep sand is coming is to look for wider open areas (less organic matter mixing with sand) and the color of the trail changing from dirty sand to white (pure sugar sand). The lighter the color of the ground the more sugar sand.
When you feel your bike bogging down and/or it feels like it is losing power, you are in loose sand. If you are still making progress, just keep on the throttle until you are through. If you are losing momentum, downshift and give it throttle. Note the engine will be revving higher than usual, but as long as you are making progress, maintain the revs. Do NOT panic and roll off the throttle. Remember nobody has ever gotten through deep sand on a Ural by applying LESS power. If you can shift to 2WD on the fly, that may help, but still kick down a gear and keep the revs up. Do NOT stop to engage 2WD if you are slowing down. If you are barely making headway WITH momentum, trying to regain momentum from a dead stop is much harder.
If you should lose momentum in the sand and come to a stop, get off the throttle immediately. You can try engaging 2WD and going again, but if that still doesn’t do it, stop and wait for help. Do NOT keep spinning your wheels. You will only dig the bike deeper and make the stuck worse. It is much easier for people to help push/pull you out and get you moving if you aren’t sunk up to the pontoons in sand.
Also, your own front tire and the bikes ahead of you throw up a fair amount of sand, so wear eye protection.

Shocks-If you have cranked up the preload on your shocks to minimize bike movement on pavement, you will be hating life on the JDH. There are washboard roads, ruts and whoop-dee-doos for miles. Consider running shocks at the mid-point or a little less. This is especially true of the sidecar shock because of its tendency to springboard when striking obstacles. I would not run the font or rears at the lowest setting, as you don’t want to bottom out.
If you have 5-way preload, set them at 2-3 if you have 3-way, set them at 2.

Spacing- Don’t follow the bike in front of you too closely. This is to your benefit as well as his. Different riders and rigs handle terrain differently. If he encounters deep sand or mud and slows down and you ride up his backside, you may have to slow down so much that you can’t get started again. Or he may get stuck going through a water hole, leaving you with nowhere to go but to stop in the water too. Brakes don't work as well in sand and more than once someone has clipped the bike in front of them because of following too closely/not maintaining distance. Something Rider A glides right over, Rider B has to downshift to maintain momentum and Rider C clips him. The exact distance is hard to gauge and changes with the trail surface. But generally speaking if the guy in front of you is in sight and getting bigger you are gaining on him, slow down. If the bike in front of you is getting smaller or you can’t see him, speed up a little.
If you are directly behind the ride leader be aware that like everyone else, he is watching the terrain ahead and the guy behind him. But he also is trying to figure out where the group is AND where it is going. He's also looking out for oncoming traffic around every curve. If you are following the ride leader, give him a little more space than you would any other rider. He may have to slow down to consult the GPS, he may race ahead to figure out if the next turn is the one he is looking for or he may need to give the “turn-around” sign because a turn was missed. Keep him in sight, give him a longer lead and maintain a steady pace.

Stopping- Every stop isn’t a break. There will be times when the trail leader will stop and have to walk an obstacle to see if it is passable or what the best line of approach is or consult with the sweeper on which route to take. If you see things coming to a stop, keep right as best you can, stay on your bike and keep your gear on. The ride leader will wave people up if there needs to be discussion about how to proceed. But in most cases, he’ll figure out the best line and relay that to the bikes behind him who pass it along. If it is a longer stop for a break, you’ll be informed. Pull off the trail and leave room for other vehicles to get by.

The Line- The trails will have tracks or ruts from larger vehicles most of the time. The best line on most trails is largely a matter of preference. You can either straddle the center hump or put the front tire on the center hump and the right on the edge of the trail. They both offer advantages.
The tracks can be loose sand or mud, so sometimes keeping the bike on the center hump provides more traction.
It can also be difficult to keep the bike on the center hump, especially if the right side is very rutted and grabbing the hack wheel.
Straddling the center hump can be easier from a control standpoint but if you come across some ruts, things like low exhausts can get tagged. It can also be much harder to steer out of the ruts quickly.
In general, keep the bike on the high ground when approaching water, sand, mud and obstacles.
That may mean the hack wheel is submerged in a water hole, but at least the bike is high and dry...and still running.
Keeping the bike on the high ground can feel a little scary in off-camber situations but just remember that it is better to lean right where the bike acts like an outrigger than to lean too far left and have the sidecar come up.
In off-camber spots where you just can't put the bike on the highest part of the trail, put your butt onto the edge of the sidecar to weigh it down.
Sometimes taking the best line means putting the monkey in water/bushes/tree branches.
Make sure they are aware that you may have to do that BEFORE the ride, especially if you want a happy marriage/relationship when the ride is over.
Get down on your hands and knees and familiarize yourself with the underside of your rig.
Know what you can pass over and what will get whacked/hung up.

Tires- A stock Duro 308 or similar works OK. It will be a little lacking in traction and useless in mud, but with some momentum and a helpful push/tug you will be fine. A better choice if you have one is a 307, they work very well on the sand and are decent in mud. Lastly, a knobby is best, especially if you have 1WD, but is not needed. Consider airing down the hack tire. It has a tendency to catch stumps or rocks and then springboard the sidecar up, tipping the bike left. I’ve run the sidecar tire as low as 15psi, but usually 15-20psi solo and 25psi with a monkey. This allows the tire to soak up some of the bumps.

Trails- The rides are all on public forest trails with as little pavement as possible. When on forest trails, especially when we haven’t seen other vehicles in a while, it is easy to forget that we don’t have the trail to ourselves. Treat the trail like the road, keep right when possible and stop at intersecting trails and look both ways. On blind curves, assume that a full-sized truck is coming at you, because sometimes it will be.

Trash- The Pines are an environmentally sensitive area. We are good Scouts and we leave the area better than we found it. At a minimum carry out any trash you brought in. Bonus points of you bring a garbage bag and pick up additional trash when we stop.

Water- The Pines are less than 75 feet above-sea in most places and laced with a network of rivers, lakes and bogs. Water crossings are inevitable. Sometimes it’s just rainfall causing standing water in holes; sometimes we need to cross a boggy area or small run to get to the good riding. We don’t attempt to cross anything deeper than knee high, but just be aware that it can be wet. Rubber boots are a plus, especially if you have to push your bike out of a water hole or boggy area. See Obstacle Crossings for more details.

The Group Ride Golden Rule- You are responsible for the guy behind you. Everyone gets in the “follow the leader mentality,” forgetting that it’s equally important to know where the guy behind you is.
When riding, check your rear view mirror occasionally for the guy behind you, or ideally 2-3 guys behind you.
Turns are especially important!
-When you come to a turn, slow down and wait BEFORE you make the turn, then make sure the guy behind you makes the turn.
-Do not ASSUME he saw you make the turn. (He was busy avoiding that deep rut or the rattlesnake in his path.)
-If he fails to make the turn, STOP and wait there.
If you stop, the guy ahead of you will stop and so on until the ride leader figures out we have an issue.
The chain of bikes is only as strong as the weakest link; don't be the weakest link.

It is important to keep an eye on the guy behind you, not just to keep the ride moving smoothly, but for safety.
If he rides off the road or flips his bike, the sooner we stop and help the better.
Picture this; The ride leader realizes there is a gap and stops and asks rider X “where is your guy?” Rider X says “he was right behind me.”
The group backtracks and finds that a half mile back some poor guy flipped his bike and was pinned under it.
You don’t want to be the guy who flipped and nobody stopped to help. And you don’t want to be the guy who just kept riding.
So don’t be “that guy.” This rule is especially true for the person ahead of the guy riding sweep.
Last edited by BinDerSmokDat on Mon Aug 16, 2021 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by windmill » Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:00 pm

Good read, brought back lot's of memories of when I lived in Barnegat. The road in front of the house we lived in is now the parking lot for a trail I rode almost every day going to work in Toms river.
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by casco » Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:46 am

Good read. Thank you
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by Mr Wazzock » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:17 pm

Yes very good, a few things in there I wouldn't have thought of or expected. :thumbsup:
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Fri Apr 30, 2021 3:28 pm

Thanks for the comments guys.
I know it is long and didn't want it to come off as preachy.
Just wanted to spark critical thinking about the realities of an off-road ride.

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by stagewex » Fri Apr 30, 2021 5:16 pm

It's like your ultimate thesis of Pine Barrens riding Rich, very nice.
Most applies to all the 2-wheel riding I do in there as well though any more than five (5) bikes is considered crowded unless part of a bigger rally like the PB500.

Herding a big group of Urals in that myriad of forest, jungle, Sahara and some dirt/mud too is a challenge. So the more folks know about before especially if they didn't ride dirt/woods prior to owning a Ural sidecar is a big plus. For fun but especially for safety.
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:10 pm

Thank you Mike.
Stagewex is one of the experienced guys whose good to have in the middle of the pack.
If you are a new guy, he’s a good guy to be behind.

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by stagewex » Sat May 01, 2021 7:56 am

... but not too close behind, please :)
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by jaybird » Sat May 01, 2021 10:28 am

Thanks Rich.
That was very thorough. Aside from possibly a couple of wisecracks, I can't think of anything else to add. :cheers:

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by Canadian FJR » Sat May 01, 2021 2:25 pm

Can’t wait to see the pics and videos

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by Mr Wazzock » Sat May 01, 2021 4:14 pm

BinDerSmokDat wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 3:28 pm
I know it is long and didn't want it to come off as preachy.
No it didn't, it read like coming from someone knows what he's talking about cos he's done it and this is what works. :D
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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Sat May 01, 2021 7:10 pm

jaybird wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 10:28 am
Thanks Rich.
That was very thorough. Aside from possibly a couple of wisecracks, I can't think of anything else to add. :cheers:
Thanks Jay. Wisecracks are fine.

Jaybird is, in theory, another good experienced guy to be behind.
But if his Gear-Up is burning oil, you might want to be in front of him. :D

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by windmill » Sat May 01, 2021 7:38 pm

One thing not mentioned is that the Pine Barrens is a fantastic place to learn for someone who's never been off pavement before. There's no cliffs to fall off, rocks and boulders are virtually non existent, weather is reasonably predictable without sudden life threatening storms, the sandy conditions tends to keep speeds down, and while one could get confused for an hour or so they wont become stranded in some remote wilderness.

With all the spectacular off road riding we have here in the west, I still really miss the Pine Barrens. Getting back there for a ride is #1 on my bucket list.
Barry

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Sat May 01, 2021 11:39 pm

windmill wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 7:38 pm
One thing not mentioned is that the Pine Barrens is a fantastic place to learn for someone who's never been off pavement before...still really miss the Pine Barrens. Getting back there for a ride is #1 on my bucket list.
Good point.
I always describe how beginner-friendly the Pines are as part of the ride announcements.
And whenever you can make it out here Barry, we’ll definitely plan a ride.

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Re: Tips for NJ Pines Rides

Post by Mr Wazzock » Mon May 03, 2021 10:15 am

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