The best group rides start slowly enough to allow riders to drift forward and backward among the group, introducing themselves to one another, exchanging civilities, and appreciating the opportunity they’ve seized, but end with the comfort of old friendship accelerated through the shared experience of suffering.
Everyone was excited about the long day ahead and the fortunate turn of weather. “It’s nice to get out of the city,” and yeah “we got the perfect day for it.”
It wasn’t long, the first 10 or 15 miles moving under us easily, that we were climbing and peoples’ muffled breathing replaced chit chat. It was hot, and bright. Jerseys started to turn a slightly darker shade in spreading Rorschach patterns. At the top, everyone was thinking that it wasn’t so bad and we were off towards 6 smaller rolling hills and the penultimate climb of the day in Bash Bish Falls State Park at mile 60.
The expertly designed course rolled in and out of rural towns, idyllic farm land, and untouched forests until we reached Bash Bish. Here, the State Park carried us up 2,000 ft. The climb had a few steps where the gradient flattened out and we were offered respite, or for the pessimist, teased rest. Winding up under the dense Massachusetts forest, the shade kindly dropped the temperature 5 or 10 degrees. It was perfect climbing weather, passing in between patches of leaking sunlight - cool enough to conserve water, but hot enough to ride with the jersey open.
In 12 miles, Bash Bish was behind us, and we enjoyed the final 25 miles of the ride without much intention. Having no reason to save our energy, a rider would jump forward every now and again to let off a little bit of what’s left from a long day.
The ride back to the Metro North station in Wassaic brought us through a series of dirt & gravel roads. Each with its own ingredients; some were mostly dirt with large half-buried stones, others were smooth, dusty white, others were carpet covered with small rocks that pushed tires out of their way. Whatever their style, the dirt and gravel roads are the best parts of any ride, requiring more attention and bringing us further from modernity and our normal existence.
But just as we were gloating about the beauty and design of the Bash Bish climb, and the variety of dirt and gravel, we discovered the real highlight of the ride. 15 miles from the finish, the gravel road opened up and brought us to a lake, or a pond, or maybe a reservoir. Ripping off our cycling shoes, helmet, and jersey we climbed to the top of a small shed on the bank and took turns jumping off into the most refreshing water I’ve possibly ever experienced.
Our wet bib shorts began to dry after a few miles of descent, and were stale again by the time we hit the Rail Trail, marking the end of our day. The refresh of the New England water was quickly matched and paired with four large pizzas passed among new and old friends at Four Brothers Pizza in Amenia. Slices disappear and someone finally killed the last of the veggie pie. We said good bye and were back to our normal lives.
And just like that we were back, driving towards New York City just an hour after swimming in that magical water, two hours after gently climbing to the top of Bash Bish, three hours from cold deli pickles in Copake, four hours after being chased up Hilltop Rd by an angry dog, and just five hours after our first dirt road climb.
150 K | 6,800 Ft | 1 Angry Dog | 6 missed turns | 2 Flat Tires | 4 Large Pizzas
Once again - bravo
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- like-rocks--in---riots said: What beautiful places… * remind me of France * :) …
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- corkgrips said: oh, so that’s why cows can’t walk down stairs..
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- jamesnord said: very well done #summerfeel
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