Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Paltz

Was invited to the High Gear Cyclery annual shop ride in New Paltz, NY this year.

New Paltz... Home to Vicious Cycles, The Gunks, The Mohonk Preserve, Minnewaska State Park, good times.

It all started with an early rise to hit the road. No one was planning on riding to the Gunks from town except for me. That meant an early arrival. I got to town a little too early for I mis-calculated the time it takes to get there from Hartford. I budgeted for a mid-day drive rather than an early Saturday morning drive. Needless to say it was all good for I had 880am keeping me occupied. Found a good parking spot in town behind the Gilded Otter Brewing Co.. It was pretty cold for mid-October.. I think upper 30s around 7:30am and downtown New Paltz was empty.

8am. Time to get on the bike. I chose some nice wool socks, bib shorts, knee warmers, SS jersey, arm warmers and my insulated windproof vest. Opted for 2:1 and began spinning on down rt299 out of town. Right outside of town there was a ton of heavy fog. As soon as the road started up its first 'roller' the fog disappeared. Up and down was the name of the game for the next 8 miles out to the 44/55 and 299 intersection. The last mile or so before that intersection was a nice, gradual incline. The road was lined with parked cars. Guess this was the ideal spot for all the rock climbers to park early in the morning.

Bearing a right onto 44/55 and on UP. The Bistro Mountain Store was a-hopping. 44/55 goes right up and over Millbrook Mountain and the Trapps Cliffs(a huge rock formation that has some excellent rock climbing). My legs weren't feeling it at first but I carried on out of the saddle. 3/4 up there is a nice parking lot and scenic overlook. It was full of VW Vanagons... ie: rock climbers camped out for the night. Right at the top is an old railroad bridge going overhead. I ducked off the road right there.

Here, one has two options... 1) continue on 44/55 up to the base of the
Minnewaska State Park entrance or 2) duck off the road onto the old converted railway (at least that is what I think it is.. might be called "trapps road"). Last year I took the road and this year I remembered the trail so I chose option #2. Great choice! By now it was around 9am and there was no one on the trail. Just the wilderness and I.. Great trail. Nice and mello doubletrack that meandered up to the base of the Minnewaska State Park entrance. Not too far in from where I ducked off the road is a beautiful waterfall (Awosting Falls)! I took this opportunity to stop and take some pictures with my phone.

Once at the base of the Minnewaska State Park entrance came a grueling climb up the access road to the parkinglot on top. This hurt like a b**ch. Once utop the parkinglot I found a nice rock to sit down and rest. Not to long after I sat down Sean and Christine showed up. The remainder of High Gear turned out to be about an hour behind Sean and Christine. We sat around... and sat.. Good news is the sun was out in full-effect keeping us nice and warm.

Once the High Gear crew showed up we had a huge posse. I believe we rode out from the parkinglot to Lake Awosting. Around the lake and on up to Castle Point and Hamilton Point (lower left of the map). Then made our way back to the parkinglot. This was a nice leisurely ride with the gang. All nice gravel doubletrack trails. Nothing too crazy.

Once at the cars half of the crew wanted to ride back to town. I gladly led the way setting a pace so fast not too many could catch up as we rolled back down Trapps Road (the doubletrack I rode up to the parkinglot). Once on the road (44/55) everyone split up into a nice single-file line and we rode back to town. I hung out in the back as the caboose making sure no one was left behind.

By now its 2 or 3 pm and rt299 was jam-packed with cars. This is a bit disheartening for the whole region is so beautiful and now its packed full of cars. I was glad I got to enjoy it earlier in the morning. Right outside town we stopped for some fresh, hot apple cider. Then met up back at the Gilded Otter for some grubb. The Gilded Otter was packed! Oh yeah, now I realized why town was so busy 1)fall foliage 2)columbus day weekend. We eventually got food. Had a good time. Said our goodbyes and hit the road.

All in all. It was a great time and I felt good.


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