Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lundy Road: Highway to Hell?

On the right, Rogue Harbor road. Lundy Road continues on the left. Follow for 3-4 miles  to Pottersville. The road becomes extremely rough, passable only by Jeeps, bikes, and hikers.


The area is quite isolated today; I can’t even imagine what it was like 100 years or more ago. A milling town called Potterville was founded here in the 19th century and named after the owner of a lumber mill, Francis Potter. Potter’s mill was the main source of income for the townspeople until it burned down. Because it was the sole employer in the town, people began leaving. In 1927, there was a flood that accelerated the exodus.

According to Ulster County records, several murders occurred there; a man killed his family and then killed himself; in another incident a murderer was caught and hung in the town square. I’m not superstitious, but some who have visited the remnants of Potterville report a feeling of being watched.

The land Potterville once stood on is now owned by Open Space Institute and the buildings have been demolished, although you can still see some foundations.

The road and the country up there are beautiful, but I have never seen anyone on Lundy Road past this point…scared maybe? Perhaps one year I’ll  organize a Halloween ride up Lundy, to arrive at midnight.

Getting there from NYC: Take the Metro North to Poughkeepsie, and then take this route, which I described in a previous post, to get to Kerhonksen. Then take this route  to the end of Lundy. Fat tires are a good idea, but I regularly ride this route on my precious…my precious…ahem, excuse me…on 25 mm FMBs.

Good luck, and if you make it out alive let me know.



Challenge Eroica: Tight!

…and I don’t mean “tight” in the positive sense.

Last night I attempted to mount a set of 30 mm Challenge Eroica tires on my new cross bike (which isn’t actually intended for cross, but more about that later). They were so tight that I couldn’t even stuff a tube under them. So for 2 hours of effort all I got were some blistered thumbs and a popped tube (Exhibit A).

Exhibit A: Human thumb after failed attempt to mount a Challenge Eroica 30 mm tire*

Tubular Thumb

I’ve never had a set of tires that were so tight that I couldn’t mount them. Even Veloflex tires, which are ordinarily quite tight. In this case, I couldn’t even use a tire jack because I couldn’t get the tube in. It was so bad that even Winston was disgusted. Exhibit B shows a typical feline reaction to Challenge Eroica tires.

Exhibit B. Feline reaction to Challenge Eroica tires.

Lamb Doesn't Like Challenge

In any case, I’m returning these and getting some of the new Grand Bois Extra Legere 32s: 230 grams for a 32 mm tire (and 181 grams for the 23–lighter than Veloflex)! I’ve used the Grand Bois 23s, 32s, and 42s in the past, and they were great tires.

Now, I just need to track down some 28-32 mm latex tubes. Every place I’ve checked seems to be sold out. Anyone know of a source?

I’ll let you know how the Grand Bois tires work out after some serious gravel road abuse.

*The blistered thumb in Exhibit A is actually from removing a too well-glued tubular tire a few months ago, but serves as an example of what you can look forward to if you try to mount Eroicas.


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.



Worth the Trip: Peekamoose 52

(Retrospective note: I have also mapped this complete route out of Poughkeepsie. You can find it here.)

This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have excellent weather for what I thought would be a quick 52-mile ride up and over Peekamoose Road, a narrow, poorly maintained road passing through the Catskills. This was the route I developed on Ride With GPS; I planned from the beginning to follow it only loosely because I wanted to explore some of the side roads that extend off of Peekamoose into the deep mountains.


I had planned on getting an early start. However, my wonderful girlfriend decided to cook me breakfast, so it wasn’t until 10 am that I set out with a belly full of pancakes and fruit salad.

The route starts with Grassy Ridge Road, a rolling but easy warmup for what’s to come. I definitely needed the warmup after that breakfast.

1. Grassy Ridge Road

We continue on High Point Mountain Road, which leads past the Ashokan Reservoir. This is the low point of the ride. Not emotionally…in elevation.

4. Ashokan Reservoir from High Point Mountain Road

Watson Hollow Road leads into the mountains. I took my first detour here onto Moon Haw Road, which leads high into the mountains and ends in what looks like a few trails into the park.

6. Watson Hollow Road

8. Headed into the Mountains

7. Headed into the Mountains

The climbing begins with a slow and painful crawl up Peekamoose. The climb is steady from mile 8.0 to mile 13; maximum grade, 16.5%. I was swearing at myself by the time I got to the top, and I took a few moments to contemplate the sheer stupidity of what I do for fun. As a note, you’ll want to carry ample water and perhaps some food if you are taking this route during the off season, as there are no convenience stores for a refresh. During the season, you’ll see a shed at about the half way point, run by a local who sells the basics.

11. Peekamoose

9. Peekamoose

Once you make it the top, though, you are rewarded with a high-speed 7-mile descent into the next big climb, and some very nice scenery.

If you’re using my GPS route (link below), note that your GPS will occassionally indicate that you are off course. You’re not, and your GPS will find the route again in a few seconds. It’s not like there are any other roads to take, anyway.

12. Peekamoose

13. Peekamoose Waterfall

Peekamoose tops out at 2100 feet after a second climb (not as brutal as the first). I know it’s not much compared with the Rockies, but it’s what we have to work with. From what I understand, though, the roads around here are a lot less forgiving–that is to say, the people who planned and built them didn’t give a damn about extended 15% to 22% grades (more about that later, when I write about Platte Clove).

Here’s the view from the top of the ride.

14. At the top of Peekamoose

From Peekamoose, I turned onto Mill Road, which after a terrifying descent on broken pavement quickly turns into gravel. At exactly the wrong time, meaning just when you’ve hit 50 mph from the descent.

16. Mill Road

From there, it’s a quick trip on Route 55 to Naponach and a diner with edible food. You’re looking at the Gunks in this photo; if you continue on 55 you can climb up and over, ending up in New Paltz and, ultimately, Poughkeepsie. There are easier ways to get there, though.

19. 55 Going into Naponach

The route as shown is 53 miles. With exploratory detours, I rode 72 miles with about 7300 feet of climbing. Not counting the 5-mile section on route 209, I probably saw 10-15 cars the entire day.

A good day.

This route is definitely worth your while. Add in a trip to and from Poughkeepsie (preferably over the Gunks) and you can have a great 100-mile day. I’ll post later this month on good routes from Poughkeepsie to the starting points of my rides.

The complete GPS route can be found here.