River Road is essentially New York’s equivalent to Sydney’s La Perouse, Melbourne’s Beach Road or Adelaide’s Outer Harbour. Only a few hundred metres from the bustling Palisades Parkway, it is a surprisingly quiet road and rolls for 10 to 15 kilometers before rising to a finish.
Piermont and Nyack Ride
Some riders turn back after the ranger station that marks the end of River Road, usually returning home for family commitments or because a lack of evening light; those who finish the climb in the early morning continue north along Route 9W, the nation’s most travelled bicycle route, to the quaint suburbs that lie further on. A popular coffee stop lies just past the state line between New York and New Jersey: The Market serves a revitalising drip coffee and their homemade pop tarts are tasty enough to give you the energy to burn them off on the few climbs home. A burger stop next door serves the afternoon ride crowd with juicy sandwiches and ice-cold beer.
Spinning evermore north past Nyack, the hills begin to increase in size and intensity. Along the Hudson lies one route of respite, a gravel path through the breathtaking Rockland Park. Rockland Lake is at the heart of this state park: take a lap along its serene shores and nearly car-free roads. The next stop for racers and roadies alike lies past rolling roads, turning more rural with every pedal stroke.
Bear Mountain Ride
My favourite ride outside Manhattan leads all the way to Bear Mountain. The name alone gets instant attention, and while I have yet to see any bears, they have probably seen me and heard my panting as I head up the ascent. For a year I would take 9W the whole way, passing through Piermont, Nyack and Haverstraw to the summit, not knowing about options such as Seven Lakes Drive, a better alternative that takes in said lakes and rich hinterland – especially late in the year when the trees are bursts of rosy fireworks against a sapphire sky and the falling leaves trail down like dying embers to the quiet and perfectly paved roads.
For now, I have yet to travel with a larger group on the eastern side of the Hudson. The Old Putnam Trail stretches from the Harlem River all the way to Brewster, New York: 80km of converted rail trail. Most has been pristinely paved but the spectrum starts on single-track suitable for road bikes. Some of the ties have been left in the ground to spice up the dirt path and keep you focused. I somehow manage to lose at least one bottle hitting these old, wooden ties on every ride. The gentle slopes of the path beg for waning autumn fitness; indeed, I often find myself passing through the flat Bronx underneath the elevated subway along Broadway well into October and November.