Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Century ride, 2015-07-12

Carol and I had a graduation party to attend in Yonkers on Sunday evening. Carol had some errands to run in the day, so I thought I would make a long ride out of it. We were at our place in High Falls, NY (near New Paltz), and Google Maps told me it would be an 89-mile ride.

We don't have a printer at the house, so I hand-copied the directions from the computer onto notebook paper. I clipped the directions to my handlebar bag. I also packed a lot of food plus a big external battery for my phone. I figured if I lost my way, I could use the phone to navigate, but I'd need extra charging capacity.

I left a little after 8am. I did get lost a few times, and I used the Google Maps app for a few periods, but I turned it off each time I got back on my course. At one point, I left the course deliberately because a bike trail was paralleling the road, and I used Google Maps to get me back on later. That worked out just fine.

I wore a little bicycle-specific GPS gadget on my wrist. It tracks where I go, how fast, etc. It was useful to count off the distances between turns.

With my several times of getting lost and one time of leaving the route on purpose, my total distance was 96 miles.

Much of the route was on bike trails, which are pretty nice to ride on. Sometimes the surface is rough, which slows me down a little, but the benefits are worth it. There is no motor vehicle traffic to cause stress, and it's much quieter. I have to watch for pedestrians and ride slowly around them, but that's a small price to pay. Most of the trails are old railroad lines with the tracks removed. Some are paved, and some are not.

The cable for my rear derailleur failed at about Mile 35. My front derailleur continued to work, leaving me with a choice of three different gears. I jury-rigged my rear derailleur to stay in a middle gear. In retrospect, I should have chosen a lower gear. The lowest of the three gears I had was still quite high. This made climbing hills very challenging. The biggest hill was Hosner Mountain Rd in Dutchess County, just south of Rt I-84. I challenged myself not to stop on any climbs until I reached the tops. Now that I look at my elevation profile, I can hardly believe I climbed that hill without a low gear.

My back and shoulders are weak and inflexible. I've been meaning to strengthen them for a long time. This makes riding for hours painful. Worse than that, I have a pinched nerve in my back which causes some pretty severe pain in my feet. Each hour gets worse. I think I don't want to take another very long ride until I can alleviate these problems. The second half of the ride was pretty painful.

But the weather was good, and the scenery was inspiring. I don't regret doing it at all.

Here is the log that my GPS unit created. You can zoom in and out on the map. You can also see graphs that show my speed over time and my elevation over time. You can see where I climbed about 250 feet in just about one mile, at Mile 41.

Here are pictures I took along the way. GPS information is embedded in them, so if you want to see the points where I shot the pictures, look at the page for this album.

Click on the images to see them bigger.

Rondout Creek

Rondout Creek

Walkill Valley Rail Trail

Walkill Valley Rail Trail

Walkill River (a redundant name)

Rt 299 going from New Paltz to Lloyd, one of the few non-gorgeous portions of my ride.

Ah, that's better. Town of Lloyd.

About to enter Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Lloyd

Hudson Valley Rail Trail. Notice the glacial rock on the right side. It's 20 or 30 feet tall.

An old station reused somehow, but I didn't investigate.

Highland Station, now closed, of course, since the rail line is gone.

About to cross the Walkway Over the Hudson, opened to pedestrians and cyclists in 2014.

Walkway Over the Hudson

Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson. That bridge you see is the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Both of these bridges span the Hudson between Highland and Poughkeepsie.

Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson.

Hudson River as viewed from Walkway Over the Hudson.

Hosner Mountain, whose switchback road doesn't switch back enough. The climb was very difficult, especially with a failed derailleur and resulting lack of low gears.

Hosner Mountain.

Hosner Mountain.

Now I can catch my breath a bit.

Crossing the West Branch Reservoir.

West Branch Reservoir.

Lake Gleneida in Carmel, NY.

An accidental selfie. Now you've seen my left knee.

Yorktown Heights, I think.

Hudson River, viewed from Yonkers.

Hudson River, viewed from Yonkers.

The Hudson River rail line, viewed from a pedestrian bridge. The rail line is a gorgeous ride, every inch of the way.

Sunset over the Palisades in New Jersey, across the Hudson.

Sunset over the Palisades in New Jersey, across the Hudson.

A view of the Hudson from the Yonkers Yacht Club.


  1. This is great, Tom, thank you for sharing. I subscribed, hoping but not knowing if you'd do further updates. I learned about you on Bikeforums. I am not super active there, but my handle is Phamilton. I've often desired to try a century ride, but never attempted. Maybe a metric century first? I've only ever gone 30 miles at a time. Also appreciate you sharing the GPS log, very interesting.

    1. Thank you. Yes, work up a bit at a time. In Early June, I did Ride The Ridge, a 50-mile hilly ride. (http://www.ridetheridge.org/) I honestly didn't know if I would make it, as I've mostly been just commuting, 13 miles each way. It turned out that that was ample training. The 50-mile ride was surprisingly easy. So yes, work yourself up to it. You've done a 30-mile ride, so now try a 50-mile or a metric century (62 miles). Chances are, you won't have trouble. Just eat and drink more than you think you should, and eat and drink very frequently. Get off and stretch often. Take salt.