RIVERS AND RIDGELINES is a 2-day 1-night self-contained 5BBC weekend bicycle tour. We visit Minnewaska Preserve, tour the Wallkill River valley, and stay overnight in New Paltz. Our ride leaders are Jim Zisfein (email@example.com) and Susan Rodetis. Information on 5BBC weekend trips, and instructions for signing up for RIVERS AND RIDGELINES, can be found here.
Trip itinerary and price
On Saturday, July 14, 2012 we meet at Grand Central Terminal at 7:15am. (If you prefer to board at 125th St or along Metro North's Hudson Line, that can be arranged, if you tell the ride leaders in advance.) Don't forget your MTA bike permit.
Our trip begins and concludes travelling by Metro North train along the Hudson River to and from Poughkeepsie in the heart of the Hudson Valley. We'll enjoy the same majestic views that flowed behind Eve Marie Saint and Cary Grant in North by Northwest. Eve and Cary won't be with us, and if you want trout, bring your own; the glorious scenery remains.
We start our ride on Saturday biking across the historic Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge (Walkway Over the Hudson) opened to the public in October 2009 as the world's longest bridge dedicated to pedestrian and bicycling use. West of the Hudson, the newly extended Hudson Valley Rail Trail leads to Lloyd. From Lloyd, we continue to New Paltz where we'll leave overnight stuff at our lodgings.
On Saturday we've planned a challenging 40 mile ride in Minnewaska State Park, about 8 miles west of New Paltz. Biking west from New Paltz, there's an 800-foot climb on roads that sometimes approach a 10% gradient. And that's just the beginning. There's another 1,200-plus climb in Minnewaska. This isn't Kansas.
Unpaved carriageways hug cliffs and wind through Minnewaska revealing forests, meadows, waterfalls, and incomparable vistas. Mostly, the carriageways are surfaced with crushed stone. Brief segments are surfaced with large (2") ballast.
On Sunday we'll have a 40-mile recovery ride in the Wallkill River valley on the unpaved (but easily rideable) Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and country roads. Our ride will take us through the State University of New York campus (it's always SUNY in New Paltz). If time permits, we might include a tour of historic Huguenot Street, one of the oldest settlements in America.
The trip price of $140 includes accommodations and Metro North train fare but does not include meals.
On Saturday night, the New Paltz Hostel provides economical lodging. We've reserved shared rooms with some bunk beds. Each room has its own bath. For an overflow crowd, there's an additional co-ed dorm.
On Saturday we'll buy lunch on our way to Minnewaska at an excellent sandwich shop at the foot of the cliffs. Expect to pay no more than $10. Saturday dinner will be in New Paltz at an excellent brewpub (estimate $20-30, depending on how much you drink), and Sunday breakfast will be at a quirky bistro (estimate $10).
And, on our return to Poughkeepsie, we plan to stop for the best chili in the Hudson Valley – with a beverage, about $10. The deck at Andyís Place, looking out over the Hudson River, is below the Poughkeepsie - Highland Railroad Bridge. We plan to return to New York City early Sunday evening.
What if it rains?
Though Minnewaska's carriageways are tree-shaded, there isn't much shelter. A brief summer shower isn't a problem – we're not made of sugar – but if there's a risk of lightning, we'll prudently regroup and explore other options. If we truly need to stay indoors, New Paltz is the home of the 17th-century Historic Huguenot Street settlement as well as lots of shops and galleries.
Your leaders are capable, experienced foul-weather riders who can take just about anything that Mother Nature can dish out. We're not intimidated by a few raindrops and hope that you won't be either. The trip is "rain or shine". Make sure you bring appropriate rain gear. If you decide not to show up because of weather, we won't be able to make full refunds (the accommodations are prepaid and nonrefundable) but we might be able to refund the price of your train ticket.
How to prepare
RIVERS AND RIDGELINES is a demanding challenging ride ... and itís also hugely rewarding. For sheer beauty and variety within range of NYC, you canít top this. The climbs are real. Thereís one within Minnewaska that one of your leaders regularly walks. We have nothing to prove. But be honest with yourself about how hilly this ride really is. On the other hand, we're not in a hurry and we have long days to enjoy ourselves. This should not be your first ride of the year. We suggest that you get out on some 5BBC day rides if you haven't already done so.
What sort of bike to ride? Skinny road tires are a Very Bad Idea but even though we're going to the mountains, you don't need a mountain bike. Best choice: a bike frame you'll be comfortable riding all day and tires that are "sensible walking shoes" for your bike.
Make sure your bike is ready. Do the 2-minute bike check one week before the ride (or have a shop check your bike for roadworthiness). Recheck tire pressure the day before the ride. Remember to bring basic bike repair equipment (at minimum: 2 spare tubes, patch kit, pump, and tire levers) and a water bottle.
To carry your overnight things and extra clothing you'll want panniers, a rack trunk, or a backpack – waterproof, or lined with plastic bags. Bring what you need, but don't overpack. If this is your first overnight tour, load up with what you think you need. Take an experimental spin around town. Climb some hills. Pedaling uphill with a full load is a great way to convince yourself to make do with less! Whether it's on your bike or your back, you're the one who will be schlepping it.
Weather in the Hudson Valley may not be the same as New York City. Morning, afternoon and evening temperatures can and do vary widely. Pockets of rain can form in the mountains when the forecast is for clear from NYC to Albany. Also, it will be cooler at higher elevations.
Unless conditions are extreme, a reasonable selection of stuff (what you wear plus what you pack) might be:
Don't forget your medications, personal care items, sunblock, mobile phone, camera, and money. How much money? Your train ticket and accommodations are already paid, your food budget should be under $80, but in a worst-case scenario of major mechanical failure or injury you might need cabfare for up to a 30-mile ride to the nearest train station. We suggest you bring a minimum of $200.
This will be fun!
We think you will enjoy RIVERS AND RIDGELINES. Folks travel from all over the world to climb the Shawangunk Mountains. The Gunks are in our back yard. You will finish this ride wanting more of this region, which you can get whenever you want – just by taking a Metro North train.