A year ago, when I first rode in the B STS, we had the option of riding a graduation ride in the Shawangunk Ridge, west of New Paltz, New York. I passed on riding with the group because I was already signed up for the Ride to Montauk, and both rides were happening on the same day. But ever since then, I have been tempted to ride up there, even if it was on my own, just to see how challenging it could be.
Forward to this year, 2014, and I still hadn’t ridden up there.
Yesterday, two guys from this year’s STS group and I drove to New Paltz and rode through the Gunks. We followed the 68-mile Medio Fondo route of the Grand Fondo Gunks. (There is also a 110-mile Grand Fondo course, but we weren’t interested in such madness.)
The ride including two long climbs. The first is a three-mile climb on NY-52 between the Walker Valley and Ellenville, known as Cragsmoor for the road and small village at the summit of the hill. The second climb is about five-miles long along US-44/NY-55 to the top of Minnewaska State Park. Both were much gentler than I had anticipated, and I was able to pace myself and still remain in my second and third smallest gears for most of the time on those climbs. You can see the two climbs on this elevation profile.
Another reason why the ride didn’t seem as hard as I had feared was because I occasionally stopped to take a few photos of the sweeping views.
And of course, what better way to capture a panoramic vista than with a panoramic photograph.
Seeing the Sights
There were many points of interest along the route.
First, we spotted a BBQ smoking pit in Verkeerderkill Park, a public park in the town of Pine Bush. It’s not something city-folk like ourselves expect to see on a casual Sunday morning.
Sadly, it was not in action.
Second, heading up to Minnewaska on US-44/NY-55, there lies a shuttered building that housed Oscar, a now-closed casual dining restaurant.
According to the sign, a brewery, Rough Cut Brewing, is coming to that location. However, in the half minute I spent searching for “Rough Cut Brewing,” I found no references to a New York-state brewery, only an IPA brewed in Oregon. Also, that sign looks more weathered than the signage for the closed restaurant.
Perhaps the strangest sight of the day was the Redwood Driftwood sculpture garden on Clove Valley Road.
An artist named Pamela Phelps sells prints of these redwood driftwoods. According to her description of the work, these driftwoods are the product of both industrial forces and natural causes:
This is one of many Redwood Driftwood pieces, remnants of the 1860-1930 logging era, shaped by natural forces. In early years the trees were uprooted as they were logged from millennia old virgin forests. When it was realized that new trees sprouted from left in the ground roots, the practice was discontinued.
The driftwoods were carefully arranged along a field on Clove Valley Road in Minnewaska. It is hard to miss these pieces even as we were racing down this road at about 20 MPH.
We Ride to Swim
We finished riding just before 6:00 PM and arrived at the Ulster Country Pool Complex in New Paltz.
The facility was great because it served as a free parking spot, allowed us to take badly needed showers, and, yes, it is a pool so we took a short swim before they closed at 7:00 PM.
Had we staged a foot race to the car from the pool, this would have been my first triathlon.