Sunday, March 17, 2013

We Kept the River on Our Right: Our March 200K

It's been cold, not mind-numbingly cold, just regular cold. March has come in like a lion and it would be quite a relief to watch it to go out like a lamb ushering in the warmer days of spring. So when forecasters predicted temps above 50F, I had to jump on the opportunity for a long ride. The first step was to chose a date and put out a call for company. Luckily, Robin decided to drive up from Manhattan to join me. We decided to ride the Keep the River on Your Right 200K permanent in part because the roads are reliably cleared of snow and ice in the winter months. We headed north on 9W, a far cry from the cyclists' superhighway just north of the city. Here, cars are less frequent and other cyclist nearly non-existant despite wide shoulders and broad vistas.

After a nice steaming cup of coffee, Robin and I clipped in around 7:00 am and rode north along the banks of the Hudson as the sun rose in the east to greet us. It was hard not to be moved as we looked across the water at this beautiful vista and imagined the way things would feel half a day later as we pedaled south along the opposite shore looking this way to the mountains and setting sun in the western sky. We rode through Kingston and Saugerties making our way to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which we crossed to reach Columbia County.

After a short time on a quiet connecting road, we found ourselves on State Bike Route 9 heading south. We suffered a slight headwind as we turned the corner, but with winds in the single digits, it was not too difficult to make headway. We rode straight through to Red Hook where we stopped at a control to fill water bottles and grab a small snack. Our full meal would not come until Poughkeepsie further south, but first we would cycle through the gorgeous historic towns of Rhinebeck and Hyde Park, homes to classic Hudson Valley estates and even a Presidential Library.

We rolled up to a great deli with five minutes to spare and each enjoyed a tasty bagel sandwich before heading south to Beacon where we would again cross the river to return to Ulster County. The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge is nothing like the peaceful Rip Van Winkle. On this bridge, cyclists and pedestrians share a designated path that runs along the south span of the bridge which also houses US84. The exit ramp dumps cyclists into a lovely historic neighborhood of Balmville which does not suffer from the same economic and social pressures that affect the rest of Newburgh.

Robin and I made our way north with winds at our back and the late afternoon sun streaming over the mountains to our west and we were home before we knew it.