TBDers (and friends) summarize significant findings from a recent survey of scenic roads and historic stone walls. Methodology (i.e. transportation) consisted of Metro-North commuter rail and bicycle - bicycles to be discussed in more detail below. The location of historic stone walls were predominantly Bedford, Lewisboro, and New Castle and the location of National Landmarked scenic roads were predominantly North and South Salem.
With the 2017 Gran Fondo New York turning our normal playground of training roads over the George Washington Bridge through New Jersey and New York into a nightmare of bike traffic and road closures, we were eager for the excuse to ride some of the beautiful roads that Northern Westchester has to offer. The team collectively has many years of experience on these hidden dirt roads - including some spectacular fall miles - so GFNY was the perfect day to get back to them:
Starting the day on the Train
To prioritize world class roads over the garbage miles in and out of the Northern stretch of New York City we planned a Metro-North commuter train ride out of Grand Central. This train/bike combo would allow us to ride sixty plus miles of carefully chosen dirt/gravel roads before returning home via train while taking full advantage of Metro-North's friendly open-container policy.
Smooth Sailing on the Dirt Roads of Westchester
Once we hit the bike the day went exactly as planned - in fact there weren't really any hardships or difficulties to craft into a particularly compelling narrative. Instead it was as simple as this: we rode amazingly beautiful roads with friends under warm blue skies, ate delicious food and drank beer. An exceptional Sunday and one that I hope to repeat whenever possible.
a Variety of tires sizes, a variety of dirt roads
One issue of note was bikes and tire size. As evidenced by the introduction of the New York State Gravel Grinder State Championship to the 2017 race calendar, the long underrated practice of riding road bikes on less than paved roads has grown in popularity, and the cycling industry has reacted with an overwhelming number of new gravel friendly bikes and tire choices.
Our crew took about as diverse an approach to equipment as possible, and we all had a great time with little to no equipment regrets. Rich and Erwin had raced the Lucarelli & Castaldi Prospect Park 1/2/3 series before meeting at Grand Central Station, so they were both on race bikes with 27m (Rich had swapped out race wheels after the race) and 25m tires on AL wheels respectively. Steve and Dave were on conventional cyclo-cross bikes with training wheels (fat clinchers). I was on my Super-Cross bike with 40m tubeless tires. So we had the full gambit of tire sizes: 25; 27; 32; 25; and 40m.
I would say that 25m tires are not ideal for these roads; and Erwin has the booted tire to show for it. But anything bigger than that was fine. So don't wait for a new bike to get out there and grind some gravel, slap some 28m tires on your road bike and get out there.
With a great day in the saddle in the books all that was left was those post ride beers on the Metro-North train ride home. That and perhaps a quick nap:
Ted Teyber is a New York City based cyclist and land use attorney who joined To Be Determined for the 2016 cyclo-cross season.