Saturday, October 11, 2014

How I Got a New Bicycle for the Price of a Pair of Tires.

I remember feeling the transformative power of a new set of high quality tires when I first upgraded to a set of Conti GP 4000s. My current upgrade to a set of Clement X'Plor USH tires is a bit different, though, as these not only enhance my ride, they also bring me places I was not able to travel on my road bike until this week. Riding through the Shawangunk Ridge has long been an interest of mine, but until I converted my Indy Fab Club Racer to a bike capable of riding on the trails and carriage routes, my exploration was limited. Each of these photos was taken either from the seat of my bike or while standing on the trail itself. No hiking required.

One of the great joys of working from home is that some days I can arrange my work schedule to allow me some flexibility on the bike. So today, while thousands of New Yorkers were fighting traffic in their cars heading out of town for the three-day weekend, I was exploring the trails along the ridge more fully. Parking again at the West Trapps parking area, I picked up the Trapps Road trail and headed west toward Minnewaska State Park. After arriving at the park entrance and confirming that an entrance fee is assessed only on those who arrive by car, I chose the Lower Awosting trail and proceeded to climb, climb, climb up to Lake Awosting deep in the state park preserve. The road itself at this point is crushed stone and the only challenge was to maintain a grip on the road surface with my rear tire on a few the very steep sections as I had to climb out of the saddle to create enough momentum to push me up the hill.

Once I arrived at Lake Awosting, I took a right turn to enter the Awosting Lake Carriageway to circle the lake counterclockwise. Here the trail became quite "technical" in places as large and sometimes loose rocks took the place of crushed stone. While there were a few moments I wished I was not using clipless pedals, my new tires enhanced my confidence. After circling the beautiful alpine lake, I took another right to enter the newly restored Hamilton Point Carriageway. This route is absolutely spectacular. These photos don't fully give justice to the expansive views from the trail literally cut into the edge of the 1000-foot cliffs. The smells and sounds of fall, circling hawks and overall isolation gave the ride an otherworldly quality that made it seem as though I was far more than 15 miles from my home. This trail climbs to over 2200 feet and then drops back down to 1200 at the park's entrance where I rejoined the Trapps Road trail to return to my car.

Now that my second bike is equipped with this new set of spectacular tires, I see no need to remove them any time soon. Until the snows arrive, I'll be including a few days of off-road riding each week in my routine to keep my spirits and fitness up.

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