Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Festive 500: Olana Century Edition

I made a few more stops in my quest to visit the major Hudson Valley estates during this year's Festive 500 Challenge. Today's weather was a huge improvement, so I chose to celebrate by riding a full century that began and ended at my doorstep. In between, I rode up the west side of the river until Catskill where I crossed at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and then found my way back home on the east side of the river crossing on the Walkway once again. This path placed me in the neighborhood of both Thomas Cole's Cedar Grove and his student Frederic Church's famed Olana masterpiece. Not surprisingly, both of these pioneering landscape artists of the Hudson River School chose to live in houses with spectacular views of the river as well as of the Catskill Mountains.

Olana sits amid 250 acres at the top of an imposing hill just south of the town of Hudson. Cedar Grove, on the other hand, is a much simpler affair right on the edge of town across the river in Catskill.

The third stop on my journey today was Clermont, an estate once owned by Robert Livingston who was issued a patent by the British crown granting him the privileges of manor lord over 160,000 acres from the river to what is now Massachusetts. It's hard to imagine how feudal life was in this region before the Revolutionary War, but it was.

As for riding, it was a great workout on a glorious day and my legs are definitely feeling the results of 400 kilometers ridden over four days, but that's what base training is all about, isn't it?

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