Category Archives: biking
Skiing has no off season for me. I’m a total ski nerd, and try to stay focused by doing one quasi-athletic thing each day to stay in shape. Even though we all age every day, I’m convinced that with the right exercise and new toys, we can kick more butt each year, just like Bruce Wayne in Batman.
So when I woke up to a text from a buddy asking me if I could move his truck from Brooklyn to Tarrytown, NY, I said, “let me look into that for you.” After a quick Google search for bike directions, (which I didn’t bother to print) I was on my way to save a friend and pursue a 40-mile ride home.
Following seven years in Albuquerque and Chicago, I returned to New York City in early 1997. After making do with the Windy City region’s tolerable, but mostly unexceptional mountain bike offerings, I was happy to be back in the northeast. Unfortunately, I was clueless about where I could find decent trails close to the city.
I went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book that had been published earlier that year: Mountain Biking New York. The author, Michael Margulis, listed 93 rides throughout the eastern third of New York State stretching from the Atlantic Ocean up through the Adirondacks. Since I was living in Brooklyn, I focused on the rides in Long Island, Westchester, and northern New Jersey, along with a few trips to the Shawangunks, Catskills, and Adirondacks.
One morning in late August that year, while preparing to escape Brooklyn’s brutal heat and humidity, I zeroed in on the 11 rides listed for Harriman State Park, not even 90 minutes away. I drove over the George Washington Bridge, headed north on the Thruway, and arrived at the trailhead for one of the rides, directly across the road from Lake Sebago. A few minutes later, I got started on an overgrown double track that the book referred to as “Tour des Bois,” French for “A Ride Through the Woods.”
Highpeaksdrifter’s tale about how he found Whiteface got me thinking about how I came to the mountains of New York.
I could pretend that it was part of a grand plan — but it wasn’t. The summer after my junior year in college, I was looking for an adventure. I pulled out a map of the northeast and looked at the big patches of green: the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Greens and the Whites. The Adirondacks looked especially wild and untamed to me.
My best friend and I spent 10 days cycling and exploring the park. We had the time of our lives. This was my first experience with the idea of “Forest Preserve.” Huge areas of wilderness, without rules or fees. The feeling of freedom was liberating.
Whenever I visit my mother in the western suburbs of Syracuse, I mountain bike a couple hours a day in an extensive network of trails that was originally part of the limestone Split Rock quarry, which had been in existence since the early 1800s. The only thing left is a large stone crusher that went into operation in 1903.