Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ride With GPS: Open Street Maps vs Google Maps

I just saw that the map in the post below actually shows the connection between Trails End Rd and Yeagerville Rd. After a quick conversation with Zack Ham from Ride With GPS, I found out why: Ride With GPS uses Google Maps for routing as a default. However, if you export a jpeg, it is based on Open Street Maps, which differs significantly from Google Maps. You can switch the default routing map in the upper-right-hand corner of the main Ride With GPS screen to RWGPS, which uses Open Street Maps.

Why is this valuable? In comparing Google Maps and Open Street Maps, it appears that the latter includes a lot of back roads that Google Maps does not include. For example, I just found a back road to near the very highest point in the Catskills that appears only in Open Street Maps. So if you’re looking for gravel or the road less traveled, make sure you explore your area using both map bases.

Now, I just have to find someone dumb enough to accompany me on a 3500-ft climb on loose gravel this weekend. Any takers? Think of the bragging rights: The highest bike-navigable point in the Catskills, at 3711 feet! It even has a 27.8% grade just to add to the good times.

And by the way, if you don’t want to pay the $100 or so for Garmin’s map, Ride With GPS now sells an SD card with Open Street Maps preloaded for $25. A good deal. Of course, you can buy an SD card and download the maps yourself, but it looks to me like more time and trouble than it is worth.


My Dumbass Adventure

I’ve hypothesized for a while that I could get from my area, just south of the Catskills, over to Yeagerville Rd—and from there, to Peekamoose Rd, by taking a little road called Trails End (no apostrophe, thanks).

Trails Endl

On maps, Trails End Rd terminates unceremoniously a few miles from the terminus of Yeagerville Rd. Yet I knew that there was a gravel path that headed over the mountains that was unmarked on maps. I just didn’t know where it ended.

Today, I decided to find out. I won’t bore you with the 10-mile trip to and from, so let’s start at the base of Trails End Rd. I knew that I had a good-sized climb ahead of me, about 1000 feet in just a few miles. Mostly on gravel.


As expected, the road ends and gravel begins…


There’s nothing like 12% to 15% climbs on loose gravel. I had to get off my bike for a moment and walk about 100 feet, pursued by clouds of hungry mosquitos.


About a mile in, you have two choices: There’s a path that is apparently for hikers…


Which really doesn’t work well on a bike, even one with fat 650B tires. Too many large rocks. I suppose someone with really good cyclocross skills could navigate it, but that’s definitely not me.


However, if you turn around, as I eventually did, there’s a snowmobile trail leading up, up, up.


Which leads to some nice, but very loose, gravel roads.



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It was pretty clear as I reached the apex of the ride that I was actually going over a mountain. As I entered a brief clearing, I couldn’t see any peaks around me–an unusual occurrence. Thus, I made it to the very top of something, but I know not what.

Unfortunately, I did not make it to the end of the path today. A storm was closing in, and there was thunder and lightning off in the distance. I figured it wouldn’t be a good idea to be caught on top of a mountain in the middle of thunderstorm. So I very cautiously picked my way back down the road and returned home. Indeed, within about a mile of my place, the skies opened up!

In retrospect, this was fun, albeit extremely strenuous, but kind of dumb. I went out on a road that is not marked on any map, in an area that has no cell phone service, and climbed over a mountain on loose gravel with inclement weather threatening. I also decided to do it on the fly, so I didn’t inform anyone where I was going to be.

Some day, hopefully this year, I’ll find out what lies on the other end of this path. Preferably with a companion next time!


New Route: For all Delicacies of Shabbos

Sorry for my brief absence. In part, it’s because I’ve been riding a lot, I’ve also had even more work than usual. Trying to fit in three or four 30- or 40-mile rides each week, plus a much longer ride on the weekend is difficult at best. Plus I wanted to give Anton’s guest post (just below) pride of place for an extended period because it’s really an amazing report. I have lots to report, including numerous rides, a review of TRP’s new Spyre SLC mechanical disc brakes, a review of Search and State’s amazing jersey, and a quick note about an great bike shop called Cinder Track Bicycles. So let’s get started with my most recent ride, and we’ll work backwards from there over the week.

Doug and I decided on a different sort of ride this week. Our rides are almost always composed of long, brutal climbs up mountains followed by extended high-speed descents. Moreover, we almost always head north of Woodstock or to the northwest of my place in Olivebridge, New York. Into the Catskills proper. This time, we decided we’d explore the undiscovered country to the west and southwest. This area is completely different from our usual rides—even though we ended up with about 6000 feet of climbing, it was almost all rollers. In theory good for my knee, since it got frequent breaks. The route is here.

Glen WIld

We started at my place. After a quick climb off some gravel near my home, we descended to Rogue Harbor Road, my favorite in the area. This road, which I’ve mentioned many times before, is potholed dirt and a lot of fun. With anything more than a little rain, it floods out and you end up riding through what is essentially a stream.


From there, we took Cutter “Road” over to Highway 55. Deliberate use of sarcastic quotes, because Cutter Road is rough enough that we had to get off our bikes for a moment to walk over some particular rough patches. And I was on 650B! Even with the walking, it was worth it, because it cuts about 5 miles of ugly highway out of the route.


We continued southwest into the undiscovered country. I’ve passed through some of this on my way back from Peekamoose or Slide Mountain rides, but this was my first time so far south. Again, no mountains, just endless miles of rolling back country. It mostly looked like this:


And this…


And this…


As you can see, pretty country. No views though. I also didn’t realize that rollers could be so exhausting. I also might have been tired just because it was over 90 degrees out.

Along the way, we stopped at a convenience store located in Jellystone Park. I ran into Booboo and had to have a picture taken.


Next, we continued to Woodridge, where we had our first major delay of the day. It was July 4th, and Woodridge was absolutely packed with Orthodox Jewish folks, mostly visiting from Brooklyn. All the restaurants were full. We (tried) to eat here, but it took about an hour to get our food and eat.


Then disaster struck, repeatedly. Doug’s tires were relatively old, and he ended up getting three flats. The first was okay, because we were going up a mild incline and we weren’t going that fast. The second was terrifying. Doug was behind me on a 30 mph descent and I heard a very loud bang and hiss. I thought he’d crash for sure, but he managed to come to a controlled stop. The third came at drink stop in Mountain Dale. We went in to get drinks (2 waters and a Coke for me), and when we went back out, Doug’s tire was flat again. I contemplated calling Margot, but, amazingly, the proprietor of the grocery store told us that there was a bike shop only a block away…and it was open! After waiting for a long time because the shop was busy, Doug bought a new front tire and three tubes, and we were good to go.


We turned north to hit Park Hill Road, and then turned again on Van Keuren Road. Our Garmins told us that it was a through road, so even though we quite clearly saw the dead end sign, we decided to turn and check it out. We thought that maybe there was a path that would lead us to our intended destination. As it turns out…no dice. There was a path, but it was submerged and extremely muddy. I may have been able to manage it on my bike, but Doug was riding 23s.


From there, we continued north, back to my neighborhood. The views got much better….


We returned home to a full-on July 4th barbeque in progress. Perhaps surprisingly, because all I had to eat over 70 miles was 5 cheese sticks, I wasn’t that hungry. Sometimes that happens to me when I exercise. Still, I managed a couple cheeseburgers and a hot dog.

So, is this worth the trip? I’m going to categorize it as such, because it’s a fairly easy ride compared with our usual rides. But it doesn’t offer the scenic vistas, brutal climbs, and long fast descents of many of my other routes. Nevertheless, it was a nice change of pace.