I enjoyed my drive to the park along Peekskill Hollow road planning my gearing and efforts mentally on the rolling terrain. I ride this road often on training rides and know where to relax and roll or pound and give that extra to crest most of the rollers on the big ring. This 75-mile ride was topping off my preparation for an upcoming cyclesportif that will cover 100k. My plan was to use the middle section to simulate my near race conditions in two weeks.
But first there was the sign in and friendly faces of the volunteers registering riders and handing out t-shirts and water bottles before the ride. The lot was a little down in cars this year from last and I can only guess the rainy days leading up to the event caused people to pass on what turned out to be a perfect day for a long ride.
As I was pumping up my tires and getting ready to roll I saw the Tock family doing the same. It was terrific to see the four of them getting ready together and riding as a family. Joe, the father was going over last minute instructions with his wife, Jean, daughter Stephanie, 15, and youngest son Greg, 12. Joe had done the ride before with his older son, but this was the first Tour de Putnam for the rest of the family.
A few minutes later I was on my bike and heading down Gypsy Trial Road to Route 301 to catch up to the Tock family and snap a few images as I settled into my four-plus-hour ride. Oh the excitement of youth I thought as I saw Greg leading the family in front of his mother, but I first passed Stephanie who was just in front of her father, who was enjoying seeing his family up the road. He told me. “Putnam is an even more beautiful location when you are pedaling and can truly enjoy the sites.” They proudly completed the 15-mile loop and he and his wife hope this becomes an annual family event.
Route 301 is a big rolling road with some traffic, which gave the cyclists plenty of room and respect. There’s some difficult climbs between the ponds and lakes up to Clarence Fahnstock Memorial State Park. It was here I said hello to one of the few tandems in the ride being piloted by Donald Gambino and stoked by Peter Karlin during their 50-mile loop. Don said this, ” It’s fun riding a tandem, fun to converse with other friendly riders we passed along the course, and a great way for training teammates and spouses to get a great workout — together. Oh, and did I say we go fast?! We coasted down into Cold Spring at 52.8 mph.”
The 50 and 100 mile routes took you down into Cold Spring while the 75-mile route turned left onto Dennytown road, the easy way as the club riders in the area like to say. Heading from 301 is mostly down a big fast down hill where 40mph is easy to exceed. The reverse climb is one of the more difficult hills in the area and a real test of your climbing abilities.
Next up is a rest stop, which is one of many. Here I snapped a photo of the volunteers and saw a riding buddy, Clint who I joined for a few miles as I wound up my pace to test my fitness on Peekskill Hollow Road. This road is a perfect hard rolling road to keep your speed up for a long stretch ending with a challenging climb near its finish.
The next climb was on the narrow Boyds Road which is also a favorite as it turns into Nimham Road. This year they added a few extra rest stops along the way, but one of the bigger stops for the longer routes is at White Pond, a picturesque and tranquil Putnam spot.
Now you head into a small section of Dutchess as you work over to Patterson before dropping down to Brewster. Along this section I come up behind riding friends David Morkal and his son Sam. David proudly wears his NYFD cycling jersey in such events while his Son rode in his team kit. Sam is 13 and New York State Road champion in his age bracket. He’s also getting stronger every time I see him. Today they set out for Sam’s first ride over 55 miles and t o get ready for the Golden Apple next weekend. Sam and I enjoyed some friendly competition on the hills a week or so ago and did so again Sunday. He’s a terrific climber and one day wants to race as a pro. I hope when I’m sixty on club ride I can tell the stories of being able to beat him up a hill years ago while he’s racing in the Tour, de France that is. He’s got the stuff to make it happen. About this time I was done my long interval work and was ready to make a stop to hydrate. I was getting a few cramps from the effort and we needed a rest. I also took my new magic cramp relief pill, a Rolaids before we headed out for the last 15 miles.
I planned on relaxing a little and pushing the last 8-miles or so again, but didn’t really have the power on the climbs. So Sam and I relaxed a little as we enjoyed the fast twisty descent on Dixon Road back to 301.
I was still holding a 21 or 22 mph on the flats with Sam in my draft as we headed back up Gypsy Trail Road and the gentle climb to the park. We pushed each other to the lot with me hitting it hard before the entrance and Sam dropping me as we made our way on the park road. My average was a respectable 18mph.
I want to give a shout out to Ben Kaufman who is a faithful Cycling Central reader who I hoped to meet. We missed each other unfortunately but I’m happy to report he enjoyed the 50-mile route. Here’s a comment from his LoHud personal blog. “My main concern was how I would be feeling towards the end of the ride. Last year, having never done anything over 35 miles before, I had used too much of my strength too soon and I was battling bad leg cramps and praying for the finish line. This year, thanks partially to a heart rate monitor, I learned to pace myself much better, and even though I experienced a few cramp twitches towards the end of the ride, at the finish I felt that I still had a few more miles in me (hmmm, already thinking of doing the 75 miler next year). ” Ben, next year I’ll be happy to be your domestique.
One of the nicest things about a ride like the Tour de Putnam is the lunch waiting and friendly faces of the volunteers serving you. Thanks to Valerie Hickman, director of the Putnam County Visitors Bureau who has helped put on this event for the past twelve years and is looking forward to the thirteenth next year. Also thanks to all the volunteers manning the SAG wagons, radio stations, and rest stops who make the riders day safe and enjoyable. Thanks to the cyclists who rode safely and respectfully of the motorists and to the motorists who respected our rights to the road.
Putnam has a jewel of an event here and more people should participate, so if any of your readers want a great cycling event and like to pick their own distance, just remember that Peter & I recommend one that has cheerful volunteers, food, well-marked course turns, and a picnic feast at the end. I plan on riding the Tour de Putnam again next year! Said Donald Gambino.
See you next year.