Tag Archives: Shawangunk ride cycling

New Bike Day! The GT Grade

Hi all. It’s been a while. So long, in fact, that I couldn’t even remember how to log in. I’m hoping for more consistent posts in the near future.

Anyway–last Saturday was new bike day. A GT Grade, carbon fiber, Ultegra group with HYDRAULIC BRAKES (more about that in a moment).

Margot  was kind enough to drive me up to Saugerties, where I picked up the bike at Revolution Bicycles. Normally I’d go with my local shop, the Bicycle Depot in New Paltz, because I know and trust them and they have provided nothing but excellent service, but they are not a GT dealer. In any case, Revolution Bicycles was great. We did the final set up of the bike while I waited, which included removing the crappy tires it came with and putting on Compass Stampede Pass Extralight 32 mm tires and switching the seatpost to something more suitable.

Once set up, I set out on a planned 51-mile ride back home. Yeah, I know it’s dumb to ride an untried bike in an isolated area without a proper shakedown cruise, but that’s what I did. And the bike turned out to be so good that I took a few detours and ended up riding much farther–and climbing many more feet (~4300) than originally planned.

Revo-Home Map

Here’s the bike.

The only issue that cropped up was that the saddle was set way too far forward, which I didn’t really notice until about 20 miles into the ride. Of course, I ignored it for another 10-15 miles and ended up with terminal crippling ass pain. I got off the bike and slammed the saddle back to where it should have been, and things improved greatly.

Now, the bike: Spectacular. I’ve been a Campagnolo proponent for a long time, and I begrudgingly use SRAM on one bike although, I have to admit, I really hate it. So this was my first time on modern Shimano, and my first time with hydraulic brakes. Can I say HOLY SHIT HYDRAULIC BRAKES! I’ve been riding a bike with mechanical discs and I hated them. When they weren’t rubbing they weren’t braking, and vice versa. Hydraulic discs truly change the riding experience.

Like most of you with caliper brakes, I rarely touch the rear brake except in 3 situations: 1) When I’m riding on icy roads (to avoid a front washout and a crash); 2) when I’m riding on gravel (again, to avoid locking up the front); and 3) when I’m descending something long and twisty to give the front brake a break before the rim turns cherry red. Hydraulic brakes, on the other hand, provide a perfectly functional rear brake that, if you hang your ass off the back of the saddle, is nearly as functional as the front. That means much faster, more confident descending. I’m actually surprised the pros haven’t switched yet–it’s that much better and a hell of a lot safer than caliper brakes.

Only one picture from this ride:

John F


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)


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.



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.





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.


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


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.


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?


A couple more of Clove Road.


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.


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


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


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?)


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.


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.


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.



New Route: Ferguson Road (Up and Over the Shawangunk Ridge)

I’ve been trying to arrange a ride with my friend Doug for a while. He is president of the Ultra-Marathon Cycling Association, so—like me—he likes to put in more than a few miles.

A few weeks ago Doug proposed setting aside Wednesdays for rides, and as a fellow member of the self-employed crüe, I agreed. I work almost every day, so it makes no difference to me if we ride on Wednesdays or Saturdays (with the exception of days with scheduled client meetings, travel, or teleconferences, of course).

So, it was with some trepidation that I agreed to a ride. The trepidation was not because of the distance, which wasn’t too long, or because of the climbing, which was significant, but nothing remarkable. It was because of my history with Doug on rides. Let’s summarize:

On my first ride with Doug, he crashed on ice. Luckily Doug is much more durable than me, and he got up and we continued on.

My second ride with Doug (and John S) was marked by freezing rain, deep fog, and a 30 mph headwind. And I bonked.

On my third ride with Doug, I crashed on my hand.

I’m happy to report that nothing bad happened on this ride, so the curse is broken. We rode approximately 77 miles in rain that went from just a sprinkle to torrential and back again all day. At no time did it stop completely. It was awesome, and the route was gorgeous.

Here’s the route, and the GPS is here. We went off course a few times, sometimes deliberately and not so deliberately, adding and subtracting miles.


We began with a high-speed descent from my place into Rosendale. We decided to take the bike path down to the real climbing. Now, I know “bike path” has bad connotations, especially if you live in NYC, but the path here is beautiful dirt. Here’s where we started in Rosendale, right next to the railroad trestle.


Did I mention it was raining?


I stopped and actually got off my bike to take a picture of this grumpy turtle who was crossing the path as we passed. Edit: My neighbor, Nancy, tells me this is an eastern box turtle. They can live up to 100 years. I wonder how old this guy (or gal) is?


Um, did I mention it was raining? We basically rode through a stream.


As you can see, the bike path passes through some glorious countryside. It’s really more of a cow path in sections, and it’s a good test for anyone on a road bike with 25 mm tires. To me, this is just as good as a gravel road.


You’ll pass over a few trestle bridges on the way down to Gardiner.


Now, I’m not afraid to get a little dirty, but fenders may have been a good idea on this ride. On the other hand, it’s possible that fenders would have just gotten jammed up with mud. It was pretty thick in places. At the point this picture was taken, I was as wet as I would have been had I jumped in the river below. My rain pants were soaked through and sagging like a diaper. Fun!


We got off the bike path just south of New Paltz, and continued on glorious country roads back over to the Shawangunk ridge.




We stopped briefly for lunch at the Hoot Owl…


Where we played darts while waiting for our food. We were worried that they wouldn’t want to seat us inside since we were literally covered head-to-toe in mud (and, in my case, probably a bit o’ horse apple that I failed to avoid) but the bartender said he was unworried, because lots of farmers stop by for a mid-day beer in similar condition.


There was an enormous Clydesdale across the street. I’ve never seen one in person. They are enormous–the horse in the foreground, in fact, is a regular-sized horse.


After lunch, we continued up and over the ridge.

I had planned this route on the advice of John S, a local and decidedly faster rider than either Doug or I. He told me there was an amazing gravel climb on Ferguson Road. What he didn’t tell me is that you have to be going in a counterclockwise direction to hit the climb. We went the opposite way. It’s my fault that I didn’t investigate further—it’s something I easily could have discerned from inspecting the route more closely.

We climbed Pickle Road, which was steep but nothing to brag about, to Firetower Road. If you see any road named “Firetower” you know that you’re close to the top, and we were.

And here, my friends, is Ferguson Road. No relation.


You say you like gravel? Do you like descending 14% to 18% grades in a torrential downpour? If you do, this ride would have been for you. These pictures (which were taken before the road became outright loose gravel) don’t make the road look all that impressive, but trust me, it’s steep, it’s beautiful, and it’s definitely a challenge at speed in the rain.



…all things considered, I would have much rather gone up it than down!

From there, we continued home via Ellenville, where I forced Doug to stop at McDonalds. I had a giant coke and two apple pies, thereby obliterating any health benefit I got from my ride. My first time at McDonalds since, oh, 2009 or so, and I don’t regret it. Not even a little.

This ride would be a great to do out of Poughkeepsie, picking up the track from New Paltz. Very low traffic, beautiful roads, some dirt, and absolutely glorious scenery. To me (and to Doug) the rain and mud made it even better. I’ve done a lot of rides of reasonable length out here, but this one was exceptional. Thanks Doug!

The end result of our travails:



Took me a while to clean out those eeBrakes. Good thing they work better than just about any other brake out there, because there’s a lot of crannies to clean up.

Finally, a plug for the UMCA: If you’re interested in riding anything in the century plus range, you should join. It’s cheap and you get a great magazine, access to events and competitions, and other good stuff. I’ve been a member for a while (although, come to think of it, I may need to renew!)