Inaugural Shawangunk Grit Ride on November 5th in New Paltz, NY Announced
Gravel biking is all the rage! The Mohonk Preserve has designed a 50-mile epic ride that will take adventure-seeking cyclists through the historic system of carriage roads lacing through the historic 8,000-acre preserve in the Shawangunks!
The Inaugural Shawangunk Grit Ride is named to represent the unique bedrock geology of the ridge, which is made of Shawangunk Conglomerate, or “Grit,” — beloved by rock-climbers for its sturdiness. The material was also used to make millstones at the turn of the twentieth century — some of which can be still found on the land today.
Slated to begin at 8 a.m. on November 5, this fundraising ride will allows cyclists to choose from two distances, 23.3 and 50.4 miles. The riders have to be done by the time the sun sets.
The staging area for the gravel ride (with all proceeds going to benefit the host not-for-profit land conservation organization) will be the Ulster County fairgrounds. There’ll be more than enough parking spaces. It’ll also be a fine setting for the celebratory after-party.
“We’ve been talking about doing this for four or five years,” said events coordinator Tom Leader. “We’ve always known that there’s been an interest in our local bike community for us to do a big ride on the ridge, and now seemed like the right time.”
Leader noted that gravel races are popping up all over the country. “Most of these races or events are not totally on gravel or trails,” he said. “Fifty percent or less of most of the existing ‘gravel bike’ rides are on roads or other paved surfaces. Ours is 99 percent dirt carriage roads and some single-track trails.”
The remaining one percent in this case is the ride from the fairgrounds on Libertyville Road in New Paltz to the Testimonial Gatehouse — a little over a mile. The riders are off-road the rest of the way.
Mountain bikes, gravel bikes and cross-bikes are all welcome. This event is not a race. There will be no prizes, but those who want to post the fastest segments on Strava can. It’s also an event for those who simply want to bike with friends and enjoy the natural beauty of the Shawangunk Ridge.
Do not bring a road bike.
The longer option allows riders to make their way up to the Skytop Tower at the Mohonk Mountain House, a rare treat because cycling along that specific carriage road to the top of the ridge is typically prohibited. If the skies are clear, participants who make it up to Skytop will have a million-dollar view of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains, along with the magical mountain house and resort itself. Maybe the far-away Adirondacks,
The rest of the ride will pass through the century-old-plus stone gatehouse, through meadows and farmland, past ponds and streams, through pine forests and oak forests, and along the ridge itself. It is a challenging enough ride, no matter what distance you pick, with upwards of 4000 feet of climbing.
There is a 300-person limit. Two weeks after the event was posted, more than half of the spots are filled.
There will be fully stocked aid stations along the ride and “a big party afterwards with food and beer and a band,” said Leader. The party will take place at the Field of Dreams pavilion directly across the road from the fairgrounds.
If you’re not sure how your bike may fare on this course, or you need an upgrade, there are plenty of local bike shops, including The Bicycle Rack and The Bike Depot, both in the Village of New Paltz, as well as Revolution Bikes in Kingston, TRT Bikes in Rosendale, and Overlook Bikes in Woodstock.
Registration is $100 for the 23.3-mile loop and $125 for the 50.4-mile loop.
For details on registration, pickup times and all other Shawangunk Grit info, go to https://www.mohonkpreserve.org/grit/ and sign up for this first annual event.
You will be able to say you were there back in 2022 when gravel biking was in its infancy. “We rode real bikes then,” you will be able to say, “not these solar-powered wind-streamed shenanigans you kids call bikes now.”