Here in Boston, we had record snowfall this winter: over seven feet of snow fell in three and a half weeks, and it was brutally cold. I did not commute by bike for the whole month of February, and even over the next couple of colder-than-mormal months, I did fewer rides than usual. Essentially I only commuted. By Memorial day I had fewer miles clocked in than I normally do by April.
I was up in the Catskills for Memorial Day weekend, mostly to do yard work (yes, John F, home ownership is a ton of work!). Many of our mature garden plantings had gotten decimated over the winter, not directly because of the extreme cold but indirectly: the deer were desperate, and began eating plants they normally don’t prefer. I set aside enough time from my garden work to get one short ride in, one that I had mapped out one cold February day as the snow drifts imprisoned me in my house. I’ve written about Andes in my Tale of Three Hamlets post, but there is an abundance of dirt roads in the township that I haven’t explored. This short 31 mile route would explore many of them– 23 miles worth (dirt roads are annotated below in green), and add to my growing network of vetted dirt roads of Delaware County, which I track old-skool style with a marker and a big wall map. One day I will transpose it to one large digital map, and make it available to the public.
Despite the forecast for temps in the 70s, it was 36 degrees when I started! I wore every layer I brought with me. Starting in the town center, you pass by at least a dozen antique stores and cafes. An interesting historical anecdote: I’ve heard, but have not been able to corroborate on the interwebs, that this building, formerly a bank, is in the history books as being the last bank in the US ever to be robbed by robbers on horseback:
In less than two minutes, you’re out of the village and the first turn off of Main street takes you to farmland:
The early morning light created dappled patterns along the tree-lined roads.
Despite the above-average snowfall this winter, the spring has been unseasonably dry. Creek beds that normally run high in May looked liked this:
View from Gladstone Hollow Rd:
First climb, up Hyzer Rd, and I had to start shedding layers. Within an hour, I had shed all of my layers. Two hours later, the temp had risen to 70!
The characteristic pink-red shale dust of the county’s dirt roads. Being so dry this spring, the roads were particularly dusty.
By the time I reached the last climb on State Rd, my legs were officially shot. I can’t remember the last time my legs actually felt like they were on fire after only 4200 feet of climbing, but they were. This time last year I had ridden longer and hillier rides. First priority: get more climbing miles in!
On a related note, I recently rebuilt my Rawland Stag with a mix of SRAM road and mtb components, basically a Rival 10-speed road group but with an XX mtb double crank and X9 front derailleur, and designed in an extra low, sub 1:1 gear (28×32– previously my low was 1:1, 28×28). I have to say, the sub 1:1 was utilized, and in fact truly appreciated, on this ride. I’m also pretty impressed with SRAM. I’m new to SRAM, but so far I find it rock solid, and it hasn’t skipped a beat. It’s also very quiet, far quieter than the Dura Ace 10-speed group it replaces.
A humble old farmhouse. Simple and tidy, with nice proportions. I wish they still made them like this.
Did I mention animals? Despite clocking in only 31 miles, there were plenty to see. Sheep…
geese… beavers (ok, I didn’t see beavers directly, but note the beaver pond and lodge)…
and even a second beaver pond…
The highlight of the ride was the continuous 5-mile descent down Wolf Hollow Rd, which looked like this for much of it:
I probably won’t have another report until July when I am up there next. For my next ride, I will explore either farther east toward Roxbury and Margaretville, or west toward Franklin and Walton.
Andes 31 ridewithgps route here.