Multiple Disciplines: Mountain Biking in the Gunks
Many riders on Team Sixcycle-RK&O race across a variety of cycling disciplines: everything from Road Racing, Track, Mountain Biking, Cyclocross and occasionally dropping hipsters over the Williamsburg bridge. But it is not every day you get to practice multiple disciplines on the same day. Check out Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Corey Morenz ride report from just such a day.
Mountain Biking in the Gunks Ride Report by Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Corey Morenz
Powered by the two best friends of any cyclist - oatmeal and coffee - I was out of the apartment before 7:30. The plan was to ride the 60ish miles to Newburgh, NY and rendezvous with my dad by 11 who was driving from CT with our mountain bikes. The route would take me up 9W, around Bear Mountain and over one of my favorite roads in NY - the Storm King Highway. The road is cut into the cliffs of Storm King Mountain and rises several hundred feet above the Hudson River with panoramic views along the entire stretch. The scenic route is normally popular with motorists as well as cyclists but lady luck was smiling on me today - a massive traffic backup for an Army football game that I zoomed by on my bike discouraged many drivers from taking that road. I was only passed by one car on the entire seven mile stretch. From the scenic overlook it was an easy downhill jaunt to our meeting spot, where I threw my bike in our Honda Element (cars that can fit bikes in without touching anything = win) and made the 30 min drive north to New Paltz.
Despite the threatening forecast of showers and a cold front moving in, our destination - Minnewaska State Park (aka The Gunks), was packed. Leaf Peepers, hikers, families, rock climbers and cyclists had all descended on the bike to enjoy the fall weather and scenery. I suppose we were no different and we hastened to get our bikes in order and get on the trails. From what we'd heard, many miles of gorgeous XC trails awaited us in the park. We saddled up and looked for our first trail - "Sunset". As we approached the trail head a rider flew by admonishing us "Sunset is just WAITING for you boys!".
Soon we found out what this meant - we got to start the day with a leg burning 10 minute climb up to Lake Minnewaska. From there trails branched in all directions. We circumnavigated an alpine lake, criss crossed ridge lines on either side of the valley, rode slick rock and along the edges of sheer cliffs - the variety of scenery was incredible. It seems every time we crested a hill the scenery improved. In addition to the rock formations for which the Gunks is famous, the vistas included the farms and orchards of Ulster county, lakes, rivers and an explosion of fall colors. NYC might still be bright and green but upstate is a riot of colors.
After descending back to the parking area and loading up the car my dad had a little surprise in store - there is an authentic German Brauhaus outside of New Paltz that he had discovered while rock climbing here a couple summers ago. What had I said about a cyclists' best friends? Allow me to recant - they are sausage and beer.