Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catskills 220km Climb Fest

Last week during the Great River Ride I had the pleasure of meeting two local people, well, local to my parents house in CT, named Don and Paula, and during the week afterwards I was invited to ride the Catskills Climb Fest permanent Randonneur hosted by a New Paltz, NY local named George with them. It turns out I'd ridden with George a few times earlier this year so it was good to see him again. On Friday night I hopped on the Metro North train and travelled up to Poughkeepsie where Don picked me up, and drove me back to a campsite very near the start of the event.

At 6am Saturday the alarm clock goes off. It was very hard to drag my body out of the o-so-warm down sleeping bag, and to start donning the bike clothes I would wear for the next 7 or so hours. The temperature was supposed to reach the mid 50s but that wasn't until afternoon, and we would be nearly finished by then. So, high 30s to 40s are what I had to deal with. Beautiful sunny skies and no noticeable wind greeted us near 8am, and it remained that way for most the ride.

Six of us started at 7am. I was the only one on a fixed gear bike. Everyone else had the 'who's who' of the elite custom bicycle world. Moots, Independent Fabrications (2 of them!), a Serotta, a Coppi, and to round it out my Jamis Sputnik! My entire bike cost less than any one of those frames besides maybe the Coppi!

The planned route was roughly 128 miles with around 11,000ft of climbing. It ended up being 137 miles due to a missed turn (which of course was mostly up and down a long hill.) 46-16 was the gearing of choice. It proved to be OK, for the most part, although I had to switch to 2nd gear for a short period of time on two occasions on the 2nd big climb of the other words - start pushing with my feet on the ground!

The route turned out to be simply beautiful. Amazing views of nature were around us the entire ride. Lots of deer were present in the morning - such graceful creatures. The magnificent trees ran the full spectrum of available fall colors. High falling waterfalls, tranquil ponds, reservoirs, rivers, streams - we saw it all! And Mountains! Yes, we climbed around, and over a few of those. There were two really big climbs for Northeast standards, and a third that was very long but not too steep. If we weren't climbing mountains we were attacking rollers on a regular basis.

I ended up riding with Don and Paula most the ride although I played rabbit a few times and went off ahead on my own. Rides like this remind me why most people ride geared bikes. I would've been significantly faster had I been able to shift on occasion. Especially the climbs. It's tough grinding it out for 5 miles up steep grades. It wastes A LOT of energy leg pressing over and over instead of spinning out at a higher cadence! Wah, wah. Well, I survived, and didn't feel tired after we finished. My butt was a bit tired from spinning all day on a hard piece of plastic. Today I'm ready to do it all over again!

I have the cue sheet for this ride so email me if you want it. It's one of the best rides I've done in New England. The start is in Rosendale, NY.

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