From Dam to Dam on the Dirt Roads of Westchester
As part of the long process of transferring the remnants of our old team website to the To Be Determined Journal we're finally getting to some of our favorite Fall Rides from years past. For this particular ride we set out with the silly notion of visiting as many dams as possible in a three to four hour span. We ultimately failed to hit our 'dam goal' but we had a damn pleasant time riding from dam to dam on the dirt roads of Westchester County, NY.
Despite speculation to the contrary, being a cyclist in New York City is terrific. It comes with a badge of honor that symbolizes your perseverance (or stupidity) in the face of overly aggressive drivers, roads/race courses with potholes the size of the grand canyon and brutal winters that are all but unavoidable due to a race calendar that starts in March since cyclists are generally at the bottom of the urban use food chain in NYC.
Of course inherent in being a cyclist in New York City is also spending far too much time on the same stretch of road on the opposite side of the George Washington Bridge. The 9W out and back route has some great coffee and donut stops, but good god is it repetitive. Thankfully there are a surprisingly vast array of alternatives just an hour or two from the city that provide a change from the usual roads with the kicker of amenities lacking in New York City (fewer aggressive drivers, a touch of natural scenery here and there, etc). Unfortunately they do nothing to address the long and grey winter but I suppose that’s what justifies the badge of honor.
Over the years Lisa and I have explored most of these 9W alternatives, from Minnewaska to Glacier Ride, though somehow one of the most popular – Croton Dam – was never checked off our list. And so with brunch plans in Bedford (offseason is brunch season) we started to map out a route in that general vicinity. Via this process of daydreaming on Google Maps we realized there were a lot of reservoirs in the region and with those reservoirs a lot of dams. And thus our Dam Search was born: a sixty mile ride constructed around the plan to visit at least four reservoirs and their dams along the way. Perhaps a silly goal but one that also fit nicely in our off-season mindset.
In the end we encountered far more dirt than realized which combined with our offseason fitness slowed our pace enough to threaten our brunch schedule. This was obviously unacceptable. So we cut the ride short, trading some of the planned dams for the unexpected dirt but still coming out of the day with a fairly terrific ride under our belts and one more of the essential “escape from NYC” rides checked off our list.