Sarah’s dad passed away last March, and we miss him everyday, especially on Father’s Day. One of the things that David loved to do was ride a bike. When I first visited the family home, I saw his road bike hanging in the garage. The bicycle is a beautiful English-made Raleigh steel frame with drop-tube shifters, Campagnolo components, and a classic Brooks B17 saddle, and it serves as a testament to his love of cycling. Some time in the 1980s, he and his brother Charles started the tradition of riding the Hilly Hundred in southern Indiana, which I rode for the first time as the family revived the tradition last year.
To remember David on Father’s Day, Sarah and I rode to Peekskill, New York. There’s nothing significant about Peekskill with regards to Sarah’s dad, but we chose that destination because of a few practical matters:
- I know a few different ways to get there,
- It’s a comfortable distance from the city,
- There are some good eating options in town,
- There is a Metro North station that will get us home relatively easily.
To get to Peekskill, we followed a similar route that Andre and I took last fall when we rode to the Peekskill Brewery. Most of the ride was on the South and North County Trails in Westchester County.
That made for an easy ride because it was relatively flat, and there were no cars anywhere on the trails. To avoid the bothersome junk miles in Queens, Manhattan and the South Bronx, we elected to ride the subway to Van Cortlandt Park and cycle to the start of the trail in Yonkers. My initial plan was to take the 4 train to Woodlawn, but the 4 train was not running past 149th St-Grand Concourse. Instead, we took the D train to Norwood and pedaled the rest of the way to the start of the trail.
Incidentally, here’s how to get from the D train in Norwood to the start of the South County Trail in Yonkers:
- Start at Bainbridge Ave and 205th St,
- Head North on Bainbridge Ave,
- Continue onto Jerome Ave,
- Right on E 233rd St,
- Left on Van Cortlandt Park East,
- Right on MacLean Ave,
- Right on Tibbets Rd,
- Left on Alan B Shepard, Jr. Place,
- Right onto the South County Trail.
There were a few times we had to leave the trail to continue. The first time is in Elmsford. The South County trail ends there, and were forced onto the local roads. There are two ways to get to the North County Trail, none of which are marked as far as I could tell.
The easiest, most direct way is to make a right on NY–119, where the trail ends, then a left onto US–9A, and another left turn on Warehouse Ln. From there, the North County Trail is on your right just before you reach the end of the road.
A more bicycle-friendly way, with a lot less traffic, is to do the following:
- Right on NY–199, where the South County Trail ends,
- Quick Left on to Vreeland Ave,
- Continue on Hayes St,
- At the end on Hayes St, Right on North Payne St,
- Left on US–9A. Here I prefer to ride on the sidewalk,
- Left at the next traffic signal, on Warehouse Ln,
- Right at the beginning on the North Country Trail.
Another time we had to leave the trail is just north of the Croton Reservoir. Although I’ve never seen it myself, the word on the street is that there is a big sinkhole in the trail that required us to detour onto the roads. The bypass was around two miles long and included the first climb of the day.
The rest of the way was pretty easy. We took the trail the rest of the way to Yorktown Heights and then followed US–202/NY–35 west to Cortlandt. Most cyclists prefer to head south on Croton Avenue to take the Blue Mountain Reservation, and that’s the way we took. A more direct and presumably less scenic route is simply to stay on US–202/NY–35 into Peekskill.
Once in Peekskill, we ate at Birdsdall House, a very nice gastropub with ample outdoor seating. I was tempted by the fried chicken plate, but at $25, I passed. The menu and prices reminded me of Alobar in Long Island City, a place with solid food that is priced about 50% more expensive than it should be. Instead of the $25 fried chicken, I opted for the $14 pulled pork nachos. It was delicious option and was made with pork that was either organic or sourced from a neighbor’s yard. Either way, these were clearly not your ordinary nachos. Despite the inflated prices, I would definitely go back since the staff was nice enough to unlock their gate and allowed us to park our bikes in their huge outdoor patio. Also, their cocktails and desserts looks really good.
Peekskill brings to mind a few things. One is that it was the setting for the 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, even if it was filmed in California. Another is the infamous 1949 Peekskill Riots. But one thing that may not come to mind is the Guatemalan presence in the town. I first noticed it last summer when I passed through Peekskill on my heat stroke ride to Cold Spring. I noticed a Guatemalan bakery on Washington Street, and then I saw a few people driving around town that looked like me. On Sunday, I noticed another panederia on Park Street. I wasn’t sure if it was Guatemalan until I saw their truck parked outside: I spotted a quetzal, the Guatemalan national bird, painted on the side of the truck. Clearly, my people were here.
At the end of the day, after stopping at a couple of other places, we headed down to the Brewery to await the 9:35 train back to New York. Although Sarah hasn’t really been on the road much this season, she did very well on this ride. She was only a few seconds behind me the entire day, and she climbed the hills like a champ. I know her father would be proud of her.