Monday, May 26, 2014

A Transportation Stage Deep into the Heart of the Catskills

Finding time to train during the spring remains a serious challenge. With work and family commitments, spring really is the busiest time of year in my household. As the result of a little careful planning, though, it's still possible to get the job done.

This weekend, for instance, we had a trip planned to visit with my in-law's in Andes, NY - right in the heart of the Catskills, so I seized the opportunity to plan a long ride as one of the legs of the journey. Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly, refers to rides of this type as "transportation stages." So rising early, I clipped in and hit the road to begin my 75-mile journey.

Undertaking a transportation stage takes a little planning, of course. On Saturday, I prepped the bike and packed a bag with a change of clothes and (mercifully) remembered to attach the bike rack to the roof of my wife's car. Unfortunately, we were out until 2:00 AM on Saturday night, so I did not get the best night's sleep, but the weather could not have been more ideal.

The trip to Andes involves some lovely backroad riding up to the Ashokan Reservoir and then a long stretch heading northwest on State Route 28. Since Route 28 is basically the only road that runs in this direction between the Catskill high peaks, there's no really avoiding it, but thankfully, the road crews have repaved in the past several years so, for much of the journey, I was treated to 10-foot wide shoulders free of cracks and debris.

There's still lots of water running at this time of year, so at various points during the trip, I was surrounded by the sound of rivers, waterfalls and creeks, all of which slow down considerably by late summer.

One of the best things about a transportation stage in combination with a family trip is the inevitable point in the journey when family and rider intersect. On this trip, I texted my de facto crew that some fresh cold water and a little nosh would hit the spot, so shortly after the longest and steepest climb of the day, I saw a familiar blue Subaru pass by complete with waving arms.

After 50 miles, a few bottles of cold water and an energy bar really hit the spot, but it was the "Paris Brest" that really took my breath away, but I decided that this gorgeous confection would serve better as an incentive rather than as a mid-ride snack, and so sent the crew off with instructions to keep the pastry in the shade.

While the casual viewer might see a mocking daughter, a shocked son and a wife trying to get as far from her stinking husband as possible in these photos, I prefer to see love and admiration. 

Finally, the glories of reaching the top of a hill are far greater when achieved by riding a bicycle. In all, I arrived around lunchtime about an hour after my "crew" feeling very grateful for the chance to have both a good workout and a fun day with the family.

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