Aumick Road Hike

Yesterday’s adventure was a hike up Awosting Road to the top of the Shawangunk Ridge. I’m almost hesitant to give this one up, as we only rarely see other people on this hike, so I almost feel like it’s my own private path…nevertheless here it is.

Aumick

It’s moderately challenging: About 4 miles (8 miles round trip), 1400 feet of elevation gain. There are a few sections where my mastiff looks at me like “why the hell are you torturing me like this?”

It’s worth the effort, though, particularly when you get close to the top, where the scenery takes a distinctly Lord of the Rings turn. Magnified on the day that we hiked this by plenty of fog. I know my sometime co-blogger John S rides this on his bike, but he clearly doesn’t go the same way we hike this path–it’s far too rocky to ride, and there are 18% plus grades on loose gravel. This picture doesn’t remotely do justice to the beauty of this hike.

A Hike

A hint if you decide to hike it: you’ll come to a number of forks. With the exception of the first, where you’ll take a left, always take the right fork.

John

2015

Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the blog. I have been riding a lot, it’s just that there isn’t quite as much mystery and adventure or as many pitchfork-wielding hillbillies on the Hudson side of the Shawangunk Ridge, so there’s less to report. It’s lovely riding, but it lacks the splendid–and sometimes scary–isolation of riding in the Catskills proper. Yes, I can still get over to my old stomping grounds, but the minimum round trip is 60 miles, so as you can imagine it isn’t a routine weekday kind of thing.

So, this year: Only 3780 miles, assuming I manage to get out for another 80 miles before the end of the year. A pittance compared with my all-time high of 8500+ in 2012, when I first moved to Ulster County. Home ownership and the job have gotten in the way of more time on the bike, but I think this is enough miles to feel reasonably good about myself.

My regular riding companion, who will remain nameless here, has been sidelined by first plantar fasciitis and then Lyme’s disease, poor guy. Yet another reason why I haven’t been out on too many adventures–sometimes it takes a commitment to someone else to spur me on to some of the dumber rides I’ve done. And finding someone who rides the way I do isn’t easy.

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So if you live nearby, like very long rides, getting lost in the middle of a sleet storm,  returning home somewhere between 2 and 5 hours late, and taking long accidental hikes in road shoes over boulder-strewn goat paths in the high Catskills, ring me up. I should mention that someone told me that I like to turn any enjoyable activity into a death march–for example, instead of planting 50 daffodil bulbs like a normal person, I planted over 2500 and managed to strain not one, but both biceps to the point where picking up my new kitten hurt. So it goes with riding as well: It’s not fun unless you’re so burnt that you don’t know how you’re going to make it home!

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If you’re looking for a good route in the area, please remember that you can always go to my ridewithgps page. Questions? Feel free to e-mail.

Have a happy new year, all.

 

 

Velo Lumino: High end lighting components for high end bikes

And now for something that has nothing to do with the Catskills, but is connected to riding.  Allow me to make a shameless plug for my new business, Velo Lumino. The idea started last fall when all I wanted was a nice little integrated switch to control my generator lights from the stem, to finish off my otherwise complete Jeff Lyon randonneusse.  I knew that a few frame builders had made widgets for this sort of thing, in limited distribution to friends and customers, and Boulder Bicycles makes them exclusively for their Rene Herse builds. But I wanted a switch and didn’t feel like buying a new Herse just to get one (although I would love a new Herse!).  So I teamed up with frame builder Tom Matchak with some ideas for a neat switching mechanism and Tom and I quickly came up with a nice integrated design that, in our opinion, is so novel, integrated and easy to install, we decided to make it available to the public. Along the way I also picked up 3D CAD modeling skills, and that started the proverbial avalanche of ideas that quickly made their way to small batch production. The current lineup includes the stem switch that Tom and I developed, an alloy fender taillight that I designed, and a front fender headlight mount, so you can mount that nice Edelux right on your fender instead of at the fork crown, in case you don’t have a front rack. More components are in development, and will be added by years’ end. All Velo Lumino components are made to last and to have a classic look. Hand made in the USA, and backed by a 3-year warranty.

As for Catskills ride reports… alas I won’t be back until October when hopefully I’ll be able to document some really nice fall foliage rides.

So for now, check out velolumino.com and also its companion blog, Electricalites A.T..

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–Anton aka somervillebikes

 

 

Andes Memorial Day ride, Or: how I lost my climbing legs and haven’t been able to find them

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.

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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:

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In less than two minutes, you’re out of the village and the first turn off of Main street takes you to farmland:

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The early morning light created dappled patterns along the tree-lined roads.

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Despite the above-average snowfall this winter, the spring has been unseasonably dry. Creek beds that normally run high in May looked liked this:

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View from Gladstone Hollow Rd:

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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!

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The characteristic pink-red shale dust of the county’s dirt roads. Being so dry this spring, the roads were particularly dusty.

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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.

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A humble old farmhouse. Simple and tidy, with nice proportions. I wish they still made them like this.

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Did I mention animals? Despite clocking in only 31 miles, there were plenty to see. Sheep…

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horses…

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geese… beavers (ok, I didn’t see beavers directly, but note the beaver pond and lodge)…

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and even a second beaver pond…

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The highlight of the ride was the continuous 5-mile descent down Wolf Hollow Rd, which looked like this for much of it:

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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.

–Anton

Garden Break

Home ownership is such a pain. Why didn’t you guys tell me? It’s one thing owning an apartment in the city. Having a house with a yard takes exponentially more work.

But there are some rewards. This is the mess that has been made in my front yard.

Coming this week: A report on the Otisville 80.

John F

The Best Ride: Bruderhof Loop

Finally back in gear for the summer!

This weekend, I did a variation on my favorite ride: Up the ridge on 44/55, then a nice long decent on Stony Kill Road.

Best view of the Catskills (unfortunately obscured on this day):

I ran into my co-blogger, John S, on the way down Stony Kill. I was hauling ass at that point since it was slightly downhill, and I’m sure John was going his usual speed (fast), so I didn’t realize until about a mile later who I passed. I subsequently got a confirmatory text from John. Sorry I missed you!

After a quick stop at Subway for lunch, I continued on to Rosendale. Now, normally when I have limited time I take the bike path over the Rosendale bridge and back home. Unfortunately, the river and the highway collude to result in few options for heading east from Rosendale. So today, I continued through Rosendale, in search of a passage over the Wallkill that didn’t involve riding on Route 213 for longer than I had to.

I found it! A little muddy though:

Good times on a road bike:

This dirt path (I wouldn’t call it a road) ultimately leads to a covered bridge….

Which looks quite charming here, but I cropped out the 4 lanes of vehicular manslaughter just to the right. Nevertheless, a better route than 213. Thereafter, I headed up Cow Hough Road–a bigger and tougher climb than I remembered, but I was probably already burnt from climbing over the ridge.

Here’s the route.

Overall I give it an A+. Highly recommended, especially if you don’t mind getting really dirty.

I’ve got a good one planned for this weekend! “Good” meaning I’ll probably hate life and regret ever deciding to take up cycling at about mile 80. That’s the way I roll.

John F

medicalwriter.net

 

 

 

New Bike Day! The GT Grade

Hi all. It’s been a while. So long, in fact, that I couldn’t even remember how to log in. I’m hoping for more consistent posts in the near future.

Anyway–last Saturday was new bike day. A GT Grade, carbon fiber, Ultegra group with HYDRAULIC BRAKES (more about that in a moment).

Margot  was kind enough to drive me up to Saugerties, where I picked up the bike at Revolution Bicycles. Normally I’d go with my local shop, the Bicycle Depot in New Paltz, because I know and trust them and they have provided nothing but excellent service, but they are not a GT dealer. In any case, Revolution Bicycles was great. We did the final set up of the bike while I waited, which included removing the crappy tires it came with and putting on Compass Stampede Pass Extralight 32 mm tires and switching the seatpost to something more suitable.

Once set up, I set out on a planned 51-mile ride back home. Yeah, I know it’s dumb to ride an untried bike in an isolated area without a proper shakedown cruise, but that’s what I did. And the bike turned out to be so good that I took a few detours and ended up riding much farther–and climbing many more feet (~4300) than originally planned.

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Here’s the bike.

The only issue that cropped up was that the saddle was set way too far forward, which I didn’t really notice until about 20 miles into the ride. Of course, I ignored it for another 10-15 miles and ended up with terminal crippling ass pain. I got off the bike and slammed the saddle back to where it should have been, and things improved greatly.

Now, the bike: Spectacular. I’ve been a Campagnolo proponent for a long time, and I begrudgingly use SRAM on one bike although, I have to admit, I really hate it. So this was my first time on modern Shimano, and my first time with hydraulic brakes. Can I say HOLY SHIT HYDRAULIC BRAKES! I’ve been riding a bike with mechanical discs and I hated them. When they weren’t rubbing they weren’t braking, and vice versa. Hydraulic discs truly change the riding experience.

Like most of you with caliper brakes, I rarely touch the rear brake except in 3 situations: 1) When I’m riding on icy roads (to avoid a front washout and a crash); 2) when I’m riding on gravel (again, to avoid locking up the front); and 3) when I’m descending something long and twisty to give the front brake a break before the rim turns cherry red. Hydraulic brakes, on the other hand, provide a perfectly functional rear brake that, if you hang your ass off the back of the saddle, is nearly as functional as the front. That means much faster, more confident descending. I’m actually surprised the pros haven’t switched yet–it’s that much better and a hell of a lot safer than caliper brakes.

Only one picture from this ride:

John F

medicalwriter.net