Stephen: Hi Pedal MTC! Thanks for the opportunity to chat!
Pedal Montclair: What do you ride?
Stephen: I ride a Pivot Mach 429SL built up by Pedal MTC with custom parts that strike a wholesome balance between reliability, comfort and weight. We went with a 100mm Fox Stepcast fork because I find the Pivot far more capable than the numbers suggest in the cross-country category. My preference is to train, ride, and race one bike, always set up the same way, whatever the trails or weather. My only other bike is an aluminum single speed mountain bike. That's my stalwart commuter but it's there for an occasional single speed race.
Pedal Montclair: Favorite places to ride? Why?
Stephen: Oh yeah, we have some stellar choices in the Garden State. I think I've clocked the most hours in Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. That park has all kinds of goodness. The trails were well-designed and handle seasonal conditions well. The park is also plenty raw, natural, and unpopulated. You could go there and ride back-country fitness laps one day, and another day stick to black diamond enduro or mountain bike trials stuff.
My second choice would be Wawayanda State Park. After competing in the BearScat 50 races I'd be hard-pressed to find an uninterrupted 25 mile loop more sweet than that. So I usually follow that course either clockwise or counter-clockwise. It treats you to almost everything there!
The common denominators to both these parks are hemlock groves, waist-high ferns, rough old mine trail double-track, and rocky singletrack.
Pedal Montclair: Where would you go on your ultimate biking trip?
Stephen: The dream summer vacation! I think it would start with a rental that has a 4 bike hitch rack so our whole family could bring their bikes along. We'd start out in St. George, UT riding a bunch of sandstone desert trail (Zen, Barrel Roll). Next stop Breckenridge, CO for the NUE Breck 100 race; high alpine flower meadow singletrack. Then stop three, head up to Alta, WY in the Grand Tetons for the Pierre's Hole 100 and might as well drop in to visit Yellowstone since you're kinda there.
Pedal Montclair: Advice to any new comers?
Stephen: The local cycling community is thriving and helpful. Jump into almost any level group ride and you'll find no person left behind and a wealth of tips and recommendations. I had no idea I would become friends with so many people through the sport.
Pedal Montclair: Who's your favorite rider?
Stephen: My favorite rider is that last man and last woman who roll through the finish line, smiling, sometimes crying in disbelief, at a mountain bike endurance race. They're six/seven hours behind the winner but they were still out there in the woods, all by themselves, giving 110%.