Catskills bike tour

Back in July 2018, when I had a week off between my OBGYN and Psychiatry rotations, I decided to act on a long-time dream and go on a multi-day cycling trip. The trip was a 4 day tour from Brooklyn to the Catskills and back. This post is my attempt to remember how it went and what I can do next time to make things go more smoothly! I’ll go chronologically and add as many pictures as I can.

The bike

I picked up this used GT Tachyon 1991 on craigslist for about $200.

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The GT Tachyon was a short-lived bike produced in 1990-1991 (and later revived), built as a gravel hybrid bike before gravel bikes were cool. They didn’t sell well at all, despite being pretty high performance bikes. They definitely had some cool features. The fork has horizontal dropouts that let you move the front wheel forwards and backwards to adjust the handling. The drivetrain is one of the last Suntour accushift setups ever made, before Suntour was sold and became the relatively low-quality brand it is today. There are dropouts all over the place for mounting hardware.

But getting it ready to ride took a lot of work. First, the tires were old and the sidewalls were failing, so I had to get new tires. But the rims are size 700D, a failed standard of the 1990s that is close but slightly different from 650b. So I had to build up a new wheelset around 650b rim-brake compatible rims, which are shockingly hard to find. Velo-Orange came through, but I also had to get new spokes and build the wheels by hand, a learning experience for sure. I also added a new BB, new brakes, new cables, new bar tape, and a new saddle. Here she is all built up:

The Trip

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My route took me out of Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge, then up 9w towards Bear Mountain. The view from the GWB is always something. I always forget how long Manhattan is, but from up here you can really tell why it takes over an hour to get out of the city.

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Along route 9w there is a former gas station turned cafe that is a huge cycling pit stop. I even bumped into another tourer there! Here are our bikes.

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My route then took me up by West Point and Storm King up to Schunnemunk park, where I camped for the night. The sunset caught me a little by surprise and I had to set up camp in the dark.

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The next day brought me through rural NY on my way out towards the catskills. The views were incredible. I loved this train bridge, which seemed to go on forever. The bummer of the day was that I was crossing into the Appalachians, and had some grueling climbs. I didn’t have the gearing to handle them, so I was either standing and cranking away at 40rpm, or walking.

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The bummer of the day was that I was crossing into the Appalachians, and had some grueling climbs. I didn’t have the gearing to handle them, so I was either standing and cranking away at 40rpm, or walking. Here’s the view from the top of one such climb, where a vet had set up a hot dog cart. The hot dog was incredible after about 45 minutes of some of the hardest climbing of my life.

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I forgot to mention that it was also over 100 degrees F every day during my tour, so water was a precious thing. Unfortunately, I started to run low on the second day, and had to call it quits early. I set up camp along the Rondout Reservoir, up on a sparsely wooded hill. A good piece of advice for stealth camping is that it’s easier to walk further in sparse woods than to walk a short distance in dense woods. There was a nearby creak with clean water where I washed out my clothes (and myself). This was my favorite campsite for sure.

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Here’s the view from the top of the reservoir:

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The next day involved climbing my way back into Bear Mountain, where I would spend my last camping night. There was a taco bell on the way there, where I impulsively bought a taco 12 pack. One of the best parts of bike touring is the amount of shameless eating you can do. I made it through 1012 tacos by the end of the day.

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My legs got pretty gnarly along the way, from road grime, sweat, bugs, etc. Here they are for reference.

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And this is my campsite in Bear Mountain. Found a nice little spot along a decommissioned backroad out to Lily Pond. This was probably the easiest spot to get to, since I could ride most of the way there. But I did get a flat tire from it, easily repaired but a pain in the butt.

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The last day took me from Bear Mtn to NYC. This is a ride I had done many times, and I had the whole day to do it so I could go at my own pace. Here’s a picture of my bike outside my apartment. It was a beautiful day and a great way to cap off my first tour.

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And that’s it! First bike tour on the books. I went on to sell the bike, since it was a little too large on me. But I used the money to pick up a Surly Disc Trucker around the same time, for next time I get the travel bug.

 
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