After a really nice evening in Kingston, we got another early start on Saturday morning, around 6:45. We had a 95 mile day ahead of us, to Elmsford, a little town in Westchester County and close to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. I’d declared last year that we would not be doing anymore long days like that, but we were just unable to find a place to stay between Kingston and Westchester County at a more reasonable distance. The good thing was that we knew we were to be riding on trails nearly 100% of the time on Saturday, and the weather forecast was good.
We left our (cheesy-do-your-own-vacuuming) hotel and rode away on the quiet Saturday morning streets, greeting a couple of other cyclists as we made our way quickly back to the Hudson River Valley Trail. The trail surface was what the Empire State Trail calls “stonedust” – a well packed natural trail surface through the woods. We headed south towards New Paltz (Kingston is on the west side of the Hudson and we eventually had to cross over again to the east.) The trail went through Rosendale’s natural cement mines, now abandoned, but impressive, with their “room and pillar” structures, and then crossed the Walkill River over an old railroad trestle bridge, one of the best views we had on the entire trip.
We were really looking forward to crossing the Hudson on the “Walkway Over the Hudson”, a 1.5 mile bridge devoted to pedestrians and bikers. On the east side of the bridge was Poughkeepsie and we were to continue on to the east and south, riding over the northernmost stretch of the Appalachian range. We noticed immediately that we were climbing…for a loooong time. The weather was a bit gray and even cooler, as if we were feeling the higher elevation. We were reading signs about “mountain railroading” and, at one point, crossed the Appalachian Trail. (The last time we saw the AT, was last summer’s trip to DC, when we crossed it at Harper’s Ferry.)
The good thing about riding over a range of even small mountains is that you get to go down on the other side. We wanted to get to Brewster, which was about 60 or so miles into the day, as early as possible. I was following the mileage on my bike computer and still wondering exactly where we were, as the EST doesn’t do a great job of posting signs with distances to upcoming towns, and there were very few towns and services on this section. But as we began rolling downhill, I started feeling really good about our progress, and was hoping that we were doing ok.
We finally rolled into a little town and I stopped to ask a fellow what the name of the town was and after hesitating a bit (I’m not sure he was a native, and certainly not familiar with cycling) said it was Brewster and I was jubilant. It was about 1:30 and we only had about 30 miles to get to Elmsford. We stopped for lunch at a Mexican cafe on main street, and there were at least a few other cyclists there, including a pair of young men who were through cycling the other direction. The lunch was great and I was pretty relaxed, as I was positive now that we’d make it on our long day into suburban New York City on the North County Trail, which seemed to be designed to roll downhill all the time.
True to tradition, about a mile or two outside of Elmsford, Lisa had a flat tire. I’d ridden ahead a bit and then stopped to wait for her and a guy came by, slowed to say something to me and even before he started to talk, I knew what was coming, and I was clicking in to return to her. I got back to her (making my day a righteous 100 miler), fixed the tire and we rode into Elmsford.
We have stayed in some pretty sketchy hotels on our trips, and we’d planned on staying at a Motel 6 in Elmsford, saving our pennies for the next night, the lovely Bryant Park Hotel in Manhattan. But after our experience in Kingston, we’d decided to upgrade (not to anything really fancy, but at least to one that we were pretty sure would be reasonably clean – a Hampton Inn.) As we left the trail to ride uphill on streets to the Hampton Inn, we rode right by the Motel 6, and were REALLY happy that we’d made the change. We got to the hotel and cleaned up, then Ubered to an Italian restaurant nearby. We had a great meal in this very authentic New York Italian place, where the owner, an elderly lady, polished glasses behind the bar, and came over to chat with us. At a nearby table, a couple guys were talking business and apparently doing some accounting. It was Saturday night and the place reminded us of something out of the Godfather. The food was great.
We Ubered back to the hotel and not even the huge party taking place on the first floor could keep us from a great night’s sleep in that king sized bed.