Sunday, April 4, 2010

Stony Point scouting

The smooth asphalt of the Joseph Clarke rail trail in Orangetown made for a fast ride on a glorious spring day this past Friday. I had taken the day off from work to clear my mind and reduce stress. I have a ride to Stony Point on April 25th and I'm not in shape to ride it at the speed I listed -- particularly my climbing is relatively weak and it's a hilly and long ride.

I did Stony Point last year but I want to change the route. I tried out the new Google maps bicycle route feature and it suggested using the Joseph Clarke Rail Trail then the Raymond Esposito Rail trail continuation (Russell Nelson's rail trail sitemap lists it all as the Joesph Clarke though the signage on the route clearly changes the name of this rail trail of the old Northern Railroad of New Jersey route), offering an interesting possibility of a long distance of car-free cycling from Oak Tree Road into Nyack (or vice-versa).

The trail started out really nice. Then the asphalt ends and the trail continues as single track with some crushed gravel and dirt. A fork in the road offers Blauvelt to the left and Piermont and Nyack to the right. I continued on the right fork, which quickly crossed CR 340 at the intersection of CR303 with US 9W crossing a block or so away. After crossing 340, the trail opens up to a wider dirt road -- no gravel. Conditions weren't too great but passable and I continued on. When the trail turns into the Esposito trail it gets gravel and hardpack, much better. Further on one has a choice as the trail forks slightly left and uphill. I continued ahead into Hader County Park which had pretty decent conditions. Lots of debris from the storms but mostly cleared -- a big branch across the route had an opening cut through it.

Overall, not bad but I have a cyclocross frame with 28mm Continental Gatorskins (kevlar belt) tires; my Brooks B-17 stretched leather saddle worked well when I kept my "sit bones" back at the rear of the saddle. The short dirt segment from the paved section to exit onto 340 is acceptable to get us out on 340 to head for Tweed and thence onto Bradley and head for Little Tor Rd. (though taking Orangeburg Rd. around to get to climb Clausland's 11% grade to Tweed and Bradley is good...). For the return route, when we get off the Hook Mountain we just get on Piermont Ave. and follow it back around to the rail trail back to Oak Tree then over to Piermont Rd and back to Englewood Cliffs where of course there is more climbing to finish the day :-)

The route out has to bypass the entrance to Palisades Malls. That's an ok thing if you're headed east but not west since there are cars entering and exiting. Of course, bypassing means more climbing. The current route looks real nice and pretty different from the route that Steve Sakson's crew will take the day before. Climbing Tweed is a nice prelude workout to what we'll do in Mountainview.

The climbing and turning gets us onto CR33 for miles and miles (about 9.6) even as it changes names.

The route home is easier and takes us through Hook Mountain then along the river.

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