Friday, December 19, 2014

Le Gravle Randonneurs: Putnam Valley Hard Pack (and Snow)

The last gravel grinder ride of 2014 for Le Gravle Randonneurs took place in Putnam Valley, NY. It was much colder than the weather forecast said it should have been.  Then, on departure, Mr Murphy stuck his head in and the route on my Garmin was just straight lines connecting the intersections. Fortunately, Will had the route on his Garmin and just in I had the route on GoogleMaps Engine.

One of the risks you take in planning for these rides is if you haven't been here before, no amount of comparing different maps is going to tell you whether a road goes through or not.  We found that on the Ashokan Populaire and D2G2 rides.  Also, so that I don't run into this problem again with my Garmin, I think I have a way of vetting the course to ensure that it's going to not fail me.  To do that, after uploading to the device, have to see if downloads into Training Center or Basecamp.

Despite my navigation issues, we headed west from Mahopac Falls Elementary School (pronounce like Mayo-pack) down a short connector to Route 6N called Potter Rd, which happened to be closed. It was still passable for bikes, though.  Our first taste of dirt, which on the map was called Clear Lake Rd, turns out to be more of a driveway/road into a Boy Scout Camp than an actual thoroughfare. As we were riding by different groups of Boy Scouts no one paid us any heed.  I asked one of the Scout Masters if it was a cold night and he said the cabins were nice and toasty with wood burning stoves. I thought back on my experiences in the Boy Scouts and we never had it this easy back in the day.  In order to earn your winter camping merit badge you had to sleep outside in a tent. That's the way we did it back in the '70s.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Le Gravle Randonneurs: Putnam Valley Hard Pack

Le Gravle Randonneurs were looking for one last Gravle Ride for the 2014 season when Will suggested that we check out a route that started in Cold Spring and went around Clarence Fahnstock State Park in Putnam Valley, NY.  Will sent me some cue sheets for rides in the area called Putnam Pain and Hard Pack.  I searched for the routes on Ride With GPS and found the dirtiest of the two called Putnam Hard Pack.

I had to make a few changes to the route to start from Mahopac so that the starting point was easy for both Will and to find.  I wanted to start closer to Taconic Parkway which would put us in the dirt faster but without really knowing the area I didn't want to take a chance on whether some parking lot that I found in an aerial photo was actually a commuter lot and accessible to the public.  I figured it would be better to find a school or some other public facility and that is why I chose Mahopac Falls Elementary School as the starting point.

In the map above, green is the dirt and blue is the pave.  As you can see it would have been nicer to park closer to the dirt.  Of course, with every new route in which you are riding for the first time it's always a crap shoot on whether or not roads go through or not, so we'll see what we find.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Another Milestone!

Another week of missed opportunities to ride to work left me with only being able to get out on Sunday and boy was it cold especially with the wind on the homeward leg.  I did pretty preparing for today's ride in the low 30 deg F.  No doubt, the Lake303s were on the feet, thermal tights, and most importantly, my top layers including a whicking long sleeve, running shirt and my Cannondale Performance Softshell.  Also my Cannondale convertible riding gloves that have a lobster like shell covers are perfect in these temperatures and glad I didn't go for the Lobster Gloves.

Today's route was sort of an experiment and flying blind at the same time.  It first started out by climbing Butterfield Road because it's steep and I got heated up fast, almost too fast and thought that I was going to get cold from the sweating but then I found by unzipping the outer shell and opening my running shirt a bit I settled into a perfect venting situation where I never got too cold and never too warm, either.

I planned today's ride on Ride With GPS but RWG is still showing that Poverty Hollow still doesn't go through so while I planned the route go down Hopewell Road I figured when I got to the intersection with Hopewell and I didn't see a sign I would be home free.  Sure enough, no sign, and from the bridge that was redone to Reading's Church Hill, it was sweet and creamy Black Butter!

Monday, November 24, 2014

D2G2: Dover Dirt Gravel Grinder

The premier and most centrally located Gravel Grinder in the North East is D2R2 and the next up and coming Gravel Grinder is F2G2 but now there is a new event on the horizon, the Dover Dirt Gravel Grinder, D2G2. 

I got the idea for a ride in this part of NY when I found there were a few dirt road climbs heading west from Dover Plains so I dug a little deeper using Bing Maps (great source for finding the dirt) and discovered there were quite a few dirt roads between RT 22 and the Taconic Parkway!

Friday, November 14, 2014

This Week in Bike Commuting: 2000 miles!

I rode to work both Thursday and Friday, which were equally as cold but Friday had one little wrinkle, it snowed the night before.  Nothing major like the polar vortex gripping the rest of the nation and the roads riding to work in the morning were sandy and salty but not at all slippery.