Thanksgiving Dirt, Thanksgiving Cross

Its December! Believe it or not, annual goals met or not, 2016 is nearly over and 2017 is right behind it. While most of the NYC race scene is settling into the treasured “off season” a few of us are still racing cyclocross and taking advantage of rides that the mileage requirements of road training tend to prevent.  

Despite the calendar, Mother Nature (likely with the assistance of some GHGs) has been gentle, the dusting of snow on Super Cross Day 2 is the only winter weather event to date.  

Accordingly with the long Thanksgiving weekend, I was eager for a cornucopia of riding trails, MTBing, and racing ‘cross.  Below is a chronological order of events, as they unfolded, with some trail tips for those interested in enjoying all that the East Coast has to offer cyclists.

Wednesday: A typical day at the office

The OCA commute from home to work...


...and home again after the workday

Thursday AM (THANKSGIVING): High Bridge Mountain Biking in the Morning

Highbridge MTB Park in Manhattan is a little known treasure right outside my front door.  Other than Cunningham Park in Queens, it offers the only legitimate mountain biking in New York City.  

While much shorter, Highbridge MTB does have some elevation and descents that’ll get the heart pumping, whereas Cunningham is flatter so you have to get your kicks on the manmade features.


With Gaucho sufficiently exercised, I packed up the car for the drive to Pennsylvania for turkey and Philly craft beer with the fam. Until...

Thursday PM: Wissahickon River rain ride

The Wissahickon River runs from Lafayette Hill into Philadelphia’s boathouse row, which leads to the Art Museum.  There is a River Trail which follows the banks of the Wissahickon, with single track snaking through the hills on either side. It was a rainy Thanksgiving so the trails were a muddy mess (don’t judge me too harshly, as you can see others were riding too).  Trail-dog Gaucho loves it as much as I did.

Back after dark for Whiskeys with the grandparents, and drive back to NYC.

FRIDAY: #optoutside NYC Velo/MTB Ride

The good folks at NYC MTB, NYC Velo, and Hastings Velo organized a dirt ride from Hastings, to High Bridge in NYC, back up to Sprain Ridge, and back down to NYC.  See Sunday’s summary below for details about the Sprain Ridge and the High Bridge MTB trail systems.


As the 2017 cyclocross season begins to wrap up, me and fellow To Be Determined rider Chris Burati were on the hunt for some USAC points, and the organic grassroots cycling experience that comprise local cyclocross races in the North East.  

The Sunken Meadow race in King’s Park Long Island fit the bill and as we drove out of a half empty Manhattan on Saturday morning, both were a bit giddy about the fair weather this late season.  

We knew our field would be small, and the race predictor algorithm projected Burati for the win, so on the drive out we spoke in hushed tones of a shared team podium.  Game plan: smoke the first lap and try to hold the gap for the rest of the race.  

We got there early, got a good pre-ride - aside from a non-catastrophic crack in Burati’s rear Zipp due to a deceptive root section.

Key given the low contrast yellow tape on orange leaves. We watched the Masters races finish up the morning before staging.

Both myself and Chris both got great starts to the race, trading off setting the pace on lap 1 and putting a gap behind us to third… When disaster struck.... Chris went down on a slippery hair pin and I rode right into him on the ground.

Chris got up quickly but I had to dismount again to straighten my bars before getting back in the race, having dropped back into the middle of the field.  

The rest of the day was a slugfest picking people off one-by-one and railing the turns as much as the slick carpet of leaves would allow.

It was a tough but successful march through the field, though I just managed to lose 3rd place at the line in a sprint.  Chris had a mechanical on the last lap, but ran 100+/- yards up the finish drag-strip to hold onto top 10.  

Photo credit: @LuciaDLite

Sunday: Build SS for SSWXCX, then Try to break it before SSWXCX

When building a new bike from parts, stuff always goes wrong.  So before Dave puts his new Specialized Crux in a bike box and ships it to Portland this week for the SSWXCX (unsanctioned junk-yard cross race) he wanted to make sure that all the bolts were tight and fit proper.  

So we built it, took a lap at NYC’s High Bridge MTB park out my front door, and as nothing seemed to go obviously wrong, we loaded up the car for an afternoon of riding single track at Sprain Ridge in Yonkers NY.  

Although the closest Westchester trails to NYC, and a comfortable ride via Van Cortlandt Park → South County Trailway, we opted to drive to optimize time our time in the woods.  

Sprain Ridge offers similar trail networks to Graham Hills and Blue Mountain in Westchester, but is best known for its granite rock features where one can briefly pretend to be back on Moab’s slick rock trail.  

As feared, the Crux’s bars and seat slipped, pedals released too early, and stem position needed adjusting.  But with a bit of time with a CrankBros multi-tool it was soon ready to be shipped to Portland.