It should come as no surprise the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York are a great place to ride your bike. Like Europe’s alpine ranges of various nationalities and hosts to the Tour de France and multiple Olympic Winter Games, the Adirondack Mountains provide perfect terrain for gravity-enhanced sports such as skiing and cycling. Located in the northeastern region of New York State, the Adirondack Park has not only hosted two Olympic Winter Games, but also provides hundreds of miles of roads and trails for the cycling devotee. No stranger to top-flight international competition, it is easy to imagine a brightly colored and tightly synchronized peloton whirling through the sparsely populated 6 million acres of stunning lakes, mountains, and forests that comprise the Adirondack Park.
Although in the summer the Adirondack region is best known for fantastic hiking on countless mountain trails, and fishing, paddling, and swimming in the nearly 3,000 lakes, the sport of cycling has enjoyed a revival here over the last decade. Possibly a result of a confluence of factors such as Ironman’s presence in Lake Placid and the aging knees of baby boomers, the Adirondacks have been rediscovered as an awesome place to ride a bicycle.
Perhaps the region’s temporary fall from cycling favor simply represented a microcosm of the national decline, and now the current rise, in the popularity of cycling. The legions of cyclists who swarm the roads in and around Lake Placid starting in May of recent years leave no doubt – riding a bike is in again, especially in the Adirondacks. From the quiet roads of the western Adirondacks to the hilly and challenging Ironman Lake Placid course, to a mountain bike excursion on the trails at Whiteface Mountain, one can find almost any type of cycling terrain in this outdoor enthusiast paradise.
Among the many early season options for cyclists in the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Coast is an excellent choice for a spring road bike ride. The warmer and more moderate temperatures around Lake Champlain, versus the High Peaks Region for example, allow riders chomping at the bit to get rolling as early as April. If you think cycling along the Adirondack Coast sounds like an easy, flat ride around a lake, think again. The roads in and around Lake Champlain make frequent steep descents down to the lake and climb back up to weave through the valley’s bucolic farm country and quaint towns. When riding on the Adirondack Coast, the views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains will take your breath away as surely as the challenging terrain in and around the lake towns of Essex and Westport.
A perfect ride not far from Lake Placid that helps area locals get ready for road bike season starts 13 miles down the hill from the Village of Lake Placid, in Keene, New York. The roads are a little flatter and cleaned of road sand sooner than those in Lake Placid. The temperatures are mild enough to be noticeably warmer than those a mere 13 miles uphill. The start is in Keene and the route heads toward AuSable Forks, New York on state route 9N and follows the rushing AuSable River. In the spring, vernal pools full of noisy Spring Peepers and early breeding toads provide a sound track of deep-throated croaks and trilling peeps. This highway is nice and wide for safe riding and has unobstructed, impressive views of Whiteface and the river.
Road cycling in the Adirondacks can also be quite a thrill. If you enjoy a fast ride down, or “downhill fast,” to borrow the Lifestyle dog’s ski phrase, take the road shown in today’s featured photo, New York State Route 73, or Cascade Road. A famous section of the Ironman race course, this road weaves eight miles downhill through a narrow gap of highway that squeezes between Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains, past the Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes. A brave cyclist on road slicks can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour if she desires. As you can see in the photo, this is a very narrow highway surrounded by lovely Adirondack scenery. If you pay attention, stick to the far right, and pick a good time of day, (no traffic) this is one of the most exhilarating bike rides in the Adirondacks. To get a better point of view idea of this descent, click here for a larger version of the featured photograph.
Photograph copyright Joann Sandone Reed.