Weekend Roll: The Hudson Valley Loop
I have been riding bikes long enough to know that there are a few things that are inadvisable if you’re planning a long day on the bike. Staying out late at a concert the night before while having a few too many refreshing beverages is one of those things. Skipping breakfast because you overslept (I blame those beverages) is another thing to avoid. Showing up with a brand new bike probably falls somewhere on the unadvisable scale as well. And yet, with the team rolling deep on a gorgeous morning the day after the Lou Maltese Memorial, I wasn’t about to miss out on the fun due to a hangover. So at 8AM I rolled up with my brand spanking new Moots Routt (more on that coming to the journal soon) and an absolutely roaring headache.
In the days prior we had plotted one possible route - riding up the West side of the Hudson River on our usual training roads, before cutting across the Bear Mountain Bridge and returning down the East side of the Hudson using the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) Trail. It would make for a long ~100 mile day on the saddle including lots of dirt on the OCA. As such my hopes for surviving even the first leg of it were dim as we rolled through upper Manhattan on our way to New Jersey:
Once we hit New Jersey things got a bit sloppy. 9W was absolutely packed with cyclists and a steady headwind meant that as we passed riders they often jumped on the back of (or in) our paceline. Then, when we hit Piermont two of our crew rolled a red light (friends, do not do this!) and were immediately pulled over. This led to an extended pause on the side of the road as they received their punishment. But as least we posted up alongside a playground and were able to jump on the swings ever so briefly.
Eventually we got back on the road but as we reached the dirt path in Nyack State Beach we started to shed riders who were facing time deadlines to be back in the city - deadlines that were rapidly approaching after our slow start to the ride. Our initial twelve rider crew became seven and then just three as our less adventurous companions headed back toward paved terrain. Somewhere along this stretch of the ride, with my hangover finally fading, Lucia’s stoke on doing the full East/West Hudson Valley loop convinced me to keep going up the ragged dirt paths just before the Bear Mountain bridge.
Halfway through our journey and with that lack of breakfast coming back to bite Lisa and me, we made a breakfast stop in Peekskill to refuel on pastries and iced coffee. From there we cut over to the Croton Reservoir where a week of rain left the water levels over the dam raging. Picking up the OCA from the opposite side of the dam, we started making good progress back to New York City - disrupted by a few hike-a-bike sections and a small tumble where Lucia gave it full send on a particularly technical section despite being on a road bike with 25mm tires.
By the time we hit Tarrytown our slow start up the West side of the Hudson and our poor ride prep (starting underfed and hungover) were starting to take a toll. So rather than risk a visit to bonktown, Lisa and I retreated to a nearby deli for lunch and a train ride home (with a quick nap along the way). Lucia carried on as the sole survivor from our original group of twelve, eventually completing the full loop in a touch over six hours of ride time. All-in-all it was a pretty perfect day on the bike - hangover be damned. And the Moots Routt performed magnificently from the paved roads at the start to the dirt of the OCA. But more on that bike soon…