Bringing Cliff Home – Day 2

August 16, 2016 § Leave a comment

The morning began relatively early because we were planning on a big day, and we couldn’t start that big day until we drove back to Albany and got started from where we left off the day prior. Our accommodations included a “Continental” breakfast which consisted of Bananas, Yogurt, Coffee and various pastries. It was very spartan. We wanted to be leaving by 7am so by 6:30 we basically saw everyone come and go from the food table.

When we loaded up the truck down in Albany, we didn’t have the baggage with us, because Michael was kind enough to stop in at the motel, and check himself in, and then carry all our shit inside, before continuing to support us on our route to Albany. This morning, we had to get all our bikes, AND all our luggage into the truck, and still have room to put US in the truck so we could get to Albany. That’s 4 bikes, a large cooler, the canopy, all the chairs, 4 small suitcases, a couple of gear bags, and all the various supplies that we had for snacks. Michael and John did a fine job weaving the whole mess together, and soon we were ready to depart. There was a Dunkin Donuts on the way out of town, and so we hadn’t driven a mile, before we were already stopping for food. Cliff loves his donuts.

Setting Out – The drive back to Albany was relatively uneventful. It was a normal workday for many, and there was traffic, but nothing out of the ordinary, and we made it back to the riverside park in fairly good time. The plan for the others that would be joining us had been that they would join us for the last 70 miles of our ride today, but since we had shortened the day from 150+ to about 112, the feeling was that if we didn’t go too hard, then they would attempt the entire day with us. So we all got our bikes together, and we made sure we had our water bottles full, and we had what we needed, and we left behind what we didn’t need, and we set out as 7 bound for The Bear Mountain Inn.

The Route for the day didn’t stay on the West side of the Hudson for long before we had to climb a steep ramp up to a bridge that would take us into Troy. There was construction in the area of the ramp start, and getting to the ramp wasn’t straight forward, but once you were there, you couldn’t get any momentum built up to ascend the ramp. You had to start from a dead stop. I may have mentioned my own specific bicycle maintenance issues in the last post, and as a result I climbed in the big ring. We were all single file, and it had to stay that way all the way across and down the ramp on the other side of the bridge. Ray, Johnny, Alex and myself all arrived there, and waited. And we waited. And we waited some more before we made a phone call and found that Doug’s pedal spindle sheared off his bike. Completely sheared off. We called Larry, and he joined us on our side, and while everyone else rode back over the bridge, I threw my bike into Larry’s truck and guided him back to our starting point which is where we found everyone else. Turns out, that Cliff had a set of pedals in his gear bag, and they were compatible with Doug’s cleats, so we exchanged the pedals.

We found ourselves starting out once again from the same location but now another hour had passed. We had plenty of time to get to Bear Mountain, but we couldn’t tolerate too many more delays. We repeated our earlier departure with the main difference being we all ended up on the East side of the Hudson in Troy. A minor issue following the “cycle route” tags took us up a hill we didn’t need be we were soon traveling South along 9J on a shoulder so wide, and so smooth it defied the wildest expectations of every cyclist. It was difficult to discern whether it was flat, or whether there was an ever so slight gain in elevation, but it was nice riding while it lasted.

New York State has its regions, and it has its economies. Some of those economies are times long ago gone. While some of the towns along the Hudson thrive from moderate tourism, many towns struggle to exist. That said, they are still beautiful towns, and you can still see their former glory represented in the architecture of some of their decaying homes. Castleton-on-Hudson, one of the many “-on-Hudson” towns that are able to raise their game a little with that little add-on to their name. Stuyvesant is a name from New York’s Dutch past that you can find all around the parts of New York populated during the 17th century. Travel along the Thruway, and notice the names of the creeks as you go over them Kill this, and Kill that, is the Dutch name for “body of water”.

At Columbiaville we said our goodbyes to the quiet solitude of 9J and picked up the busy plain-ole 9. 9 is nothing to write home about, and I won’t dwell here except to say I couldn’t wait to get off it. I missed one opportunity to escape it, but we stuck to it and entered Hudson where we were able to shift onto the quieter 9G. 9G is one of the Bread-and-Butter 9’s for historic Hudson Valley touring. Germantown can support Bed & Breakfast operations, and further down the road we were able to detour onto a really quiet road just past Tivoli and into Bard College. Michael had a lovely rest stop setup for us just south of Bard at St. John’s Episcopal Church. We pulled into the parking area, and took a breather. Not long after this the rain would begin to fall, but for now re-fueled, and we utilized the chairs with glee.

From there we continued on the lovely River Road, though it did not run next to the river, and I don’t think we could even see the river from it, but it was a reasonably elevation neutral road with a fairly new surface, and wide shoulders. An observation we all made was that the automobiles we did see on this stretch, all drove way too fast. When we used up River, a right onto Rhinecliff took us into the village of Rhinecliff which most people know from it’s cousin town Rhinebeck. Perhaps the Air Show has been on some people’s agenda. My Dad took me there once in his Scirocco, with his poor wife May sitting in the non-existent back seat.

It wasn’t long before the rain began to fall. It was hot, and so the rain was actually a kind of relief. We got wet, but not cold, and soon the sun was out again, and it was now like a steam room. This is kind of where trouble found us. Doug ended up with a flat tire, which isn’t so bad, but soon afterwards he realized he had a broken spoke. Wheels these days are built strong, but they don’t have a lot of spokes anymore, so while losing one won’t cause failure, it does make it hard to adjust. We opened his brake calipers, and rode on. Little did I suspect just what the rain would do, I had my iPhone attached to my stem where it took on some of the wet. This actually caused the battery to drain faster, and soon I was dead in the water for tracking the ride, and communicating. As well as my visual chronicling of the ride. What was worse, attempting to charge off my spare battery was fruitless, as the phone failed to indicate a charge was taking place. Something I would deal with when I got home.

Warpinger Falls – Poughkeepsie presented a challenge. We found ourselves back on 9 (Albany Post Road) and heading south. As 9 enters the greater Poughkeepsie area, it opens to 4 lanes. Beyond the Mid-Hudson Bridge it expands to 6 lanes with no shoulder. I had planned for this, and had a route plotted up and into Eastern Poughkeepsie, however I let myself start following some bicycle 9 signs that I thought would be a better route. NY was pretty decent about putting these signs up, and they are laid out fairly often, however we lost the route, and soon found ourselves on the 6 lane route 9. There was nothing to do but endure. We had 6-8 miles of it before we could get off on 9D and meet Michael in Warpinger Falls. We also noted that Warpinger Falls had a bike shop, and we needed to get something done with Doug’s wheel. Michael knew this and set himself up at the bike shop. We found him there at the Wheel And Heel awaiting our arrival. This place was a great shop and was setup in an old Bank. When the owner found out how much it would cost to remove the safe, he had the lock decommissioned, and set up the safe as the shoe room. Doug was able to get his wheel rebuilt there, and while I was hanging out, I noticed they had the Shimano Bottom Bracket tool I had borrowed from the PAC tour. Since I was still riding with issues, I purchased it and performed my own maintenance while we waited on Doug’s wheel.

Doug’s wheel was taking a long time, and it was here that we decided that Ray, Johnny and I would wait with Doug, and Alex, Cliff and John would continue on without us. I told them 9D, 9D, 9D will get you all the way to the Bear Mountain Bridge. That was all they needed to know. I wasn’t sure how long we would be, but once we ourselves got back on the road we would do everything to catch them just to make sure they didn’t make any mistakes :).

After a total of about 90 minutes Doug’s wheel was ready, and my own maintenance was done, and soon we were on our way again. Like I said, we were going to push now and we weren’t going to stop until we got to the Bear Mountain Inn. Johnny is strong, and Ray is too, but neither had been riding a whole lot and we already had them talked into the full 110 miles, which was 40 beyond what they wanted. So, Doug and I took turns driving the train. We pushed hard along 9D all the way to Route 84 where for the first time, I would be riding on roads I had ridden at least once before this trip. I knew that here in Beacon, we would have to divert away from the river and gain some elevation before the road turned south again. Once the road dropped back down to the river’s elevation we would have a little tunnel to enter at Breakneck Ridge, a very popular hand-over-hand rugged trail that climbs up an exposed rock formation that extends right to the water. Both 9D and the Metro North railway tunneled through it. Beyond that we found ourselves skirting the cute tourist heavy town of Cold Springs. There was no rest for the weary, as we gained the last real elevation on this ride and blew past on our way.

The final miles were a blur. I remember taking over for Doug on the climb in Cold Spring, and then I never relinquished control again. At this point 9D seemed to have elevated bridge spans that meant we no longer had to descend down to creek beds and then rise back out, but could simply power through at elevation. Features flew by. Features I barely recognized from my last trip down this very road, but I knew we were getting closer with every turn of the crank. It must have been a nice draft, because every time I looked over my shoulder I could see everyone lined up in a row behind me. In Manitou I knew we were closing in. This is about where the Putnam/Westchester County line was, but it was hard to tell where you were because of all the foliage. Just keep pedaling.

It happens very quickly though. A sign for some other town appears, and you are thinking, “Jeez, another town?” and then boom! The trees clear, and there is the Bear Mountain Bridge, and there behind it is Bear Mountain. We hadn’t caught the others, but we were there, and very soon we were going to start the recovery process once again. For some reason, either I accelerated, or my followers relaxed, but soon I was “off the front” and crossing the bridge, and into the round-a-bout that would take me South on 202 to the Bear Mountain Inn.

I  pulled in first of course, and there was Cliff hugging his lovely wife Jane on the grassy knoll in front of the Inn. I would soon find out that Cliff had just gotten there 1 minute before I pulled in. Soon the others were there and high fives, and fist bumps were exchanged, and we were all rejoicing in the events of the day, and the happiness to see Cliff with Jane again after his cross country adventure.

We would be staying the night at the Bear Mountain Inn. I didn’t know it was still operational, but apparently it very much is. I had reservations for one of their Stone Cottages, to share with Doug, but I gave that up so that we could stay in the Overlook Lodge with  Ray, Johnny, Alex, and Larry. While I was checking in, I noticed that behind my lovely hostess was a clear glassed refrigerator and inside that refrigerator I espied some bottles that looked like beer. “Is that beer for sale?” I asked, to which I was given the surprising reply of “They will be on the house for you. How many do you want?”. So I grabbed as many as I could and took them outside and distributed them to the folks that were still milling about and exchanging stories. Surprised they were when I handed them free beer, but thankful they were.

I have always said that there is something in a name. I gave up my reservations in the Stone Cottage, which I expect was made of real stone, and since we couldn’t get rooms in the Inn proper, we had to transfer to the Overlook Lodge. I never heard of this lodge, but it is a part of the Bear Mountain Inn, that, well, overlooks the lake on the North side near the Major Welch trail. If it has a view and can overlook, then it must be at a higher elevation. This was not what Doug, Ray and other wanted to hear. It wasn’t that bad, but we did have to gain a couple hundred feet of elevation to get to our rooms. We moved in, we cleaned up, we dressed into our street clothes and we headed back tot he Inn for dinner.

Now here is where the day seemed strange to me. We found Cliff and Michael in the bar with their families, and there were maybe two other small groups in the bar. Maybe I don’t really understand just how many actual rooms the main Inn has, but it was not crowded in the bar. After the bar, we settled into the dining room where they had a nice big table for us, and we were the only ones eating. The dining area was huge, and all the tables were set, but there was no one there. Maybe their main traffic is weekend traffic. There was one table though that was permanently reserved for Jackie Robinson, who apparently used to come up to the Bear Mountain Inn quite regularly.

Dinner was eaten, beer was consumed, talk was talked, stories were told, some speeches made, and soon we were ready to call it quits for the night because, there was still one more day. We said our good nights, and on the way out, I stopped at the front desk again, and asked if we could buy them out. Our lovely hostess once again was very obliging, and went to the bar and came back with two six packs and gave them to me for only $20 and so now we could go back to the Lodge, and relax just a little bit longer before we ended the day. Quite a day it was, and quite a time we had. There was one more day in this adventure, and it would start the next day after a good solid night’s sleep because we didn’t need to start early. Hooray for that!

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