Monthly Archives: January 2013

Your Weekly Pet Picture

I think it’s funny that, on a blog that is 90% about bikes, my most viewed posts are pet pictures. So here’s Pandora and Winston Churchill. They’re buds.

Panda and Winnie

I was going to save this for Christmas, since it reminds me of a Madonna and Child painting, but I couldn’t wait that long.

madonna-and-child-sano-di-pietro

New route coming tomorrow. The only reason I didn’t post it tonight was that there’s something bad happening with images at WordPress. Or it could just be my stupid satellite internet. WildBlue, GFY.

By the way, if you like looking at pictures of bikes, roads, or pets (and really, who doesn’t?), my Flickr stream is here.

John

medicalwriter.net

Free to a Good Home: Enve 6.7 clinchers

Just kidding!

I have a set of Enve 6.7 clinchers that I am not using, so it’s time for them to go. These were a mistake. I love my Enve 3.4s, but the 6.7 is too much wheel for my skinny ass to handle. I rode them twice, the third time I was coming down a mountain pass and came very close to getting blown off the road at 50 mph by an errant 30 mph crosswind. Yes, they are far more resistant to crosswinds than traditional-section wheels, but really they should go to someone who is riding flat and fast, rather than laboring up hills and flying down them like we do around here.

Built on light (but not ridiculously light) Soul-Kozak hubs, narrow-spaced front and magnetic rear. Campagnolo freehub. The rear hub is loud. But you shouldn’t be coasting anyway, right? The front hub is extra narrow for improved aerodynamics, but have no fear, according to Fairwheel: “The average front wheel will be a tiny bit stiffer, but the Soul Kozak/Enve front wheel will be significantly more aero with pretty much the same stiffness.”

They appear, for all intents and purposes, brand new, having been ridden <100 miles total by a lightweight rider who rarely brakes, even when it is highly advisable.

They’re going for $2800 to $3400 on the Enve website. Let’s say $2400, or you can make me a reasonable offer. I’ll take $100 off for anyone who wants to come out here and pick them up.

Contact me if you are interested, my information is on the About page.

John

medicalwriter.net

Fast and Easy: Beacon to Poughkeepsie via Bike Path

Finally, the long-promised new route…

Before we begin, though, I just want to note that my previous post was meant to be funny. Dry humor, you know? If you’re in a 5-hour drivers’ ed course you have to take your amusement where you can.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled post:

My friends and I have been riding the east side of the Hudson—mainly Putnam and Dutchess—as well as 9W up to Bear Mountain on the west side for some time, but we hadn’t gone farther north on the west side of the Hudson. In part, this was because of its relative inaccessibility, and in part because of a failure of our collective imagination. After all, there was a lot to explore on the east side, and all of it easily accessible by train, whereas the only way to get over to the other side was via the Bear Mountain Bridge, the Newburg-Beacon bridge, or the Poughkeepsie bridge. We didn’t think going over to the other side was worth the effort.

Of course, now I know that’s wrong. Ulster offers considerably more rugged terrain and is far less civilized than its counterparts on the east side of the river. All of which makes for great riding, if you’re not afraid of being far from civilization, a relative lack of services, and no cell phone contact in places. All in all, it makes for a more genuine adventure than riding in Putnam and Dutchess. Don’t get me wrong, though—the east side of the river makes for some fine riding in beautiful country…it’s just different and in some ways easier.

The route begins in Beacon, New York. It’s easy to get there from Grand Central Station—see the About page for train schedules and general guidance. You’ll go over the Beacon-Newburg Bridge to get to Newburg on the west side of the river. (This image is actually from an earlier ride where we attempted to go from NYC to Poughkeepsie. We abandoned in Newburg because, due to construction, all the traffic from the highway was rerouted onto our route…worst ride ever!).

Bridge

From Newburg, you’ll continue west to the little town of Walden. There is some traffic along the way, and a few crossings of busy roads, but overall it’s a safe and fast trip to the good stuff. In Walden, you can stop for drinks or food; I believe this roadside stand is open year-round.

Stop in Walden for some food_pe

Finding the start of the bike path itself in Walden can be tricky. I redrew the route to make it easier. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see this funhouse chute. If nothing else, it will give you a chance to practice your bike handling skills. It’s like getting on the south path of the GWB, times nine.

I recommend jumping the rail and riding the dirt path on the right.

Entry to bike path_pe

The first part of the bike path is paved and dead flat. Depending on your attitude and abilities, you can view this as either an opportunity to get it over with quickly, or a nice respite before the work begins (not that there’s much work to do on this route!)

First part of bike path_pe

At about mile 18-19, you’ll arrive in Wallkill, home of the famous correctional facility. Some maps will show the bike path going right through the prison grounds, but sadly that is not allowed. You will need to detour around the prison. There are a few hills, but nice views.

1 bike path ends go around prison_pe

3 bike path ends go around prison_pe

Here is where we encountered a helpful prison guard, who directed us around the prison. I’ll admit we looked suspicious riding around with our bags full of who knows what. Personally, I had a cake and a file in my saddlebag. Please don’t tell the man.

You’ll want to go up that hill on the right.

2 bike path ends go around prison_pe

Make sure you turn on Dennison Road.

5 around the prison_pe

4 around the prison_pe_pe

From there, it’s only about a quarter mile to the bike path, which–as you can see–is more of a cow trail in this area. I didn’t mention this earlier, but wider tires are a good idea, although, as usual, I rode the route on 25 mm tubulars.

6 bike path restarts after prison_pe

The bike path hides some baby head sized rocks, so perhaps it isn’t advisable to go this way in late fall, when the rocks and potholes are covered with fallen leaves.

7 bike path_pe

8 bike path_pe

You’ll pass through New Paltz at mile 31, which has a number of excellent restaurants, and ultimately you’ll emerge in the town of Rosendale at mile 38, which also has several good places to eat.

9 In Rosendale_pe

We stopped for lunch at Market Market Café (hours here), which has an outdoor seating area and was actually quite good. Note that the outdoor seating faces Route 213, so there is some traffic noise.

We had originally planned an out-and-back route, but we found the bike path far from challenging. We decided to return to Poughkeepsie the hard way. Luckily, Guy carries paper maps (and a fountain pen, of all things!) and he created a cue sheet to get back to the train station.

Here we are on the backroads to Poughkeepsie.

10 backroads to Poughkeepsie_pe

Where I took a picture of an extraordinarily handsome goat.

11 A goat_pe

The route gets more challenging here, because you’re on real roads in the hills. The climb out of Rosendale is steep and long enough for the road to warrant a separate climbing lane for cars, and there are a few steep but short climbs along the way. Overall, you’ll do half of your total climbing (which is minimal—only 3300 feet in 55 miles) in the last 15 miles.

You’ll end in Poughkeepsie, where you’ll cross the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. This is a photo from the bridge, looking south.

Returning to Poughkeepsie on Pedestrian Bridge_pe

If you have dallied too long at–for example–the combined cheese/used clothes store in Rosendale, and have arrived after dark, the pedestrian bridge will be closed. No problem…just head south a quarter mile and cross the bridge pictured above. It’s actually easier to get to the train station from that bridge.

Is it worth the trip? Yes, depending on your needs and who you are riding with. Personally, even if I still lived in New York City I wouldn’t bother doing this again. It’s not challenging or remote enough for my tastes.

However, this route is a nice introduction to Ulster. It is fast, easy, and suitable for beginners in moderately good shape–or those who just want to go on a fun day ride. It includes a long segment on a very flat bike path (which I try to stay away from unless I’m riding just for transportation) but there are plenty of services along the way and several places to stop for food. Contrast that with riding in the mountains, where there are few services and you are, in fact, lucky to see more than 20 cars on an 8-hour ride.

Finally, here’s the route.  Click on the link for GPS.

route-2038647-map-full

I should have a good report and route for you on Wednesday or Thursday this week…I took Wednesday off to do a 200-kilometer double-crossing of the Hudson with a couple friends (ah, the lifestyles of the self-employed!) Stay tuned for that route and a lot more. If I survive the anticipated freezing rain, that is.

Enjoy!

John

medicalwriter.net

Key Learnings: Drivers’ Education

First: If you stopped by to read about bicycles or routes, just skip this post. Second: A new route is coming tonight, promise.

Anyway….

Those of you who know me know that I don’t drive. My license expired about 12 years ago while I was living in New York City. I just forgot to renew it, and it was too much trouble to get another and I rode my bike everywhere anyway (with the exception of client meetings, when I’d take a cab). Now that we live out in the woods, my girlfriend felt that it was time for me to get my license. I resisted initially; in fact, I managed 4 months without one—during the winter, no less! However, she’s going to be traveling to Los Angeles more and more, forcing me to get a license just in case, for example, I need to take the dogs to the vet while she’s away. I got my learner’s permit on the last day I was in NYC, but New York state requires an additional 5-hour licensing course.

So it was that at 6 am this morning, I got up to go to town and take the course. My girlfriend dropped me off and I entered a room half filled with pimply adolescents and half former alcoholics who had lost their licenses and were forced to take the course. There was no test at the end, but we were required to take at least one page of notes for each unit and turn them in to Mr N, our teacher, to prove we were listening. We were allowed to retain our notes, so that we could bring home key learnings to our friends and family.

Below, you will find scans of my notes and a few key learnings I transcribed, arranged by unit. I thought I would share, because some of these insights are critical to driving success. As a scientist, I am somewhat of a literalist, so I wrote down what Mr N said almost word-for-word.

Unit 1: Getting Started Behind the Wheel

Key Learnings

  • An accident cannot happen unless two objects attempt to occupy the same space at the same time
  • Wipers on = lights on (can be remembered with the acronym W.O.L.O.)
  • Make sure your eyes are active and curious at all times
  • Road markings and signs – not there for decoration!
  • Slow down on hills, especially if you are in a heavy car
  • Reject unimportant information

Unit 1

Unit 2: Handling Intersections

Key Learnings

  • Don’t be a cowboy. If you have a cowboy mentality, become a NASCAR driver (you can tailgate, weave in and out, and go buck wild). If you are not a NASCAR driver, don’t go buck wild
  • Three quarters of all collisions take place at intersections. Most are not fatal, but some are.
  • In uncontrolled intersections, women might be pushing carriages
  • Don’t get lulled into a sense of safety: watch out for dogs, children, sleepy people
  • Motorcyclists can lack experience and skill
  • Use a waving motion to signal you will yield at intersection—left-right or up-and-down, it doesn’t matter

Unit 2

Unit 3: The Physics of Driving and the Importance of Seat Belts

Key Learnings

  • You must learn physics to prevent accidents
  • Newton invented inertia, which governs how rockets get into space
  • If ketchup in bottle is stuck, people usually hit it to release ketchup onto burger. Imagine the bottle of ketchup is the car, and the ketchup is the people in the car. People can turn into ketchup if they are not buckled in. Especially dogs, cameras, and children
  • Don’t let dogs hang their heads out the window. If you stop fast, the dog will smash into door post and die. It’s not worth it! Looks cool, but crazy!
  • If you throw a brick at a blackboard, will damage. If you glue a mattress to the blackboard and throw brick – no damage!
  • It’s not better to be thrown clear of car in an accident. If you have been thrown clear of a car, don’t tell other people that you survived, it sends the wrong message
  • No seat in britches if thrown clear – just a bloody streak on ground
  • You can get run over by your own car if thrown clear
  • Fires/explosions are rare, so you can wear your seatbelt without fear of being trapped in a burning/exploding car
  • If the car is on fire, you are unlikely to be conscious, therefore it is nothing to worry about
  • Back seat passenger = human projectile

Unit 3

Unit 4: Expressway Driving

Key Learnings

  • The highways of tomorrow will use technology to enhance the driving experience
  • Sense hazards with your eyes, then take foot of gas, then place foot on brake to slow car
  • No matter how athletic you are, it takes 300 feet to stop from highway speeds
  • Driving in the fast lane can make you feel alive
  • Don’t slam on brakes or give middle finger to tailgaters
  • If person behind you has “ants in pants” don’t feel peer pressure. Can be hairy.

Unit 4

Unit 5: Impaired Driving

Key Learnings

  • Yelling and carrying on can lead to accidents
  • Alcohol may cause you to see numerous center lines on highway. Cars might also appear to be on both sides of the roadway at the same time
  • Many people on alcohol become silly or even rude
  • 5 servings = body parts seem not to work together
  • A cold shower is refreshing, but it will not make you sober

Unit 5

Remarkably, I passed despite the notes. Back to bicycles shortly!

John

medicalwriter.net

A D2R2 a Day…

The best—and the worst—part of living out here is the climbs. A 15-mile quick midday ride involves almost 2000 feet of climbing; going to lunch in town involves 30 miles and around 3200 feet of climbing. Yes, there are substantially flatter ways of going about both routes, but what would be the fun in that?

After putting in almost 200 miles in the previous week, including a 70-mile climb fest over the Shawangunks with Doug (see below), I had to buckle down and get some work done. One of the nice things about self-employment is that I can work when I want, one of the bad things is that I end up working some really odd hours to make the time for longer-distance rides; for example, last week I worked three 16-hour days and an 8-hour day, interspersed with 3 days off for long rides.

This week consisted of five 1-2 hour rides, and less than 100 miles total. It’s January, okay? I did get a few pictures…

This is the Whitfield Cemetery, established in 1812 and in considerable disrepair. I stopped here on my way back from lunch because I’m still trying to learn to use my camera, and I thought it would be a good subject.

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Despite the fact that it warmed up considerably last week, many of the back roads remained snow-covered and treacherous.

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Sunset over the Catskills, only a few miles from home.

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And finally, a few more pictures from this week. They’re all taken in the area north of Route 209 and south of Upper Cherrytown Road.

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I’d like to blame my lack of photographic talent on my equipment (it’s just a point-and-shoot, after all), but, in truth, I just don’t know what I’m doing!

Later this week, I’ll write up an easy route out of Beacon, New York, that heads up to New Paltz via the bike path, into Rosendale, and then back on slightly more challenging (although still easy) terrain. It’s a good introduction to the area, and an easy ride even for inexperienced cyclists. Then—since it’s 10 degrees out here–I’ll get down to posting a bunch of more serious routes, I’ve got few dozen more good routes that deserve their own posts.

John

medicalwriter.net

Odi et Amo: The Eight Biggest Climbs in Ulster County

When I was in college, I thought it would be a good idea to learn Latin. Not only would I appear erudite to the ladies, but I also thought it would come in handy in Latin America.* So I am fluent in Latin, which has had considerably less utility than I first thought.

One of the things we were required to do was memorize poems, and my favorite, by Catullus, went a little something like this:

“Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.”

Translated:

“I hate and I love. Why do I do it, perchance you might ask?
I don’t know, but I feel it happening to me and I am tortured.”

Catullus’ poem sums up my feeling about the following….

This is a list of climbs to complete in 2013, preferably as part of longer-distance rides, plus routes for each. Completed, in part, with help from John Schwartz, Doug Hoffman, and Bike Hudson Valley, the best–and clearly the most comprehensive–site for rides in the Hudson Valley. Not many pictures, though!

Some are repeats from 2012 and (out of Poughkeepsie) 2011 and 2010. GPS for all of the routes–and many more–can be found on my Ride With GPS page.

California Quarry Road, north of Woodstock. This route includes Ohayo Mountain Road, which I hear is a decent climb itself. I’ve heard that this climb is extremely difficult, although by the numbers it doesn’t appear too bad.

California Quarry Road

Meads Mountain Road, again, north of Woodstock.  Climbing up to the Buddhist Temple at the top. Apparently there’s a jeep track that allows you to continue up. I think this route includes both the paved road and the jeep track. Tops out at 2929 feet, maximum grade 19.5%.

Meads Mountain Road

Big Indian/Slide Mountain. Already done once (out of Poughkeepsie, no less), but definitely worth doing again. Ride With GPS says the max grade is 14.7%. This is also, incidentally, the highest pass in the Catskills. There may be one-way roads leading higher, but I haven’t found them yet. When I ride this again, I’m going to set up a little shrine where I vomited from overexertion on my previous ride, which on this map is just to the west of the word “Slide.”

Big Indian

Vista Maria in the Shawangunks. I wrote about this one recently , and I want to repeat it in better weather. By the numbers, as difficult as Platte Clove. This route also includes a climb over the Shawangunks on Mountain Rest Road (not difficult).

Vista Maria

Peekamoose. A repeat. I’ll probably do this one many times, it’s a good 50-mile training route with a diner at around mile 40. A longer climb, but only transient 14% to 15% grades. Note that I have also created a GPS course for this route out of Poughkeepsie.

Peekamoose

Platte Clove. Another repeat. See the report here. I will probably repeat this one multiple times, it’s a good route with a nice 22% section, plus it has the benefit of a long high-speed downhill section on the back end. Note that I have also created a GPS course for this route out of Poughkeepsie.

Platte

Sugar Loaf. This is one of the longest and toughest climbs in the Catskills (or so I’ve read). I’ll probably modify this route to spend less time on Route 55, which actually isn’t bad in terms of traffic, but I prefer the back roads if at all possible.

Sugar Loaf

Glade Hill. Looks like 18.4% maximum grade, 9.4% average grade, but it is really short. For that reason, I threw some extra fun into this one…since I’m out that way, might as well do some exploring.

Glade Hill

Am I missing anything? Let me know, and tell me about it in the comments instead of via e-mail. That way everyone can benefit. Think of your recommendations like a Japanese game show–you know, the ones in which the audience chooses whether the contestant gets a punch in the 精巣 or simply has to endure eating an 蚯蚓.

Now, I just have to figure out how I’m going to get 1:1 gearing on my road bike. I pride myself in struggling up the steepest hills in 34/25, but–if nothing else–my experience with the Lynsky has shown that 1:1 makes climbing 22% grades more fun, not to mention faster since I can maintain a good spin. Better to have no pride and get to the top first!

Finally, an idea for Rapha video: Imagine me struggling up these climbs, helmetless,while a deep voice intones Catulus’ poem over and over. I even have a scruffy semi-beard to complete the effect.

Mēcum venī!

John

medicalwriter.net

*Just kidding, of course I know the primary language in Latin America is German!
Catullus’ poem was not, in fact, about climbing hills on a bicycle. He wrote this poem to express his feelings about his mistress Lesbia, before he figured out why she didn’t like him. Seems obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it?
Yes, mom, I always wear a helmet.