Tag Archives: Catskills Cycling Bicycle Routes

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:

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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

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

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.

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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

The Land of Meh

Today marks my 6-week anniversary at the new house. Compared with Olivebridge, pretty much everything is better. We’re much closer to town but still in an extremely rural setting (in fact, cattle graze just behind our house). We have real internet, and not that crappy satellite internet that only worked 75% of the time, and then slowly. Our cell phones work. So everything is great.

Sadly, the riding just isn’t as good out here as it was up in the Catskills. Don’t get me wrong, this is grade-A cycling country, and I think the vast majority of cyclists would probably prefer it to the Catskills. But I miss the mountains, extreme isolation, and adventure of riding in the high Catskills. Then again, it’s nice to know that I won’t necessarily die undiscovered of extended exposure if I end up in a ditch some day.

The Catskills are still easily accessible, it’s just a minimum of a 60-mile round trip to get up there–not really feasible for a weekday ride.

So…I’ll stop complaining. Really I am blessed.

Here’s a short and fun route for you. You can start out of New Paltz or Gardiner.

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My camera is pretty much dead, but I did manage to get a few non-blurry photos of the route (Amazon says my new camera will be here by June 5). The route mostly passes through farm country, and there’s a convenient stop around mile 20 in Walden, which has a range of options for food. This route is easy as can be: Only about 1300 feet of climbing over 31 miles. Take a moment at mile 9.5 to go down the dirt road on the left to the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Reserve. It’s beautiful.

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This picture is from a previous ride. This is the Aumick Road entrance to the Shawangunk Reserve, a park that John S has written eloquently about. If you’re interested in riding up there, I’ve mapped a route to the entrance for you here.

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Aumick Rd Entrance

That’s all for now. New routes should be coming fast and furious in short order. Also coming soon: The return of Rene!

Rene

John F

medicalwriter.net

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.

Dark, Wet, and Muddy

I wrote this a few days ago, but quickly took it down when I realized that I had rudely top-posted Globecanvas’ most recent post. Apologies to all of you who received a new post e-mail, only to stop by and see nothing new!

The ideal ride.

Yes, I’ve finally gotten back on the horse after a few months of house hunting and then an inconveniently timed neck injury. I went for a 20-mile ride yesterday; on today’s ride, I decided to see how many dirt roads I could hit within 30 miles of my house, and I found out that, if you plan carefully, you can do a ride that is approximately one-third dirt in that distance. Route here.

I mean, mud, not dirt.

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Red mud. My poor shoes.

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It was drizzling at the beginning of the ride, and it started to pour about halfway through, so I didn’t get too many pictures. Here are a few.

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I’m sure the few people in cars who passed me felt sorry for me. What they don’t know is that I do this by choice. Nothing feels as good as a wet, muddy, freezing, foggy ride in the dark!

John

medicalwriter.net

A planned, mostly vetted, Delaware County 130k Masterpiece

Somervillain here.

I love planning routes in RideWithGPS (link to my routes). When charting out new territory, RideWithGPS allows one to zoom in to a road, in satellite view, and get a glimpse of what it’s like– is it dirt or paved? Is it shaded by overarching trees?  Does it pass through farms? If it looks interesting, I just click on it and there it is, incorporated into a growing route. Using this method I’ve discovered many of what have become my favorite dirt roads, and Delaware County harbors a trove of remote dirt carriage roads and mountain passes still waiting to be discovered.

I’ve reported on three routes I’ve ridden in Delaware County (here, here and here), but the longest of these was only 45 miles and 5500′ of elevation gain. Sometime next year I plan to ride an amalgam of all three routes, merging the best of each while making sure services and facilities are never too far away. I’ve mapped these onto one 81 mile loop, and I’m so tickled with the resulting route I can’t wait to ride it! Since I know this won’t happen until at least next summer given the long winters and my only occasional presence there, I am presenting it here for anyone who wants an 80-ish mile ride with almost 10,000 ft of elevation gain. If anyone is familiar with D2R2, this route fits nicely in between the two intermediate D2R2 route lengths (74mi/8,200ft and 99mi/11,600ft). Having ridden the 74 and 62 mile D2R2 routes, my opinion of this Catskills route is that it’s even more bucolic and pastoral than D2R2, but with similar intense hills and a familiar rural New England-y feel and flavor.

The yellow pins mark food stops, and the start/end point in Delhi has plenty of food options. Look at that elevation profile!!!

Some noteworthy features of this route:

  • Total of 8 dirt segments, some of which are single-lane carriage paths, totaling 34 miles, or 42% of the overall route.
  • Two historic covered wooden bridges.
  • 9 significant climbs.
  • One fast 5-mile paved descent and two other nearly continuous 6-mile descents– mostly without interruption.
  • Less than 1 mile of highway.
  • 6 well-spaced services/facilities, and none of them are convenience stores/fast food chains. The longest distance between any two is 24 miles.
  • I’ve ridden 74 of the 81 miles of this route personally at different times

So if anyone is looking for a long Catskills route that takes in stunning country scenery, charming villages, lots of dirt roads, a shark tooth elevation profile, thrilling descents, and well spaced food offerings, this route should be just the ticket.

If you’re coming from NYC or points south, the most logical starting point would be Andes as opposed to Delhi. Andes is only a 15 minute drive west of Margaretville, the starting point of several of the rides John has written about. There’s plenty of parking along Main St./Rt 28, as well as several places to eat. Honestly, any of the pinned villages would make decent starting points, but regardless where you start, the route really begs to be ridden counterclockwise to enjoy the two prolonged descents.

One other thing to consider if riding up here during the week is that most area cafes are closed on Mondays, which will narrow your food options. So avoid Mondays unless you’re prepared to ride in a self-sufficient manner.

Here are some “stock” photos that didn’t make it into my previous posts; they were taken at different times from various points on this route, and are in no particular order. Some of these may date back over a year, but they give you an idea of what this route has to offer.

Enjoy!

–Somervillain