Saturday, February 23, 2013

Crossing the Delaware on Washington's Birthday

Enjoying a bit of a break from school this week, I was delighted to hear that Doug was planning to ride his new Dingman's Ferry 209K permanent on Friday. Our work schedules rarely align so I grabbed this opportunity to try a new local route and catch up with an old friend. Being Washington's Birthday, a chance to cross the Delaware River also seemed particularly fitting.

We met in New Paltz at the civilized hour of 7:30 for a quick double espresso to fuel our engines. It was only 22F at the start, but the forecast was for temps above freezing for most of the day, so we weren't too concerned.

For some interesting reasons, local politicians and bureaucrats cannot be convinced that a wider shoulder is worth the expense on this road with a million dollar view of the Shawangunk Ridge so we proceeded with caution as we left town. I was pleased to hear a few sordid tales from Doug's time on the New Paltz Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. Let's just say that my faith in local government has not been strengthened. 

The turnaround on this out-and-back permanent is just beyond the Dingman's Ferry Bridge. Not only is the bridge quaint, but it's also one of the last existing privately-owned toll bridges in the USA. Bicycles cross for free, but cars must pay a dollar each way. Two cheery guys work the gatehouse, one of whom actually stands in the middle of the narrow road collecting dollar bills from drivers. This doesn't seem like a position with tremendous job security in the present economy, but he did not seem outwardly worried about the threat of mechanization.

The route would technically meet the 200K requirement with a turnaround at the bridge, but services are few and far between in the last stretch so Doug added a 3-mile climb up to a small village complete with a country deli and a pizza spot to refuel. We opted for the deli and were met by the friendliest group of employees and patrons you could hope to see at mile 65 of a 130-mile ride. Selecting lunch was not difficult as the woman at the deli counter spoke effusively about the daily special, even going so far to walk us to the refrigerator case to point out the pre-made Turkey Gobblers for which all of the locals apparently go nuts. I'm seldom disappointed ordering local favorites and this practice was certainly reinforced today. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce with mayonnaise, salt and pepper on a fresh roll sure the spot!

Doug and I discussed the benefits of cutting the ride short at the bridge after a chilly descent to the river. While the last climb adds extra miles and makes for a cold descent in mid-February, if Doug decides to cut the required distance short at 200K and you're riding on a Friday - be sure to climb the hill and order the Turkey Gobbler. 

I love watching water and ice move through rivers in the winter. Luckily, I had the chance to see two on Friday. The Hudson and Delaware are about 75 miles apart at this latitude and each presents the rider with a view that's both historical and majestic.

On the way back, we encountered a few flurries but the weather never got particularly unpleasant. We donned our reflective gear and turned on our lights for the final stretch into New Paltz, which seemed like a glowing city on a hill as we approached, reinforcing our gratitude for living in such an amazing place. It's always good to be home after a long winter's ride.

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THIS JUST IN: Rapha's #Festive500 Roundel Actually Arrives at my House! Photo Story to Follow!


  1. I got my geography confused! I thought you were at Washington Crossing at first. That Turkey Gobbler sounds delish! I do love the winter scenery.

  2. Thanks! It was a great lunch and the scenery was stark and lovely. Would have taken some more pictures if it weren't for the complications related to my lobster mitts. :)