I just rode 250 miles round trip to lower Westchester County and back. I visited my mom. She is convinced I've lost my mind.
I'm sure I easily did 20,000 feet or more of climbing, with 40 pounds of gear.
After dropping off from the group in North Cannan, after a 50 miler, the real journey began. It was 100 degrees at noon. I switched bikes and loaded up the mule. The light, graceful motobecane was shuttled home on the bus.
I quickly inhaled some chicken and baked beans and bread on the camp stove, drank as much free Mcdonald's soda water with ice (awesome) as I could stand, and we headed down route 44 to route 22. There was a pain in the ass ascent into Lakeville, then it was downhill to Millerton over the Taconic mountains and then a left turn onto route 22 south.
22 is a touring bike road. You have to get used to trucks whizzing past at 65 MPH. It's noisy.
The road is wide enough, though, so you can survive riding on the shoulder. It is stunning scenery, rolling farmland pretty much all the way down to about Pawling, where the NY sprawl begins, and you start to see pizza shops and stores selling plastic lawn furniture. Things get increasingly Italian in Pawling.
Camping was all done for free, the first night was in the NY state owned "Wassaic multi-use area", which made me a little nervous with all the rednecks driving around at night in the field with their pickups. But they were probably running their gun dogs, no big deal. It was along Wassaic creek.
The next morning the propane stove decides to melt down . So the "backup" hobo wood stove is used to boil water for coffee. This takes forever. Finally, after drinking two cups, a gas station is discovered 1/4 mile down the road around the bend. I had assumed we were in the middle of nowhere until that point. All that time is wasted.
The rest of the trip down is pretty much fueled by turkey sandwiches, turkey bagels, doritos, and apples picked from various trees. The rest of the cheap Aldi oatmeal is consumed en route.
Camping that night was done in a lower -middle class couple's yard in Pound Ridge, next to an 18th century graveyard, where you can't read the writing on the stones anymore. The graves are all made anonymous from acid rain. At first, you are rejected by the rich horse farmer/corporate lawyer and his stunning wife, who smiles and waves as you ride past, so you decide to ask them if it's okay to camp there... but the guy is a type A prick, and it just doesn't jibe.
Pound Ridge and Bedford is amazing, though. We take a tour for maybe 12-15 miles of amazing mansions, horse farms, etc. Drivers are all cool, no hassles whatsoever. I almost fell madly in love with the barista at a hoidy-toidy coffeeshop in Bedford, Eileen. She hooks me up with a free refill after I tell her about my odyssey.
A box of spinach pasta is passed up because it's 12.99 a pound.
"don't worry, Rob the owner of this place can't even afford that stuff. Go to the A&P right up the road..."
Richard Gere has a restaurant there. You ride horses around, then go eat. Pretty cool idea.
People apparently ride these horses down rt 22 which is amazing as well.
This is where all the celebs live. Dave Letterman, Mick Jagger, etc. etc. I've come to the conclusion that Bedford-Banksville road is quite possibly the prettiest road I've ever ridden.
The ride home is more difficult because of the searing heat. I consumed about 4 gallons of water that day. I concluded that two slices of sicilian pizza with anchovies is good for about 3 hours of intense hauling. I burned all of it. No fat added to my waist.
Many stops are made at farm stands on the way home. This is just too much fun. Some of these operations are actually pretty huge, you just don't realize it until you walk behind the place and play with the dogs a little, talk to the college girls who who are chattering away, setting up the displays.
The air is thick with the smell of cow manure, but there's a nice breeze.
At one point, you have to get off the bike for 15 minutes because "road hypnosis" has set in. You are trying to figure out if it's fatigue or dehydration, but it's not. It's just the monotony is starting to get to you. So you drink another gallon of water, put your feet up on a picnic table and take a cat nap. Ten minutes later, you're up and running again for another 20 miles.
Camping that night is on the lawn behind a Paramedic station, by permission, of course. A nice, safe place. A halogen streetlight illumintates the camp, saving precious battery time.
The "penny stove" is used this time. It's made from two sections of beer can, weighs nothing, burns alcohol. A reasonable pasta meal is made in rapid fashion. The alcohol is isopropyl, gas line antifreeze. The cheap stuff is $1.50 a bottle, the better stuff is known as HEET, which is Methyl alcohol, Burns very hot, but is more dangerous, becasue the flame can be invisible at times.
You can also burn grain alcohol, if you decide not to get rip-roaring drunk while cooking with it. This is far more expensive, but burns the best and cleanest. Flaming french deserts use it.
One thing I like about these stoves is they are quiet, unlike my MSR white gas backpack stove that sounds like a rocket engine. I'd rather hear the crickets.
The rest of the journey down rt 44 is pretty uneventful. You encounter a few obnoxious inquirers who have some opinions to dump on you, but succeed in fending them off. One woman tells you
"you gonna end up dead before you get there!"
Lately when people start asking questions about my equipment, my riding, I now ask if they ride bikes too before responding. This will often clue you in as to their intentions. Many times they start off nice, then at the end try to dump some toxic opinion on you. I just don't have the time for this anymore.
The best part of doing a trip like this is the sleep. You fall asleep in seconds after hitting your air mattress. Then you wake up at dawn, like you're supposed to, the birds wake you up . Your body is rapidly put into sync with your circadian rhythym , early to bed early to rise. No farting around with laptops and such late at night.
Coyotes yelp off across the reservoir.
NY has Kestrels, Cooper's Hawks, Falcons. they swoop across the road.
The bike performs admirably. I am getting much better at the art of load balancing. You cannot put weight over the front wheel, it screws up the handling. Even the weight of an air matress messes up the feel.
Eventually, you'll get a "real" front rack, panniers, etc. but this is fine for three day trips. It's an old Bridgestone mountain bike with cantilever brakes converted to drop-bar with a short stem. It's grey and pretty ugly, but at the same time beautiful in its stockiness.
It's whisper quiet, especially on the descents. I love that. If you get "blown off ' the road into a ditch, the wider slick tires might save your life. These new tires are surprisingly fast also.
I always fly the American flag on the rear. If people think you are going cross-country, they might not harass you . Or you can say you're an Iraq war vet, and the rednecks will then leave
I do see some absurdity and some irony in that.