Monday, October 2, 2017

Riding to the Ride

As you know, recently I wrote a column for Outside about the virtues of riding to the ride:


As you may also know, a high percentage of people who leave comments on Outside's Facebook page are apparently idiots.  In addition to the person who stated that "there wouldn't be ANY roads without cars" (that's not just stupid, that's "holy fuck" stupid), there are also people who just plain miss the point:


Yeah, that's why people are lobbying for legal trails in Forest Park.  I live in New York City and even I know that.

As well as people who think riding to the ride is just for people like me who live in Iowa(!?!):


Or who think that you can't ride to a ride because you live in a city:


Indeed, reading the comments you'd almost think that Outside's audience is more into purchasing SUVs and fitting them with racks and accessories than they are into actually riding.

But we all know that couldn't possibly be true.

Anyway, I enjoyed a lovely all-terrain bicycle ride this past Saturday without resorting to the use of a motor vehicle, and for what it's worth--which may be nothing--I figured I'd share how it's possible to do in New York City.  Furthermore, not only did I ride a mountain bike, but I rode a singlespeed mountain bike, which one would naturally assume is the type of bicycle least disposed to ride-to-the-ride enjoyment.  And of course, now that I'm on Strava I can share with you the minutiae of the ride, which if you're local may come in handy for ride planning, or if you're not will certainly be useful in laughing at how slow I am.

So without further etc. and so forth, here's the ride:


I begin in Van Cortlandt Park, where a few pedal strokes deposits me onto a dirt trail that runs right through the middle of the park:


If you go keep going north you wind up on a paved multi-use rail-trail called the South County Trailway, but on the way up I often like to branch off to the right and hike up a little embankment to the Old Croton Aqueduct trail:


That's what I made the participants of this past spring's Pre-Fondon't ride do, and believe it or not a report of that sub-epic quasi-adventure is still in the works:


I also promise to lead a proper Fondon't--or at least some kinda ride--soon.

By the way, I should point out that, strictly speaking, bikes aren't allowed on that little spur, but since the embankment's not rideable anyway and you're basically pushing the bike the whole time I feel okay about it.

In any case, once I'm on the Old Croton Aqueduct I just keep going through Tibbetts Brook Park:



Mind you, I've been on dirt this whole time, which is pretty darn impressive considering I don't live in Iowa, contrary to what people who read Outside seem to believe:

At the top end of Tibbetts Brook Park I head west and then pick up the South County Trailway, which is paved, but which is car-free and pleasantly undulating so I don't mind:



From there, I have a sneaky way of cutting over to Tuckahoe Road (gigglechortle), which is one of the few sections of the ride that kinda blows:


Fortunately I'm only on Tuckahoe (gigglechortle) for like a mile, and because it's practically a highway I just say "Fuck it" and ride on the sidewalk.

I have no idea whether or not it's legal to ride on the sidewalk in Yonkers, but because there are virtually no pedestrians on this street and nobody seems to care I have no compunctions about doing it.

Slightly less sucky is Ridge Hill Boulevard, which is basically a dedicated roadway leading to a shopping mall "lifestyle center:"


And yes, it's pretty steep so of course it's a Strava segment:


Here too I ride on the sidewalk, because there's no shoulder, and also because I have deep contempt for soulless corporate retail complexes like this, even though I totally shop there too.  In fact, as usual I stopped in Whole Foods, and you can even see my path through the store because I didn't bother to pause Strava:


What Strava does not tell you is that I got some trail mix (I prefer the "360 Treasure Hunt" variety) and a 360 Cola to stuff in my backpack, an admixture which can sustain me for days if necessary.  In fact, I'm eating some of the trail mix right now, even as I type this.

From there, I pedal through the mall and pass through a small gate behind the REI to Sprain Ridge Park where the "mountain biking" begins in earnest:


It's just a touch over 8 miles from my home to the park, which isn't so bad when you consider a fair amount of it's dirt, most of it is car-free trails, and there's both a Whole Food and an REI for any last-minute ride needs.

Anyway, I knocked around in Sprain for a little while:


Which is when I realized that at some point I'd ridden through dog feces which my front wheel had thrown up onto my water bottle:


Anybody who does not clean up after a dog should be forced to eat the entire contents of a cat litter box that has gone uncleaned for a week.

If time is of the essence, once I'm done at Sprain I ride back the way I came since it's mostly downhill and I can make good time.  However, if I have more time I head west out of the park in the direction of Hastings-On-Hudson:


Hastings-on-Hudson prides itself on being a "walkable" village, but that's mostly bullshit, because apart from walking to the gourmet ice cream shop or the gluten-free bakery they all have drive to the mall when they actually need something useful, which means this stretch of kinda sucks.  Here too I use the sidewalk (at least where there is a sidewalk).  However, it's just a short ride over to the Old Croton Aqueduct, and from there it's all dirt most of the way--plus it's flat which is nice after all those short, sharp climbs in Sprain:


There's just one short sidewalk stretch between the Old Croton Aqueduct and the South County Trailway:



And then it's a straight run back into Van Cortlandt Park:


So 25 miles, plenty of dirt, and mostly pleasant and slog-free safe for a few very brief shitty parts.  (And any actual shit you may be unfortunate enough to encounter.)  All in all not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Perhaps a Dirt Fondon't is in order.

I'll have to run it by Brooks.

53 comments:

Skidmark said...

Remember to zip jersey- yes!

wle said...

not a bad ride for iowa!

Anonymous said...

Iowa sounds a lot like NYC..

3rd scranus?

Anonymous said...

scranus wants a podium position without power assist

Watch and Camera Guy said...

Podium?

dancesonpedals said...

Gently Undulating on a(giggle) Tuckaho? In Iowa couples just disappear into the cornfields

JLRB said...

Looks like a good ride to escape the city within the city

Anonymous said...

I didn't have time to read all about your Iowa adventure as I was too busy getting my ebike ready for next week's cat 3 race like the guy in France.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...Yes, dirt fun-don't please.

Anonymous said...

I just spent loads of money on ralpha and got grease all over it in the workshop...

Adam said...

I'm planning on coming over from Leeds, UK to race the Fondont, is there anywhere i can pre register? id also like to buy a t shirt and winners medal.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could unsee that water bottle.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Top Twenty? Scranus!

Billy said...

For a city that has over 1,000 miles of bike lanes, you'd think they could connect these parks with something better than a sidewalk next to a busy highway.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Billy,

Once you leave Van Cortlandt Park you are no longer in New York City, you're in Westchester County. Besides the multi-use paths I don't think Westchester or the cities and towns therein have any bike lanes at all. It is crazy that there are no bikeable roads leading into a large county park, I think about it every time I ride there.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

BikeSnobNYC said...

*[a large county park that is used primarily for mountain biking, I might add.]

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Billy, I live on the wrong side of the Hudson River, but I think most of those transits by sidewalk and busy road in Snob's travelogue are in Westchester County, not New York City proper which ends at the Northern border of The Bronx.

1904 Cadardi said...

No way are you going on a ride in Iowa that has a Whole Foods and REI on the route.


It looks like Bloomberg is taking speelling lesons from you Snob:

"Such explosions are more serious because it can cause catastrophic damage to the wing holding fuel or the hydrolics that control the flaps."

Anonymous said...

If you'd like to sample some upper Westchester dirt (you can get there by public transport) try the Dirty Apple this coming Sunday, October 8th. There's 2 routes of 40 or 50 miles with about 50% dirt starting at the Goldens Bridge Metro North station. It cost 50 bucks even for crusading journalists.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 4:00pm,

Yes, I've heard of it, sounds like a great ride.

--Wildcat Etc.

Dooth said...

I wouldn't assume that's dog shit.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Dooth,

You can usually tell.

--Wildcat Etc.

wheelwing said...

Max 19% grade? #whatgearratioyourunning?

wishiwasmerckx said...

BSNYC, never would have guessed that you were a Boy Scout.

Breaking out the scat training, I see...

So can you confirm that Ursa does, indeed, defecate in the woodlands?

BikeSnobNYC said...

wheelwing,

32x...20? It's been so long since I've changed it I can't even remember!

--Wildcat Etc.

BamaPhred said...

Dog shit. It's become my favorite word to describe just about everything, these days. No disrespect to honest dog shit implied.

DR said...

Looks like a good ride. I really enjoyed your Outside article. I'd love to be able to do this in Chicago, but there is no real off road riding to be had within riding distance of the city. Someone please chime in if you've figured something out from the downtown area (I've ridden out to Palos, but at 30 urban un-bike-friendly miles each way, makes for a long day, and Labaugh woods is pretty small). Let me know if I'm missing something. Thanks.

Guy from New Zealand said...

I'm visiting from New Zealand, looking for a guy named Russ, he rides a brompton along with his wife. he likes fishing and riding bikes across various countries. I punched his face while he was in my country of New Zealand tell him I'm in the United States and I would like to see him again.

dancesonpedals said...

I'm tempted to drive up that hill in my and post it for a kom on strava

hellbelly said...

Sounds like a great ride. I love combining the commute and and the ride into a bigger adventure. I can't always swing it, but most of my off road adventures don't require huge treks (pun-intended).

Anonymous said...

You lie. Nobody from New Zealand would do that. Australia, maybe.

Flyover bike commuter said...

An unsullied wench is wench in name only. And yes, OutSide's marketing research shows that its readers are more interested in buying SUVs, the condition of the wenches notwithstanding.

Flyover bike commuter said...

An unsullied wench is a wench in name only. And yes, Outside's market research shows that its readers are more interested in buying SUVs than riding bikes, unsullied wenches not withstanding.

Flyover bike commuter said...

An unsullied wench is a wench in name only. And yes, Outside's market research shows that its readers are more interested in buying SUVs than riding bikes, unsullied wenches not withstanding.

Old Timer said...

Huh? What?

leroy said...

My dog assures me that he wasn't scouting a dirt Fondon't trail this weekend and that even if he were, he'd make me pick up after him.

I can't vouch for his whereabouts Saturday, but that last bit about cleaning up after him rings true.

And anyway, I know he was documenting these issues Sunday.

(Is it just me or did anyone else get the feeling that the Guy from New Zealand @5:18 PM channeled Crocodile Dundee and, sizing up Russ's Brompton, opined "that's nawt a boik, this here's a boik" while trotting out his fixie? Might just be me.)

Steve Barner said...

I tend to steer clear of group rides these days, unless I know that everyone will be experienced riders. I've seen too many crashes and near misses caused by riders with fancy bikes and few miles. I did bike to a club ride this summer in the mountains to the north. 45 miles each way to the start, and around 50 miles for the ride made for a sweet day.

paulb said...

The Yonkers traverse is the pits. Nevertheless: OCA! OCA! OCA!

Dooth said...

Human or canine, tough shit on the bottle. It's got the dreaded cooties.

Nathan Johnson said...

Your Outside column is great. The truth hurts sometimes. Riding being the point and riding requiring one to be outside should have been a slam dunk for the readers of Outside. Instead, some got mad a the priest for pointing out our sin.

There was a time when spending a lot on bikes and riding them seemed necessary. It isn't, and it's more fun spending as little as possible and doing more riding thus bring the cost per mile down to diddly-squat. Since reading your book a couple years ago, I doubled down on my effort to avoid bike racks, idiots and bright colored Lycra. That really helped me.

Anyway, keep preaching the gospel, brother.

bad boy of the south said...

Iowa?from the movie "fields of weeds"..."if you ride it they will come."

bad boy of the south said...

Oops..my bad."field of weeds".

der Reiter ist blau said...

Hey DR 5:02,
That was the idea behind Big Marsh:
http://chi.streetsblog.org/2016/12/15/finally-cdot-plans-safer-cycling-access-to-big-marsh/
...but i've never tried to get out there myself. I like riding west to Salt Creek, but it's not a dirt ride (much).

Thanks for the details, Snob: fun to know you're out compromising with the rest of us mortals!

Scott Maurer said...

I've been enjoying some roadie time around Denver via the Google Maps app. I just drop a pin in some neighborhood and let it take me there usually on a decent designated bike route. It gets me to see some parts of the city I'd never consider. Denver rocks for bikes. I feel spoiled and love it.

Anonymous said...

Curiously, here in Queensland, Australia where the level of hostility towards cyclists often runs at "Idiocracy" levels by authorities and "carseholes" (you need an Australian accent to say it properly) alike, we are allowed to legally ride on footpaths pretty much everywhere all the time. Also, our state govt has a 10 year plan to get more people riding: http://blog.tmr.qld.gov.au/cycling/ . Hills and valleys, I guess. Hills and valleys.

Guy from New Zealand @5:18 PM You're not in "Once Were Worriors". You're gonna get yourself arrested.

Tim the Painter said...

Hey Snob, how much time does this particular ride take you on average?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Tim the Painter,

2.5 to 3 hours at a civilized pace.

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

Dawg waste.

JLRB said...

I'm Not Elizabeth F, but I think I know what the F stands for

Anonymous said...

Hold up - let's not overlook the shining gem in this sea of splattered dogshit. Namely, apparently biking is awesome in Iowa! Thanks for the tip, random super-mature commenter!

SecondCityCx said...

Sorry to say, I've only driven to Palos (live Lawrence and Pulaski). Beautiful spot though, and miles and miles of trails. I'm also a Physics nerd and love the Old Argonne nuclear history aspect.

I did do a long CX ride down the Lakefront to Big Marsh and back, with a crash on the downhill woops in there for good measure. The neighborhoods on the route are fine but don't believe Google Maps about the 103rd street rail overpass. Definitely not a bike lane. Get on the sidewalk, dodge glass, and pray. Maybe the Halstead route down works better but not so sure about rolling through Englewood on a bike.

I have poached a few hiking trails down by the river in the LaBaugh-Egdebrook region. Do-able but a little sketchy for my enjoyment.

If you race CX, find me on the black+orange bike with the AHTBM stickers.

mojo au gogo said...

drag your city worn asses to california for relief... most if not all of marin county is parkland and open to all sorts of crabon fibber abuseways... berkeley is surrounded by short sharp hill climbs of mostly short duration and still dirty... what fun...
breathlessly awaiting the hoards of grimy manhattenites but the hipster hoards of williamsberg will have to stop in utah or nevada as there is no way jose' for them here... but if they are riding an ascari then just maybe... anyone bringing an egg cream from gem's spa will be given a twenty minute head start... cheers...

Anonymous said...

For the guy in Chicago. How about christine chevalier woods and than the des plaines river trail?