Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Indian

With a forecast of another sweltering hot day in New York City blaring from the radio, I put my rental car in gear and drove off to the Catskill Mountains in search of cooler temperatures with lower humidity and long climbs up country roads on which to ride my bike. Lacking a bike rack, I had managed to load my bike into the trunk by putting the back seat down and taking off its front wheel. I had found a cue sheet in the library of the New York Cycle Club; the listing of regional hill grades for Slide Mountain (Rt. 47) looked promising and so did the terrain map of the area on Google maps.

This statue of Winnisook, the namesake Big Indian, stands at the entrance of Indian Park.
By 7:30 AM I had arrived at Gruenbaum's in Riverdale to eat breakfast and get a sandwich to take with me for lunch. Around 8 AM, with the Bronx temperature noticeably warmer under mostly sunny skies than when I arrived, I was on the road again. After a stop for gas, a I finally arrived at my destination round 11 am: Indian Park on NY Route 28 in the town of Shandaken, Ulster County where I found no water and that the only toilet is a port-a-potty.

The climb up CR-47 was nice. I noted but didn't visit the convenience store on the east side near the bottom. The road was reasonably quiet though there were cars  it's the only way through to the valley on the other side as well as the Frost Valley YMCA with it's various camps and activities 14 miles ahead. After a short mild climb the road leveled out around 2 miles in for a half-mile. Deceptive, one thinks the ascent is a series of rolling hills and might 'attack', pushing speed up to full cruising.  This is not a good idea as one soon hits a 10% grade that gets steeper then becomes less steep only to become even steeper. After about 4 miles of this, the slope again decreases to almost level (after you've been on 10+ % grade, 5% is practically flat). This is another recovery interval, because in a half mile it gets steeper than before and stays that way until the top. The entire route is tree-lined; even at mid-day, there were plenty of patches of light shade.

When I reached the top in the hamlet of Oliverea, I stopped to take some photos.
My GPS reading at the top of the climb up CR-47 on Slide Mountain
The view ahead from the top of the ascent up Slide Mountain on CR-47. The end of the road seen here is the drop-off, a steep descent to Frost Valley.
This lake belongs to Camp Winnisook, a private club.  This lake has the highest elevation in the Catskills and is the source of the Esopus Creek.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Roads Adventure update

Due to underwhelming response, I've canceled the reservation on the house in Intercourse PA and dropped plans to have a cook prepare meals for us. Instead, we are now staying in a motel  Intercourse and will make do with whatever we bring in and whatever we can buy locally. The trip price is accordingly now $285.including the "continental plus" breakfast provided by the motel.

Unfortunately, lacking a group taking 9 or more rooms I can't get a discount on the rooms.

I've got a nice route out  up the Schuylkill River trail then across the Delwarea to Valley Forge. We'll explore some of Valley Forge on the way. The plan is to climb Forge Mountain and then take Horshoe Trail across and have a nice descent. We'll see. Continuing west to Intercourse, we'll stop at another park for a pit stop.

On Monday we'll have a good day of riding. I plan to climb Welch Mountain and then head out and do a route with some covered bridges and other scenery. A swing by Strasbourg for a peek at the railroad is good too.

Our ride home Tuesday will mostly follow Pennsylvania Bike Route S with a detour to French Creek Park and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site then back to Route S until we cross the Delaware River. We'll take the follow some back roads to our dinner stop in Elkins Park then we ride to Philadelphia or if we're ambitious and early (!) we can ride 20+ miles to Trenton. If we're tired we can take SEPTA to 30th St. station.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Choices in the Gunks

Irv riding across the Walkway over the Hudson. 
Photo by Jorge Warman

Our group of intrepid riders at the Minnewaska scenic overlook.  Photo courtesy Jorge Warman.