Monthly Archives: April 2013

Gentlemen’s Ride

On Friday, my long-time riding companion Guy came up for a ride. He was kind enough to ride from the Poughkeepsie train station to New Paltz, where I picked him up (did I mention that I got my driver’s license on Tuesday?) I made him drive us back because I remain a less than enthusiastic driver.

We got up bright and early the next day for our gentlemen’s ride. A gentlemen’s ride is when you don’t worry about time, stop when you want, and generally just have a relaxing day. Instead of frantically trying to fit X number of miles into a certain number of hours, we planned on taking the whole day for just 60 miles. We stopped for pictures. We stopped at the top of major climbs. We stopped for lunch. We stopped for dinner. It wasn’t really exercise, but it was good fun and a nice way to spend 8 hours. It was also nice because I overdid it in the previous 7 days, logging about 200 miles. Not much, but a lot for this early in the season after a winter that was bad enough that I didn’t manage to keep in optimal shape.

I won’t bore you with the details of the ride; suffice it to say we went over Peekamoose again. I was there just last week, but it is a really beautiful ride. Plus it is ideally suited to a gentlemen’s ride because 75 percent of the effort is concentrated in the first 15 miles (although the first climb is a brute). After that it’s mostly coasting and enjoying the day. The route is here if you are interested.


Some pictures.

Headed into the major climb of the day: just 1000 feet, but it includes ramps of up to 16%.

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The long coast down off of Peekamoose. Spectacular as usual. Click on this one for full size.

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I tried to convince Guy to climb this gravel driveway/road. Just for fun.

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Rondout reservoir, at the base of Watson Hollow Road. We ran into some cyclists headed the other way up Peekamoose on a decidedly more serious expedition, which to me–even if I’m trying to get exercise–seems like an unpleasant route since it’s 12 miles of false flat and outright climbs, followed by a descent that is far too steep to enjoy. I’d rather do the massive climb at the beginning and then enjoy the high-speed run down the other side.

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We stopped in Grahamsville for lunch. The deli there is actually quite good; if you have a chance plan a trip through town, it’s a good place to stop and very friendly.

From there, we rode back on 42 crossed over to Ulster Heights Road, and then descended at very high speeds on Irish Cape Road.

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On the return trip from Ellenville, on Berme Road just past the prison, we ran into this roadside shrine. One hypothesis is that it was the scene of a fatal car accident, which would be odd because Berme Road is so torn up I can’t imagine anyone going fast enough to hurt themselves on it. (This picture also, incidentally, illustrates the resolving power of the Foveon sensor in the Sigma DP1 Merril. The second and third pictures are crops from the first).

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From there, we did the climb back to my place. The countryside is lovely, but I’ve done it so many times now it’s left me wishing for a teleportation device.

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And that’s all for this week. Short ride tomorrow, then off to Chicago for a couple days of meetings. I’m hoping to talk someone into a ride over Slide Mountain next week, or maybe Ferguson Road.

And one last bit of news: The 650B English is done and is off to paint. So maybe within the next two weeks the bicycle stork will be delivering something.


Sometimes Things Just Work Out

I was supposed to go to London for work. Canceled! Now I don’t have to panic work to get everything done before I go. Sometimes things just work out.

So: Ouch Mountain or the Undiscovered Country this weekend?

This photo, which I took on my last ride, is of a Brockway truck; the hood ornament is a husky pulling a sled. I am surprised that it hasn’t been pulled off yet as they can sell for a significant amount on E-Bay. At some point I want to return to take some proper photos.

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New Route: One Down, Seven to Go

After weeks of 15 hour days, seven days a week–and only 30 minute to 1 hour daily rides–I finally told everyone to just leave me alone and took a day off. Clients, if you reading this, sorry! My efficiency is optimized when I can ride my bike. Days off are good for you and for me.

You’ll recall that, a while back, I wrote a post on the 8 biggest climbs in the Catskills. Peekamoose is just one, and it is the most accessible for me. I’ve done this route 6 times now, but this was the first time this year, and I took a new route.


Plus, this was the first time I’ve had a chance to ride the route in decent weather. Every time I’ve ridden it in the past, it’s been cold, foggy, and generally wet. I guess that goes with riding it in the fall.

The route starts at my place, as usual, but instead of taking Mountain Road, I opted to ride down to Route 213, which eventually joins up with Route 28A, which in turn takes you to the base of the climb. I spotted a cyclist headed the opposite direction on 28A, which is rare. Anyone I know?

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Maybe it’s just me, but when I spot a cyclist in the distance I get in the drops and try to look serious, even if I’m just meandering along. I’m a poseur, I guess.

From 28A, I turned onto Watson Hollow Road, which is one of the most beautiful roads in the Catskills. Also known as Peekamoose Road on some maps.

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The climb itself gets easier each time I do it. There are distinct landmarks along the climb, so I can easily recall where I felt like I was going to die on the previous ride. I’m making it to the top without too much suffering these days.

Once you make it to the hairpin at the top, you’re home free. Pretty much all downhill for the next 15 miles. My high-speed descent was spoiled by a high-velocity headwind; there was one point where I should have been going 30 mph where I was blown to about 12 mph for a moment. The following pictures are all Watson Hollow Road.

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It’s really worthwhile to do this ride at least once a season. In the winter–or the spring before the leaves grow in, you see some truly majestic waterfalls on both sides of the road that I’ve heard many times before, but never seen. I tried to take a few pictures, but they really didn’t do justice to the subject, so you won’t see them here.

There are few places to stop for water between about mile 12 and mile 31 of this route, so make sure you carry everything you need, particularly in the summer. Unless, of course, you want to trust to the whims of whomever runs this shack, which is apparently open whenever the owner feels like it. In short, don’t depend on it being open when you need it.

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Now, I made a choice. I advise everyone to continue on Watson Hollow, and eventually make a left on Greenville Road for a second climb that really takes you to some spectacular views. Here’s the decision point.

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I took a right, which first led me past next week’s climb, Sugar Loaf.

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And then led me to the Rondout Reservoir…

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Grahamville hosts a nice deli if you want to stop. They have a full convenience store, plus they make sandwiches, etc.

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After sitting in the parking lot for a while, soaking up the sun and having a nice, well, actually lukewarm, Coke, I turned onto Route 42. This is where things got interesting because it is territory I haven’t really covered before.

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Ultimately, this route will take you back to 55A, and then to 55. I do not recommend traveling (south)east on 55A or 55. The pavement is extremely broken up, turning a nice descent into a white-knuckle bit of nastiness. The pavement in the opposite direction is fine. I have no idea why one side of the road is just awful, whereas the other side is nice clean pavement. It is, however, beautiful.

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With that said, you might use this route instead, which keeps you off 55A and 55. I’ve done some of these roads, including Irish Cape Road. This route is equally beautiful.

The way home was just the usual. As always, regardless of which direction I travel I have 700 to 1000 feet of climbing to get back to my place.

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A few more pictures. First: Baby animals. Who doesn’t like baby animals? The goat was cute, the baby cow just looked plain irritated.

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Next, a few “artistic” photos. I try and fail. The second one has nice colors, at least.

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Next week: Sugar Loaf, provided the work gnomes can manage to leave me alone for an entire day. Have a good week!


Photo Safari 3

With 16-hour work days, I’ve only been able to get out for an hour or two at a time over the last week. This camera is weird. Or I am an idiot. Probably a combination of the two.

Now, let’s see if this gallery thing works. What do you think, should I use the gallery or put the images in-line with the text?

I didn’t like the gallery. So here they are.

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My Little Pony

The design for the sub-15 lb 650B English (well, at least hopefully sub-15 lb, it’s going to be close). I am really looking forward to this bike–the 700C bike that Rob built for me is spectacular. I’m looking forward to it particularly because almost all of my rides include significant sections of gravel and terrible pavement, and as much as I love the 700C bike, I sometimes have to go a little slower than optimal because of road conditions. Shaved tubeless Hetres at <50 psi should take care of that issue.

Keep in mind that I quite literally broke my neck in 2008 (crushed discs) so I unfortunately can’t be as low and pro as I’d like. Envision with grey paint with rainbow sparkles. You’re going to hate it, but I don’t care.

My little two-wheeled pony.



Photo Safari Part 2

More attempts to use a camera that is far more advanced than I am.

I had planned on getting out a little earlier in the day–there’s nothing I hate more than pictures of sunsets. Unfortunately, I was stuck on a teleconference, and by the time I got to where I wanted to be, the sun was low and golden in the sky. As a result, my pictures are even worse than usual.

All of these are taken at the Ashokan Reservoir. Getting there from my place is a lot of fun as it’s mostly downhill. My average speed on the way there was 26 mph. On the way back? 14 mph.

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This weekend, hopefully, I’ll get out for an 80 mile plus ride. We’ll see. Work has been, um, interesting. But I did get some good news today: Peter Weigle is going to shave some Extra Leger Hetres for me, even though my bike is going to be a 700C. Don’t go writing him requesting tires, you have to be in the club (seriously, he only sells shaved tires to customers, at least right now).


Photo Safari

It took me nearly 3 hours to ride 32 miles today. I recently purchased a new camera, and I made frequent stops for photos. Stopping every few miles is actually harder than a continuous ride–I never really get warmed up.

The following photos have not been HDRed or really messed with much at all aside from bringing down the exposure. If you’re on a PC, you can right click to “view image” to see them full size. Not sure what you do on a Mac, but you can always see full-size photos (including many I do not post here) on my photostream.


Spring Route Roundup: Come on Up, the Weather’s Fine!

Since I moved up here in late September, I’ve covered almost 3000 miles. It would have, and should have, been much more than that, but a combination of 27,000 miles of travel in February alone and terrible weather conspired to keep me off the bike more than I’d like. Oh yeah, and I crashed on my hand like an amateur.

I just wanted to round up all the routes I’ve published for your convenience, dear reader. After all the effort this blog entails, I better see all y’all riding past my house this summer.

Just one note before we begin: If you make it up here, try to be super polite to the locals (of whom I am now one). This isn’t 9W, and I want cyclists to be welcome up here!

Getting There

You can get from the Poughkeepsie train station to New Paltz using the route in this post.  You can also get over the ridge using this route. There are also other ways to go; if you’re interested look at the Peekamoose option below.

Longer Rides

First, a roundup of the 8 biggest climbs in Ulster County.  This one is worth a read if you want to tackle some serious rides.

Platte Clove: Amazing ride up one of the steepest climbs in the Catskills. I’ve also mapped this one from the Poughkeepsie train station, for your convenience.

Mountain Rest Road and Vista Maria: This is a double-crossing of the Shawangunk Ridge. Easily accessible from the Poughkeepsie train station. Super-tough climb up Vista Maria.

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Peekamoose really is the classic climb in my area. I recently posted on 3 options for riding over Peekamoose starting in New Paltz. Calling this “The Peekamoose Route” really doesn’t do it justice, because it also includes two climbs over the Shawangunk Ridge, including the climb with the biggest vertical gain in the southern Hudson Valley (South Gully Road).

This post also includes a route from the Poughkeepsie Metro North train station to New Paltz. Put them together and you will get the best 100- to 120-mile ride in the region, with 3 or 4 major climbs with >15% grades and huge descents (I’m talking about 10-15 mile continuous descents, by the way).

Here’s a 90-mile ride that includes Ski Run Road, which will take you over the absolute highest pass in the Catskills. For advanced riders only. Fat tires only. Death wish required.

The Ride of the Damned. Double crossing of the Hudson, first on the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge, and then 50 miles later on the Route 23 bridge. I called it the “Ride of the Damned” strictly because of the weather. It is actually pretty easy. I’m not going to include pictures of this here because the weather was nasty, but I think it will be a beautiful ride in the summer. Another ride with Doug.

A fast and very easy route from the train station in Beacon to Poughkeepsie. A good route for when you want to take friends on a ride of decent length, but without all the usual associated challenges.

The all-time summer classic.  This is a route I’ve done many times, with friends and alone. Starts at the Brewster train station (actually Southeast Station), and ends in New Hamburg. Eighty to ninety miles of sheer riding joy. Lots of gravel and beautiful country.

Shorter routes

Here’s a fast and easy route that takes you into the foothills of the Catskills. It starts at my place, but you could start in Stone Ridge, Rosendale, or New Paltz.

A quick 50-mile route that takes in all the good stuff in the foothills, but is not particularly challenging.

Another short, easy, and scenic ride. Nice if you’re staying in the area, or you can incorporate this segment into a longer ride. Includes a ride over the Ashokan Reservoir, which has some really spectacular views of the Catskills, as you’ll see in this post. I mean, come on, look at this:

If you’re planning your own route out here, be sure to include the segment in this post.

Don’t Forget…

You can find all of these routes, and the ones I have yet to post, by clicking on Worth the Trip in the tags.

Guidance on riding Metro North with your bike, as well as my contact information, can be found on the About page. My contact information can also be found on the website below.

Finally: If you like this and find it useful, do me a favor and link to my blog. I don’t have any commercial objectives, I just want to get more people riding up here!




I live a fairly simple life: books, bikes, and work. The balance varies based on weather and client needs, and of course I like to spend time with my girlfriend as well. But overall, everything balances well (with the exception of this week: if I work until 9 pm tonight, I will officially have worked more than 100 hours this week!)

The one area where I might have an issue? New bikes. What can I say, it’s less expensive and a whole lot healthier than a lot of things people do with their fun money. It’s not like I’m dissatisfied in any way with my current bikes (well, except for one)…I just like ’em. And all seven bikes get ridden, last year ranging from no more than 50 miles on the vintage Teledyne Titan with fork of death to >3000 miles each on the English and Herse.

So…I have two coming this year. The first is being built as we speak, and hopefully will be arriving in early May. It’s a–wait for it: sub-15-lb 650b bike being built by Rob English. Enve rims, Calfee barstem, SRAM Red, Clavicula crank, and (hopefully) Spyre disc brakes. Of course, I’ll be using the Hetre Extra Leger. This one is going to be bright & sparkly. Grey paint with rainbow sparkle, and ENGLISH in Olde English font. And let’s not forget the infinitely tasteful top cap on the Extralite headset.

I need one bike that’s a little crazy.

Now, the second: Peter Weigle unexpectedly told me I was next on his list. I hadn’t planned on any more bikes for a few years, but how can I turn down the master? The best part: The bike he is building for me is going to be going to two shows, one in the US and one in Rome. It will be one of Peter’s usual spectacularly beautiful creations…

…but we’ll be using semi-modern 9-speed Record on it. I love French style, but I’m not going without my modern conveniences. This bike will be, perhaps surprisingly, a 700C bike. It just didn’t make sense to have another 650B randonneur when I have the Herse. I’ll be using the 32 mm Extra Legers.

I’m hoping to talk Peter into shaving a set of Extra Leger Hetres for the English, even though the bike he is building for me is going to be a 700C. I feel like my life will not be complete without having a chance to ride a pair! Yes, I have simple needs.

I will need to sell a few bikes soon. As much as I want to be a bicycle horder, the bikes that weren’t built specifically for me have to go. I have a beautiful 58 cm Boxer Randonneur that needs to go (yes, the one that was reviewed in Bicycle Quarterly), as well as a sweet 80s Moser. I could also be talked into selling my 58-cm green Toei for the right price (it’s a lovely bike, but IS NOT what I ordered…long story).

Let me know if you have any interest.


Peekamoose Options

Last week, a reader asked me for advice on a killer route that would take him over several of the major climbs in the area, starting from New Paltz. He didn’t ask me to create GPS for him, in fact, he already had a good route in mind, but because I have an obsession with maps, I put together three options for Peekamoose.

First, a warning: These routes will challenge even experienced riders. Two of them include three of the finest climbs in the Catskills and Shawangunk Ridge, and one includes an additional climb which is well worth your time. If you’re an experienced rider looking for a capstone ride for your summer, one of these will fit the bill nicely, particularly if you want something in the century range.

Second, I obviously took these pictures at different seasons, and across several years. So think green!

Let’s get this party started by getting you from the train station in Poughkeepsie to the starting point in New Paltz. Don’t consider this part of your ride—it’s extremely fast with minimal effort, and it takes you on a bike path out of Poughkeepsie to Route 299.

Poughkeepsie Bike Path

There is considerable traffic on Route 299, but the shoulder is wide, so it is safe. Is it the prettiest way to get to New Paltz? No, but it’s the fastest way to get to the good stuff. This is what the route looks like, and the GPS can be found here. Don’t be scared by the elevation gain, it’s just because there’s a bridge on the route.

Getting 2 New Paltz

Here’s option 1. The route, excluding the transport segment to and from New Paltz, is 105 miles. You’ll begin in New Paltz by crossing the river and taking an immediate right on Mountain Rest Road. You can also go straight on 299, but this little jog to the northwest keeps you away from traffic a little longer.

55 Field

Once you rejoin 299, you’ll head down to a hairpin turn which leads into the climb over the ridge on Route 55. At the base of the climb, you’ll see a German restaurant; across the street there’s a place to fill your bottles or get supplies, if needed.

Base of 55 climb

Then, it’s all uphill for the next 5 miles. You’ll encounter some traffic on the way up—everyone is headed to the parking lot at the top of the ridge. Once you pass that parking lot, the traffic tapers off dramatically and you get to experience a fun 6-mile descent into Kerhonkson.

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You can either continue onto 209, where there is a convenience store (take a left to rejoin the route), or—as shown on the route—you can take a left on Berme Road, which is considerably more pleasant than 209. Then, it’s on to a very short segment on 209 to take you to Lundy Road. Here, you’ll pass a nice swimming hole if you need to cool off, followed by a right on lovely Rogue Harbor Road. Lundy is extremely rough, and Rogue Harbor is outright gravel. I ride both regularly on a road bike with 25 mm tubulars, so you’ll survive, I’m sure.

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Now we’re getting to the good part: the foothills of the Catskills. Cherrytown Road is lovely, and you’re going to hit some great gravel on Dug and Sundale Roads.

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After that, you’ll pass by my house and head into the Catskills.

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I have to warn you that although the whole section I just described is absolutely beautiful, it’s a long hard slog up a moderate incline. Trust me—I have to do it every time I ride into town!

Shortly thereafter, you’ll hit High Point Mountain Road, which will lead you to the second big climb of the day—Peekamoose! It’s a good climb to the top with transient 16% grades, but it is worth it. And here’s the bonus: An 8-mile continuous descent. That’s right, absolutely no uphill—all downhill.

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Now, this route includes a second climb up starting on Red Bush/Greenville Road. You need to ride this even at the cost of all the additional effort. You’ll get this wonderful view:

14. At the top of Peekamoose

Followed by a 13 mile descent with lots of gravel.

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From there, you’ll follow 55 into Naponach, followed by another brief segment on 209, whereupon you’ll enter Ellenville. Stop for lunch because the worst (and best) is ahead.

19. 55 Going into Naponach

From Ellenville, you’ll take South Gulley Road back over the Shawangunk Ridge. Here’s a view looking down South Gulley in the winter. You’ll be going up, sorry!

6 the Valley

It’s apparently the biggest vertical climb in the Southern Hudson Valley. Afterward, you’ll descend on Vista Maria, and from there it’s all rolling farmland and forest back to New Paltz.

As you can tell, I endorse Route Number 1. But here are a few more options.

Route 2 will take you much the same way, but it is only 90 miles in length. On this route, you won’t climb over the ridge on 55; instead, you’ll take Mountain Rest Road over the ridge. In many ways, this is a better climb than 55, and there is much less traffic, but no views! So for all that struggle you get nothin’ at the top. From there, you’ll head into High Falls, and then up into the foothills…no, there’s no avoiding the slog up to the first climb, but again if you have to struggle you might as well do it in beautiful country, right?

Option 2

You’ll go over Peekamoose, same as before, but instead of enjoying the second climb, you’ll head straight down onto 55, and then ride in back country to Ellenville. I’ve included a descent on Irish Cape Road just because it’s fun, but it does mean that you have to ride 2 miles on 209 to get back to Ellenville. Do it though, it’s worth it. From there, everything is materially the same.

Now, what about Route 3?  This ~90-mile route takes you halfway up the Route 55 climb, but then takes Clove Road over, and you ultimately cross 209 to get to the foothills. This route includes the second Red Bush/Greenville climb and all the fun gravel. Again, after you hit Ellenville, you’ll be riding up South Gulley, descending Vista Maria, and then rolling farmland back to New Paltz.

Option 3

I’ve covered every inch of these roads on various rides, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. They will tax even the most experienced rider, but nearly every mile is worth the effort. I say nearly, because there are some very short segments on 209 (which really is much better than 9W, but it is the least pleasant road out here). Altogether, though, out of 90 to 100 miles less than 4 or 5 are on 209.

If you need any advice (or encouragement) my contact information is on my professional website…and check back a little later in the week: I’m putting together the Spring Route Roundup right now, and of course I’ll have a ride report for you.