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!


3 thoughts on “New Route: One Down, Seven to Go

  1. somervillebikes

    John, you always manage to capture the beauty of the Catskills that transcends the unavoidable and pernicious signs of economic decay endemic to this area. Even though this section of the Catskills is slightly outside that which I am very familiar, your photos instantly bring back very clear and fond memories of a place that I once called home. I hope to get a ride in with you sometime this summer…

  2. globecanvas

    Great day for it.

    For future reference, there is a *second* randomly-sometimes-open refreshment-selling shack in Sundown, much friendlier than the “zombie Cuomo” shack. At the decision point intersection, there is a house across the Sugarloaf-bound road at the white church, and behind the house is a, well, shack that sells cold drinks and the like.

  3. exmaschine

    John, your blog is inspirational to say the least. The photos, the ride descriptions, the rides themselves. It is serendipitous that I found your blog via RwGPS. I was thinking over the winter that I wanted to ride some roads in the Catskills in 2013. Roads that maybe mirror some of the European climbs. Out here in Northwest-Central NJ, we have some steep climbs, but none are more than 2 miles, with a couple of 3 milers. I have been cycling since 2004 and last year was the first time I decided to take on the hills rather than avoid them. I am hooked now. Suffer though I mightily do, I am drawn to the ascents. Thanks for sharing your travels and advsntures on the bike! I look forward to all of your rides this year. Regards, Geo
    (I requested your friendship on RwGPS – as manmachine)


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