Category Archives: bicycles

Up and Over the Ridge

On Friday’s ride, I decided to abandon all pretense of planning and just go where I felt like going, with a strong preference for riding roads I hadn’t taken before. This is how it ended up:

Friday 8-29

All in all, a  satisfactory ride. In fact, I’d categorize it as worth the trip if you’re coming up from the city and want something shorter (50 miles) that does not require extraordinary effort or fitness.

I’d never headed north on Albany Post Road. It’s quite beautiful.

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But the highlight of the first 15 miles was Guilford Road. Again, not a road that I’d had a reason to take until now. If you’re planning a ride on the east side of the ridge, make sure you include this road. Click on the first and second picture below for full size and you’ll see what I mean.

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On Guilford, you’ll head up a short but steep climb onto 44/55, where there is a delicious German restaurant called the Mountain Brauhaus if you want to eat hearty. I really love this place–we go to dinner there at least once a month. And we’re not alone, because it’s always packed. If you have a large party or want to eat there during prime dining hours without having to wait an hour for a table, call ahead.

There’s a deli across the road, too.

This is the hairpin about 1/5 of the way up the climb over the ridge. This road has a real alpine feel. The only other place (relatively) nearby where you get this sort of feeling is on the climb up 23A north of Woodstock (talk here, route here).

7Still climbing…the next day Margot and I went back over the ridge (in a car this time) to visit some friends in Olivebridge. I mentioned that I had climbed up this the day before, and she said “…and that’s why I always say that cycling is the sport for people who hate themselves.” I really feel like this is a pretty easy climb, though.

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About one-third of the way up, there’s a parking lot on the left. Stop there for a great view.

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My original intent was to head all the way over on Route 44/55, but as I passed Clove Road I realized that I had never gone down that way…up, yes. But not down. So I turned right on Clove Road. I should also mention that my original intent was to take Undercliff Carriage Trail (at mile 9), and return on Old Minnewaska Trail, which joins up with Clove Road–and from there I was supposed to go back to 44/55 to continue. I got on the trail just past the bridge at mile 9, battled tree roots and head-size boulders on my road bike for 1000 feet, and then got spit back out on 44/55. I don’t know what I did wrong.

The picture below is Clove Road. A little tough descending near the junction with 44/55 because the road is rough for the first few miles.

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Some guy’s collection of burl? I’m not sure if they are there for their sculptural qualities or to sell. Or maybe they are for giant-sized aquariums?

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A couple more of Clove Road.

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This one reminds me of an Alec Soth photo. I’m no Alec Soth but 1 out of every 100 of my photos is decent.

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And a fierce hunter stalking a…cow and a chicken.

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I’m sure my co-blogger is familiar with this road, as he lives nearby. I didn’t test the road sign’s assertion.

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On the way back, I decided–again on the fly–to take the bike path back, because I hadn’t yet been on the trestle over Rosendale. The deck of the trestle is warped pine, and feels unsafe on a bike (although I am sure it is completely safe, right?)

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The view from the trestle down into Rosendale is worth the risk.17

And finally, the bike path. Lovely, but 11 miles on the path on a road bike is a little much for even me–it can be rough in some spots. No need for the full-squish mountain bikes that many rent to ride the trail, though….I just think it would be more fun on my cross bike with 32-mm tires.

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And…home. I just realized I never posted a picture of Margot’s teeny-tiny Boulder. Don’t laugh at the setup…the choice was either setting up the bike as shown or buying her a children’s bike.

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If you’re planning just one trip to the Catskills for a cycling adventure, do it in September or October. It’s amazing out here. Saturday, September 13 is Gardiner Day and Sunday, September 14 is Taste of New Paltz. I don’t know wassup with Gardiner Day, except it apparently involves horses and fruit pies. On the other hand, Taste of New Paltz is a major event with lots of good food. Come on up!

One final thing occurred to me…you could also do the route in reverse (which I mapped for you here), which would get you to the Mountain Brauhaus in time for an early dinner. And if you’re looking for a way to ride this route without the bike path segment, let me know.

And that’s all for now! I will have a review for you later this week.

John

medicalwriter.net

Warning: Bicycle Race Content

There are many ways to use a bicycle.

This blog is mostly about exploration, and illuminating the many pleasures of cycling in and around the Catskills. As such, I imagine that many readers place a high value on the ways a bicycle is a vehicle for exploration and self-sufficiency. It’s not about getting from point to point as quickly as possible; it’s about the path in between. Randonneurs don’t care about who gets there fastest, but they respect those who experience the best journey.

On the other hand… at a recent local event, I struck up a conversation with a guy wearing a shirt silkscreened with a stylized track bike.

trackbike

He turned out to be a lifestyle advocate for cycling as functional transportation. He didn’t own a car (David Byrne style). For him, bicycles are literally about getting from point to point — not about the speed, or the journey, but the simple fact of moving people and goods with no dependency on energy infrastructure. (I guess they didn’t have a shirt with a stylized cargo bike at the store.) While I certainly support his cause, he was a somewhat overzealous advocate. He was scornful of both recreational cyclists and racers, because he felt that they create a public perception of cycling as a leisure-class or athletic-niche activity.

All of which is to say, bicycles mean many things to many people. It’s human nature to self-select according to our interests, and it’s easy to caricature those whose interests don’t mesh with our own. Sheldon Brown, socks and SPD sandals, leather saddles. Lumberjack beards, skinny pants and brakeless fixed gear bikes. Garish lycra, shaved legs, and uncomfortable carbon frames.

Essentially, this is a big pre-apologia for posting a bike race report on Riding the Catskills. Racers are a small subset of bicycle enthusiasts, and a particularly easy subset to make fun of. Bicycle racing is contrived, narrow, and highly specialized. And it attracts people with obsessive tendencies. Most people have no idea how hard you have to work to be a mediocre bike racer!

But I do it anyway. Racing offers a completely different set of rewards from the other ways to use a bicycle. Like jumping out of an airplane, racing is a heightened experience. Success requires maintaining absolute focus on the moment, while another part of your brain constructs situational and tactical awareness, all while your body is trying to concentrate all of its energy into physical output. In my view, the measure of a successful race is not winning, it’s maintaining that heightened state for as long as possible.

The desire to achieve that state creates a strong compulsion. My buddy Jim rode his stationary indoor trainer so long this winter that his sweat literally ruined his aluminum handlebars. If you’ve ever ridden a trainer for even 20 minutes, you may have some inkling of how unnatural this is.

shweddy_bars[photo: Bicycle Depot]

For me, the compulsion manifests in winter riding that seems almost masochistic to outsiders. I’ve reported here on hundred-mile rides on a heavy singlespeed, icy roads and sand-covered descents. I haven’t reported on interval training and hill repeats, which are far more boring and can’t be prettied up and passed off as an appealing way to experience the Catskills.

The spring race season in upstate New York started last weekend, with the first race of the 3-week Trooper Brinkerhoff series in Coxsackie, in Greene County. The Trooper series (formerly known as the Johnny Cake Lane series) is a fast, rolling, very windy road race.

The weekend after the Trooper series is Battenkill, one of the biggest races in the country. This is a brutalizing route through gorgeous, hilly dairyland in New York’s Taconic Valley, not far from Bennington, Vermont. Battenkill is modeled on the cobbled Spring Classic races of Belgium, and features long sections of pitted dirt roads and sharp climbs. It’s a spectacle, too: thousands of racers invade the tiny town of Cambridge, New York, literally doubling the population for the weekend.

battenkill[photo: Schenectady Daily Gazette]

The local spring races conclude with the Hunter Mountain Spring Classic, a relatively new, hilly road race right in the middle of the Catskills.

I’ll be doing all of these races over the next two months, sprained knee willing. I probably won’t report on all of them, because I don’t want to bore everyone to death with race report navel-gazing. But I will report if anything interesting happens.

Like last weekend, when I won the Trooper race.  Smiley

Shortest race report ever: a field of 65 category 4/5 racers. A few breakaways tried to get away but fizzled in the wind. A pack of about 40 racers at the front was psyching itself up for a bunch sprint. At the 1k sign I took off from about 10 racers deep and never looked back. The surprise kilo attack worked, I got a gap, railed the final corner, and won the race by about a bike length over the chasing pack. That’s me, on the left, looking happy.

brinkerhoff
[photo: J. Harvey]

My goal for the spring races is to get the last few points for my cat 3 upgrade, then race open masters fields exclusively. Masters fields are very skilled and fast, so I will never again get another podium or upgrade point, but the quality of racing is high, and after all, it’s all about the journey, not the result.

– John S, aka globecanvas

The Dead of Winter

At last, the frigid vortex cold snap ended. Let’s go outside!

porch

Hmm, not that way. Maybe the front yard?

yard

The snow was deep enough out there to swallow my kid. Those little stalks in the foreground are 4-foot coneflowers.

This just hasn’t been the best February for cycling. It has been just spectacular for cross-country skiing, though.

For years, I was an XC ski scoffer. The Walkill Valley Rail Trail is literally 50 feet from our house, and my wife hits the trail on her skis whenever there’s enough snow. I always thought of XC skiing as jogging in the snow, more or less, and it simply didn’t appeal. She bought me some old off-rental skis one christmas, which I dutifully used now and then. A few years back I was trudging down the rail trail on my crappy skis when I ran into some friends, an older couple who lives nearby. They were all blissed out on their skis and asked me why I was so grumpy-looking. I said something like “my wife makes me do this, I’d rather be cycling.” They laughed, said “follow us!”, and blasted off the trail into the woods. Soon enough we were on the MTB loop I’ve ridden a thousand times, a swoopy, flowy, up-and-down classic of a trail… on skis! Somehow it had never occurred to me that cross-country means, you know, across the countryside, not just back and forth on the rail trail. Ever since that day I’ve been an avid XC skier. I got a pair of metal-edge skis and some stiffer 3-pin boots, and hit the MTB loop whenever there’s enough snow to bury the rocks.

Most winter there’s only enough snow for a short period of time, but this month it’s absolutely dumped down snow, and up until a few days ago, the temperatures had been consistently below freezing, making for deep and generally ideal conditions.

cliff

Some hardcore friends do a twice-weekly night MTB ride that morphs into a night backcounty ski in the wintertime. The actual route doesn’t change, though, so what is a 90-minute MTB hammerfest in July becomes a 3-hour XC ski epic in February. The loop is no joke, with over 1000 feet of elevation gain in 8 miles, including one truly scary descent (or truly intimidating climb, depending on which direction you are going), which is locally known as “The Widowmaker,” displaying an impressive lack of creativity. With the frequency of snowfall we’ve had, we’re breaking trail on every outing.

Breaking trail through the woods on skis with 120+ feet of climbing per mile is a tremendous amount of work. It’s amazing how much heat the human body can generate. It’s also impossible to underdress — you can be overheated in a t-shirt at 12F. (Just don’t twist an ankle, break a binding, or stop for any reason, or you’ll die!) For the past few weeks, that’s been the schedule: ski, ski, ski, a long bike ride when it’s not actually snowing for 24 hours in a row, then ski some more. This is how we survive the Northeast winters. That, and leaving snarky comments on Strava for our so-called friends in California.

Speaking of surviving the winter, here’s a key survival tool:

boots

Shimano, Sidi, Lake, Northwave, Specialized, and probably others make quality winter cycling boots. They are all expensive, but what price would you place on warm (or at least not frozen), dry toes?


Sadly, a week ago I managed to sprain my knee. My stepdad, in Dutchess County, has an epic sled run that he’s been curating for years. It goes around rusty old farm equipment, over stone walls, through the woods, over streams, through brambles. He made a wooden sign for the top of the run with eight black diamonds and the title “The Babykiller.”  The whole thing makes my mom mutter darkly and shake her head, Marge Simpson-style.  My kids absolutely love it.

I made the tactical error of doing the sled run on a crowded 4-foot toboggan with my sister and my ten year old. We jumped the tracks in the woods, and I tried to turn us by planting a foot. My foot stopped, but nothing else did, and I felt a horrible popping sensation that I thought had to be the ACL. In that moment a welter of thoughts raced through my head. Would my life be different now? Would I need surgery? Did I just DNS Battenkill? Could I invent a way to go back 10 seconds in time?

But I think I got lucky. I don’t think there was any ligament damage. It was very stiff and sore for a few days, but felt stable (as in, the knee didn’t feel like it wanted to fall apart and go sideways). Rest, ice, compression, elevation, and then a few days of very high cadence, zero resistance on the trainer, just spinning as fast as possible without pogoing off the saddle. The high cadence spinning really seemed to help the knee feel looser and more normal. Yesterday, 6 days after the accident, I went for an actual bike ride (on the single speed, no less), and although it felt weird for the first hour or so, by the middle of the ride I was actually forgetting about the injury for minutes at a time. I haven’t tried anything resembling an actual effort yet, but I’m optimistic that no real damage was done. Time will tell.


One thing I’m not clear on:  is that polar vortex thing responsible for these ridiculous sunsets?

sunset

– John S, aka globecanvas

Announcement: Registration for the Rensselaerville Cycling Festival is Open!

Yes, I’m still here and still riding. I have a large backlog of rides to post, in the meantime, want to hear about my new coffee table?

Just kidding.

My friend Tyler Wren has put together a cycling festival/Gran Fondo in Rensselaerville, a small town in upstate New York in the middle of some of the most spectacular cycling country on the east coast.

static.squarespace.com

The ride will be held September 28, 2014. You can register for 84, 55, 25, or 8 mile rides. There’s a barbeque, farmers market, a beer shed, live music, kids’ events and activities, and of course you’re only 10 minutes away from hiking trails in the surrounding Huyck Preserve.

Now, Gran Fondos aren’t my thing–too short and too many people for me–but this one looks amazing. The field is limited to 400 riders, so it should be possible to get some space over 84 miles. It is fully supported, with marshalls, signage, and sag wagons. Plus the route is spectacular, and who can say no to beer and barbeque?

You’ll also get a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the founder of ridingthecatskills.com. Yes, I’m going to break my rule regarding no organized rides for this one. Please note that I will not be signing autographs.

You can read more and register here. Hope to see you there!

John

medicalwriter.net

Miscellany

You’re allowed to do this on a blog, right? A grab bag of unrelated bits of information that might potentially be of interest to somebody? Anyone?

I’d better put a photo near the top so this doesn’t just look like a wall of words:

ridge

John F is moving house and shedding stuff he doesn’t want to move, so he bequeathed me a nice pair of studded winter tires. As well as an unashamedly cheap wheelset. (There’s something almost embarrassing about disc wheels with a rim brake track. And labeling a 2100+g wheelset “zerolite”, well, I actually have to admire that.) But everything has its use, and I was delighted to have the wheelset and tires. Thanks, John F!

It snowed about 4 inches on Monday. On Tuesday I mounted the tires on the wheels, and mounted the wheels on the cross bike.

(By the way, if you ever mount studded tires, be mindful of your muscle-memory habits, like sliding your hands around the tire as you seat the bead. Ouch! Also, after changing out the wheelset I was reminded of how much more I like the bomber Hayes mechanical discs on the single speed, compared to the fussy BB7s on the cross bike.)

The tires are Schwalbe Marathon Winter 35s, and they are impressive. Heavy of course, but well made and tough as hell. I started out with about 20 miles on plowed, paved roads, as per the manufacturer recommendation, to bed in the studs. The tires are noisy, but roll much better than I expected on pavement. Noticeably worse than a similar sized file tread tire, but not hugely worse than a mud tire, and way better than a 2″ MTB tire.

“Plowed” is a relative term, especially here in my town where we have a new highway superintendent who’s still figuring out how things work, and there was a lot of packed snow on the roads. The studs certainly helped. I was washing out regularly, but the studs near the sidewall helped arrest the washouts before the bike went totally sideways.

Riding up toward Mohonk I noticed another set of cross bike tire tracks through the snowpack and wondered who else was dumb enough to be out riding around. When I got to the ridge I figured I might as well get a little work in before hitting the trails, so I did a couple of hill repeats up to the Mountain House gatehouse. Halfway up the climb, the tire track mystery was solved: my teammate Christian was also doing laps on the hill. We were exactly 180 degrees out of phase, meaning one of us was always in the middle of the effort as the other was descending, so we never actually spoke, just nodded like Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf punching the clock. (What? You thought it was Wile E. Coyote in that series? Philistine. I suppose all obsessive-compulsive canid customers of the Acme Corporation look alike to you.)

After a couple of hill repeats, it was off to the trails.

snowy trail

The tires did OK, but it turns out that fresh snow is not really the ideal application for studded 35c tires. The 40c version might have fared a bit better, but there just wasn’t much to grip on. It did feel like excellent cross bike handling practice, not that anyone needs to be doing that in February. Putting studded tires on a cross bike doesn’t make it a fat bike, that’s for sure.

The tires are definitely best on ice, rather than snow. They would be perfect for a winter paved-road commuter. Still, it was fun to ride around the snowy trails to see what would work and what wouldn’t.

Say, were these deer drunk?

deer tracks


Before I set out on the ride, I wrung hands for a bit over whether to run the Stages power meter, or take it off. Back story: Stages is a new entry into the bike power meter market, and their product fills the “simple and cheap” ecological niche. It’s just a single crankarm with an instrument pod epoxied onto it. There are some passionate Stages haters out there, who feel that the lower power measurement accuracy, and the fact that it’s only measuring your left leg, make the device worthless. On the other hand, it’s half the price of any other crank-based power meter, and more versatile than the more accurate but similarly-priced Powertap.

There are good points on both sides of the ledger, and if you’re thinking of getting a power meter, you should do some internet research to understand all of the issues. Personally, I think it’s a fine device as long as you acknowledge what it can and can’t do. If you need more accuracy, you need to pay more and get something different. For base/build training, I think it’s appropriate, and it is very convenient that I can swap the meter onto any of three different bikes, including the single speed, in about 60 seconds.

I bought the Stages at the start of cross season last year, and rode it hard on a lot of rough conditions and singletrack. After a couple of months, I cracked the instrument pod, probably on a rock.  You can see the small crack at the right-hand edge of the pod.

stages

The power meter continued to work, but battery life became terrible, maybe a week at best. The crack was letting water in. Stages overnighted me a free replacement.

The replacement worked great for another few months, then batteries started their tragic dying-young routine again, especially if conditions were wet. It turns out that water infiltration is a major problem for this first iteration of Stages power meters. Stages overnighted me another replacement, and also comped me a 3-year warranty. (They are certainly not cutting any corners on customer support.)

The third Stages had a slightly different battery compartment seal. I taped up the crank arm as well, to try to seal the whole device. So far, I’ve had no additional troubles, and this week alone I rode many hours in the rain. But I wasn’t sure if riding through deepish snow would be a good idea. I did end up using the Stages on this ride, and it was completely fine, despite being covered in snow for most of the ride.

So, bottom line, if you have a Stages, tape it up.


A couple of weeks ago I went out for a longish ride.  I expected to be back after dark, so I brought lights.  While I was out it started snowing heavily.  It was a great ride, in a sort of epic hard-man way, but on the way home I made a poor tactical decision to head home down Clove Valley Road, a beautiful but poorly maintained narrow winding road.

I had only brought a headlamp, not the bars-and-helmet setup I use for night MTB, and having a single source of light is really not ideal for seeing the topological detail of what’s in front of you.  I had to pick a slow, careful line down the snowy, sandy road, and when cars approached I just got off the bike and stood well off the road until they passed.

As I worked my way home, later than expected, my phone rang, no doubt my wife calling to see if I was still alive.  I stopped, but my hands were too numb to even get my phone out of my pocket, much less operate it.  It rang a couple more times, but there wasn’t anything I could do; I just pushed on, trying to get home so she could stop worrying.  I did eventually get home without incident (unless you consider an upset worried wife to be an “incident.”).

For yesterday’s ride, I thought I’d try out Road ID’s phone app, which would allow my wife to see my location in real-time via the phone GPS and a map server.  She absolutely loved this.  She only checked it once, but it gave her peace of mind to know that she would be able to see where I was if something bad happened.   During the 3-hour ride, the app drew down my phone battery from 100% to about 60%, which is better than I expected.  For a very long ride, I’d always want to be sure I had some battery left to make a call if I needed to, so I’d wait until I was heading home before turning the app on.

The app has a couple of other features that I didn’t use, such as alerting people if you stop for more than 5 minutes — who would use that?  But it worked exactly right for what I needed.  And it’s free.


Hey, yesterday a bald eagle parked itself in our backyard for about a half hour. I guess it was digesting, because eventually it took a majestic crap and then soared off.

eagle

Today, it’s just juncos and goldfinches.

birdfeeder

And with that, I shall conclude this experiment in free association.

sunset

(That is actually a different sunset from the one I posted at the end of my previous  post.)

– John S, aka globecanvas

Basha Kill Single Speed Century

The relentless very cold weather has been strangling any chance of a long ride for the past couple of weeks. (According to the always entertaining Hudson Valley Weather blog, we are currently experiencing the longest sustained below-freezing period in many years, perhaps ever.) But yesterday the forecast was for a balmy 30F! Sure, the wind chill was about 5F, but it’s all relative.

My specific goal was to do 100 miles on the single speed. I originally planned to do the Frost Valley loop through the Catskills, but the forecast there was for a couple inches of snow. Instead I plotted a route following the Shawangunk Ridge south into Sullivan and Orange counties, an area I haven’t ridden in much.

A note on dressing for weather: always dress for the wind chill and the expected level of effort. The harder you plan to work, the more you need to underdress, to the point where a hard-working ride requires you to be downright cold when you’re starting out. Yesterday, with a wind chill of 5F and a leisurely pace, was one notch above “wear everything.” Insulated bib tights, a thin wool baselayer, soft shell jacket, balaclava, glove liners and lobster gloves, wool socks, winter cycling boots, and chemical toe warmers (which are magically wonderful). As it turned out, I was slightly overdressed, but not to the point of sweating through the clothes, which is an experience really worth avoiding in the cold.

The first 30 miles were an easy, familiar cruise along the base of the Gunks. As I rode south, the road conditions improved; my road is still covered in packed snow, but it looked like less snow had fallen in Sullivan County. Unfortunately, I was riding into a full headwind, so it was slow going.

Around mile 30, the road turned upwards to cross the ridge. I picked the least challenging route up and over, but there were still a few sections of 8%-type grades, which are challenging on a single speed, especially because steep grades tend to be both iciest and most heavily sanded. Nothing too crazy, though, and soon enough I was at the top of the ridge at High View.

60 years ago, this area was home to dozens of Borscht Belt resorts, ranging from small family operations to relatively grand hotels like the Shawanga Lodge. Now, they are all decrepit ruins, sad reminders of a heyday that has long since faded away. There has been some recent investment in the area, partly fueled by (and fueling) the 2013 New York proposition permitting some casino gambling, and partly hoping to cater to the wealthy eco-spa set. We’ll see what will come of these plans.

In any case, a fast descent off the other side of the ridge led into Wurtsboro, a biker town as in Harley (not as in Surly). It’s marginally scenic in seasons other than the dead of winter, but honestly somewhat grim in January. This was the outer boundary of my previous cycling experience, and I was delighted to find that as soon as I turned off of Main Street, the route became spectacular. I followed a small road along the shoulders of the ridge, slowly picking up altitude as a wide tract of wilderness opened up beneath me. It started to snow, just enough to be scenic, not enough to be a bummer.

farm field

The road (marked on Google Maps as Haven or South Road, but road signs in situ said Indian Orchard) became increasingly scenic as it became clear this was some sort of preserve. I stopped at a lovely frozen stream, which rose almost vertically yet somehow was not a frozen waterfall.

falls

Finally, I passed a sign identifying this area as the Basha Kill wetlands, much to my surprise. I’ve canoed at the Basha Kill several times in the summer, but it was completely unrecognizable in winter (also, I was on the other side of the wetland from the main approach). It would have made a fine ride destination if I’d thought of it. As it happened, it was just a happy coincidence. I’ll be returning to ride this area again, for sure.

At the end of the road, I climbed back up to the top of the ridge, now in Orange County, to the town of Otisville. I was struck by how much more upscale this area seemed than the other side of the ridge — not that it was fancy, more that it wasn’t visibly depressed. Then I noticed a sign for a Metro-North station. It’s only one stop from the end of the line, but a conduit for commuters and NYC salaries makes a big difference to a town’s median income.

The next 30 miles or so were a spectacular, gradual descent through rolling farmland, with a steady tailwind. Really, there’s nothing like a gradual descent and a strong tailwind for a fantastic bike ride. The farms were pretty and well-kept, this is quite a nice area to ride. The only downside yesterday was that in many places, a sort of crosswind tunnel effect would blow a significant amount of snow across the road, which had to be forded while bracing against the sudden crosswind.

Back in Ulster County, I passed the Shawangunk Grasslands wildlife refuge, a former army airfield that is now a 600 acre preserve. This seemingly unremarkable giant meadow is actually an important wintering and migration habitat for the entire roster of endangered and threatened grassland birds. If you’re into birds, it’s a great destination, especially in spring when birds are nesting.

The skies finally started to clear as I re-entered the super-familiar radius of about 30 miles from home. As the skies cleared, the wind and temperature both dropped, but that was fine. Cold and sunny is better than slightly less cold, cloudy and gusty.

sandhill

Some leisurely calculation revealed that if I headed more or less directly home, I’d end up with about 95 miles. Sure, it’s arbitrary and contrived, but I jinked a few miles east to ride home past the Black Creek swamp and ensure three digits of mileage.

swamp

Once home, I proceeded to eat everything in the house, and was treated to a spectacular sunset out the back window. This is an undoctored photograph, honest.

sunset

This was a great ride. 100 miles in January is hard on the equipment, though. I doubt this chain has many more January centuries in it.  The freewheel is starting to go as well, probably full of sand.

bike

The route:

Capture

— John S, aka globecanvas