Getting There: Part I–The Hard Way

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to post a number of different routes to the starting points of my rides. We’ll start with one that I’d consider intermediate difficulty. The route starts in Poughkeepsie, New York, which is easily accessible by Metro North Rail from Grand Central Station.

It includes one long, but not particularly challenging, climb over the Gunks on route 55.


You’ll pass over the Walkway on the Hudson–the world’s longest pedestrian bridge–and continue for 5 miles on a bike path.


If you’re using my GPS route, your device will go crazy here. Don’t worry…for some reason Ride With GPS will no longer allow routes to follow bike paths, so I had to draw lines. Just silence your device and follow the bike path until you come out at a ball field nestled in the hills.


Ultimately, you’ll emerge on Route 299. This road is busy, but there’s a wide shoulder and it is ever so slightly downhill into New Paltz. You can easily complete this short segment in a few minutes at 25-30 mph, provided the wind cooperates. Continue through New Paltz, down the hill, and cross the bridge over the river.

Here, you’ll have a decision to make…either way you’re in for a climb. If you take a right, you’ll climb on Mountain Rest Road. If you go straight, you’ll climb on 55 through the middle of Minnewaska State Park. Today, we’ll pretend we went straight, continuing on County Road 6 past this lovely field.

I’d actually recommend this route for the trip out to the good stuff, and then taking Mountain Rest Road on the return trip. You can find a description of that climb on the Rapha site. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds; in fact, my friend who rides a 30-lb bike has accompanied me on several occasions up this climb, no problem. More about that in a separate post.


Between mile 16 and 17, you’ll hook around to the right and start climbing on 55. At the base of this climb, though, there’s a German restaurant, the Mountain Brauhaus, with excellent food, albeit decidedly 70s decor. There is also a convenience store across the street as well as a tiny Eastern Mountain Sports shop. Have some spatzle and fill your water bottles. At some point, I’ll post a route with the Brauhaus closer to the end. It’s not a good place for a meal at the beginning of a ride, but it sure would be welcome after a hundred miles!


When you’re done admiring the waitresses in their lederhosen, continue up 55. The climbing begins at mile 17, and continues through about mile 21. It’s a Cat 2 climb; average grade 3.5%, maximum grade 9.2%.

You’ve reached the top at mile 21. Not much to see there, but if you pause during your 7-mile 50 mph descent, you’ll get a great overview of what lies ahead.Image

At the base of the descent, you’ll reach a T intersection. There’s a gas station where you can refill or get some packaged food; if it’s hot out you’ll definitely have gone through two bottles on that climb.

Where you go from there is up to you, but try to minimize time on 209, which is the only really busy road in the area. If it’s hot out and you need a break, take a left on 209, a right on Lundy, and continue to the secret swimmin’ hole. Just don’t tell the locals who told you how to find it!


You can find the train schedule here. You should have a bike pass, although in 5 years I was only asked for one once. They can be had for $5 at any window in Grand Central. Also bring a bungie cord to attach your bike wherever you can find a spot in the car. The best spots for bikes on Metro North are, unfortunately, usually adjacent to the bathrooms.

The GPS route can be found here.

No more posts until next week; I’m off to California to lend my wisdom to an advisory board.



8 thoughts on “Getting There: Part I–The Hard Way

  1. robertkerner

    Nice summary. My wife and I learned to climb at that tiny EMS shop (some crazy talented people there), and your description allowed me to “ride the route” in my mind. I may introduce my twins to camping at Jellystone park this spring and I’ll be sure to bring the bike.
    Bob (Bobonli from the V-salon)

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