Category Archives: win a garmin

Win a Garmin: We Have a Winner!

Today, we have a post from Ben, resident of Brooklyn and the winner of the Win a Garmin! competition. I should have posted this back in October, but alas, life (mainly house hunting) got in the way. Anyway, I think we could all use a refresher on the beauty of the Catskills in the late summer to remind us that not all is ice, snow, pain, and suffering.

As Ben will attest, the Garmin arrived safe and sound, so this wasn’t just an evil ploy to generate content for Riding the Catskills. Stay tuned over the next week for the rules for this year’s Win a Garmin! contest. Suffice it to say it will be open to all riders, regardless of where you live. That means that this year, Catskill residents qualify for the contest.

Here’s Ben’s excellent story.

My original plan for this weekend was to upload my Ride With GPS route to a borrowed Garmin Etrex 30 GPS unit and have it seamlessly guide me turn-by-turn through a 100 mile route in Ulster County. At the laundromat the night before, my bike tipped over and the Etrex 30’s screen broke without even a direct impact. AAAARRRGGGG!

Route map

I cursed the borrowed Garmin and my poor fortune and jumped on Ride With GPS to print a paper cue sheet. A couple of months ago I paid for the bare-bones membership ($8/month – highly recommended) to print a cue sheets with more formatting options.

1. Cuesheet

In the morning, I grabbed a BLT on a Brooklyn Bagel and rode up to Grand Central Terminal. On a Saturday, trains leave at 6:43 am and 7:43 am for Poughkeepsie along the Metro North Railroad’s Harlem Line.

2. MNRR + Bicycle

Got to Poughkeepsie around 8:30 am and spun through some side streets.

3. Leaving Pougkeepsie

I routed up and over the Walkway Over The Hudson, a massive pedestrian/bike-only bridge. The entire span engulfed in a cloud giving it a strange surreal feel.

4. Walkway over Hudson

Next few miles are along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. Turn left out of the big parking lot and onto smooth paved roads. I opted to cross 299 and follow Kisor and New Paltz Roads for the sake of being on lightly trafficked road. Eventually leading back to 299 and down into New Paltz.

5. Hudson Valley Rail Trail

I often stop at Mudd Puddle Coffee in New Paltz for a fruit scone (tucked one into a pocket for later too) and an espresso, as well as topping off my bidon.

6. Coffee and Scones

299 out of New Paltz is fast and smooth, though not much shoulder so keep your head on. Along the way I stole an apple at the Jenkins-Leukens Orchard and stopped to photograph the Shawangunk Ridge up ahead, which I would be crossing soon.

7. 299 & Butterville Road

8. Shawangunk Ridge

Hung a right at the Minnewaska Lodge and dropped into that small chainring, I was headed up for the next few miles.

9. 180 turn

This particular turn is really beautiful to me. I’ve always enjoyed tight, sharp corners and the scale of this particular curve always makes me smile.

10. Climbing 44

Up and over the ridge I took a right at Clove Road. It leads along the Clove Valley and is not very busy in terms of traffic. It’s a series of country roller roads with a lovely view of the valley between you and the ridge. The route heads west towards the Rondout Creek but turns left on Rock Hill Road to head south.

11. Clove Road Bridge

Halfway down Rock Hill Road the pavement ended at sort of cul-de-sac. A man was cutting logs with a chainsaw and I didn’t feel very welcome so I headed back to the last fork in the road and double checked my iPhone map. Rock Hill Road should have continued on, so I went back to the faux-de-sac. The lumberjack pointed to the woods and I could see a sort of double-track trail leaded on. He waved me to go ahead, and so I went on down the Rockiest, Hilliest, Road-that-can’t-even-be-called-a-road. It’s really meant for four-wheel-drive vehicles or ATVs, but my cross bike with 28s could almost handle it. It’s not easy to ride on, but a great technical challenge and I strongly feel that it should not be skipped.

[Note from JF: The same guy pointed me onto that “road!” He must think he’s funny.]

12. Rock Hill Rd

13. Rock Hill Road backward

Follow the double-track south, eventually it turns west down the hill. Stay with it, hike if you must. Eventually, it will spit you out behind a house. Get on Lawrence Hill Road and enjoy the pavement again.

14. Stony Kill Rd

Lawrence Hill leads to Towpath, which leads to Stony Kill Road. Originally I planned to go down “Project 32 Road”, but this led me down a gravel driveway and through the woods and into local’s porch and they very graciously pointed me to their private road which took me down to Granite Road.

15. Project 32 Rd

Don’t do that! Just take Stony Kill all the way to Granite. Then to Berme. Then into Kerhonkson. I stopped here at a Stewart’s for to grab a salty snack.

Next I climbed out of Kerhonkson on Clay Hill and Cherrytown Road. At the Ranch & Resort turned onto Rogue Harbor Road. Shortly after, Rogue Harbor Road turns into glorious gravel.

Riding along a gravel road in the woods is spectacular for a city dweller!

17. Rogue Harbor Rd 2

Past a placid lake I turned right onto Lundy Road. I followed this gravel beast up 3/4 of the way to the end. The vehicle traffic was creating a dust storm and it the fun level dropped so I turned around. Descending Lundy was fast and loose. I stopped at a waterfall to relax, eat a snack and take in the woods a bit.

19. Lundy Road Swimming Hole

The water was cold and clear. I dipped my head in because I could and it felt fantastic!

I took Lundy back down across 209 to Port Ben Road. It leads across the valley and gives a killer view of the ridge you’re gonna cross in a bit.

20. Port Ben Road

Follow the directions from Port Ben to Berme Road well. I didn’t, and I ended up above Berme on Towpath Road. At a gate, an SUV rolled up and two men kindly helped me get oriented but warned me, “There’s bushwhackers up in these hills and they won’t hesitate to kill you son”.

Back on aptly named Berme Road, I rode parallel to the ridge eventually coming to a pair of prisons.

21. Ulster Correctional Facility

Took Berme Road through the prisons all the way to Canal Street in Ellenville. I stopped in Ellenville for fluids and some salty snacks. Don’t eat too much though, you’re about to gain an Imperial-Shit-Feet of elevation.

I took Main Street up up and out of Ellenville, hung a left onto Mt Meenagha where the real climbing begins.

22. Mt Meenagha Road

The grade on Mt Meenagha kicks up constantly.

23. Up Mount Meenegha Road

Mt Meenagha turns into South Gulley Road.

24. Up S Gulley Road

25. View Back Down S Gulley

A few cars that passed me on the climb came back down the mountain, and I saw why later. The road is “closed” for repair.  On such a steep section as this there are obvious problems with erosion and road infrastructure.

26. Road Closed

That’s okay, ’cause going around the heavy equipment meant car-free climbing for the rest of the journey.

28. South Gulley Keeps Climbing

I was able to use the entire road to climb, which is nice because some patches are loose and the grade keeps kicking up.

I took a left onto Sams Point Road. I had planned to ride around the lake and see some incredible views, but the folks at the gate did not like the idea. They told me, “Hopefully in the future we’ll have some sort of biking trails, sorry” and sent me on my way.

I flew down Sams Point Road, then a left on Vista Maria. I took a quick shot of the view here before the road dropped very quickly down the mountain.

29. View East from Vista Maria

The descent is fast and steep, and is good practice for high-speed descending. Keep your hands on the brake levers though: in NYC we get squirrels running halfway out and then running back into the woods, out here it’s a pair of 150 lb deer with antlers.

Rolled down 52 into Walker Valley, hung a left onto Oregon Trail Road. The next few turns were rolling back country roads. They led across the side of the ridge then down into the valley.

30. Ulster County 7

I rode up into Gardiner, NY to hop on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail for a bit of peaceful, unpaved path.

31. WVRT

That light at the end of the foliage tunnel was New Paltz, where I filled my bidon with iced coffee to boost me up out of the valley, across the Walkway Over The Hudson and back to the Poughkeepsie Train Station

32. Walkway over Hudson

Made it back to Grand Central by ~7:30 pm, ordered food to be delivered to my apartment while crossing the Manhattan Bridge, showered and ate a king’s feast after a solid day of marvelous adventuring by bike in Ulster County.

Should I?

You’re probably wondering where I am. I’m not neglecting the blog because I’m tired of it; instead, I’ve been traveling. First California, then Anguilla for the wedding, and now I’m back in California and waiting for my 7 pm meeting. I’m only out for a few days this time, although I’m not getting back until 3 am on Sunday morning.

From last Friday to yesterday, however, I managed to get in almost 150 miles of riding on the new English 650B. I took a few glamor shots of the bike. At least I thought they’d be glamor shots, but I took them with my iPhone and they ended up a little blurry. Here’s one photo, I’ll post the good ones when I return.


I got in a few rides with significant gravel segments. Nothing more than 40 miles, but it was a lot of fun on 650B. I’m taking it easy on my knee right now.




Speaking of my knee, it still hurts a little. I’m on my way to a second formal bike fitting on Wednesday to see if there’s anything I can do about it. There’s nothing that will change about my reach, which has been optimized through a fitting and long experience, but I’m hoping we can do a little work on optimizing my saddle height and, most importantly, cleat position. I clearly have a leg length discrepancy, because when I ride with a Brooks, only one side of the saddle collapses. The knee issues have only cropped up over the last month because of dramatic overuse–the week that my knee really started to fall apart I had ridden 300 miles with almost 30,000 feet of climbing. That’s a lot when you come from the flatlands of NYC.

I know you want to hear about the English. I can’t write a comparative review because I was off the bike for a week due to the knee injury, and then an additional 10 days because of the wedding. So a direct back-to-back comparison with the 700C English is impossible. I will say this, however: I am definitely much faster on descents on the 650B. My usual route into town has about 650 feet of descending on rough, potholed backroads and gravel. I’ve done it dozens of times, and it always takes me 21-23 minutes. I rode into town twice now with the 650B, and the trip took me 18 minutes the first time, and 19 minutes the second time.

This is entirely to be expected. Because the road is really rough, on the 700C bike with 25 mm tires, there’s lots of jumping, dodging, and panic braking. On the 650B, I just roll right over obstacles that would terminate my Clavicula fork or cause a pinch flat. The good part? The handling on this bike is not different from my 700C bike. Other than providing a lot of extra cushion, it really does not feel or act different, even when pushed relatively hard.

Going uphill isn’t faster (or slower, for that matter). But it is more pleasant because of the dramatically lower gearing on the 650B. I’m going to figure out a way to gear down the 700C bike, because grinding up 15% and even 20%+ grades in 34/25, while feasible, is certainly partly responsible for blowing out my knee.

The paint. Holy shit sparkles! It’s amazing. On one of my rides I stopped to eat, and I parked it by the window and stared at the sparkles instead of reading the paper as I had intended. It’s a lovely bike, at least if you’re not a traditionalist who thinks anything with a less than level top tube is ugly. My only regret is not going with something really bright. Oh well…next bike, if there ever is one, will be fluorescent pink with gold sparkles and a My Little Pony sticker on the headtube. Liberace on wheels.

A note about the Spyre brakes. I originally had weight weenies rotors on the bike. After only a few trips over the mountains, they were pulsing horribly. I replaced them with Shimano Ice Tech rotors, which seem more suitable for the type of riding I do.

What about the Spyres themselves? I regret to report that they have poor modulation at best. I thought it was a matter of getting used to them, but really they kind of suck. I’m going to try a few different models of brakes, starting with the HY/RD hydraulics, then I’ll try Shimano, and if all else fails, go back to BB7s. At least the latter work well, even though I hate them because they require a lot of messing around to keep them from squealing.

Regarding the title of this post: I’ve been seriously contemplating a 4-person team RAAM either next year or the following. If my knee is okay, I’ve decided it’s a go. We’ve got two team members so far (including me).

New and improved routes coming fast and furious starting at the end of next week…and, of course, don’t forget you can Win a Garmin! Now, off to do some stretching. I’m making a concerted effort to improve my flexibility.