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.
Our goal was to ride all the dirt roads in Westchester County that could be connected without too much pavement in between (>90% of the total). We wanted this to be a gravel ride after all! We almost succeeded in our mission, but apparently we missed the northernmost loop. I was wondering why we came up about 4 miles short. I guess we’ll need to try it again in the spring season! Overall, It was a lovely ride on a day that seemed too warm to possibly be in late October. Thanks for joining us on this silly mission!
We did an “All the Dirt Roads in Westchester” ride in 2021. We probably covered ~95% of the reasonably connectable dirt roads in the county in about 100 miles and 10,000 ft climbing. It was a crazy, spaghetti-like route!
This updated route condenses the footprint of the ride to make it more dirt-heavy (>50% gravel) at the expense of losing a few dirt road segments. You should still expect a bit of routing insanity! (loops, out-and-backs, etc). Caveats: Short dead end streets, isolated road sections, and some small pieces of longer roads were skipped to make the route a little less crazy and to keep the proportion of dirt very high.
Skipped dirt road segments include:
Boway/Woodway and Boutonville/Dingee roads: Requires a pretty big pavement-heavy loop for minimal increase in dirt road coverage.
Black Spring/Black Brook: Tiny segments of dirt that add too much pavement.
Millertown Rd: Only a tiny segment is still dirt, since half of it has been paved.
Byram Lake/Oregon Rd: Too isolated. Requires too much paved riding to get there and back.
Various small pieces of longer dirt roads: In other words, you’ll visit most of a given dirt road on this route, but might skip a small segment to make the route connect more readily with other dirt roads.
Riders on the “medium” version of the route leaving the Market at Union Hall.
The pond in Mountain Lakes Park, which was just before our biggest (and most technical) climb of the day. The park road is in much worse shape than it was earlier in the season, so use caution on the way up! And I strongly advise against riding down it on a rigid gravel bike. You’ll easily get too much speed for the rocky conditions and the potentially slippery leaves covering the road/trail.
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.
Report: A highly enjoyable route that covers familiar terrain, but in a way that feels like a totally different ride from our SGS Katonah route. In cases where we are on the same roads, it was almost always in the reverse direction. All of the pace groups overlapped multiple times throughout the ride, which was a lot of fun. It also gave me (Steve) the opportunity to jump into the Medium group for the last few miles – I was starting to feel the afternoon heat!
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.]
May 9, 2021: What a fun ride! We had a nice group (8 of us) show up for Sunday’s two-part gravel grinder in Westchester. The weather was perfect for riding. Sunny, but not too hot. The entire group did Part 1 of the ride (37 miles with ~3000′ of climbing), which featured some of the most pleasant gravel roads in Westchester County. Views included forests, fields of horses, and beautiful reservoirs.
After lunch, half the group continued for “Part 2B” of the ride (another 26 miles). This section featured the challenging climb up to (and through) Mountain Lakes Park, which is always an adventure. The climb goes from pavement, to rough gravel, to cobble-sized rocks, to a final segment that is probably best traversed on a mountain bike. We were bumping over rocks for the latter half of the climb. I remember saying to Brian “It gets pretty rough up ahead”. I believe his humorous response was “It’s not rough enough already?!” That wild climb through Mountain Lakes was followed by some lovely descents and rolling terrain until the end. Our choice of the shorter version of “Part 2” was a good one. Rain drops started falling as we returned to the Train Station parking lot. Perfect timing. Strava clocked the total ride at ~63 miles and 5300′ of climbing.
PS: I’m planning at least one big gravel ride on Memorial Day weekend (May 29-31). Maybe two. Reach out if you have preference/requirement for a particular day that weekend (Sat/Sun/Mon, weather-dependent, of course). I’ll post details and potential options to this group as we get closer to the time. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This past Sunday a guy from Out Cycling and I did a scouting ride on a circuitous, hilly 45 mile route between Mount Kisco and Golden’s Bridge and it was incredible… Even without leaves on the trees, the scenery was beautiful, and the homes and farms along the way were nothing less than picturesque.
Very little time (maybe 15%) was spent on semi-busy paved roads – the type most road cyclists ride on. The rest of the time was on lovely rural roads and at least half of that time was on gravel. The cars on those back roads weren’t in a rush to get anywhere and were incredibly polite and seemed to value everyone’s safety. It was an awesome experience. We even came across a rider on horseback!
There was only one place along the route to stop for food and fluids (located in North Salem). It was über cute and turned out to be owned by couple I knew (something I didn’t realize until the day before the ride).
I had 650b x 47mm tires on and they really helped. The ride would have been impossible on skinny tires and probably pretty jarring on my 700C x 35mm tires.