The Return of the Long Ride
I’ve been slowly ramping up my miles after three weeks off the bike (I thought it would be a good idea to listen to my new wife when she recommended I not bring my bike on our honeymoon). To that end I knew I need to start getting some long rides in – I hadn’t been in the saddle for 4 consecutive hours since training in California in February (http://teamsixcycle.tumblr.com/post/76434212476/were-broadcasting-from-california-this-week-and). With my wife working all day on Sunday and the weather forecast looking beautiful it seemed like it was time. After some back and forth texting with teammate Roger Parmelee, who can almost always be counted on for a long, steady ride, we agreed to do a Cold Springs ride. I’m not usually one of those “in the know” kind of people when it comes to bike routes, I tend to ride what I know and only venture on new roads when I’m riding with someone who wants to mix it up. After meeting up Sunday morning it was determined that I was the only one who had done the Cold Springs before (and in actuality, the one other time I did the ride I bailed in Beacon). I was excited to be able to show one of my favorite roads in the country to ride on – the Storm King highway – to fellow teammates Dan, Rog and his girlfriend Sara.
Our route had brought us through Nyack, where we kept our energy levels high with Gypsy doughnuts and coffee (I really wanted a sandwich at Runcible Spoon, but the perfect weather meant other weekend riders had the same idea and there was a line out the door). From there we cruised the dirt trails at Nyack beach along the Hudson River before climbing back up to Rockland Lake and continuing on to Bear Mountain. No repeats up Perkins would be done today, but we did make a mental note to do this ride again once Oktoberfest was in full swing at the park in September. With the sun high and beating down on us we stopped at a local gas station for cold Cokes and ice cream Snickers bars (OK – I’m the only one who actually bought one, but it was seriously good). From there we turned onto Route 218 and went by West Point, where Rog regaled us with tales of the many revolutionary war battlefields and events in this area. Soon we reached the famed Storm King highway.
Every time I ride this road I get excited. It was part of my route when heading up to meet my dad for a beautiful fall day of mountain biking in the Gunks (http://team.sixcycle.com/2012/10/07/multiple-disciplines-mountain-biking-in-the-gunks/). The beginning is a slight decline with twists and chicanes that begs to be ridden by hugging the drops and picking up as much speed as possible. While this is simply the irresistible pull of the road, that kind of effort soon catches up to you as the road starts to climb. Soon the forests surrounding West Point fade back and the majestic Hudson River comes into view. The road is carved into the cliff here with only a stone wall barrier on the right side preventing an unwary rider from tumbling down the precipice. My over exuberance upon entering the road had me struggling to keep pace with my teammates on the climb, but we all regrouped at the top at the scenic vista pulloff and paused for the obligatory shot of our custom Louis Garneau bikes.
From there we continued north through Newburgh as we listed to more stories from Rog on the rise, decline and slow rebound of this post industrial city. The Newburgh bridge would be our path back east over the Hudson, since it has a separated bike lane. By now my supply of PopTarts (the ultimate endurance sport food, in case you didn’t know) had long run out and I was close to bonking. I was all for eating in Beacon and taking the train back from there, but my teammates were not so easily discouraged. Fueled by some vegan snacks from Sara (they did in a pinch) and Rog pulling the last 8 miles back due south (you have to overshoot Cold Springs to get to the bridge crossover) we made it to the rides eponymous destination. We made a beeline to the Depot for a fast acting recovery blend of carbs and protein – in this case Long Trail Ale on tap and oversized burgers. An hour later we were on a lazy train ride back to NYC talking about our aspirations for doing rides like this more often, particularly in fall foliage season.