Photo of Charlie Sanborn, by Nicholas Piatek Photography.
The Catskills are two-wheel paradise, especially if you're not afraid of a few hills. Some people move here just because they love the riding; others try it out on a whim and fall in love with the quiet byways, the rush of bracing air, the sudden views, the skimming along beside a rushing brook. We asked a few people in the know to tell us their favorite rides.
Charlie Sanborn, proprietor of Cinder Track Bicycles, Livingston Manor, grew up in Orange County and moved to the Sullivan Cats specifically for the riding. “I live for this. For the hills. It's like flying a few feet from the ground -- the bike becomes part of you.”
- From Livingston Manor: De Bruce Road to Willowemoc to Pole Road to Round Pond, downhill to Frost Valley Road in Claryville, to Route 55 in Grahamsville, to Old Route 17 at Liberty and back into Livingston Manor. “Fifty miles of hills.”
- Beaverkill Road to Barkaboom Road, left at Pepacton Reservoir, cross the Pepacton at the bridge, head left toward Andes, then take NYC Route 6 into Downsville. “It's one hill climb after another, then this screaming descent into Downsville.”
- From Downsville, two choices: Route 30 to Route 206 and back down into Roscoe (“Brutal hill”) or follow 30 all the way to Roscoe and follow Old Route 17 along the Beaverkill and Willowemoc back to Livingston Manor. “There's hardly anyone there and it's spectacular. It's somewhat less hilly. The 206 option makes a 50-mile loop. Taking Route 30 all the way makes it 75.”
Joe Spooner, head mechanic, Coxsackie Bike and Sport. “We've been doing a road ride every Wednesday night for 15 years. There's tons of good biking around here. I try to mix it up depending on the mood.”
- Easier: CR 26 from West Coxsackie to Greenville and back. “It's a straight road with a 40 mph speed limit and nice flowy hills, a relaxing ride. Around 15 miles.”
- Challenging: CR 26 to CR 51, left onto Shady Lane, first right toward and onto Gedney Hill Road in Coeymans Hollow. “That whole area is great. Gedney Hill and Powell Hill (in Ravena) are the major hill climbs around here, unless you want to go to Windham Mountain, where they do the Tour de Catskills. They go right up the Devil's Kitchen, which is called that for a reason. But Powell Hill is steep. A Jeep flipped right over out there trying to stop for a school bus.”
Mike Wentland, local race promoter and founder of the Catskill Mountain Velo Club, lives in Big Indian. “We have some of the safest cycling in the country. Local drivers are already aware that they need to stay alert because of the wildlife. But be safe and prepared. There isn't a gas station on every corner...Favorite rides? Oh man, that's like favorite children.”
- Catskill Scenic Trail, a 26-mile rail trail that runs from Roxbury to Stamford
- Route 28A around the Ashokan Reservoir and across the spillway. “A great place for a family ride, nice and flat.”
- Old Route 28 (Plank Road) out and back from Phoenicia
- 50-mile loop around the Pepacton Reservoir, mostly flat with a few climbs.
- From Route 28 in Phoenicia, go up route 42 into Lexington through the notch, on Route 23A in Hunter to 214 and back down through the other notch. 50 miles.
- From Route 28, Oliverea Road from Big Indian over the mountain to Claryville, on to Grahamsville, back along Peekamoose Road to West Shokan, 28A to Boiceville. and back on Route 28. 64 miles.
Mountain biker Taylor Allison of Roxbury has been riding since age 5, racing since age 10, and earned pro bike racer status in 2011 at age 15.
- Taking it easy: “For cross country, I love the 'golf course loop' -- we ride around Shephard Hills Golf Club in Roxbury. You can do a loop in half an hour, or more than one for a workout. It's not without challenge, but it's fun.”
- Shredding shale: “Plattekill Mountain, of course -- it's where I learned. There are courses for all ability levels. I never get tired of Plattekill. It's challenging, it's scary, it's the greatest place to ride and learn.”
For more on exploring the Catskills great outdoors, see our 2013 Catskills Outdoor Guide, online here or in print at stores, restaurants and other favorite spots around the region.
Correction: The Catskill Scenic Trail runs from Roxbury to Stamford -- not through Prattsville, as we mistakenly wrote in a print version of this story in the 2013 Catskills Outdoor Guide. The online version of this story has been corrected.