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  1. #1
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    I'd like to ride from Syracuse to New York City...

    Hello everyone,

    I'm a Canadian who wants to travel around New York state a bit. I'm not the most athletic guy, actually, I'm in the least athletic guy category right now... Anyways, I've got some time on my hands, and I'd like to take advantage of it. I'm in Toronto, and will be in Syracuse early next month. I was thinking I could do some riding in New York for a month or so.

    This will need to be done on a budget so I'd like to avoid motels. Are there enough free campgrounds where I can put up a tent between Syracuse and New York city? Should I have another destination in mind other than New York city? I've never been there, but don't know if showiing up on a bike is appropriate.

    How can I find out about routes? Google mapping it has given me an idea, but I'd like to stay away from high-traffic roads since I'm a newbie.

    My intent isn't really to travel a great distance, just to get out for a while on the road and enjoy some scenes. New York state, being so close to Toronto, seems like an ideal choice. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    OMG! i'm a DURT gurl!!!! caligurl's Avatar
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    i can't help you with the routes... haven't live in NY for a while now (and wasn't a cyclist when i was living there!) but i saw your thread title and was drawn to it! i do know it will be a GORGEOUS ride! i'll bet you'll be able to find plenty of campgrounds! but it will be cool doing the ride in october! be sure to take LOTS of pics and post back a report after you do this!!!!!!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Caspar_s's Avatar
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    Well, the other thread about riding the Erie canal might be a good start - it goes through Syracuse to Albany. Might be a good place to get used to riding a lot - and it should have info on campgrounds because a lot of people hike, bike and I guess boat it :-)

    I'm not sure about the part between New York and Albany though.

  4. #4
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    You should start with the NY DEC campgrounds, between Syracuse, you can look at campgrounds in the Catskills as the ADK will be out of your way. There are also campgrounds in other places than the Catskills on your way to NYC. However, you should also check out private campgrounds. Most of upstate NY is fairly rideable, i.e. you can simply look at a county map and pick a route, except you want to stay off any interstates and perhaps many of the state highways. From there, you can pick a city/town and use Google to try to find private campgrounds if no DEC one exists. If you want to cross the Hudson, there are strategic places to do so of course, one popular one is in New Paltz/Poughkeepsie on the Mid Hudson. others exist though.

    Probably not a lot of free sites unless you're willing to ask and beg or stealth camp though.


    Jay

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    Maps & Routes

    I can't help you much on campgrounds, except to say that I don't think there are a lot of free ones.

    But you should know that New York State has developed 3 cross-state signed bike routes, and 2 of them take you between Syracuse and New York City. State bike route 5 goes along the northern tier, following the erie canal. It goes from Buffalo through Syracuse to Albany. At Albany it will intersect with the north-south state bike route 9, which mostly follows the Hudson River--a gorgeous ride. State bike route 9 will take you right to the George Washington Bridge, where you will have a wide bike path, and a 1-million dollar view of the Manhattan skyline to the south and the New Jersey Palisades to the north.

    Best of all, NY state DOT will send you these maps for FREE. Here's the link, with contact information to get the maps:
    http://www.dot.state.ny.us/pubtrans/bikemap.html

    Good luck & have fun

    Rich

  6. #6
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    To further Richbiker's point: You'll want to take 9W down the right side of the Hudson, and then you can get on the GWB, and yes it is amazing. 9W can be a challenge to ride, but you should be in good shape by the time you get down that far.

    You can take a combination of 9 and 9A into the city on the other side of the river, but it's not as bike friendly, and you'll wind up going through some not-so-nice parts of Yonkers and the Bronx.

    Remember, there's no camping inside of the city limits, so you'd best get a room at a hostile while here.

  7. #7
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    Wow, thanks a lot everone. That is a lot of great info. I'm excited

    How challenging is challenging? I really want to find an easy route this first time, but if it means completely missing something beautiful, I'll have to think about it.

    If I end up paying for a place to put up a tent, how much am I looking at generally?

    Thanks again everyone!
    Last edited by guruguhan; 09-13-06 at 02:06 PM.

  8. #8
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    Once a year I ride to Harriman State Park with some friends. I think it's only $15 a night, but you have to pay for two nights. however, the last 5-6 miles of the ride to the park are rediculous... after a full day of riding, it will take you at least an hour to climb up to it... I would plan on spending $25-$35 per night for a campground, depending on the season, though. DOn't count out stealth camping! Just duck down a side road and try to spot an area were no one will notice you for the night.

    There's some other parks in that area, but I've never stayed at any of them... the link above will take you to the NY state parks site, and you can get more info.

    I don't know what the exact grades are on some of the hills on 9W, but I can tell you that coming down them you can easily top 40 MPH, for at least a mile or two.

    Don't let that stop you, dude! So you might have to take a breather going up a hill... who cares? It'll still be fun in the end.

  9. #9
    OMG! i'm a DURT gurl!!!! caligurl's Avatar
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    again i have to reiterate... i INSIST on pics and a ride report!!!!!!!!!!!
    OCP and PROUD!
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  10. #10
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    9w really isn't that bad, and by the time you get there, you'll be just fine.
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  11. #11
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    Ok, thanks again everyone. I've started to "train" for the trip, hopefully be able to shed a few pounds before then and make it easier on my back and butt (which is what I suspect will be the first to complain).

    I'll be sure to post pics caligurl...you're putting a lot of pressure on me!

    I've still got to get my bike all in order.

    I'm surprised camping is that expensive (all I really want is a 2.5m x 3m part of the earth for a night). About the stealth camping, I'm a little worried about someone finding me. See, I've been described by friends as looking like a terrorist in pictures. I don't know if I'm blowing things out of proportion, but I don't want to have to explain myself to authorities just to save a couple bucks...

  12. #12
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    I live in Syracuse, and me and a friend were planning to ride to NYC. Perhaps we could all go together?
    mi yu mi yu

  13. #13
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    Camping, 9W, Harriman St. Park, hostels

    To add to these posts:
    from Albany (actually, Rensellaer), you will be on the East side of the Hudson until the Bear Mountain Bridge. Just keep following state bike route 9, which will follow 9W to the GW bridge. Yes, it's a little hilly. Don't keep following 9A on the east side of the Hudson. The biggest climb will be Dunderberg Mountain, just south of Bear Mountain.

    If you want to dally a little, check out Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks for some really pretty scenery. They are both adjacent or close to State Bike Route 9 (& 9W) Harriman is hilly, with lots of forest, lakes--very lovely. The view of the Hudson from Bear Mountain is awesome. There is a campground in Harriman St. Park. It would probably be handy to get a map of these 2 parks from NY-NJ trails conference. The campground is called Beaver Pond, and it's $15 a night. You can either do a ridiculous climb to it from the West Haverstraw area (follow County Rd. 98, I think. Maybe it's 106). Or you can get to it by following Seven Lakes Drive to the intersection with 106. I think the campground closes after Columbus Day. Check with NY State Parks Dept. about camping there after that.

    If you are totally burned out, or want to avoid the hills, bad weather, you can catch a train into Penn Station from Sloatsburg (or Tuxedo, I forget) at the end of Seven Lakes Drive. You can take a bike on board. Also, you can take a train from Poughkeepsie, north of the Bear Mtn Bridge.

    Also, the NYS Parks Dept has a web page that lists their camping facilities, so you could check what's available along your route. Probably some county parks departments also have campsites, but check their policies. Some counties are not "non-resident" friendly, or they make you reserve for more nights than you plan to stay (Westchester County is like that, but it's not part of your route). Nassau & Suffolk county (Long Island, east of NYC) are more bike friendly. Suffolk even has some free "bike hostel" campsites at some of its county campgrounds. Somewhere, NY State also has a listing of private campsites (aka, trailer parks).

    You should also get a NYC bike map. Call Transportation Alternatives or NYC DOT to find out how to get one. They will show you how to get from the GW bridge to your lodging. I second someone else's recommendation about staying at a Hostel. The American Youth Hostel at 103rd & Amsterdam (where my office is located, BTW) has beds for something like $30 a night, and they are bike friendly.


    Rich

  14. #14
    Senior Member meanderthal's Avatar
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    If you're riding east along the Erie Canal path, you're allowed to tent-camp free on the grounds of each of the canal locks (at least this was true a few years ago). Some (all?) are on the south side of the canal, though, so you may have to cross over.

    Also, you might consider omitting the Albany/Schenectady corner by cutting across at Fonda, taking 30A to 30 and on to 145. Take 145 to 23, cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge at Catskill and pick up the aforementioned Bike Route 9. You'll be in pretty, rolling countryside most of the way. Downside: I don't see any campgrounds--private or public--along this route. A flat, 6-mile detour south of Middleburgh (where 30 hits 145) will take you to Max Shaul State Park, though. Middleburgh has no overnight accommodations that I know of. A diner is on the east side of town on 145.

    After crossing the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, follow NY23 to NY9 to join Bike Route 9. (Optional side trip to Olana, home of early-American painter Frederic Church, can be done by leaving 23 just after crossing the bridge and jogging south on 9G . Go a short distance to the turnoff and then *climb* to the mansion.)

    p.s. Before you leave, check all campgrounds to see that they're not already closed for the season. Some, but not all, the NY State campgrounds stay open for fall-color season. I think many private ones may close before October.
    Last edited by meanderthal; 09-15-06 at 05:51 PM.
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  15. #15
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    The train station in Harriman is in Sloatsburg, although there is also a train station in Tuxedo, it is further north and Sloatsburg is easily rideable from the main road that goes through the park (Seven Lakes Drive). You should also find out how bike friendly that train is. I have no idea since I've never tried it.

    Camping in Harriman is technically illegal except at the leantos there on the LP or the AT or on the Ramapo-Dunderberg trail. You of course would have to hike into the leantos as MTB'ing in harriman is mostly illegal except for some trails near Anthony Wayne. And if you are thinking there are so many regulations in Harriman, you are right! Bushwacking in Harriman is also illegal so I'm sure stealth camping is completely illegal.

    Jay

  16. #16
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Oh, don't think you have to cross the hudson so far north. You can ride through the catskills and down towards the Shawangunks and new paltz which is a neet college town. Probably less traffic than 9 and certainly once you get down below the bear mtn bridge area and by the tappan zee. Certainly doable, you'll see lots of cyclists there, but you have choices though..

    Jay

  17. #17
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    You can also check out the warm shower list for free places to stay.
    http://www.warmshowers.org/en-working/welcome
    I'm about 65 miles SE of Syracuse up in the hills and there's room here. If you follow the Erie Canal route or even stay somewhat close to it and then down the Hudson River Valley you will find some fewer hills then heading more or less SE from Syracuse to NYC.
    Wells

  18. #18
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    Harriman over-regulated

    Yes, unfortunate that Harriman has a lot of "thou shalt not . . . ". As a NYC resident, though, I understand why. This beautiful state park is only 40 miles from NYC. Judging from the way NYC parks get totally trashed on weekends by NYC residents, I can see why the state puts so many rules on at Harriman. Many NYC residents take their bad habits with them, and I've heard many Rockland and Orange county residents and parks staff complain about it. The litter, the grafitti, the noise. If NYS Parks allowed people to camp anywhere they wanted in Harriman, the place would have been completely trashed years ago. Once again, it just goes to show, if you can't govern yourself, the government will do it for you, in a manner that limits everyone else.

  19. #19
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    If one is to head from Buffalo to Albany, is Route 20 a bad choice?
    I realize it might not be the most scenic route, but in terms of traffic and difficulty, how does it rank?
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  20. #20
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    Route 20 can be considered a terrible route to take or a really great one depending upon what you enjoy.
    If you don't enjoy hills then Route 20 is not the way to go, but if you do enjoy them it is a great way across NY. It is full of history and most of it is very wide and not a ton of traffic. Off course going through a few small cities such as Alburn and Geneva includes some traffic but it is very managable. As a direct, yet hilly way across the State, it is a great choice. Just be ready for major climbs most of the way across. There are plenty of cyclists along the route.
    Wells

  21. #21
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    <i>If one is to head from Buffalo to Albany, is Route 20 a bad choice?</i>

    Tovi, why not just take the bike path from Buffalo to Albany, it follows the Canal from what I hear so it should be mostly flat, or is the 'path' just along side highways for portions of it. Just requested my map, so I can claim ignorance still

  22. #22
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    awsome, html tagging dosn't work here. Now I look like a fool.

  23. #23
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    Wellshorton: thanks for the advice. If I may prod a little more, when you say rt.20 is "very wide", are you refering to the shoulder? Also, what do you mean by "major climbs"? I understand this is a highly relative term, but are we talking short kickers (granny gears required), or more like long rollers that don't really destroy your average speed too much. For me, that would include 6% avg. for a couple km's.

    If it helps, I want to do a quick credit card tour on my road bike to NYC, and I'm not afraid of climbs, rather I'm evaluating if it's "too" hilly to make taking another route a quicker option.
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  24. #24
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    US 20 is hilly, but most are long grades of less than 10% . I have ridden US 20 between Depew and Albany. Depew to Skaneateles is pretty easy. The biggest hills are in a 30 mile section between Skaneateles and Cazenovia The hill up to Pompey will get your attention. East of Cazenovia there are a few long rollers with one big hill from Esperance to I-88. The paved shoulder is anywhere from 3 to 8 feet wide along Rt 20.

    The Canalway trail isn't a good choice on most road tires as the stone dust surface can get soft for tires under 32mm wide especially after a rain or before June. I have ridden the full length twice on a touring bike with 37mm tires which seem about perfect for the trail

    NY Bike route 5 is mostly a nice ride with shoulders 5' or more wide in most areas. It generally follows NY RT 31 west of Rome and NY RT 5 east of Rome but the road conditions and traffic through Rochester, Syracuse and Utica tends to suck. I like this route between Tonawanda and Rochester, Palmyra to Jordan and Little Falls to Scotia, the rest I don't much like.

  25. #25
    ****** squegeeboo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    The Canalway trail isn't a good choice on most road tires as the stone dust surface can get soft for tires under 32mm wide especially after a rain or before June. I have ridden the full length twice on a touring bike with 37mm tires which seem about perfect for the trail.
    Awesome, thanks for the info, I'm hoping the bike map will have some elevation/grade info on it also, I'm in Rochester, considering a trip to Albany in the spring/summer of 07, and my tires are 38mm so perfect there also.

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