Yes, it’s Gravel Week here on Bike Snob NYC, and even though I was joking about that when I mentioned it yesterday we might as well just stay with the theme.
While I myself do not currently own what the bicycle industry and media typically call a “gravel bike,” I have two bikes that are well-suited to omnivorous terrain consumption: my Rivendell, and my Jones. With my seventeen (17) children now enrolled in a day camp where they each receive $.05 per hour to assemble smart watches (hey, don’t scoff, with seventeen (17) kids that really adds up!), I finally have time to undertake rides of longer than 20 miles, and so I grabbed the Jones and headed straight for the newly-opened bike path on the
Tappan Zee Mario Cuomo Bridge:
I’ve explained the deal with this bridge before, but here’s a recap: the Tappan Zee Bridge is approximately 20 miles north of New York City. It spans the Hudson (which at this point is more of a sea than a river, and indeed “Zee” is Dutch for sea), connecting the towns of Tarrytown to the east and Nyack to the west. Nyack in particular is a town of great significance to the velocipedists of the region since it’s basically the default destination for all the New York City Freds, Fredericas, and Tridorks, who trudge there and back all weekend long.
Until this year, the only practical way to ride from New York City to Nyack was the George Washington Bridge, because the Tappan Zee Bridge did not have a bike or pedestrian path. (In 1955 when it was originally built nobody could conceive of wanting to ride a bicycle over a bridge.) However, a few years ago New York State built a new Tappan Zee Bridge, dubbed it the Mario Cuomo Bridge, and blew the old bridge up. The new bridge has a bike and pedestrian path, which finally opened a just a few weeks ago. This means there’s now a whole new way to reach the fertile cycling lands that lie west of the Hudson. It’s especially convenient for me, since until now if I wanted to ride up that way I had to first travel south to the George Washington Bridge, which for a busy parent with seventeen (17) children often feels like more trouble than it’s worth.
Given all that, I was excited for my first ride over the bridge, and it did not disappoint:
I know you’re supposed to read these sorts of things bottom-to-top, but I can never, ever do that; try as I might it always registers top-to-bottom. That means I see this as “Ahead Hump Speed Slow,” which is simply confusing, as opposed to “Slow Speed Hump Ahead,” which is promisingly erotic.
The new path has observation decks along its length. I don’t know exactly how many, and I’m not going to look it up for you because I didn’t become a semi-professional bike blogger to do work. They’re pretty nice though, and they even successfully support the ample weight of my Jones:
Here’s the view looking north:
I could practically see Canada, and in case they could see me too I gave them the finger.
The observation decks are cantilevered out from the path:
Pffft! Cantis. Brand-new bridge and it’s already obsolete.
Arriving in Rockland County, I was amazed that I had the choice of either pavement or gravel!
New York City is a progressive state, so I can only assume this is to coddle those darn millennials who insist on being able to choose their genders and their pronouns and their riding surfaces and everything else. By the way, if you’re wondering which pronouns I prefer, please address me as “that motherfucker.” (As in: “If that motherfucker keeps talking about pronouns and gender then that motherfucker’s gonna get cancelled.”) I suppose as soon as I finish this post I should go put that in my Twitter bio for the avoidance of confusion.
Now, I should say that, while Nyack is probably the most popular cycling destination in the area, it’s not the town I was interested in visiting–after all, I can get a hairy muffin anywhere. No, I was much more interested in checking out some of the mountain bike trails in the area, which I’d never explored since getting there via the George Washington Bridge involves the sort of saddle time I haven’t had since before my kids were born. However, thanks to the new bike path after only 20 miles I found myself here:
My foray into the woods was fairly brief, but not only were the trails expertly maintained:
But they were also very well marked:
And while 20 miles may seem like a long way to ride for some mountain bike trails, there’s a dirt trail (the Old Croton Aqueduct) that takes me almost all the way from my house to the bridge, which means I can now undertake all sorts of unpaved jort-tastic moderate-length adventures.
After knocking around for a bit on the wrong side of the river I headed back over the bridge and took a little rest on the Westchester side:
Amenities for cyclists include a repair station, an e-bike rental stand, a water fountain, and a vendor who will sell you a really expensive cookie:
When you see “vegan” and “gluten free” together you figure you might as well just eat your patch kit, but it was actually pretty good.
Still, I kept it downmarket with my beverage:
Anyway, this path definitely has its problems: it’s too narrow, its closed at night, and they don’t let you ride on it when it rains, which is just plain crazy. Even so, it’s a hell of a lot better than what was there before, which is nothing, and it unlocks a whole lot of new riding for that motherfucker known as your’s truley.
And in the end, isn’t that what’s most important?