The End-of-Colloquial “Summer Classic”

Throughout the United States Labor Day weekend marks the end of “colloquial summer.”

Over this past Labor Day Weekend, my friend Brian and I led a club ride through northern Putnam and southern Dutchess counties that he has appropriated as the Summer Classic, Road Ride Edition.


The ride is based on another “summer classic” ride by John Ferguson, author of the Riding the Catskills blog. Ferguson’s ride starts at Southeast station in North Brewster and goes through some very quiet roads, long stretch of gravel paths, and long descents. We also started our ride at Southeast station, but as city slickers, we adapted the course to follow more paved roads than the original course. (Thanks, Brian!) However, there was plenty of pastoral beauty among the rolling hills of the course.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

And there were constant reminders that you’re riding through farm country, such as a rusted tractor that functions as a lawn ornament.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Some of those reminders, like the smell of fresh cow manure, didn’t photograph well so use your imagination for those.

Though both Ferguson’s route and our citified club version end in New Hamburg, I learned that some of my friends were hiking in Beacon that day, and I was drawn to meet them there for some après–hiking/biking activities. Failing in my role as a ride leader, I left the group at mile 67 and took the Dutchess Rail Trail to Hopewell Junction and headed southwest on NY-82 and NY-52 until I arrived on the eastern edge of Main Street in Beacon.

Brian's Summer Classic: Brewster-Bangall-Beacon

Nearly a decade ago, when I first went to Beacon, the falls near the (improbable) junction of Main Street and East Main Street, was only an abandoned factory.

Beacon, New York

On this day, there was a wedding on those grounds. I caught the tail end of the wedding party heading to the reception hall.

Beacon by Bike

As I arrived in town slightly ahead of my friends, I stopped by the new-to-me Denning’s Point Distillery near the corner of Main and Chestnut Streets. Like most new distilleries, most of their products are “un-aged.” They offer two vodkas (one straight and one flavored), a gin, a rye moonshine, and an American whiskey, aged for seven years, that they bought from a distillery in Kentucky.

Beacon by Bike

The rye moonshine was surprisingly smooth, especially considering how much trouble I had with another unoaked rye whiskey. I didn’t ask, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was filtered at least once to tone down the white-dog effect. I finished my tasting with the aged whiskey, which was the subject of a photograph I asked a fellow visitor to take of me.

Beacon by Bike

After the distillery, I found my friends and headed to another new-to-me brewery. Beacon’s 2-Way Brewing is located in a multipurpose office park building, which reminded me a lot of what you see in Southern California.1 But what it lacks in architectural charm, it makes up in proximity to the Metro North station at Beacon. It’s about a five-minute walk to the station, making a convenient place to end a day-trip to Beacon. As for the beer, I only tasted their Beacon Brown ale, because I like alliteration, and Climb High PA, to salute my hiking friends.

Beacon by Bike

Both were solid offerings, but nothing that stayed with me. That might be because the place smelled a lot like Pine Sol, which likely overpowered my senses, and because I had a really delicious Orangeweisse by Rushing Duck Brewing at Quinn’s earlier that day that really hit the spot, as they say.

But that’s not to say that we didn’t spend any time at the brewery. We kept missing trains until we finally caught the “ten oh-eight,” the last direct train to New York.

  1. When I visited my cousin in Orange County late last year, I noted that most every cool place out there—a brewery, a music venue, a record store—was located in an office park. 

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