Category Archives: rides

The Best Ride: Bruderhof Loop

Finally back in gear for the summer!

This weekend, I did a variation on my favorite ride: Up the ridge on 44/55, then a nice long decent on Stony Kill Road.

Best view of the Catskills (unfortunately obscured on this day):

I ran into my co-blogger, John S, on the way down Stony Kill. I was hauling ass at that point since it was slightly downhill, and I’m sure John was going his usual speed (fast), so I didn’t realize until about a mile later who I passed. I subsequently got a confirmatory text from John. Sorry I missed you!

After a quick stop at Subway for lunch, I continued on to Rosendale. Now, normally when I have limited time I take the bike path over the Rosendale bridge and back home. Unfortunately, the river and the highway collude to result in few options for heading east from Rosendale. So today, I continued through Rosendale, in search of a passage over the Wallkill that didn’t involve riding on Route 213 for longer than I had to.

I found it! A little muddy though:

Good times on a road bike:

This dirt path (I wouldn’t call it a road) ultimately leads to a covered bridge….

Which looks quite charming here, but I cropped out the 4 lanes of vehicular manslaughter just to the right. Nevertheless, a better route than 213. Thereafter, I headed up Cow Hough Road–a bigger and tougher climb than I remembered, but I was probably already burnt from climbing over the ridge.

Here’s the route.

Overall I give it an A+. Highly recommended, especially if you don’t mind getting really dirty.

I’ve got a good one planned for this weekend! “Good” meaning I’ll probably hate life and regret ever deciding to take up cycling at about mile 80. That’s the way I roll.

John F

medicalwriter.net

 

 

 

Fin

The Gunks 10,000 happened.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Photo: Larry Chapman

Let’s back up a bit. Last year my friend and teammate Larry thought up a ride that would do almost every climb along the Shawangunk Ridge, totaling over 10,000 feet of climbing.

In my memory, I was involved in the very first spark of the idea, maybe during an on-bike conversation with Larry. But I think that’s just how memory works. Ten years from now, when the Gunks 10,000 is bigger than Burning Man, there will be hundreds of cyclists who were part of the original conversation that birthed the Gunks 10,000, and thousands of cyclists who participated in the very first incarnation of the ride.

Photo: John Cullinan

Photo: John Cullinan

In fact, in 2013, only 6 cyclists were there for the first Gunks 10,000 (or “G10K” as those of us in the inner circle, friends of Larry (FOLs), call it). I wasn’t one of them, although I did go to Larry’s house for beer afterwards.

Larry's yard.  Photo: Andrew Williams

Larry’s yard. Photo: Andrew Williams

This year was different. Last Sunday was the second annual Gunks 10K, and 24 cyclists showed up. The day was perfect, the route was gorgeous, and the event went off perfectly. It had the distinct feel of something that could become a much bigger event in the future, if Larry decides he wants to go that direction.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Photo: Larry Chapman

The expectation at the start was that the ride would split into two groups: one racing, and one at Sunday-ride pace. On the first big climb of the day, a 2-mile 8% classic just a few minutes into the ride, it became clear that just about everybody had come to race. Despite my intention of keeping my own effort throttled down to a level I thought I could sustain for 6 or 7 hours, adrenaline got the better of me, and I put down a personal best on the climb. Pathetically, that personal best was demolished by over half the riders, with the fastest guys beating me by almost 2 minutes.

The day went on like that. The fastest 5 cyclists were all legitimate climbing specialists, including, as it turns out, two former Tour of the Catskills GC winners, and a former New York state masters road race champion. And this despite the fact that Bicycle Depot, my own team — the home team — had two of our best climbers cancel at the last minute, one with the flu, and one with a hamstring injury.

While the skinny guys duked it out at the front, the rest of us settled into our own grooves and enjoyed the beautiful day. Larry and I started our own little competition with one another, which would end with him beating me by 6 seconds out of 2 hours of timed climbing. By the time the 6 1/2 hour ride was over, Jonas from Brooklyn had opened a 22 second gap over his buddy Pablo, to claim a permanently engraved spot on the Gunky Chunk, the handmade conglomerate-and-steel trophy. Larry and I were 18 minutes back, right about midpack; the slowest finishing time of all was only 36 minutes back, which is really not much, considering the epicness of the event.

I predict Larry will be turning people away at the next G10K.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Mid-ride break at Lake Minnewaska.  Photo: Larry Chapman

Larry himself.  Photo: Andrew Williams

Larry himself. Photo: Andrew Williams

Gunks 10,000 route.

Gunks 10,000 route.

That was last Sunday. Yesterday I rode with a friend up to the groundbreaking for the Kingston Point rail trail. Ulster County has an ambitious plan to connect all of the various defunct rail lines into a network of multi-use rail trails, with a hub in Kingston. Some pieces of the puzzle are farther in the future than others, but there is real progress happening. This will be a Good Thing.

On the way home I had to stop to photograph this ridiculous Mount Doom sunset.

Sunset over the Rondout Creek.

Sunset over the Rondout Creek.

Continuing the trend this morning, the weekly Bicycle Depot team cyclocross ride was somewhere between “breathtaking” and “whoaaa.”

Sky Top.

Sky Top.

Copes Lookout.

Copes Lookout.

See you next time.

– John S

Local Events: Field + Supply Arts and Crafts Show in High Falls

I know this blog makes me sound unidimensional (bikes). Or perhaps bidimensional (bikes and pets). But I do have other interests, one of which is design.

On October 11 and 12, Field + Supply will be holding an event that is intended to “modernize and elevate the traditional arts and crafts fair” in High Falls, a small town to the north of New Paltz. Some of my favorites will be there, in particular Asher Israelow, among others. Plus BBQ and oysters!

The website provides driving directions…for some reason, though, they did not provide a GPS cycling route. I can’t imagine why.

Never fear, here’s how to get there from Poughkeepsie by bike.

If you don’t want to take the bike path, this is the way to go. Or at least this is the way I’d go:

That’s 52 miles, with the first 2.5 and last 5 miles on dead flat, paved bike path (trust me, it’s better than riding on 299). Twenty-five more amazing miles to High Falls, eat BBQ and buy cool stuff (presumably they’ll ship it to you), and return via a very pretty 20 miles route to Poughkeepsie. The route passes my house, which–according to my blogging colleague John S–much resembles a door stop. You’ll know it when you see it.

Just as a note, at around mile 38.5, you may not be able to take a right because it leads right into a religious community. If that happens, just take 213 one more mile and take a right on Cow Hough and you’ll be back on track.

If you want to take the bike path, here’s an easy route. 39 miles of bump and grind:

Unfortunately, I’ll be in Boston on Saturday for work, but I will be attending on Sunday. I’ll ride there, of course!

John F (aka the slow John)

medicalwriter.net

RTC on LSD: Touching Massachusetts

That’s LSD as in long slow distance, you.

Forgive me in advance, please. This isn’t going to be my most elegant post–it’s 8:30 at night and I’m still working, and I sadly did not get around to taking too many pictures.

On Tuesday, two-thirds of your RTC bloggers–John S and I–went for a ride that crossed Dutchess County, entered Connecticut, and then headed north to Massachusetts and then back.

The day started out wet and cold–in fact, if I hadn’t been obligated to meet John at the pedestrian bridge across the Hudson, I might have stayed in bed. I initially left the house in just a light long-sleeve jersey, bib shorts, and a light rain jacket, but quickly turned around and put on a real coat, some legwarmers, and a lot of embrocation. A quick 15-mile trip from my house to the bridge, where John S showed up precisely on time.

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From there, we headed north and then across Dutchess toward Pine Plains. I vaguely recognized the termini of some of the roads we passed, and I realized later that they were part of the Brewster-New Hamburg classic. I crashed at precisely 0.5 mph while climbing when I encountered a deep patch of very soft sand.

John had to be home much earlier than me, so he turned around and returned home via a different route at about mile 50. That left me to face the first real challenge of the day solo: WInchell Mountain Road.

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On the plus side, the day got progressively nicer over time.

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Now, I thought that was a challenge, but it was nothing compared to what was coming up. After crossing into Connecticut, a left turn led me onto Factory Road, which ultimately turns into Mt Riga road and then to Mt Washington Road. A source of some confusion because I hadn’t turned on my GPS and was looking for Mt Riga–and, of course, none of the roads were clearly marked. And then the real climbing began. I am not ashamed to say that at this point I was tired enough to get off my bike a few times. It was getting hot, and when I unzipped my sleeves, I found that my elbow was bleeding from my earlier crash.

The rest of the ride was largely uneventful, which was great because I had a slowly growing contusion on my hip from my uncoordinated fall earlier. But not entirely uneventful: As far as I can tell, I took a wrong turn around mile 100. Because I’m stubborn and refused to retrace my route, I ended up navigating by cell phone back to Poughkeepsie, where I wandered around for more miles than I care to admit in the not-so-nice parts of town trying to find where the bike path crossed at grade so that I could get back across the Hudson.

All in all, a successful, beautiful ride that ended up (with getting lost) at 138 miles. After all, you’re not really having fun until you’re so tired you don’t know how you’re going to make it home!

Here’s the route, for those of you are interested, just keep in mind that I didn’t ride anything past mile 100 or so.

Finally–I’m considering making Tuesdays my day for regular 100 mile+ rides. I’ll publish the routes in advance, and if you want to join me, let me know!

(Just FYI, if you haven’t read through all my posts on the blog: I’m slow, I like to stop to take pictures, and I like a good meal. So no worries that it will be a hammerfest!)

John

medicalwriter.net

Pine Bush

Yeah, it’s that time of year where I start to develop late-summer emaciation. You know, the kind where everyone thinks you’re suffering from some awful wasting disease,* but you’re actually in such good shape that a “casual” 50-mile ride after work seems completely normal.

I’m afraid that I’ve consumed many pints of Ben & Jerry’s in an apparently futile effort to keep from losing that last 6% of body fat–no “healthy” food is doing the trick. If anyone has tips beyond the disgusting peanut butter/protein milkshakes and copious amounts of ice cream I’ve been consuming, please do let me know.

So…yesterday I only had time for a 40. It was actually supposed to be about 30 miles, but I spaced and ended up going partially over the ridge. When I emerged from my fugue state, I was in a different county eating a couple of slices of truly awful pizza.

Anyway…a route and some pictures.

route-5806739-map-fullThe images below are from Farmer’s Turnpike. This is a good way to avoid descending on 44/55 (about mile 3 on the Ride With GPS map). The last time I descended on 44/55, an idiot in a camper passed me with only inches to spare. He also had the temerity to honk at me. This all happened while I was going 40 mph–or about 5 mph over the speed limit. In any case, avoid 44/55 if you can.43You’ll see a lot of pictures of the ridge in this post.

187625A farm outside of Pine Bush.

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And no matter how long or short the ride, if I pass the Shawangunk Grasslands Reserve, I always stop for a few moments of contemplation.

1112More to come. I finally have a working camera! Also–a few weeks ago I sadly lost my Exposure Toro light, which has served me well. I hit a big bump on a descent and it flew off my handlebars…and down a cliff. I had failed to ensure that it “clicked in”. Anyway, better the light than me! So I got a new Exposure Strada, which comes with a remote switch so you can choose between low and high beams. Review coming soon.

A brief complaint: For some reason, Exposure has decided to partner with Ibex Sports, thus the new “Exposure USA” website. Why they’ve done so is a mystery to me, because the US website is one of the most embarrassingly half-ass things I’ve ever seen. If I was the folks in the UK, I’d be irritated, to say the least, that I’d put my US marketing in the hands of amateurs, particularly as I remember the international site being quite well designed and useful. I imagine after they lose a chunk of their business they’ll be looking elsewhere.

*At a recent meeting, a famous gastroenterologist (yes, there is such a thing) told me I looked like I have celiac disease. I was like, no dude, it probably has something to do with the 200-300 miles I ride every week.

John

medicalwriter.net

New route: Meridale Forty-Three

I’m in the Western Catskills for a couple of weeks, and continuing to discover dirt road cycling gems. Before embarking on vacation, I discovered that Bing maps has this wonderful undocumented feature of distinguishing paved and unpaved roads when zoomed in to 1000ft scale and closer. Unpaved roads are traced in brown (how appropriate!) while paved roads are in white. What a valuable resource for charting out dirt/gravel roads!  To test the accuracy of this feature, I focused on an area just west of my home that I’m not familiar with, one which I’ve driven through once or twice but never ridden.  All new cycling territory.  I made note of all the roads marked as unpaved in Bing maps, then went into ridewithgps and charted out a loop of 43 miles roughly bounded by the towns of Franklin, Walton and Delhi, taking in as many of those roads that would fit in the loop, and at least one place to stop for food and water.  This region is particularly secluded, so options for provisions are slim.

route

To my delight, Bing delivered with impressive accuracy! And unlike some of my other routes which take in sporadic stretches of dirt roads, this route spreads them out evenly, alternating dirt and quiet paved segments with regular periodicity (dirt segments are shown in green).  I was never on pavement for too long before another delicious stretch of dirt road presented itself in front of me. And even more enjoyable, many of these dirt stretches were little more than old carriage trails, narrow, tree-lined, isolated.

The route starts and ends at the Dutch Deli, a small deli and convenience store nestled in the valley village of Meridale, on Route 28 halfway between Delhi and Oneonta. The owner, speaking with a Dutch accent, kindly agreed to let me park my car in the lot for a few hours. Out of courtesy, I would recommend to anyone contemplating doing this route to check in with the owner to confirm that this is okay.

A few days before doing the ride, a Riding the Catskills reader contacted me to inform me he was going to be in the area and would like to do a ride.  Our schedules worked out, so Ben and I met in Meridale to ride the loop together.

From the parking lot, the climbing starts immediately– the route has 4600 feet of climbing in 43 miles, with very few flat segments. The shark-tooth elevation profile illustrates this:

 

Not two miles into the ride, we experience the first dirt road, Sutherland Rd. As it climbs to the top, it narrows into a tree-lined, single lane road with cut pastures on either side.

Notably, there were more working farms, and less abandoned barns, on this route compared to other areas I’ve reported on.

The other regular site for me, besides dirt roads and barns, was Ben, who, being a stronger climber than I, was always ahead of me in the climbs.

The only road that seriously tested the traction limits of my Compass Babyshoe Pass tires was Pomeroy Rd in Treadwell.  Here, the usual smoothly graded dirt turned first to rocky double track, and then to muddy logging trail, which continued upward for what seemed like a long time. At one point I had to walk as the smooth tire tread began to sink and spin in the mud.

From Pomeroy Rd, a smooth and fast paved descent whooshed us down into the adorable village of Treadwell, the first and only rest stop along the route (and indeed, the only village along the route other than Meridale).

If you’re in Treadwell, be sure to stop in at Barlow’s general store and try their incredibly good homemade donuts! From Treadwell there were two more dirt segments before merging onto Rt 28 for the last mile back into Meridale. (This was the only stretch of state highway in the entire route!).

This cute abandoned storefront could be something wonderful… too bad it’s literally a couple of feet from the highway.

Admittedly, while engaged in good conversation with Ben throughout the ride, I didn’t pay much attention to where I took these shots, so here are just a bunch of random scenes from the ride, in no particular order:

I’d definitely consider this route a ‘must ride’ for anyone in the area.  And finding another wealth of dirt roads and amazing cycling in another little corner of the Catskills just over from mine reminds me just how much more remains to be discovered.  I’ve barely scratched the surface.

To the Hudson!

Hi all! I know the blog has been pretty dead recently; John S says he doesn’t want to “contaminate” the blog with racing reports (although I told him to go ahead), and of course Anton isn’t a full-time Catskills resident, so he only posts when he’s here. I’ve been traveling, working, and riding a lot, but no major adventures. Mostly daily 20 to 40 mile rides, and you don’t need to hear about that, do you?

However, I had an amazing ride today. Only 30 miles (with getting lost), 27 actual miles. I expected the ride to, well, suck but it turned out to be one of the most beautiful rides I’ve been on in the last few years. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Sure, it lacks the isolation and majesty of the Catskills proper, but the views are lovely, the traffic mostly absent, and there’s only about 1700 feet of climbing. I recommend it highly if you’re in New Paltz and want a shorter ride, or if you want to incorporate it into a longer segment.

full2 1 8 7 6 5 4 3

And don’t forget, all of my routes are here. I went through the effort of deleting (most) of the bad ones, so you really can’t go wrong. Sort by distance and pick!

Also: As much as I hate promoting Dutchess County over Ulster, if you live in NYC you’re missing out if you don’t do the summer classic. I perfected this route over about 10 or 12 repeats, and it’s the most fun you can have on two wheels, I promise. One of the few things I miss about living in the city.

John

medicalwriter.net