Ride Report, by Colin Vallee
The trip was a success, in case you If I can remember correctly (which is a suspicious way to start a write-up about an event that DID happen I know) it was mostly nice on the ride up to Rhinecliff. The sky threatened rain every once in a while but mostly ended up coating us in a disarmingly light mist.
Once we all disembarked the train Poughkeepsie we took an inordinate amount of time grabbing coffee, snacks, using the restroom etc. at the station. The ride for the day was supposed to be something like 27 miles, just barely a 3 hour ride if we really tried to not go anywhere fast, which we were accomplishing like pros. Once we had gathered ourselves, our cohort of 20 people and one massive people-sized Great Dane in a trailer shoved off towards the Mid Hudson Walkway Bridge Elevator to do some sight seeing before the casual ride northward.
Around this time last year I had ridden to a cabin just outside of New Paltz and the Elevator was closed then due to being built unsafely, which seems to be a New York thing these days, so I had hopes it'd be fixed. But it wasnt. So we all biked around Poughkeepsie until we located the other entrance and stood gazing over the large body of water that is the Hudson River. We again waited around for some unnecessary amount of time slowly shivering our butts off until the wind itself became unbearable and we back tracked across the bridge to continue on.
Unfortunately it only took us about 1 mile from the train station for someone to get a flat, but I'd rather have the bad luck hit us early and close to civilization than later when we'd have to take the bike out behind the barn and let it go to the great beyond.
Early in the ride it was declared that "If we see Ice Cream we are stopping!" Since no one wanted to be declared anti-ice cream for fear of intense social shame no one spoke up and we did indeed stop for ice cream about 30 mins out from the train station.
The rain still threatening us with suggestive gray clouds stayed at bay while we trudged alongside the 9G traffic to our destination.
To be frank, when you ride along traffic it kind of obscures the joy of riding. Most of the ride to me feels like a blur outside of the lovely conversations I had with a good friend of mine who hung back with me while I swept the back of the group.
Once we did reach the town of Rhinebeck things picked up a little. We were only about 4 miles away from the campsite at that point, and decided to divide into two teams: Grocery Team A and Camp Team 1 (We were an egalitarian bunch).
Grocery Team A rode over and stocked up on provisions and firewood for the night:
- Vegan Beans
- Vegan Sausages
- Goat Cheese
In the check-out line some gentleman gently asked me if our bike crew, "Bought all the steak 'cause all the steak is gone but it was there 5 minutes ago." We did not purchase the steak.
However, I did somehow fool myself into believing that I would make so much coffee the next morning that I would need to buy an entire tub of Folgers. I cannot explain why, so please do not ask me to.
Camp Team 1 was tasked with going to the camp. The story as they tell it is that the man they were supposed to meet wasnt there but the other guy who could have also been there was there. That man was older and proceeded to shake down (in that friendly old man way) our comrades for "donations" to the "ferncliff forest" fund. Or something.
Money was exchanged for the promise of our personal safety I believe. A real Mafia man forest shakedown. I've been watching a lot of Sopranos recently so there is a chance their interaction was colored by my recent media intake, but I digress.
Once we all got to camp the Very Real Rain was more imminent than it had been, and tent spots were picked accordingly.
The site itself was beautiful in that upstate New York way. There's a nice little pond which at one point was the focus of people fishing, the large Great Dane, and people racing their little RC Boat. A number of lean-to's and structures lined the edge of the pond, the largest of which was more of a shed that I ended up settling in with four other campers.
The campsite is not too far from the entrance, and at the bottom of a short hike that leads up to the FIRE TOWER. The fire tower gives you a gorgeous view of that whole mid-hudson area, and is far less trafficked than the mid-hudson bridge due to it's 6 person at a time limit. It's also terrifying and please do not look down or you will regret your ascension and apologize to the birds for thinking you ever deserved to see trees from that high up.
Back at camp some people tucked in early, and the rest of us imbibed and gorged ourselves on the never ending supply of things to drink and eat. There was also quite a bit of California Jazz to go around, and that never hurts.
It did rain throughout the night, but it stopped in time for both the early group and the "I wanna sleep in" group to pack up their things and hit the road. Once it did start raining it didnt take long before we were all soaked to the bone.
The cool thing about biking in the rain on a trip like this though is eventually, you just cant get wet anymore. Your socks are squishing in your boots, your gloves are soaked, you learn quickly that your jacket isnt actually a rain jacket and your whole body will be a slurry of sweat and rain water, but then thats it. You dont wash away, you dont disintegrate, you just reach a point of maximum wetness and continue on.
We blasted back to the Poughkeepsie station through the rain and the shoulder of 9G to miss the train by 4 whole minutes. The next train didn't leave for another hour or so, which gave us all ample time to dry off in the train lobby and change into drier clothes.
This is a great time to remark that both the train to and from Poughkeepsie gave us no issues when loading our bikes onto the cars. The conductors were helpful and pleasant and made the whole trip much easier for everyone involved.
The ride from Grand Central back to Brooklyn has always been really weird for me. Usually I'm returning from a days long trip where cars were scant, and people walking about were even scanter. New York is such an abrupt transition, its no wonder people spend millions of dollars to get away from their even more millions of dollars homes.
718 has a charm about it that seems to constantly attract interesting and fun people, and this trip was rife with great folks just looking to ride their bikes for a couple hours.
All in all the trip was a success, in case you couldnt infer that on your own.