Categories
E-Bikes History

Pine Barrens Tavern: E-Biking Atsion-Quaker Bridge

Some would call the region through which it passes “desolate”; a better word would be “subtle”

A.D. Pierce, Iron in the Pines 1957

By the 1700s, a road, which likely followed a pre-existing Native American trail, ran from Camden, New Jersey, to the port town of Tuckerton on the Atlantic coast. According to local histories, to make their travel to yearly meetings easier, Quakers built a bridge over the Batsto River around 1772. The bridge predictably became known as the Quaker Bridge, and the road that passed over it became Quaker Bridge Road. In the 1800s, horse-drawn stage coaches regularly carried both mail and passengers through the Pine Barrens along this route.

In 1809, Arthur and Elizabeth Thompson opened the Quaker Bridge Hotel, also known as Thompson’s Tavern, just south of the bridge. The tavern remained open until at least 1850. Any remnants of the building vanished many years ago.

The area is now part of Wharton State Forest and Quaker Bridge Road is still a sandy trail through the barrens. On a pleasantly warm November day, there were few other people around: another (non-electric) fat bike, some hikers, a big dog, a couple of motorcycles, one jeep. From Atsion, a former company town and farming community, to the Quaker Bridge is about four miles. With some diversions, my round trip was 15 miles.

The 1826 Atsion Mansion and the remains of a concrete barn from the early 1900s. Source: TCM
It’s the Pine Barrens, so there has to be an abandoned cranberry bog along the way. Source: TCM
Categories
Diversions Exploration

Biking Down Historic Gold Camp Road

The Gold Camp Road runs through the Rocky Mountains south of Pikes Peak in Colorado. For over a hundred years, it has been traveled by tourists, first on passenger trains and later in automobiles. The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway was built around the turn of the twentieth century to bring gold ore down from the mines around Cripple Creek and Victor. By the 1920s, the railroad was out of business and the route was soon converted into an automobile toll road for tourists.

Our bikes. Source: TCM
Near St. Peter’s Dome, with our destination, Colorado Springs, in the distance. Source: TCM

It remains a popular destination. We rented a couple of KHS mountain bikes from Challenge Unlimited and they drove us in their van up the unpaved and potholed Old Stage Road to St. Peters Dome, roughly halfway between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. Our driver dropped us off with a couple water bottles, a photocopy of a hand-drawn map, and a little backpack with a pump and repair kit, in case we got a flat tire. From there, it was all downhill.

The first eight miles or so are closed to automobiles, and we were riding on a Monday after the summer tourist season ended, so we had the gravel road to ourselves. We rode through two tunnels, stopping several times to take in the views. After about an hour and a half, we reached Tunnel #3. In 1988, this tunnel collapsed (which is why cars are no longer allowed), so we had to walk the bikes along a trail that goes over the tunnel. Below Tunnel #3 there was a parking lot, cars, and more hikers and bikers, but it was definitely not crowded. We continued downhill through more tunnels and rock cuts.

Categories
Diversions

5 on the Floor, 21 on the Roof: That 90s VW Jetta Trek Collab

Remember that time in the 1990s when Volkswagen gave you a Trek mountain bike if you bought a car? Here’s one of the original brochures for the 1996 Jetta, as seen on A2resource.com.

Categories
Diversions Equipment

Buy a Jetta, Get a Bike: The 1990s VW x Trek Collab

VW Trek BikeBack in 1996, Volkswagen partnered with Trek bicycles, offering a special VW Jetta Trek edition that came with a Trek mountain bike and a roof rack to put it on. The following year, they also offered a VW Trek Golf. One of those bikes turned up at a charity bike store, and, although I’ve never owned a VW, I picked it up because, as it says on the frame, it’s a Limited Edition.

VW Trek Stem

The 1996 Jetta Trek Limited Edition Sedan started under $16,000 and came with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic. The VW Trek bike came with 21 speeds and custom seat, handgrips, and special graphics: a dude on a multi-colored rocket, orbiting the VW logo, and holding…something?

VW Trek Head Tube

Details on the bikes are a bit harder to find. The 1996 ones had a steel frame, but this one has an aluminum frame, which may be the 1997 version. The OCLV on the rocket stands for Trek’s patented carbon fiber, but it’s unlikely that there’s any of it on this bike. A few parts had been replaced in the past twenty years, including the saddle (which also would have had that rocket boy logo), but it still has the original VW hand grips.

VW Trek Hand Grip

It’s definitely in better shape than some of the Trek Edition automobiles out there: Junkyard Gem.

Still on the lookout for a Jetta Shepherd edition, though: