Sometimes a soaking rain is a good thing.
My buddy and I completed the 75 mile route of the Discover Hudson Valley Ride this afternoon. Hosted by Bike NY, this was a mass group ride similar to but smaller than the 5 Boro Bike Tour. I’m not a big fan of mass rides, but I have to say this ride was very well organized and supported. Best of all, it took me to a part of New York State that I have not ridden in.
I did not commit to the ride until the deadline because I wasn’t sure I wanted to take a 2 hour car ride up to the start point in Poughkeepsie with the possibility of heavy showers. The forecast this morning was for 30% chance of showers mostly after 1:00 pm, so we decided to go for it, leaving Long Island at 5:00 am.
The skies were clear when we arrived at the start and I chose to leave my windbreaker/light rain jacket in the car. The route took us over the Mid Hudson Bridge, westward toward New Paltz and onto the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.
The Rail Trail was probably the most congested portion of the ride, with the shorter routes sharing the trail with the longer routes. The Rail Trail took us onto the Walkway Across the Hudson, a splendid pedestrian bridge just north of the Mid Hudson Bridge.
The views from the Walkway were spectacular, so much so that I lost track of my bridge phobia. If you are ever in the area of Poughkeepsie, I strongly suggest you stop by and walk across.
The route continued east through Dutchess County over rolling terrain, some parts rolling steeper than others. We eventually found ourselves on Fiddlers Bridge Road, and that’s where my suffering began. The morning haze had burned off and it was hot & humid. I usually pay no attention to street names, unless the street causes pain. Fiddlers caused the first significant discomfort of the day. From that point on, it was me versus the heat, trying to stay hydrated and pacing myself on the rollers. At least the views were worth the effort.
With about 20 miles to go until the finish, the skies opened up with a drenching rain. Miraculously, my pace quickened as the rain cooled me off and allowed me to focus on riding and not on my physical discomfort. I probably gained 2 or 3 mph in the rain, although I also gained 2 to 3 pounds of water between my wet jersey and shoes. By the time we reached the finish, our brake pads were reduced to a muddy paste.
With about 5 miles to go, my buddy and I stopped to aid an injured rider who had a rib injury and bad case of road rash. He was carted away in an ambulance, a sad end to an otherwise nice day. We arrived back at the starting location as the rain stopped; however, by the time we put away the bikes it was pouring again and the finish “celebration” was a rain-out.
The ride was very well organized and supported. The GPS route, which you can find here, is spot-on, meaning it exactly matches the on-road markings and cue sheet. It is not an easy ride, but also not terribly difficult considering the region. I don’t think I would attempt it without support. The route goes into areas with very few opportunities to purchase food or beverages; if there are shops, we didn’t see them. As Bike NY rides go, this is one of the less crowded ones, probably because it’s a bit of a haul from New York City. The ride is accessible by train, since it starts and ends at a train station.
And finally, the cool sighting of the day : a rider from Houston TX. I saw his license plate and assumed he was a transplant to the region but when I ran into him at a rest area and asked, he told me that he lives in TX and spends most of the year on the road and does rides in whatever region he is visiting on business. What a neat way to blend pleasure with business.