Sunday, October 27, 2019

Pilgrimage to Mt Riga

Every year since I started riding at D2R2 I have used Mt Riga Road and Sunset Rock Road as my training ground. If I can climb those two roads without having to stop I am ready for anything. This year however, I never got to Mt Riga in the spring for some reason, and when Will mentioned that he had nothing going on this Saturday and wanted to ride some gravel I suggested that we ride Mt Riga. 

Wanting to try something different, and hearing about two new breweries opening up, one in Millerton and another in Hillsdale, I decided to have the ride start in New York. Only later did I find out that the two breweries weren't open yet.  So we started out across from the old Millerton Train Station and headed out the back way Salisbury. 

The first significant climb on this route was Belgo Road, right after you cross into CT.  It's a half mile long with an average grade of almost 11%. I found this climb earlier this summer when I did a road ride around and up the Taconics and coming this way seemed the best way to avoid Rt 44 but this climb was a surprise to say the least. 

The view from the top of Belgo Hill looking south towards Sharon and Eastern NY

The same view from my earlier ride this past summer

We hit First Dirt on the old Central New England Rail Road right of way. It was hard finding the entrance because the last time I rode this section, I rode from the other direction and I recalled coming out at the gas station. This time however, we had to ride through the park to get to the road bed.

I started this ride with way too much snivel gear.  The ear band and gaiter quickly came off along with the sleeves of my vest.  

It would be great if this rail trail connected to Millerton and Canaan

While there isn't much left in terms of signs that it was an actual railroad line there are little reminders here and there that make you reflect back to the age of steam and trains that traveled through here on their way from NYC to Hartford and Boston.

When Mt Riga road turns to dirt the fun part of the ride started

I was feeling pretty good and kept pace with Will. Or maybe he was just going slow so that we could stay together. I am a slow but consistent climber. He's fast. One thing that I noticed was that I wasn't even thinking about calling Granny for help.

We stopped at Mt Riga Falls to take a few pictures

They were going full tilt like it was spring

Me on the left and Will on the right

While Will took off his base layer 

It got hot on the climb up and I took off my vest and gloves

This climb is approximately 3.6 miles with an average grade of 6.6% 
Heading towards the state line we came upon a few 4x4s that were driving a bit too fast for this road

Once at the state line, it was time to take few pictures, have a snack and get ready for the next leg of the ride. Looking back to previous posts, the last time we were here was back in 2018 on the Bastille Day Gravel Grinder:  Qu'ils mangement de la brioche

At the state line the temperature started dropping again so I put my vest and gloves again

As I was driving up to Millerton earlier that morning I noticed clouds over the Taconics and wondered if they were getting snow that morning. Couldn't tell whether or not they actually got snow but the ground was pretty wet from the state line to Sunset Rock.

The route had another surprise climb in it. The road between Falls Road and West Street has 6.5% climb that is almost a mile long. It's paved, so it its a little easier but it's still a formidable challenge.  

Then we came to Sunset Rock.  Not once have I ever ridden down this road but today's route broke that dry spell. It was a bit of a white knuckle experience on the first and steepest section and then it became a controlled descent.

At one point I was going over 30 mph

From Sunset Rock we descended down North Mountain Road to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and rode out towards Valley View Road, and believe me it lives up to it's name!

Usually we just ride the Rail Trail to Under Mountain Road to head back to Millerton but I found going this way reduces our exposure to having to ride on Route 22 for any considerable distance because we heading out towards Ancram.

Here is Pano from Valley View Rd

And you can see the Catskills from this point!

Meat sticks are a must have on any ride!

On the other side of Route 22 we found some surprises. Some roads that I had on my Roubaix to Brew gravel roads map were not dirt roads after all. Well, maybe they were at one point but no longer. For example, Simmons Road shows up on Bing Maps as a dirt road and if you look at it on the streets side view, its definitely a dirt road however we found it chip sealed.


And then there was Roche Drive. A very scenic dirt road between two county roads, 82 and 3.

Time for one of Steve Taylor's energy squares!

There were a few dogies, too

Another surprise was finding out the section of Dump Road between County Rt 3 and Rotnyvoss Road was a private road.  There were some hunters at the entrance who we asked whether or not we could ride through there and they said the land owner probably wouldn't mind.

It's a shame this is a private road.
I removed this section from my map, unfortunately.

The big surprise on the ride came when we turned onto Over Mountain Road

The sign at the entrance to the road says it all

The climb is 1.1 miles at an average grade of 9%.

So, basically, you are riding Over the Mountain as the name implies.

I asked and received Granny's help for this climb.

Will just attacked it!

At the intersection with Cattalino Rd, Over Mountain turns to Dual Track

And when you get the to the farm, please stay right.  It turns out the road really doesn't go through as it looks like it does on the aerial photo. I am sure it probably looked strange to the owner of the house as we rode by on their grass. The confusing thing was at the intersection where you are actually supposed to turn right there is a sign saying no outlet but it it's not clear what direction has no outlet. Well, there is sort of an outlet but if you find yourself recreating this route, please don't follow my example through here. Make a right at the first intersection.

The final part of the route was to return on Winchell Mountain Road and the views were breath taking

Looking east toward the Taconics

And looking west towards the Catskills

The descent back down to Millerton on Winchell Mountain Road was 9% for almost a mile and I got up to 49 miles an hour on my Gravel Bike!

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