Thursday, August 5, 2010

Long overdue

This has been a whirlwind summer, especially the past month or so, but all for good reasons, thankfully. There have been trips and rides galore and I’m only now just getting around to writing them down. The most recent was what began as a 3-day, but turned into a 4-day bike camping trip in the Catskills with some friends. Luckily, I have the coolest job ever and they were totally fine with the extra day off that I needed in order to complete the trip to Albany.

We started on Friday morning, a bit later than we normally would have because we were taking Metro North to Poughkeepsie and they don’t allow bikes on the train during morning rush hour. We made friends with one of the conductors but not so much with the other one. It was through no fault of our own, he clearly had preexisting anti-bike sentiments.

After arriving in Poughkeepsie, we found our way to the pedestrian/cyclist bridge over the Hudson, which was a truly beautiful way to start the trip.

After we crossed the bridge, we headed to New Paltz, along a fairly uninteresting road, with the exception of the Brooklyn Brewery billboard, which we all noticed and commented on later, all of us being Brooklynites (or at least, Brooklyn transplants).

It was HOT, though. It must have been in the mid-90s with the sun beating straight down on us. I felt like I was going to faint and was struggling to even bring up the rear. The heat seriously disagrees with this Scandinavian girl.

Quick lunch in New Paltz (complete with another anti-cyclist, anti-New Yorker local) and hit the road again quickly thereafter. Friday afternoon was a bit of a blur, probably due to the scorching heat. I have little memory of much of it, except for my leg cramps, which was a new phenomenon for me, maybe also due to the heat. Laughing hard seemed to aggravate them, which in and of itself is pretty funny. I guess I have a whole-body laugh.

The store we intended on stopping at to buy dinner supplies was closed, as in boarded up closed, but luckily the liquor store was still going strong. We stopped in there to get a few bottles of wine and whiskey for the night and made friends with the Russian owner. She was a salty broad who claimed she was from Brighton Beach. Fitting. After some directions from a local, we found a grocery store and loaded our bikes up with food & water for dinner. I have never ridden a heavier bike and would soon be riding it up (read: walking it up) one of the steepest “hills” I’d ever met. To top it off, the sky had started looking ominous and we ended up in a downpour. Once I’d covered my sleeping bag with my raincoat, though, I found it entirely refreshing. I’d much rather bike in the rain than in sweltering heat. The rain eventually thinned out as we rode along the Rondout Reservoir, which supplies much of NYC’s drinking water.

I felt so energetic that I didn’t stop until I reached the end of the reservoir and then realized that not everyone was behind me. Turns out their delay was due to the discovery of wild raspberry bushes. There’s a yogic lesson in this, I can feel it. Rushing through life obscures the subtler pleasures. **Mental note to stop and eat the berries...literally.** Thankfully, they harvested a plentiful bounty for all to enjoy as dessert later on and throughout the trip.

After we regrouped, we started up Sugar Loaf Rd, which kicked my butt and continued to kick my butt in the morning, because we camped partway up that night. The Bike Hudson Valley website categorizes it as a “Very Steep Climb” and says this: Total climbing on Sugar Loaf around 1650 vertical feet in 4.5 miles (or 1700 vertical feet if finish with a sharp left turn onto Red Hill Rd, which we did), including 850 vertical feet around 11% grade (with several sections even steeper). Let’s just say it was *not* my favorite thing to wake up to the next morning.

The dinner that night was quite good, despite a few minor mishaps. Camping in the dark provides some challenges, which include proper setting up of the tent (at which I failed—though in my defense it was my first time using this tent) and identifying the correct ingredients while cooking (hilariously ended up with minty, soapy pasta, due to the misidentification of a bottle thought to be olive oil, which in fact turned out to be liquid, peppermint soap).

1 comment:

  1. These pictures are amazing and your trip sounds incredible!