Two weeks ago, we did a ride that included *most* of the reasonably connectable dirt roads in Westchester County (see: https://www.strava.com/activities/10121167782). This week, we polished off the rest of them! We had a great group of riders, including a number of new faces. Thank you all for joining us today!
We declared this to be an *End of Season* ride. And what an excellent season it has been! We started the season with our Spring Gravel Series: five weekends in a row of awesome rides covering all of the “gravel regions” within ~1.5 hours drive of NYC. A true gravel tour! We continued with group rides every other week through today (November 12).
The short version: GrNY rides will be much less frequent over the winter. Rides might have a single pace group, instead of “three speeds”, where all the groups overlap several times and hangout at the end. Rides will typically be announced with less notice due to unpredicable weather. We may do some paved riding to avoid messy freeze/thaw conditions on dirt roads and trails – or just for some variety. If we don’t see you this winter, we look forward to riding with you again in the spring!
Parts of the Long and Medium distance pace groups connecting just outside of Mountain Lakes State Park. Both groups were taking a short breather (and waiting for riders) after tackling the largest climb and roughest trails of the day!
This photo is courtesy of Anthony (AKA ToneB). There was still fall color in the understory in some places.
We revisited our Katonah “Spring Gravel Series” routes. It had been three months and these routes are too good to save for just once per year! We had a fantastic group of riders in all of the pace groups. The intersecting routes worked out great. It was fun for all of the pace groups to come together at the top of the Mountain Lakes Climb and then again at Hayfields Market for drinks and snacks mid-way through the ride. Almost everybody stayed to celebrate and hangout at Paulie’s after the ride.
On December 31, 2022 a group of RAD Cycling Collective and GrNY riders bid farewell to a good year of riding. We started at Bedford Memorial Park in Westchester County, NY. It was a cool and wet, but not-too-frigid winter day. We didn’t see any sunshine, but we were treated to some dramatic foggy vistas. This relatively short route (46.5 miles) has plenty of quiet dirt roads, about 1.5 miles of forest trails, and some generally quiet paved roads connecting everything together. There’s a good bit of climbing, too. Over 4000 ft according to my GPS.
Conditions were pretty good on the dirt road sections, despite a bit of earlier rain and folks made it back before the real rain started. Thank you Brian from RAD Cycling Collective for organizing! I was overdue for a good gravel ride. And the ride lived up to its “dirty” billing! Especially on the trails!
– We started at Bedford Village Memorial Park, but you could easily start this route from Golden’s Bridge if you are arriving by train.
– Sections of the Mountain Lake Park trails had some deep mud when we traversed them on Dec 31, 2022. This section of the route might be better enjoyed during the summer and during dry weather. Also expect that snow will be very slow to melt on those trails during the winter and early spring seasons.
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.
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.
This route attempts to include all of the reasonably-connectable gravel and dirt roads in Westchester County in a single ride. The ride is 99.6 miles and somewhere between 9,500 and 10,500 feet of climbing depending on whose GPS you believe. Most of these dirt roads are nicely maintained hardpack, with the exception of Mountain Lakes Park which is a bit rougher. Dirt road conditions can change rapidly, so use common precautions.
Is it really *all* of the dirt roads? Not quite, hence the asterisk. Short dead end streets, highly isolated road sections, and some small pieces of longer roads were skipped. This avoids adding many paved miles just to add small segments of dirt. This route does not include multi-use trails, like the OCA (Old Croton Aquaduct trail). It focuses on dirt/gravel roads.
As for the ride itself, I’ll cut-and-paste from my feed on November 20:
Epic day on the bike. Ellis and I completed a Westchester gravel century with the goal of hitting all the dirt roads in the county. We started early, so we would have plenty of daylight and had a blast. So many beautiful forests, farms, and horse country estates.
Forewarning for city folks: mornings are a lot colder here. Bundle up! It was 28F when we started, but turned into a lovely day.”
A dozen riders showed up on Halloween morning, including a few people who were riding with us for the first time. Welcome! It was fun meeting all of you!
We covered some of Westchester’s best dirt and quiet paved roads. Given the major rain storm the night before, we opted for hard-packed dirt roads and took the “main road” through Mountain Lakes Park, rather than the trails. It’s more of a rugged jeep trail for much of its distance, rather than a road, but it is the least-muddy and least-technical path through the park after rainy weather. Aside for temporarily losing a rider or two, who managed to zip past our appointed lunch location, everything went smoothly.
After the ride, a few of us grabbed beers and food at the deli next to the commuter parking lot. They have a little beer garden outside and had some solid brews available, given the small number of taps on offer.
The complete route is ~63 miles and >5000 ft of elevation gain. It can be shortened to 55 miles or even 48 miles if anybody is running low on time or energy. It is not obvious in this direction of travel, but The Market at Union Hall is on the corner around Mile 28. I updated the route to make it clear that there is a potential food stop at that location. For drivers, there is a large commuter parking lot, just a couple of blocks from the train station.
[For those who don’t know, Strava events disappear from the group page when they are done. I sometimes post routes or other information after a ride, so folks who can’t join us can ride the routes later.]