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Recommendations for Catskills riding?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Recommendations for Catskills riding?

Old 05-19-15, 06:58 AM
  #1  
danmc
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Recommendations for Catskills riding?

I have gone to the Adirondacks in the past but feel like going on a biking trip in June and don't want to deal with black flies (when I'm not biking I'm hiking or kayaking.)

I thought I'd try the Catskills but have never been there.

Can anyone recommend great rides and some bike-friendly motels? (Let you put the bike in the room)

Thanks!
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Old 05-19-15, 12:35 PM
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I think you'll get better responses if you have the moderator move this to the Northeast forum.
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Old 05-19-15, 12:56 PM
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Those regional forums are dead. More eyes here. Plus the Northeast forum is monopolized by the nuts who live in NYC
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Old 05-19-15, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by danmc View Post
those regional forums are dead. More eyes here. plus the northeast forum is monopolized by the nuts who live in nyc
Okay!
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Old 05-19-15, 01:21 PM
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If I don't get any substantial responses, I'm going to start a new thread with the title, "Matt Lauer, Barry Bonds, and my massive guads". That'll be sure to get the clicks.
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Old 05-19-15, 01:25 PM
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I'm a reformed NYC nut living in the Hudson Valley the last 25 years.

Can't help you on the Catskills. Although they're fairly close to me, I generally avoid hills and mountains like the plague. Sorry.
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Old 05-19-15, 01:52 PM
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I believe @southpawboston rides in the Catskills a bit. He's into dirt roads, but may be able to provide some useful advice.
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Old 05-19-15, 02:00 PM
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Nice place to ride - If you look at the course map for the Tour of The catskills you can get an idea of some routes as well as from this guys blog:
Riding the Catskills | Gravel road cycling rides and routes in Ulster, Dutchess, Greene, Delaware, Orange, and Rockland Counties, New York

I usually do some variation of a loop starting in Lexington, down to Phoenicia, then back up to Hunter area - some long but low grade climbs on Rt 214 and Rt 42. There are lots of back roads to explore, which are generally rolling with some small dinger climbs thrown in. I usually underestimate these and am fried by the end of a ride.

If you like riding dirt Rail Trails there are a couple down in the New Paltz area (Hudson Valley Trail, Wallkill Valley Trail) Biking Ulster County | Ulster County Alive!

In the Northern Catskills the Catskill Scenic Trail

If you like climbing then you should give the Platte Cove aka the Devil's Kitchen road a try in West Saugerties, see if you can make it to the top without stopping (12-22% grades) - brutal!

Oh and not to scare you but bring your Halt! or have some other plan of action against dogs; There are lotsa loose dogs in yards on roads that see little traffic - I've been chased a couple times and was bitten once by a farm dog two years ago.

PS for hotels - I've heard Hotel Dylan near Woodstock is good from friends but maybe pricey as well as the trendy GrahamandCo in Phonecia. Another area, entirely but if you find yourself in the Southern Catskills near Roscoe Creekside Cabins is great (ask for Donna). When I'm down in that area though it's usually for fishing and not for biking - but there are some nice roads and covered bridges over there.

Last edited by MagicHour; 05-19-15 at 02:32 PM. Reason: Added hotels
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Old 05-19-15, 02:00 PM
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As long as you don't ask ahead of time all hotels are bike friendly.
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Old 05-19-15, 04:30 PM
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@danmc, I don't know crap about the Catskills, but I just did several days in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, and Quality Inns were fabulously accommodating. They went out of their way to get me first floor rooms close to exit doors, so I wasn't hauling the bike all over hell's half-acre. I don't know how well represented they are in the Catskills.
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Old 05-20-15, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MagicHour View Post
Nice place to ride - If you look at the course map for the Tour of The catskills you can get an idea of some routes as well as from this guys blog:
Riding the Catskills | Gravel road cycling rides and routes in Ulster, Dutchess, Greene, Delaware, Orange, and Rockland Counties, New York

I usually do some variation of a loop starting in Lexington, down to Phoenicia, then back up to Hunter area - some long but low grade climbs on Rt 214 and Rt 42. There are lots of back roads to explore, which are generally rolling with some small dinger climbs thrown in. I usually underestimate these and am fried by the end of a ride.

If you like riding dirt Rail Trails there are a couple down in the New Paltz area (Hudson Valley Trail, Wallkill Valley Trail) Biking Ulster County | Ulster County Alive!

In the Northern Catskills the Catskill Scenic Trail

If you like climbing then you should give the Platte Cove aka the Devil's Kitchen road a try in West Saugerties, see if you can make it to the top without stopping (12-22% grades) - brutal!

Oh and not to scare you but bring your Halt! or have some other plan of action against dogs; There are lotsa loose dogs in yards on roads that see little traffic - I've been chased a couple times and was bitten once by a farm dog two years ago.

PS for hotels - I've heard Hotel Dylan near Woodstock is good from friends but maybe pricey as well as the trendy GrahamandCo in Phonecia. Another area, entirely but if you find yourself in the Southern Catskills near Roscoe Creekside Cabins is great (ask for Donna). When I'm down in that area though it's usually for fishing and not for biking - but there are some nice roads and covered bridges over there.
Thanks for all the info!
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Old 05-20-15, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
As long as you don't ask ahead of time all hotels are bike friendly.
I'm thinking hauling a wet, muddy bike through a lobby and onto an elevator up to a second floor room might not work out too well!
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Old 05-20-15, 07:09 AM
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I've never stayed at a hotel with a no bike policy
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Old 05-20-15, 07:16 AM
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It's been a while since I've ridden there. The mid Hudson bike club used to do a ride there and may still do so. They might have some routes for you. In any case, I'd check with the local clubs. Here's a website with some info on clubs in the area, Bicycling Clubs and Organizations -- Bike Hudson Valley

There is some fine riding there and some pretty serious climbs. Actually there are some real serious hills to climb just west of the Hudson river in and around the Gunks. I've done some rides there were tougher than most any mountains I've ridden through.
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Old 05-20-15, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
It's been a while since I've ridden there. The mid Hudson bike club used to do a ride there and may still do so. They might have some routes for you. In any case, I'd check with the local clubs. Here's a website with some info on clubs in the area, Bicycling Clubs and Organizations -- Bike Hudson Valley

There is some fine riding there and some pretty serious climbs. Actually there are some real serious hills to climb just west of the Hudson river in and around the Gunks. I've done some rides there were tougher than most any mountains I've ridden through.
I can do repeats on Bopple Hill Road on Canandaigua Lake for practice https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/349910461
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Old 05-20-15, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by danmc View Post
I have gone to the Adirondacks in the past but feel like going on a biking trip in June and don't want to deal with black flies (when I'm not biking I'm hiking or kayaking.)

I thought I'd try the Catskills but have never been there.

Can anyone recommend great rides and some bike-friendly motels? (Let you put the bike in the room)

Thanks!
I co-author the Riding the Catskills blog, but my ride reports focus on the north and northwestern end of the Catskills. The two other co-authors, John F and John S, live farther south and do a lot of riding along the southern and eastern ends of the Catskills. Each corner has its own flavor, but they're all equally breathtaking. I haven't ridden in the two Johns' turf, so I can't comment directly, but I've done a lot of riding around my end, usually charting out dirt roads where possible. My end of the Catskills has more rolling hills, and much more farmland. The eastern end is jaggedly steep, and is more sparsely populated, with many 1000s of acres of state preservation land.

Here's a link to my posts on the blog.

All of my ride reports should have links to ridewithgps routes, most of which are hand-annotated to indicate which segments are paved and which are unpaved. Most of the rides in my area average about 1000 feet of elevation gain per 10 miles, so they're all hilly. But they aren't quite as hilly as the eastern end of the Catskills, where sustained 18% grades are not uncommon. In my area, the steepest grade you'll find is 15%, and never for more than a few hundred feet at a time, although there are some sustained 10% grades for a couple of miles.

For mostly flat riding, follow Delaware county Rt 18 (aka Back River Road) that follows the Delaware River, west branch, from Hamden in the west to Stamford in the East. And from Bloomville heading east, you can catch the Catskills Scenic trail, which is simply sublime. You ride along an easement through private farmland, along a former railway, often lined with century-old trees. It's wonderful hardpack gravel, mostly smooth, Little wooden bridges cross the Delaware as it meanders. Highly recommended. Ride it exclusively (it's 19 miles long) or use it as a launching point from Bloomville to explore some other areas. I like starting and ending rides with the trail, as it gives me time to warm up and cool down before and after all the climbing!

In addition to my ridewithgps routes linked in my blog posts, you can find all my Catskills rides (and New England rides) on my ridewithgps page.

You can also see more photos from all these rides in my flickr albums. One album has photos of just the Catskill scenic trail.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll enjoy i!

I can't recommend any hotels or motels, but the AirBnB movement has exploded up there. You might be able to book a home for a weekend for not much more than a motel. There's also a really nice rustic inn right in Bloomville, feet from the Catskills Scenic Trail, with some of the best locavore farm-to-table restaurant fare you've ever had. My vacation home is right in Bloomville, so you'll notice that I start a lot of my rides from there.
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Old 05-20-15, 10:56 AM
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@danmc - No prob, enjoy! I'd offer to meet up for a ride if I'm up there, but am on injured list for a couple months
Originally Posted by danmc View Post
Thanks for all the info!
@southpawboston - nice job on your blog , I've enjoyed reading some of your ride descriptions and photography of the area. Makes me wish I had a gravel or similar bike.
Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
I co-author the Riding the Catskills blog, but my ride reports focus on the north and northwestern end of the Catskills. The two other co-authors, John F and John S, live farther south and do a lot of riding along the southern and eastern ends of the Catskills. Each corner has its own flavor, but they're all equally breathtaking. I haven't ridden in the two Johns' turf, so I can't comment directly, but I've done a lot of riding around my end, usually charting out dirt roads where possible. My end of the Catskills has more rolling hills, and much more farmland. The eastern end is jaggedly steep, and is more sparsely populated, with many 1000s of acres of state preservation land.

Here's a link to my posts on the blog.

All of my ride reports should have links to ridewithgps routes, most of which are hand-annotated to indicate which segments are paved and which are unpaved. Most of the rides in my area average about 1000 feet of elevation gain per 10 miles, so they're all hilly. But they aren't quite as hilly as the eastern end of the Catskills, where sustained 18% grades are not uncommon. In my area, the steepest grade you'll find is 15%, and never for more than a few hundred feet at a time, although there are some sustained 10% grades for a couple of miles.

For mostly flat riding, follow Delaware county Rt 18 (aka Back River Road) that follows the Delaware River, west branch, from Hamden in the west to Stamford in the East. And from Bloomville heading east, you can catch the Catskills Scenic trail, which is simply sublime. You ride along an easement through private farmland, along a former railway, often lined with century-old trees. It's wonderful hardpack gravel, mostly smooth, Little wooden bridges cross the Delaware as it meanders. Highly recommended. Ride it exclusively (it's 19 miles long) or use it as a launching point from Bloomville to explore some other areas. I like starting and ending rides with the trail, as it gives me time to warm up and cool down before and after all the climbing!

In addition to my ridewithgps routes linked in my blog posts, you can find all my Catskills rides (and New England rides) on my ridewithgps page.

You can also see more photos from all these rides in my flickr albums. One album has photos of just the Catskill scenic trail.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll enjoy i!

I can't recommend any hotels or motels, but the AirBnB movement has exploded up there. You might be able to book a home for a weekend for not much more than a motel. There's also a really nice rustic inn right in Bloomville, feet from the Catskills Scenic Trail, with some of the best locavore farm-to-table restaurant fare you've ever had. My vacation home is right in Bloomville, so you'll notice that I start a lot of my rides from there.
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Old 05-20-15, 11:22 AM
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That's a great blog, southpawboston. Great pics and stories, perfect to kill time at work with!
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Old 06-04-15, 08:23 AM
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southpawboston, is the west end (Bloomville) the better end to start with if riding with road tires: 25, 28mm? Does it make a difference?

I'm heading out that way with a couple of people in varying shape. Athletic but not necessarily cyclists per se. I'm hoping to start at the Catskills Scenic Trail, but also do some sightseeing in the environs as well: a town or two, and some riding on pavement. (This is part of a weekend getaway from the city.) Do you have any favorite, moderate roads in that area that I should research as I build a 30-40 mile loop route that incorporates the CS trail? We'll car travel to the point, and ride around and back to the car. Thanks.

Love the blog, BTW.

Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
I co-author the Riding the Catskills blog, but my ride reports focus on the north and northwestern end of the Catskills. The two other co-authors, John F and John S, live farther south and do a lot of riding along the southern and eastern ends of the Catskills. Each corner has its own flavor, but they're all equally breathtaking. I haven't ridden in the two Johns' turf, so I can't comment directly, but I've done a lot of riding around my end, usually charting out dirt roads where possible. My end of the Catskills has more rolling hills, and much more farmland. The eastern end is jaggedly steep, and is more sparsely populated, with many 1000s of acres of state preservation land.

Here's a link to my posts on the blog.

All of my ride reports should have links to ridewithgps routes, most of which are hand-annotated to indicate which segments are paved and which are unpaved. Most of the rides in my area average about 1000 feet of elevation gain per 10 miles, so they're all hilly. But they aren't quite as hilly as the eastern end of the Catskills, where sustained 18% grades are not uncommon. In my area, the steepest grade you'll find is 15%, and never for more than a few hundred feet at a time, although there are some sustained 10% grades for a couple of miles.

For mostly flat riding, follow Delaware county Rt 18 (aka Back River Road) that follows the Delaware River, west branch, from Hamden in the west to Stamford in the East. And from Bloomville heading east, you can catch the Catskills Scenic trail, which is simply sublime. You ride along an easement through private farmland, along a former railway, often lined with century-old trees. It's wonderful hardpack gravel, mostly smooth, Little wooden bridges cross the Delaware as it meanders. Highly recommended. Ride it exclusively (it's 19 miles long) or use it as a launching point from Bloomville to explore some other areas. I like starting and ending rides with the trail, as it gives me time to warm up and cool down before and after all the climbing!

In addition to my ridewithgps routes linked in my blog posts, you can find all my Catskills rides (and New England rides) on my ridewithgps page.

You can also see more photos from all these rides in my flickr albums. One album has photos of just the Catskill scenic trail.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll enjoy i!

I can't recommend any hotels or motels, but the AirBnB movement has exploded up there. You might be able to book a home for a weekend for not much more than a motel. There's also a really nice rustic inn right in Bloomville, feet from the Catskills Scenic Trail, with some of the best locavore farm-to-table restaurant fare you've ever had. My vacation home is right in Bloomville, so you'll notice that I start a lot of my rides from there.
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Old 06-04-15, 01:44 PM
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If you want to check out a couple of towns, I would recommend Delhi, Andes and Bovina. Delhi is the largest (but we're still talking small town here), Andes has the swank cafes and antique shops, and Bovina is the smallest with the least to see. But all three towns are adorable and you could work out a 30-40 mile loop between any two of them. My "Tour of three Hamlets" blog post described a 45 mile loop (very hilly and mostly on dirt roads) that started and ended in Bloomville and took in Bovina and Andes. There's not much to see in Bloomville, other than Table on Ten, but it's also the trail head of the Scenic Trail, so a good place to start and end a route. If you're on narrow tires and want to do a paved ride, shoot me a PM and I can work out a loop for you of any length on most if not all pavement. The only issue is that none of the routes are "moderate" in terms of hills. There's almost always going to be steep hills involved. The exception would be to ride Back River Rd (also known as county route 18) that follows the Delaware River on its south side. You can catch it from multiple points along the Scenic Trail. You can follow it to Delhi and then back, if you don't mind out-and-back routes. That would be about 20 miles round trip, with only gentle rollers. And great views of the river valley. You can double the route length to 40 miles by continuing past Delhi to Hamden, across a nice covered bridge, and stop at a great farm store (Lucky Dog Farm Store) for a fantastic lunch, then return back to Bloomville. It's paved the entire way and there will be minimal traffic. All the vehicular traffic follows the faster highway on the north side of the river, State Route 28, which essentially parallels the river and Back River Rd. Avoid it at all costs (unless you like crumbling shoulders with baseball-sized chunks of broken pavement, and full laden logging trucks barreling past you at 65 mph).

It doesn't matter which end of the trail you start at in terms of trail conditions. You'll do fine on 25s and 28s unless there's been rain, in which case there could be some mud that could sink a narrow tire. Most of the trail is well maintained crushed gravel. I know much less about what is around the east end of the trail, and I've not really ridden much around there. The east end of the trail terminates at Grand Gorge, and there's not really much there except a convenience store. All the fun new businesses and agro-tourism stuff is happening west of there, in Delaware County .

Again, I'm happy to plot a route out for you on ridewithgps.com, just let me know what you're leaning towards...

Originally Posted by MoonJW View Post
southpawboston, is the west end (Bloomville) the better end to start with if riding with road tires: 25, 28mm? Does it make a difference?

I'm heading out that way with a couple of people in varying shape. Athletic but not necessarily cyclists per se. I'm hoping to start at the Catskills Scenic Trail, but also do some sightseeing in the environs as well: a town or two, and some riding on pavement. (This is part of a weekend getaway from the city.) Do you have any favorite, moderate roads in that area that I should research as I build a 30-40 mile loop route that incorporates the CS trail? We'll car travel to the point, and ride around and back to the car. Thanks.

Love the blog, BTW.
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Old 06-04-15, 03:52 PM
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Thank you so much for all the tips. Especially about state route 28. I think I should be able to scratch out a route on this information. I'll present the options to the others... I have a feeling we'll do some sort of out-and-back route 18. How long we stay on the CS trail might depend on the weather and/or sun and heat. I'll report back with any insights.

Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
If you want to check out a couple of towns, I would recommend Delhi, Andes and Bovina. <snip>
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Old 06-05-15, 03:34 AM
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Stay/start in Hunter. This is a loop I have done several times:
West on 23A to Grand Gorge
South on 30 to Arkville
East on 28 over the Highmount Pass to Big Indian
North on the cut-off to 42
42 to Lexington
East on 23A to Hunter.
Good shoulders, relatively light traffic, drivers were very courteous, roads in good condition. Not super steep, in fact most roads were relatively flat!
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Old 06-05-15, 04:29 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by rms13 View Post
I've never stayed at a hotel with a no bike policy
I've never asked; I just sneak it in and never had a problem, even when riding a tandem.
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Old 06-05-15, 05:20 AM
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In that area I've used the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel as a crash pad. It's steps from the Walkway Over the Hudson. In my experience, they don't allow bikes in the rooms. You have to leave them in the lobby hold. (And yes, I tried sneaking them through.)

Originally Posted by Trsnrtr View Post
I've never asked; I just sneak it in and never had a problem, even when riding a tandem.
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Old 06-05-15, 06:00 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
I co-author the Riding the Catskills blog, but my ride reports focus on the north and northwestern end of the Catskills. The two other co-authors, John F and John S, live farther south and do a lot of riding along the southern and eastern ends of the Catskills. Each corner has its own flavor, but they're all equally breathtaking. I haven't ridden in the two Johns' turf, so I can't comment directly, but I've done a lot of riding around my end, usually charting out dirt roads where possible. My end of the Catskills has more rolling hills, and much more farmland. The eastern end is jaggedly steep, and is more sparsely populated, with many 1000s of acres of state preservation land.

Here's a link to my posts on the blog.

...snip...
Ha, I was going to post the blog link. I had never thought about riding there, but the blog photos are pretty inspiring.

These are good: ridingthecatskills.com/category/worth-the-trip/
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