As NYC begins cooling off and winter approaches, I keep wondering when my last official recreational outdoor ride will be for the season. After all, I do have access to Zwift and while indoor trainers don’t hold weight to riding outside, there are still numerous advantages – time / efficiency being the most prominent (in my book).
After taking a look at the weather forecast, a high of 48 degrees fahrenheit for Friday, December 2nd seemed like the perfect opportunity. I took a half day from work and reserved a Zipcar for the drive up. When the reservation time came, packed my bike, snacks, and dog supplies / carrier. My girlfriend brought our dog, as Bear Mountain would be the perfect chance for him to experience some nature.
What was most interesting about our trip up to the mountain was that I didn’t rely on GPS at all. On top of that, I took almost the identical route that I would always take while riding up to cycle haven 9W. Felt a little bit strange to drive through those roads, especially at certain junctions where I’d previously roll on through to a protected bike lane.
Our first stop was the iconic Strictly Bicycles for a quick stretch, water refill, and I needed a quick front derailleur adjustment (just a matter of playing around with the limit screws). As some of you who have been following my posts, my SRAM Force front derailleur has left much to be desired.
Driving up 9W rather than riding was a very unique experience. Getting to Piermont took next to no time driving at ~40 mph rather than riding at ~15mph avg. The stretch between Piermont and Nyack was more slow moving and there was some traffic up near Haverstraw, but we made it up to the mountain before long.
To our dismay, Perkins Memorial Drive was closed off to cars, so we found parking a little ways up on Seven Lakes, near the Appalachian trail. Now, I do want to make a point to talk a little bit about this trail. While I don’t ever see myself doing a full thru-hike of the entire route in one shot, I would love to do some section hikes (I.e. 60 miles over a long, 4-day weekend).
I’d like to do some bike/camping as well, but there’s something to be said about hiking through a national trail. Obviously a lot more ground can be covered via bike than by hiking. However, for me, I think I’m able to take in more of my surroundings when I’m hiking versus riding. I do stop to take pictures for the blog while I ride, but for the most part, I’m trying to get a workout in. Long story short, section hikes of the AT are on the horizon, something that I will of course document! Cross training and developing “trail legs” should also transition nicely to cycling.
I first rode down to the entrance at Seven Lakes Drive and Route 202. From there, it was time to ride up. If you recall, the last time I attempted Bear Mountain, I had ridden up from 34th street Hudson Yards in the city up to Seven Lakes and had not eaten nearly enough on the ride. This time, driving up to Bear Mountain, snacking on the way up, I was ready! I also had my headphones with me this time around playing Spotify. Though, this was spotty due to the variable cell service in the area.
Climbed Bear Mountain!
Upon approaching the summit, I can’t express how grateful I was to see the top of the mountain. As many of you may know, the last time I attempted this climb, I had to turn around. Having been operating at a caloric deficit for 4+ hours of riding, Perkins Memorial was brutal. I had made plans to ascend the mountain in the Springtime, but the weather yesterday was too good to pass up. Granted it was much windier than I expected so it felt colder, naturally.
After the above picture was taken, my bike fell over from the heavy wind. Unfortunately, my bottom bracket lost a spacer (didn’t realize it at the time) and my cranks had substantial lateral play. Shifting left and right as a whole unit.
Link to my Relive.cc video of the route that I took!
We returned across the Bear Mountain bridge before stopping in Peekskill for dinner from Birdsall House. They had some very good burgers which really hit the spot after a long day. One thing I will say is, the road from the bridge down to Peekskill is not cycling friendly. There’s essentially no shoulder, some steeper climbs (10%+ grade), and the traffic moves pretty quickly around the blind corners. I’ve heard that cyclists have better luck making a left off of the bridge and taking Metro North back from either Manitou or Garrison.
The other advantage of crossing over the Hudson there was that you apparently don’t have to pay a toll on the GWB leaving NYC, only entering! Yes, there were other tolls on the way into the city, but they were far less than the GWB. Also, it’s worth pointing out that we drove on the Saw Mill Parkway. At times, we were adjacent to the North County Trailway!
Upon returning, cleaning up the car, and bringing the bike upstairs – I realized what I had mentioned earlier in the post… I could literally move my entire crankset in and out of the frame (about an inch and a half). So today, I took another zipcar over to my LBS in Brooklyn to have it looked at. The Toyota Prius got the job done and the bike fit without any issues since the rear seats fold down.
Overall: I’m very glad I took this opportunity to climb Bear Mountain! It was challenging and the views were definitely worthwhile! Looking forward to winter training and having Bear Mountain become “Bear Hill” in the spring.