Post-Turkey Gravel Ride in Westchester, NY

Post-Turkey Gravel Ride in Westchester

On November 26, a group of 20 riders descended upon Katonah, NY for an after-Thanksgiving gravel ride in Westchester, NY.  Riders tackled either a 66 mile route with well-over 6,000 ft of climbing or a 50 mile route with over 4,000 ft of climbing.  Both routes traverse some of the best dirt roads in Westchester County and include an always enjoyable (if a bit challenging) dirt climb through Mountain Lakes Park.  Both routes were exactly the same for the first 44 miles, which made it easy for folks to ride together, whether they chose the short or long routes.  I did my best to organize us into three pace groups, but I think the folks in the slower two groups were eager to ride hard and ended up chasing the fast-moving front pack of riders (inevitably splitting up into smaller groups as they dropped back).  Regardless, it seemed like everybody had a good time!  Some of us stayed after the ride for beer and food at Paulie’s Deli.  My thanks to all the GrNY and RAD Cycling Collective folks who came out on this day!  It was a great way to burn off some Thanksgiving calories.


– 66 miles, ~6000 ft,

– 50 miles, ~5000 ft,


NOTES: In general, this route sticks to well-maintained dirt roads, with the exception of the climb through Mountain Lakes Park.  That park road is considerably rougher, but still isn’t particularly technical.  All of our riders did fine on 35mm or larger gravel bike tires.

One of Westchester County's many well-maintained dirt roads.
Riders enjoying one of Westchester County’s many well-maintained dirt roads.

Riders pausing to enjoy views from the Cross River Dam.
Riders pausing to enjoy views from the Cross River Dam.

“Fall Back” Gravel Ride: Brewster > Wingdale > Wassaic

In addition to turning back the clocks, on November 6, 2022 a group of GrNY riders tackled a gravel ride of 79 miles and over 7,000 ft of climbing (or a truncated 65 mile version).  This ride offered a bit of redemption, because the previous time we did this route was in early March, when we encountered many miles of snow-covered back roads.  The ‘normal’ dirt roads were fine that previous day in March, but the closed-for-the-season dirt roads had not yet melted.  Live and learn! 

Overall, this was a fun day out and a great first GrNY ride since my (Steve’s) return from Colorado.  It was a beautiful route with a mix of rural dirt and paved roads. And it was such a wonderfully warm day. It was hard to believe it was November.  Some of us celebrated with beer and pizza after the ride and both tasted mighty fine after our efforts.

There were a few minor imperfections on the day, but they didn’t dampen our spirits (even if they did dampen the roads!). The weather turned a bit wet and misty during the second half of our ride, but on such a warm day it really wasn’t much of a bother. And the first part of our ride, Pugsley Rd, was in the process of being redeveloped so it was a sketchy trek through an in-progress construction zone.  Thankfully, there was no active work on this weekend morning.  Say farewell to the formerly- quiet, and formerly-dirt Pugsley Rd!  It will soon be paved and have a huge warehouse operation, a large recreation center, and lots of truck traffic.  You may need to choose an alternate route to start this ride if construction is still underway.

The top “loop” of this ride has much more gravel than the bottom loop, especially now that Pugsley Rd is no longer dirt. It might be time to develop a better route that no longer starts from Brewster.


– Full, 79 mile version:

– Shortened 65 mile version:


WARNING: After emerging from Penny Rd onto pavement you will encounter a crazy steep downhill. Go slow! One rider almost lost control. I guess I wasn’t clear enough when I tried to warn folks.

Note:  This version of the 79-mile route switches the direction of the “top loop”.  This is a change for the better.  First, it puts our lunch spot (Kent, CT) at mile 35.5, which is better timing.  Second, it allows for a  shortened 65-mile route that keeps everyone together until lunch time.  Third, it allows us to ride *up* Macedonia Brook State Park, which means you get more time to enjoy the lovely scenery, rather than bombing down it at high speed.

Tackling the climb inside West Mountain State Forest on the way to Penny Rd
Tackling the climb inside West Mountain State Forest on the way to Penny Rd. Penny Rd is definitely not a road anymore! It is a rough forest trail, but doesn’t last for long.
Foggy road through rolling farms and forests.
Foggy road through rolling farms and forests.

Riga, Sunset Rock, and the Berkshires

On June 24, 2022, a group of GrNY riders completed this epic ride to celebrate 2x Peter’s birthday (plus some extra miles to make it an even century). It was also a great sendoff before I head to Colorado for the rest of the summer. The upper ~65 miles come from Mark L’s excellent 2021 Riga route. I did an 80-mile version of this route last summer and knew that I needed to return!

Route Description:

Epic gravel ride that includes the climb up Mt Riga (~1250ft), the more challenging climb to Sunset Rock (~1050ft, but steeper), the flat (and beautiful) Housatonic River Road, and other premium stretches of gravel in the region. It includes the option to visit Bash Bish falls (just steps away from the route). Worth the drive!

I’ve pasted the RidewithGPS route below, which contains a detailed description and options for shorter 75- and 86-mile distances. The 75-mile route is probably the sweet spot as it includes both big climbs and the entire Berkshires part of the ride. The last 22 miles of the full route have some excellent dirt roads, too. We were originally going to start in Kent, CT, but moved the start location to Housatonic Meadows State Park Picnic Area to allow for some shorter “bailout” options (75 or 86 miles), in case anybody needed to get back earlier, or in case we ran out of steam. Thankfully we managed to keep the pedals turning for 100 miles and 9500 ft of climbing and had an awesome ride! We celebrated with some beer at the end.




Itinerary for our ride.

  • 19.5 mi: Optional water/gatorade stop at LaBonne’s Market in Salisbury
  • 34.5 mi: Required stop at Depot Deli for snacks/food/water. This will be needed after climbing Mt Riga and before climbing Sunset Rock (each 1250ft and 1050ft, respectively). Bathrooms available at Taconic State Park near the swimming area (across the street).
  • 49 mi: Lunch at the Marketplace Kitchen and Cafe in Sheffield (sandwiches, etc). They might not carry sports drinks, but we could backtrack 0.1 miles to the Mobile Station across the street if needed.
  • 65mi: Optional detour to Falls River Cafe.
  • 78mi: Required Stop at supermarket in Sharon, CT. Last reliable place to get food/drinks before end of ride.


Housatonic Meadows Picnic Area has been a safe choice. They had decent porta-potties when we last visited (late June, 2022). There is no fee (just drive and park — no booth). Mark’s ride starts at Housatonic High School. I’m guessing that will work for weekends or summer, only.

Brewster to Central Dutchess Dirt

On June 18, 2022, GrNY riders started near Brewster, NY and headed northward across Putnam and then into Dutchess County, NY. It was absolutely perfect weather for riding! The high temperature was around 68 degrees with just enough cloud cover to make for dramatic photos, but there was no rain. A medium-speed group, led by Kathy, tackled 50 miles with 4800 ft of climbing. A faster group, led by Steve, rode 66 miles with 6000 ft of climbing.

Kathy’s ride:
Steve’s ride:

Overall, this was a beautiful mixed-surface ride with stretches of dirt road, rural paved roads, and some very short sections of rougher forest trail. There were great views throughout the ride. Both routes are highly recommended. Tires of 35mm width are plenty for most of the ride, but some folks probably appreciated wider tires for the short trail sections. Be forewarned that both routes had considerable climbing. For the medium group, the hardest climbs came in the first half (ideal). For the faster group, the climbs were more well-distributed, with one of the tougher climbs appearing 51 miles into the ride. That said, both groups had to climb back up Bullet Hole Rd near the end of the ride, which probably seemed like a bigger climb than it really was, given everyone’s tired legs.

The goal for both groups was to end at the same time, despite the different distances traveled. This almost worked, but not exactly! The *moving time* of both group leaders was within about 15 minutes of each other, which was well-planned. However, we “laggards” in the faster group took our lunch break during the ride, while the medium speed group only stopped briefly and ate more substantially at the end of the ride. Now I know why Kathy’s group got back so much quicker! The medium-speed group was happily enjoying cold drinks when we joined them at the post-ride meeting spot. We had some well-earned cold beers ourselves when we got there.

Things went well on both rides, with one minor exception. For the faster/longer distance group, I originally planned for us to filter water around mile 19 (to top off our water bottles), but with 25 riders signed-up by mid-week, that seemed like it might be too inefficient. Instead, I added some extra distance for a stop at the General Store near Bulls Bridge in South Kent, CT. Unfortunately, it was closed! We searched around and eventually made use of a convenient water tap at a nearby inn (they were nice about it). Note for future riders of the longer route: Bring plenty of food and water!


Medium Speed (50 miles, >4500′):
Food and water stop at mile 26 (Cousin’s Deli, Pizza, and Bakery)
A second food/water stop possible at mile 42 (Squaro’s Town Square Pizza).

Faster Speed (65 miles, >5000′):
Bring plenty of water and food! The first reliable stop is around mile 47 (gas stations with Cumberland Farms / Dunkin) or mile 50 (good pizza by the slice + deli). Alternatively, future riders could detour to Wingdale around mile 24, which adds a few extra miles, but has more reliable

NOTE FOR THE FUTURE: Almost immediately across the street from the Park & Ride (i.e. starting location) is Pugsley Rd, which is currently rural and dirt. HOWEVER, all of the trees have been cleared for the first 1/2 mile and the entire area is slated for a huge warehouse and distribution center. It sounds like Pugsley Rd will soon be a busy, paved trucking road and the current intersection will be widened to 4 lanes with turn signals. There will also be a huge sports complex on some of the land they are clearing. Hundreds of trucks per day will flow through that area (distribution center) plus hundreds of cars on weekends (sports complex). I’ll miss this peaceful rural road that somehow began right from the heart of concrete and sprawl. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Pugsley Rd
Pugsley Rd (enjoy it before they pave it!)
Quaker Lake
Quaker Lake (near Pawling Nature Preserve)
Quaker Lake
Quaker Lake
Rural roads near Tenmile River Preserve
Rural roads near Tenmile River Preserve
Taking a breather in Tymor Park
Taking a breather in Tymor Park, which has some fun dirt trails.

About GrNY

GrNY is an informal club for gravel riding in the New York metro area. Rides involve dirt and paved surfaces, since it is difficult to string together continuous unpaved routes in our area. The basic idea is to get away from cars and seek gravel where we can find it.

Join us for rides that emphasize:

  • Fun exploration
  • Non-competitive atmosphere
  • No dress code (whether lycra, MTB baggies, or flannel)
  • Pacelining is discouraged, particularly on gravel roads, unless you know your ride partner well.
  • Some members enjoy challenging rides, but the goal is the experience, not speed/stats.

Rides are posted to the GrNY Strava group and often emailed to the GrNY mailing list. Please RSVP via Strava. A free Strava account is all you need.

If you’d like to join the Strava group, where you can RSVP for rides

First click “join group” on Strava. We want to include people who might actually join rides. That’s why we will check that you:

1) live in the broader NYC Metro area (e.g. NY, NJ, CT), and

2) are capable of riding the distance of our shortest rides (35+ miles of hilly terrain).

If your Strava profile says you’re in London, or Paris, Des Moines or wherever – you won’t be approved for membership. And we also won’t approve you for membership if, when look at the stats on your profile, we see that all the rides you’ve logged to Strava are short rides. Almost all GrNY rides are more than 35 miles and typically on hilly terrain, so you should be used to regularly riding at similar distances and elevation gradients. That said, privacy is an issue and some people have their profiles locked down. Others have never used Strava before. That’s okay.

If your Strava profile doesn’t reflect your location or riding ability, click “join group” then send an email to with a link to your Strava profile or your profile name. If you don’t hear back from that address, you are welcome to email Steve at He can also approve your membership to the Strava group.

Once you’re a club member communication via Strava is an issue. Strava has a policy of gradually muting clubs as they grow in size. To get around that problem we’ve created an email mailing list.

To get on the mailing list visit and follow the instructions on the page. We try to keep emails to a minimum. And please realize you have to confirm your email address to be fully signed up – some people miss that step. Check your spam folder if you don’t see the confirmation email within a few minutes.

Finally, if you want to get a sense for the rides we do, we’ve put “ride reports” on our website ( for many of our rides.

Bikes & MetroNorth

Many of our rides require MetroNorth for those of us coming from the City. If you’ve taken MetroNorth in the past – a bike pass is no longer necessary. If you haven’t taken a bike on MetroNorth before, here are some pointers…

– Get on the train at a door marked with a wheelchair/handicapped sign (♿), then put your bike in the space that’s set aside for wheelchairs. If it’s full, run to the next door that has a handicapped sign and try there (if the conductors see you running they’ll hold the train).

– There are two types of handicapped areas on MNR trains. On older trains it tends to be a long space across from the bathroom. On newer trains it’s smaller spaces with fold-down seats. I’ve put pictures of each below.

– On the older trains with the long space (see below) people tend to just lean their bikes up against the side, but you can fit more bikes in if everyone hangs their front wheel off the rack above the space. I carry a length of velcro for this purpose, but you can also use the straps of your helmet – put your helmet on the rack above and then clip the helmet straps through your front wheel. Even if you lean your bike against the side velcro is handy to stop your bike rolling forward and back – just velcro a wheel to the some part of the frame. The picture below shows bikes both hanging and just leaning against the side.

– On the newer trains (see top pic) it’s best if you basically flip your bike upside down and put the handlebars against the seat or partition. The smallest bike should go in first, and then you alternate sides with subsequent bikes. You can fit 3-4 bikes on the 3 seat side of the train and 2-3 on the 2 seat side of the train if you do that. If you just “park” your bike in the space you can only fit 1 or 2 bikes on each side before they start obstructing the aisle. The top picture shows two bikes stacked that way and another just leaning up against them.

– When there are a lot of bikes and not many passengers the conductor might tell you to hang your bike in the seats. It’s the same idea as hanging it in the wheelchair area – you hang the front wheel off the rack above. Pick seats on the 2 seat side of the train.

– And lastly – it’s not hard for bikes to get damaged on the train – so wherever you put your bike – make sure if there’s some movement that there won’t be damage.

GrNY Spring Gravel Series: April 30 – May 21, 2022

I’m happy to announce GrNY’s first Spring Gravel Series! There will be two or three “ride groups” each week, which will differ in pace and distance. There will also be a common hangout location after each ride, so all groups can socialize over food, drinks, or ice cream. With luck, all groups will end at around the same time, but will have travelled different distances. We hope you can join us!

Ride Groups

  1. Long (60-65+ miles): These rides will be led by Steve. If you’ve ridden with him, then you understand the intensity of those rides. If you haven’t – they’re pretty intense!
  2. Short (33-45 miles): A shorter distance, more casual group that I (Jay) will be leading. On weeks without a medium distance, I will be co-leading with Kathy. Pace will be slower and stops will be more frequent.
  3. Medium: Only during certain weeks. Kathy will lead these rides. Pace will be only slightly faster than the Short group, but the route will be longer and more challenging (e.g. more climbing).

Ride Organization

  • Each group will have several “wait for everyone” stops, including a longer lunch stop.
  • At the first stop, we may further subdivide into a “main group” (ride leader + riders who can keep pace) and “sweep group” (riders who will stay together at a slower pace).
  • If anyone is far behind the expected pace, they should be prepared to continue solo. Hopefully they will catch up at major stops (e.g. lunch).
  • For some rides, there will be the option of dropping back to a different ride group (e.g. from long to medium).


  • Long Distance: 19-20mph (NYCC standards), 16-17 mph (“Strava speed” on relatively flat routes). Led by Steve
  • Medium Distance: 16-17 mph (NYCC standards), 13-14 mph (“Strava speed” on relatively flat routes). Led by Kathy
  • Short Distance: ~14mph (NYCC standards), 11-12 mph (“Strava speed” on relatively flat routes). Led by Jay

Pace Expectations via Example Rides

It is difficult to describe pace for rides that include dirt, pavement, and substantial climbing. For those who are unfamiliar with the NYCC standards, we hope these examples will help guide you.

  • Long: 65 miles, >13 MPH, >5500 ft climbing
  • Medium: 55 miles, 11 MPH, >4000 ft climbing
  • Short: 37 miles, 10.5 MPH, >3000 ft climbing

The Rides Each Week

April 30 – NYC Gravel Classic (Washington Heights)

Starts in NYC, travels north to Nyack/Haverstraw, and then south on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. Riders from outside NYC will gain an appreciation of just how much nice riding is available just steps beyond Manhattan. All in all it’s pretty chill and easy.


  • 49 miles (or as little as 30 w/ MetroNorth return)
  • 1,990 feet climbing


  • 65 miles
  • 2,890 feet climbing (or 3,500 if you take River Road)

There’s not much climbing, and there are MetroNorth stops every few miles towards the end of the ride. So if you get in over your head it’s no big deal.

May 7 – Putnam County Gravel

This week is all about climbing and dirt roads. We will leave from Cold Spring, NY.


  • 33 miles
  • 2,900 feet of climbing (1,000 in the first 6.5 miles!)

Medium (has far less gravel than short and long)

  • 55 miles (can be 49 with a small tweak)
  • 4,770 feet climbing (200 less with “small tweak”)


  • 60 miles (w/ option for 56)
  • 6,630 feet climbing (w/ option for 6,380)

May 14 – Westchester Dirt

On this third week, we ride the dirt roads around Katonah, NY. It’s an incremental step up for the slow group and a slightly longer ride for the long group (but less climbing)…


  • – 39 miles- 3,680 feet climbing


– 49 miles- 4400 feet climbing


– 65 miles- 5,830 feet climbing

Given how the routes are designed, if you’re over your head in the long distance group you can pretty easily switch to the short distance route at several points to reduce the intensity of the ride.

May 21 –Dutchess & Litchfield Counties Gravel Ride

During this fourth week, we go up to Pawling in the Harlem Valley. Because trains up there are only every two hours there are “add-on” routes you can take that will get you to Brewster where trains run every hour. The add-on routes go on the new and very lovely Maybrook Trailway.


  • 46 miles
  • 3,650 feet climbing


  • 65 miles
  • 5,360 feet climbing

Add-on options for people taking MNR

  • +14 miles, 610 feet of climbing
  • +15 miles, 860 feet of climbing

Brewster to Wassaic Gravel Ride

For those who missed it, here’s a quick recap of this past Saturday’s GrNY ride.

TLDR version: I promised adventure on this GrNY ride and (unintentionally) ended up seriously over-delivering. Winter has not yet receded in Dutchess County. Overall we traversed…
– snow-free frozen dirt (good for riding)
– velcro-mud (energy sapping, but otherwise fine)
– soupy mud (rideable but messy)
– ice-covered forest trails (difficult even for walking),
– crusty frozen snow (upon which we did a substantial amount of snow biking).

My bike computer recorded 79 miles and 7000′ of climbing. That was one crazy ride, but a lot of fun. Thanks everyone who joined this not-yet-spring lunacy!

MORE DETAIL: Going north of the city for a gravel ride was always going to be a risk this time of year — to the extent that I chose a 100% paved route as a backup plan. But despite the frozen crust of snow in the grass around our starting location, all of our riders decided to try the dirt route.

Things started off well in the chilly morning: Nicely frozen (and therefore solid) dirt roads for us to enjoy – all completely free of snow on the road portion. That said, the snow under the trees indicated that we would surely be hiking through the forest trail portion of our ride (at West Mountain Forest). And sure enough, even walking was a challenge on that section! It was a ~0.75 mile of “ice-hiking”.
Fortunately, we soon hit roads again on the other side.

After lunch at Cousins Bakery/Cafe/Deli/Pizzeria, we ventured further north and found our dirt roads getting softer with the warmth of the day. Totally rideable, but sometimes sticky (sapping ones energy) and occasionally pretty messy. We never hit truly awful peanut butter mud, so I’ll consider that a win on the mud front. But those closed-for-the-season dirt roads were an entirely different matter! Without car traffic, they were still covered in a crust of semi-frozen snow. I expected us to be walking, but after seeing Vasyl forge ahead on two wheels, the rest of us gave it a shot. Definitely challenging, but on the flat, we managed to roll (and skid) our way forward. We did this through several short sections of seasonal road and thought we had triumphed by the time we returned to the lower loop of our ride. But around mile 64 we hit an uphill surprise of more snow-covered roads. We weren’t going to be riding up that — we barely had traction on the flats! And it was getting late in the day, so limited daylight was a concern.

About half of our bunch took the most direct paved path back towards our start location (the shoulder of a busy Route 22). The other half (including yours truly) took a detour half-way down Route 22, then veered towards the paved Mayberry trail – and towards peaceful salvation. Or so we thought! We soon hit a stretch of unexpected icy-snow stretching into the distance on the bike trail. Wow, there was just no escaping the white stuff! Fortunately, after that longish stretch of snow-biking, the rest of the Mayberry trail was fine except for short bands of snow underneath underpasses. All riders made it back to the train or their cars and were only slightly the worse for wear. It was one crazy ride!

MAIN ROUTE (77.5 miles, ~7000’):

Our actual ride:

Questions? post below or email:

Maybrook Trailway
Walking bikes on icy snow
Lifting bikes over a gate
The route

Celebrating a Year of Gravel Rides — and Happy Holidays!

Hi Folks,

I want to wish everyone in the GrNY group a happy holiday season! My personal end-of-year thoughts and observations are below.

A Year of Rides:
Since April of this year, GrNY has hosted at least 24 group rides. Probably more. That’s a lot of group rides! Particularly, given that two people account for most of the rides that are posted (i.e. Jay and I). The count increases if I include gravel rides where I invited members of GrNY via email or text, but didn’t post a Strava event. These gravel rides spanned a wide range of distances and elevations, from 35-40 miles on rolling terrain to a gravel century (100 miles) with over 10,000 feet of climbing.

The General Spirit of GrNY Rides:
GrNY rides are informal, there are no membership fees, and folks are welcome to show up on any kind of bike, in any kind of clothes. Stopping to enjoy the scenery, snap a photo, and/or refuel with a snack, is an expected part of the experience, rather than something that immediately gets you dropped from the rest of the ride. That’s not to say that you should ignore the expected ride speeds that get posted! Some of us like challenging rides, or riding hard, but we are out to enjoy the day, rather than to race or achieve particular speeds/times/power numbers. I want to thank Jay for starting GrNY. I’ve grown to appreciate what he was aiming for.

Do GrNY rides count as “Gravel Events”?
Some of you have told me you treat the longer rides that I post (e.g. 60 – 80+ miles with lots of climbing) as if they are gravel events, which I’ll take as a compliment! They are certainly fun adventures and the courses certainly rival many events in terms of challenge and scenic beauty. Unlike typical events, our rides aren’t declared months in advance and don’t run out of spaces within a few hours of posting. We expect riders to be self-sufficient on the road, rather than have aid stations. We certainly don’t have plans to charge money for rides, despite some of you joking that it would boost turnout by 100-fold — ha! And our rides are typically small. Sometimes it is just a few riders and a single pace group and distance. For rides with three pace groups and three ride leaders, like our Spring Gravel Series, we tend to get a larger number of riders (15-35 riders).

Whether these rides are true “gravel events” or not, I appreciate the folks who wake up early or travel some distance to join them!

Winter Rides?
I can’t speak for Jay and others, but I tend to ride year round. I’ll probably continue to post some rides in cold weather. That said, riding in cold weather on closed-for-the-season dirt roads, in areas without cell reception, requires being especially well-prepared. Please be sure that you are ready for winter conditions if you join these rides.

Thanks for a great year everyone! I look forward to riding with many of you in 2022.