26.1-Mile Training Route, The East Windsor - Millstone Loop

East Windsor - Millstone Loop
East Windsor - Millstone Training Loop:
also passing through West Windsor, Washington
Twp., Upper Freehold, Allentown, Roosevelt,
and Hightstown, NJ. Click on the image
for a larger map.
Photos of the route are also available.

Several Operation Gadget readers have expressed interest in the training rides that I'm doing in preparation for the 2004 Tour of Hope fund-raising ride in Washington, DC. This is a description of my 26.1-mile training loop that begins and ends at my home in East Windsor, NJ, and passes through some of the quietest countryside in Mercer and Monmouth Counties.

Readers who aren't familiar with this area are probably asking themselves, "How can you call any place that's so close to the New Jersey Turnpike 'quiet countryside'?" The biggest reason is because the towns that are southeast of the Turnpike in this part of New Jersey are still relatively undeveloped. Allentown, the town located closest to the junction of the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 195 has some housing developments built on old farmland. But, the towns east and northeast of Allentown are still rural.

Riding this route usually takes me between 90 minutes and one hour and 45 minutes. I like to think of it as a total package for tempo riding or time trial cycling. It has some good hill sections in the southeastern part of the route (that's Millstone Township, Monmouth County, NJ, BTW), which I hit after 45 minutes to one hour of riding, depending on which direction I ride.

I posted a couple of photos of this section, because there is a mile or two of rolling hills on Monmouth County Route 571 between Roosevelt and Millstone that are great for interval training. The way I ride these hills is to get out of the saddle and sprint up the hills and just keep my legs moving on the way down.

The sections where the best time trialing can be done are:

  • along Monmouth Country Route 539 also known as Old York Road between Hightstown and Allentown,
  • along Monmouth County Route 524 between Allentown and the Horse Park of New Jersey (parallel to Interstate 195), and
  • along Route 571 between the junction of Monmouth County Route 1 and The Peddie School in Hightstown.

All three of these sections are pretty wide open country roads with relatively low traffic, even late in the afternoon.

What's most interesting about this route is how closely it corresponds to the Tour of Hope fund-raising ride in Washington, DC, at least in terms of distance. I didn't go out and choose this route based on the profile of the Tour of Hope ride. I chose it because it was a route that I could do once or twice a week on days when I had a little extra time to train. The other route that I ride regularly is about half of this distance.

[ Map produced with GPS Visualizer, background map courtesy of Geographic Data Technologies. For more information about how to produce maps like this, refer to Toolkit for Turning Garmin Forerunner 201 Data into Overlay Maps. ]