It’s been great to watch the bicycle revolution amping up in NYC with the launch of Citibike, but it’s also nice to get the hell out of dodge and escape to a more tranquil place- upstate NY, where begriming is not quite in the daily lexicon yet (but I’m working on that).
Just 80 miles north of NYC, you can pick up the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and begrime yourself all the way from Wassaic (last stop on Metro North Harlem Line) to Millerton car-free for nearly 11 miles. And they love people on bikes and the All Powerful Bicycle Lobby up here. The Harlem Valley Rail trail has been a boon to the local economy.
On Saturday afternoons in Millerton, if you time it right you can enjoy some good fun and music jams with the amazing Berkshire Stompers. And you can even join in- that’s my friend Roger playing the cowbell.
Millerton is a bike friendly town and many of the locals get around by bike. Hell, it’s a friendly town no matter what. Just leave your pretensions behind and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
Both Dutchess and Columbia County are farming communities. Columbia County is known for it’s dairy farms, but there are also a plethora of horse farms up here. It’s a ritual for me to stop and say ‘hi’ to these beauties.
And you never know who or what you’ll see as you travel these roads. Like these guinea hens out for a stroll.
My little getaway upstate is on top of a mountain. I won’t lie that I hate getting the bike up the mountain (no shame in pushing instead of pedaling). But once you’re on top of the mountain it’s the most amazing feeling on earth. From where I took the photo above, I can see across the valley all the way to the Catskills. (See my header picture- yes, that’s the view)
And when I have time to spare, I always love going for a joyride through the valley. Best reason to do so is to visit friends about 9 miles north of the homestead.
It’s a peaceful ride. At times it can be meditative. I always find a new perspective, even though I’ve pedaled this road many times and through all seasons.
When I came across Rakesh working on the roof top of a new structure, my curiosity was peaked. I noticed he was wearing a robe so I politely tried to figure out why. Turns out that he is Hindu. I asked if he might be building a temple. Silly me. Rakesh smiled and gestured over the gorgeous view of the valley floor and replied “Temple? THIS is our temple.” I couldn’t agree more.
As you can see from the pictures, the ride is pretty uneventful. Unless you take account of the serenity and beauty of the surroundings. I rarely encounter cars on this back road. When I do, most of the time they give me wide berth and the drivers even smile and wave at me as they pass. Kind of nice. No. Really nice.
The nice thing about being upstate is that there is a trust and a deep sense of community. It’s not uncommon to see farm stands or just offerings from farmers where payment (or nonpayment) is based on the honor system.
The whole point of my joyride was to see my bestest buddy Shorty. She’s one smart cookie and a pistol to boot. Usually, she likes to show off her bike riding skills to me, but it was a hot one that day so she was content to splash in the pool with her little bro “H” and keep me entertained. I can attest they did a pretty good job.
Shorty & “H’s” dad knew I was having a little trouble with the possums & bears up on the mountain, so he taught me how to shoot a gun for the first time. Mission accomplished, and I couldn’t resist a photo op for a good friend in Portland. (and well, for some more good friends across the world)
And at the end of the day, you go home. You look up at the sky and see all the possibilities in life. If you’re like me, you dream big. In life, we’re all just trying to get from one place to the next. Shouldn’t we make it easier for everyone to get where they’re going?
Just ride. Discover the possibilities