The Westchester Cycle Club’s Golden Apple ride almost earned the name Soggy Apple today.
I’ve been riding a lot “upstate,” meaning off Long Island, this year in a lame attempt to improve my climbing skills. By “a lot” I mean more than I ever have, which probably really isn’t a lot by most people’s standards. When I get the opportunity, I head up to Greenwich, CT to ride with the Signature Cycles crew. Connecticut and Westchester, NY have nice rolling terrain with climbing unlike what I can get in my hometown. The countryside is beautiful, which makes it worth the effort.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a post card advertising the Golden Apple and Dirty Apple; the Dirty Apple being a Westchester version of D2R2. The idea of riding dirt roads closer to home was appealing, so I began gathering some intel on the rides. By most accounts, the Dirty Apple was minimally supported last year and, as such, I chose to ride the 75 mile version of the road ride instead.
Then yesterday’s club ride and the weather intervened to change my plans. I had planned to ride only a couple of hours with the club but, before I knew it, I was 40 miles from home and running late. I can’t justify being out of the house all-damn-day on both days of the weekend, so I adjusted my plans to ride the 50 mile (actually 45) version of the Golden Apple. This morning’s weather forecast affirmed my decision, with a high chance of rain in late afternoon.
I arrived at the starting point feeling unprepared. The registration confirmation stated that GPS routes and cue sheets would be emailed to registrants the last week of August. Although I know how to read a cue sheet, I much prefer to have the GPS route loaded into my Garmin ahead of time. The promised email never arrived, and I went to the registration booth only to be told they had run out of printed cue sheets! To the course designers’ credit, cue sheets were not needed since the route was very clearly marked and staffed with human traffic control agents. Nevertheless, it’s the first time I’ve participated in a large, pay-to-ride event that did not have cue sheets or some other navigational aid in case riders became separated from the route.
The forecasted late afternoon showers arrived approximately five minutes into my ride, at about 8:45 am. I don’t mind rain, but I hate having wet feet inside shoes. My shoes were saturated by 9:00 am, but I soldiered on in hope that the weather would clear. Besides, the ride cost $55 so I was not about to bail out based on rain alone.
The rain relented after about half an hour, just as I began the approach to the Croton Reservoir. Riding through the rain was worth it…
The ride was wonderful. Lots of rolling terrain, a few spots that had me working hard to maintain forward movement. Lunch in a town park in Peekskill was the standard cycling fare before looping back to the start. Given the rain and humidity, I’m glad I left the Dirty Apple for another day. I finished quickly (for me), had lunch, chatted with some people and was on my way home by 12:45 pm.
Would I do it again? I’m not sure, probably not.
The roads are very nice and accessible to anyone. You don’t need to do this as an organized ride to have fun and get nutritional support. Ride with GPS is packed with routes in the area, including the Dirty Apple version. You can see my route here. So that begs the question: What did your registration fee “get” you?
- Route markings: very helpful to those not familiar with the area
- Cue sheets: nope.
- Tee shirt: nope.
- Food: 1 PB&J sandwich, handful of cookies and pretzels, water bottle refill at feed zone. Pasta salad, chicken cutlet sandwich and beverage at finish line.
I’m not sure I got $55 worth. I know this makes me sound grumpy and perhaps cheap but $55 is a premium compared to some other rides in the tri-state area that also include a tee-shirt in the registration. I’m not a tee-shirt hound but there should be some value beyond the standard PB&J, cookies and chicken sandwich. If there was, I did not see it.
As more and more organized rides pop up in the New York area, they will have to compete for business. They will have to deliver something that the competitors don’t or provide access to an area that riders would otherwise not venture into without significant support. D2R2 is a great example of this. I don’t think you can complete any of the Dee Two routes without the support provided by the volunteers because the roads are so remote from urban areas. Moreover, I have no problem plunking down $100 for Dee Two, since I know the money is going to a land trust. Ride organizers take note: sooner or later people will tire of paying high fees for the opportunity to ride on public roads where support is easily accessible.
End of rant.
Westchester County has an abundance of wonderful roads. Check them out for yourself or download some routes from your favorite GPS site.