If you’re a New York area rider, you owe it to yourself to skip 9W one weekend (or every weekend) and come out to Dutchess or Ulster counties for a ride that will make the Bear Mountain run seem…well…kind of sad. It’s easy to get here by train, and when you look at it rationally, how many junk miles and how much time do you put in just trying to get over the bridge? Take that time, ride to Grand Central, and get on a train.
If you’re in the area, let us know. we’re always up for a challenging ride, and we’re more than happy to ride at your pace, fast or slow.
Anton (aka somervillain) is a biomedical research scientist based in Boston, but was born and raised in the Catskills.
He returns to the Catskills at every opportunity to chart out and report on novel cycling routes that take in the most remote, most scenic and most challenging dirt roads. He can be contacted here.
John S (aka globecanvas) hasn’t added his bio, but JF knows where he lives.
John Ferguson is the original G of the blog. He’s a former biomedical research scientist, having decided over a decade ago that cooking with carcinogens was no longer for him. John likes long, moderately paced rides, preferably with a lot of dirt. He can be contacted here.
If you’d like to contribute to the blog, let us know. It’s a perfect place for ride reports. Don’t forget the pictures and a route.
If you want to skip the reading and go right to the riding, a complete library of routes in upstate New York can be found here. If you want to read about selected routes, simply click on “worth the trip“. Feel free to comment or e-mail if you have any questions.
As a note, many routes deliberately include significant sections of gravel. Most are well groomed, but there are some rough segments that require good bike handling skills. Use the widest tires you can fit on your bike. That said, they can be ridden spring, summer, and fall on a regular road bike with 25 mm tubulars without problems; in the winter 32 mm tires or even a 650B randonneur with 42 mm tires is advisable.
If you have little experience on gravel, take it easy!
You can find the train schedule here. You should have a bike pass, although in 5 years JF was only asked for one once. They can be had for $5 at any window in Grand Central. Bring a bungie cord to attach your bike wherever you can find a spot in the car; due to our decidedly third-world train system, the ride out to Poughkeepsie can get a little rough. The best spots for bikes on Metro North are, unfortunately, usually adjacent to the bathrooms.
And one piece of practical advice for those of you who don’t ride Metro North regularly: bring your own toilet paper. Yeah, gross, right? But you’ll thank us profusely if you have to use a Metro North bathroom, which are more often than not without toilet paper.
Want to drive to ride? That’s okay too, although the train is a better choice. There are municipal parking lots in New Paltz, Accord, and Rosendale, and elsewhere. Feel free to ask for specifics.
This blog has no commercial or personal objectives; instead, it is intended to get people out here and riding on what are arguably some of the best and most scenic roads on the east coast (and only 1.5 hours from NYC by train, no less!) So do me a favor: If you use any of these routes, or even if you’ve used this blog as guidance for designing your own, send a few good pictures, a few lines about your ride, and–if you designed your own route–the course. We’ll put it up on the blog. It’s nice to know that you’re doing something useful, and you’ll be helping those who follow you.