By David McKay Wilson
10. North County Trailway
The 22-mile trail along the right-of-way of the Putnam branch of the NY Railroad, is one of the region’s premier off-road biking facilities. You can find it in Millwood as it crosses Route 120. As you head north, you ride peacefully through a hardwood forest, and cross the Croton Reservoir on the old railroad bridge. It connects to the 12-mile Putnam Trailway in Baldwin Place to the north, and the 23-mile South County Trailway to the south, providing safe terrain for recreational riders. If you have a good headlight, try riding it on a full moon on a warm summer’s night north to Baldwin Place and back.
9. Fun Folks to Ride with
Biking is fun for families. It’s also a blast for adults looking for weekend recreation in a sport that’s easy on those creaky middle-aged joints. Chappaqua cyclists often show up on Westchester Cycle Club rides. I’ve drafted off Lloyd Oestreicher’s wheel as I try to keep up with B-plus riders. Jeff Moscowitz and I joined a group on a 100-mile ride from Putnam up through Dutchess County last spring. A few years back, Kevan Full and I met early one morning to commute by bike to work–I ended up on Gannett Drive in Harrison while he kept going on to Stamford.
8. Discovering Chappaqua on Two Wheels
Riding the roads of Chappaqua lets you experience the place from a new perspective. Breathe the fresh spring air pedaling across Kipp Street. Glimpse the irises and day lilies blooming in late May at Rocky Hills on Old Roaring Brook Road. Cruise along Campfire Road, marveling at the serpentine stone wall that follows the roadway. Ride to town to pick up a book at the library. Or ride your bike down to the train station for your morning commute. It cuts the planet’s carbon footprint, and gets your blood flowing–before work and on your ride home.
7. Julio Bicycles
The shop at 45 South Bedford Rd. has been around since 1989, when Julio Sierra decided to provide service and sales for central Westchester’s bike lovers. When Julio is home in Uruguay, you’ll find his son, Willy, and Pete Ceretta at the shop, which has kids bikes with training wheels, full-suspension mountain bikes, and high-end carbon bikes from manufacturers such as Scott, Litespeed and Marin. Bring your bike to Julio’s each spring to get it tuned up. Julio’s can outfit you in the latest cycling fashion. A good pair of padded cycling shorts will improve your ride immeasurably, and bike shoes with cleats
that clip into your pedals will improve your performance.
In warm weather, cyclists gather at Julio’s at 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Mountain bikers load their bikes on racks on a car or two, and head for prime mountain-biking terrain at Graham Hills in Pleasantville or Blue Mountain in Peekskill. The road cyclists will head north on jaunts of 40 to 60 miles, taking loops up that range up into the hills of Putnam County.
6. Tazza Café in Millwood Tazza, located in the A & P shopping center in Millwood, is a great place to stop for a bathroom break or for a latte and muffin on your ride up Route 100 or along the Trailway.
5. Route 100
Route 100 was once Westchester’s go-to destination for cyclists, as they headed north from Millwood, crossing Muscoot Reservoir and heading north to Katonah along a relatively flat roadway, with broad shoulders and gorgeous views. The state DOT’s installation of rumble strips along the four-mile section, from Route 118 to Route 35, created a hazard there, but cyclists have coped, now being aware of the parked cars, and veering out into the roadway when needed through the breaks in the bumps every 500 feet, and then getting safely back on the shoulder. It’s still a great place to ride despite some of its ongoing challenges.
4. Cinco de Velo
In early May, the Westchester Cycle Club, at www.westchestercycleclub.org, holds its annual multi-level ride event, which has started from the Edith Macy Center, on Chappaqua Road in Briarcliff Manor. Riders gather at 9 a.m., go out on rides that range from 25 miles for the D riders–those are the slow pokes–to 65 miles for the A riders. They return by noon for a catered lunch. These events draw about 100 riders. If you cycle with a group, you tend to ride longer, and faster, than you might do on your own. And riding on a group ride has an added benefit for new riders– there’s someone there who knows how to change a flat.
3. Chappaqua’s Metro-North Parking Lot
It’s the perfect place to teach
your child to ride on weekends.
The expanse allows kids to get the feel for pedaling, without having to fret about crashing into a tree. It’s flat, so you don’t have to worry about them losing control on the downhill.
2. The Hills
Chappaqua has great hills. There’s the long slog up Seven Bridges from Route 100, and the many false summits on Hardscrabble, as you climb south toward Briarcliff. For a challenge, ascend McKesson Hill, or take Roaring Brook west from the Sawmill. What comes up must also come down, and I’ve hit 48 mph in a tuck descending Whippoorwill. A word of warning: be prepared for the corner at the bottom of the hill.
1. Location, Location, Location
Chappaqua is the hub for the region’s best cycling terrain. The parking lot at the Millwood A& P in 2010 was the most popular starting point for rides sponsored by the Westchester Cycle Club. In 2010, 149 of the club’s 961 rides started there. Go west into the twisting roads of Ossining and Croton. Head east for lunch in Greenwich. Go north and cruise around New York City’s reservoirs in Carmel, and return with enough time to recount your triumph over a cup of coffee at Tazza.
Freelance journalist David McKay Wilson is executive director of the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam, at www.bwawp.org.