City cyclists are lucky in that some of the popular riding destinations just happen to result in making memorable ride distances. Ride to River Road and many will have done at least a 30 mile ride. Piermont and you’ve done at least 40 miles by the time you return to the city. Roundtrip to Nyack is typically at least 50. And riding to the top of Bear Mountain and back is at least 100.
100 is one of those magic numbers. A century, be it metric or imperial, seems like a lot. It is.
Too many people make the ride to Bear Mountain boring. Ride up 9W all the way, ride down 9W all the way. Yawn. There are so many roads to avail oneself of that there are many ways to get in a century while riding to Bear and back. This route is one of them.
I like this ride for many reasons. So much different. There are lots of turns, but each turn reveals a different neighborhood, scene, world. Steep climbs, gentle climbs, descents you’d wish could last all day, lakes, rivers, reservoirs.
Prepare for this ride. Not just in terms of fitness, but in terms of what you take with. Two bottles are a minimum, and you might want to stock some extra powder as well. I try to bring an energy bar’s worth of calories (~200) to eat for each hour of the ride. Six hours=six bars. Dress for the weather for all day. Sunscreen. Make sure your tires are in good shape and you’ve got tools for mishaps. Money. I’ve noted many places where you can stop for food and drink. On cooler days, it might not be so important. On hot days, essential.
Also know that Perkins Memorial Drive, the dead-end road that climbs to the Bear summit, is typically closed in the winter months. There’s a gate across the road preventing cars from accessing the road. Not that it stops hikers or cyclists. Still, realize that by closing the road, park officials are making clear that you should have no expectation that they’re taking care of the road in the winter, aka not necessarily plowing to clear snow from the road. If you come across snow, it’s a sign you might want to turn back–road tires don’t do well descending on snow.
For the first-timers.
Everyone has a first century in them. The first century can be daunting, no matter your fitness level, no matter where the route takes you. The (possibly sad) truth is that just about anyone can ride 100 miles with enough time, food, and water. Still, for that first time, it can be a confidence boost to have some bail-out contingency plans. For example, if you make it to Bear but believe your body can’t make it home, opt to head over the Bear Mountain Bridge and ride over to Peekskill, where you can take a Metro-North train home. If you’re feeling better, but not great at the summit, think about getting a sandwich at the first deli stop after Bear (it’s listed in the PDF)
Particulars (The Bear Mountain Ride)
Start: NJ Side of the GWB Bike Path.
Finish: NJ Side of the GWB Bike Path.
Going through: Bergen, Rockland counties.
Distance: 98.0 miles
Includes: A PDF with intelligence and a GPX file to upload to your bike computer or mobile device. A how-to can be found here. The PDF prepares you for the route and can be glanced at, printed out and/or uploaded to your mobile device. The GPX is to be uploaded into your bike computer or mobile device so you can let the machine give you the directions as you ride along.