Will contacted me last week and wanted to know if I wanted to ride Westchester Dirt Roads. His wife had the car for the weekend and he suggested we meet somewhere along the train line. Since Easter is no longer a big celebration at my house I suggested that we ride on Sunday since the weather was supposed to be a little warmer than Saturday.
Ride with GPS Link: The Dirty Dirty Bunny Roubaix
What is surprising about Westchester County is the plethora of dirt roads and it's proximity to New York City. There is still a lot of pavement but given the distribution and location of some these roads you can plan out a nice ride in location that has many interesting houses and farms.
Will and I have been riding these roads since 2014. It's funny, when I worked in Westchester County back in the early 2000s I knew about these dirt roads because I used drive them on my commutes from Ridgefield to Armonk, when the main roads were backed up but I never made the connection to riding them until I read about a ride that that the Westchester Cycling Club used to do here called the Dirty Apple. It was a take off on their Gold Apple fundraiser held each year. Of course once I saw the original course I started updating my Roubaix to Brew dirt road map to include these roads and mapped out a few different routes. I called my original route The Dirty Martha.
I like variation and I am not one to just do the same route over and over again and today's ride did exactly that. I mapped out a route that went around Ward Pound Ridge Reservation counter clockwise that went up a lot of dirt roads that we have only ridden in the other direction. Additionally, I wanted to hit a dirt road that I haven't been on before, Old Church Lane. It was out of the way but it included new roads to add to my Westchester County Wandrer coverage so it was worth doing.
We took a break at the Mianus River Gorge parking area and I happened to notice the really big piece of petrified wood but with no plaque or anything saying what it was or where it came from.
I find rock formations and other geologic curiosities to be fascinating and always look for the background on it when I find something. There is nothing pertaining to this petrified wood sample on the internet that I can find. The other thing that has peaked my curiosity about this area is the fact that Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, when looked at in relief resembles a remnant of an extinct volcano. Again, there is no mention whether this is the case.
If you look north, the escarpment of Mountain Lakes Park looks like the edge of the cone. As you can see, it looks very similar to the Osspie Ring Dike Complex in New Hampshire.
Some guy was checking out the Sex Machine and wanted to know why it wasn't a 1x because his gravel bike was one.
I explained to him that this bike is also a touring bike and when kitted out with racks a broader range of gears is necessary for riding with a heavier load. I also pointed out that I had bar end shifters which he thought were dangerous because you had to take your hand off the hoods to shift. This is my fourth gravel bike with bar end shifters and I like them.
After the Mianus Gorge we worked our way east towards CT and into Lewisboro where we road Old Church Lane.
Old Church Lane was challenging. It had some punchy, steep climbs and fast down hills. Riding out to this dirt road and then heading back west and towards WPR Reservation took us climb that I experienced last spring which came as a big shock because it is so steep. It's on Kitchawan Road the ascent averages 12.5% with a max grade of 16.5%. Really surprised this road is paved.
The route eventually brought us back to more familiar territory and dirt roads that have ridden before but this time in the opposite direction, Dingee & Boughtonville Roads. We worked our way through Waccabuc and then climbed up Mt Holly Rod (Avg grade 9% with a max grade of 15%) and then bombed down the other side. There was couple coming up the other way on Mountain Bikes, however they were walking them - Mt Holly from the other direction is brutal.
We rode onto the Cross River Reservoir dam and stopped for lunch. It was the best place stop although we were almost finished with the ride.
I brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Will and I to eat. It's kind of tradition now when we do gravel rides because he loves PBJs only his kids have peanut allergies so he can't have peanut butter in the house. They are easy to carry in my handlebar bag so it's really no trouble and are perfect for the ride. The funny thing is that I brought all this extra food that I never touched.