Category Archives: Local Bike Rides

A Mystery at Schuyler Flatts

While snooping around the new cycle track in Watervliet (see Cycle Track in Watervliet – Update 9-8-20)  and winding back to Broadway/Rt 32, we came across a curious sign at the “dead end” at the southern terminus of Broadway. Clearly, this sign was placed with some intent. The google street view (image dated 2007) DOES NOT show the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (MHBHT) signs. The Village of Menands notes that “The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path.” Maybe there are yet more signs to be found in the park!

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The sign attests to continuation of both the Erie Canalway Trail and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Why is it there? What was the plan? Where does it lead?

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Mystery Sign

Close Up – Mystery Sign

Option 1 – If south-bound riders on the Empire State Trail/Erie Canalway Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail were unfamiliar with the connection of Broadway in Watervliet to the I-787 underpass leading to the MHBHT south to Albany or had just missed the turn, they could follow the sign into the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. The park shows clearly in the photograph. After some considerable confusion, the riders might have headed south on Broadway/Rt 32 searching for more MHBHT trail signage – a futile search indeed. It would be one group of confused cyclists! (If there is any signage for the MHBHT/Corning Riverfront Park on southbound Broadway, it is well hidden.) On the following map, use the dark blue trail and the red making on Broadway.

Schuyler Broadway Route Map

OPTION 2 – South-bound riders who wanted to get to Broadway/Rt 32 would find this sign very welcoming. Following it, they would avoid the traffic and intersections on Rt. 32 in Watervliet and would, instead, have a pleasant ride through the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Following the paved path through the park, riders would exit onto Broadway at Village One Apartments/Schuyler Inn. While there is no active traffic control at this intersection, there is a well-marked pedestrian crossing with blinking caution lights. Riders then could proceed south on Broadway’s wide shoulders either to immediately leave for the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” after 2/10 miles or to continue south on Broadway. (The “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” takes one to the bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Northern Blvd. and then to those on Clinton Ave.) This, of course, assumes that our riders are familiar with this option – leaving the MHBHT at 4th St. Those not aware of the mystery sign would have vended their way through city streets and could have reached the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park via  2nd Ave. and entered the park on Schuyler Ln.

OPTION 3 – Really sophisticated riders who were planning on the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” or who merely wanted to visit the park, would have left the MHBHT at 8th St. and then taken an immediate left turn onto 1st Ave or onto the unmarked road just past 1st Ave. to visit the Erie Canal Lower Side Cut Lock Park. Historically minded riders would have left the park on what is now an alley between 1st Ave./2nd Ave., and 3rd Ave. and followed the filled-in prism of the original Erie Canal to Schuyler Ln. and the Flatts. There are a couple uncertain spots on this route, but the perseverant rider will enjoy tracing the canal from the US Army Watervliet Arsenal to Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park and the preserved remnant of the original canal.

Option 4 – Riders who got to 4th St. at the I-787 underpass (leading to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail south to Albany) could also brave the almost unride-able Schuyler Flatts Trail to the Flatts. They could hop the curb just after the left turn toward the Hudson River and follow the very scenic trail to its end at Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Sadly, this trail has been essentially abandoned with poor or misleading signage, broken pavement, and falling fencing. See the dark blue trail in the park and along the trail to 4th St. to follow the “Option 4” route.

Schuyler Flatts Route Map

More on the Schuyler Flatts Cultural ParkSchuyler Flatts Cultural Park – Located on Rt 32 between Menands and Watervliet in the Town of Colonie, this 12-acre park opened in fall 2002 on what was once the farm of the Schuyler family. The Schuyler farm was a staging area for revolutionary war encampments. Prior to this, it was the site of a Mohican summer encampment.

The area has great historical and archeological significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path. The park itself is a tranquil, wide-open green space for strolling and picnicking. A notable feature is a replica of a Dutch barn, testimony to the extensive (and lasting) presence of the settlers from the Netherlands. Of perhaps of more interest to the Erie Canalway Trail rider is the preserved prism of the original “Clinton’s Ditch” Erie Canal located just along Broadway. Tracing imaginary lines north and south from this point, will bring one to the canal’s former route along the Hudson-Mohawk Animal Shelter and then to “Canal Rd. S.” and Erie Blvd. in Albany. North will take you to the Watervliet alley and the Lower Side Cut Lock (see more in Option 3 above).

The Erie Canal was 363 miles long and included 18 aqueducts (to carry the canal over ravines, streams, and rivers) and 83 locks (with a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie). The cross-section or “prism” of the original Erie Canal was 4 feet deep, 40 feet wide at the water surface, and 28 feet at the bottom. It floated boats carrying 30 tons of freight. There was a 10-foot wide towpath along the bank of the canal for the horses (for packet boats) or mules (for cargo barges).

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Filed under Comings and Goings, Erie Canal Trail, Local Bike Rides, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Trail Network, Watervliet

Get Out and Ride While the Leaves are Falling

While COVID-19 has eliminated or moderated several bicycle-related activities, the fine early fall weather provided plenty of opportunities for social distanced rides. Looking ahead, there is some nice riding in late fall and winter whether for recreation/exercise or errands/work. Here are a few riding tips to encourage your riding and to keep you safe:

  • Check your lights front and rear. “Too many lights” are just about right in the low light, fall and winter conditions. Your lights are to make you visible (both day and night), but also to avoid those hidden ruts, potholes, and bumps in the street. Road debris at night is another hazard which good front lighting will help you avoid.
  • Add a helmet or head-mounted lamp to help see those potholes, debris, etc. at night. While a front light in blink mode makes people more aware of your presence, the headlamp helps you see obstacles. The advantage of a headlamp is that when you move your head, the light goes with you. When on trails with little or no street lighting, both the headlamp and front light (in steady mode) will light the path.
  • Replace the batteries. Keep your re-chargeables charged.
  • Have someone view your bicycle from behind in the dark with the lights “on.” Ensure that your gear or clothing does not block the light beams (front and rear) and that the rear light(s) aim toward following vehicles.
  • Spoke lights or spoke reflectors are both fun and provide visibility from the side.
  • Watch other people on bicycles and judge their visibility index as a guide to improving your own.
  • Add an extra “blinky light” front and rear and use them both as nighttime supplements and as “daytime running lights.”
  • Use a helmet-mounted rear-facing light.

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  • You will probably ride safer and smarter if you are comfortable – so plan your riding gear accordingly. Think layers.
  • As you bundle up, look at your outer layer. If it is dark in color, either choose something that is not or pick up a reflective vest from your locally owned hardware or big box home center.
  • Wet leaves and snow are slippery so anticipate your stops and turns.
  • Pay special attention to puddles of water or clumps of leaves as they can mask the plentiful potholes, ruts, utility caps, and craters in the paved surface.
  • Recall that some pavement markings can also be slippery when wet or extra slippery when covered with wet leaves, snow, or ice.
  • Keep your chain clean and lubricated (especially after riding in melted slush).
  • You might want to inspect your tires for wear. You might swap the front to the rear (since the rear takes the most weight and wears quicker). If planning to ride in snow, you might invest in wider, knobby tires for better traction (if your bike accepts them).
  •  Consider reducing tire pressures from max by 5 to 10 psi for better grip.
  • Sunglasses are very important this time of year as well. With the days getting shorter, there is a greater chance you will finishing or starting a ride in low light conditions. Switch your tinted lenses to a rose or clear lens for better visibility in low light conditions.
  • When riding into that low fall sun, remember that the people in cars behind may not see you, as they also will be blinded.
  • Plan your braking and turns to avoid a spill.
  • Be mindful of slippery metal surfaces (such as utility covers and grates).
  • Fall and winter is a good time to get ready for next year’s riding with a tune up from one of our local bicycle shops. This is a good time to support your local shop and to help them over the slower winter season. November through March is good time to get that special attention from your bicycle mechanic. Find out where at – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/resources/

Other winter riding tips –

To enjoy low stress, safe cycling, plan your route with the free, interactive CapitalNYBikeMaphttps://albanybicyclecoalition.com/albany_bike_map/

To find more bicycle-related events, go to – https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/upcoming-events/  

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Filed under COVID-19, Lighting, Local Bike Rides, Rides, Winter Cycling

2018 Daily Grind Ride

A report on the 2018 Daily Grind Ride by Hugh.

“We decided to “grind it out” it out on Saturday August 18th from one Daily Grind to another.” 

     by Hugh Johnson

On August 11th it was looking as if “Mother Nature” was going to cooperate and allow for a an Albany Biking Coalition (ABC) ride from the “Daily Grind” in Albany to the one in Troy along the bike path.

Well, at the last minute, rain developed forcing the ride to be cancelled even though some rode through the rain for Daily Grind Ride -18 Part “A.”

DG Pre-Ride 8-11-18

The “A Team”

A week later, the same dilemma unfolded. This time the weather trends went from better to worse, but by Saturday morning, there was hope that we could squeeze the ride despite some gloomy forecasts.

I, being a retired NWS forecaster, put my thinking cap on and looked at lots of data. It looked to me besides a few rogue showers, we might be able to squeeze the ride in. After much discussion, we decided NOT to cancel the ride.

Most of the group, consisting of 11 bikers, met at the Daily Grind on Lark Street in Albany. However, two met with the remainder of the group at the Albany Riverfront Park boat launch. As the group left the Daily Grind, a new line of showers associated with the actual cold front blossomed to our northwest and strengthened. Luckily, the folks who rode from the Grind got down to shelter under I-787 before the big dump.

Unfortunately, there was some small faux pas, as Glenn had to swerve to avoid a biker on the wrong side of the road, taking action only to find his back tire caught in a crack. As a result, the law of physics took over. The wheel stopped the forward momentum of the bike but not the rider. As a result, Glenn took off from the seat and landed onto the road. Fortunately he was probably going less than 10 mph so while a “perfect storm” of events leading up to the minor accident, it could have been worse. He had wrapped his knee up in a Band-Aid as it was scrapped, but luckily not significantly injured. He showed up a few minutes behind the rest of the group.

It took some convincing, but I persuaded all the folks to remain under the bridge. It took some time for the really heavy rainfall to arrive but when it did, I think everyone was glad to be hunkered underneath the 787 bridge as the rain came slashing. We remained anchored for the better part of an hour until the rains finally let up. Our forecast dilemma was not over. There was yet another batch of showers trying to work toward us in the Schoharie Valley. However, I noticed our wind had shifted to the north and there was a distinct cooling compared to the earlier stifling feel to the day. I surmised the cold front had gone through and the next batch of showers would likely remain south of us.

We started, still with some light rain, and MANY puddles on the bike trail. Slowly we ambled, well maybe NOT so slowly. We got to the Rt. 378/High St. Bridge where we had to climb one of our few hills, the curvy extension from the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail to the bridge. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was still water flowing down the incline, but it was no problem getting up to the bridge. After that, we stayed on the left side of the bridge and ended up over another bridge overlooking the Wynantskill which was roaring quite a bit due to the rains (see picture).

Wyantskill 8-18-18

The Power of Troy

We regrouped, and then zig zagged our way across the still developing “Uncle Sam Trail” through the riverfront of Troy. At a brief stop, Pam talked about the Burden Iron Museum (second photo below). We did leave the trail, climbing one short but very steep hill that put us on 3rd Street and to our destination, the Daily Grind Café in Troy.

Burden Iron 8-18-18

Burden Iron Co.

We got in and had a nice brunch/lunch for half price. The staff was very friendly and the food delicious. We hung awhile with chatting away. I checked the radar again and alas, it looked as if the second batch of rain was JUST going to miss us!

We headed back to a slowly clearing sky and a refreshingly drier air mass. As a little perk, we even had a tail wind back to Albany (a north wind). The trip back saw a much drier surface, with just a few remaining standing puddles. As usual, the riders split up a little as some had to get somewhere with a deadline. Some were tired and needed to rest more. By the time we pulled into the riverfront, the sun was brightly shining leaving only a small evidence of the earlier deluge. The ride was a little over 20 miles.

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I seem to have this curse about me, the “Hughie curse.” With few exceptions, weather almost always tried to get in the way when I participate in these “organized” events. The same issue happened when I lead a Pine Bush Hike in both May and June. The May hike was washed out but we snuck the June one before it rained. Today was no exception but we won out over Mother Nature!

Our riders were Barb, Oliver, Brent (ride leader), Hugh, Glenn (road warrior), Pam (co-leader), Dana, Mark, Ed, Dick, and Lorenz.

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Filed under Local Bike Rides, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Troy Cycling, Uncle Sam Trail

Collar City Ramble – Bicycle Ride – Sat., 9/22, 12:00 PM, 2nd Ave.

Ramble Poster 2018

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by | September 18, 2018 · 1:06 pm

A Tale of Two Deaths – Ghost Bikes

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Ghost Bike

  • Edston J. Kirnon – July 22, 2017 (age 42) Bicyclist collided with side of CDTA bus, N. Pearl St., Albany
  • Roger L. Sawyer – October 19, 2017 (age 31) Bicyclist run down by SUV, Washington Ave. Ext., Albany

We went almost a year and a half without a bicycle fatality. This ended July 22, 2017 with Edston Kirnon’s fatal collision with a Capital District Transportation Authority bus on N. Pearl St. at Wilson St. This was followed in two months on October 19, 2017 by Roger Sawyer being stuck down by a SUV as he crossed Washington Ave. Ext. at Springsteen Rd. by Crossgates Commons/Walmart big box mall. Roger was on his way to work.

The FOILed Albany Police Department report states that the SUV was heading west on Washington Ave. in the left (passing) lane and that Sawyer “… turned West [left] and traveled in the left lane along the guard rail. V1 [SUV] did strike V2 [bicycle] west of the crosswalk causing the operator of V2 to strike V1.”

Ride of Silence – 11 Years – The national Ride of Silence organization has authorized ABC’s using the 10-Year Anniversary logo since we are on record as having conducted the Albany ROS each year for that period. Going back those 11 years, we have lost John J. Cummings, Robert Agne, Stephen Nolan, Brian Bailey, Matthew Ratelle, and Paul J. Merges and now Edston J. Kirnon and Roger L. Sawyer.

This year’s Ride of Silence will be on Wednesday, 5/16/18.  Meet at the Albany Riverfront Park/Row Center (Colonie St.) at 6:00 or at Capital Park-Education Building 6:30. New memorial sites at N. Pearl/Wilson Sts. and Washington Ave. Ext. (or 6-Mile Park) https://albanybicyclecoalition.com/

Please remember your fellow riders:

  • Edston J. Kirnon – July 22, 2017 (age 42) Bicyclist collided with side of CDTA bus, N. Pearl St., Albany
  • Roger L. Sawyer – October 19, 2017 (age 31) Bicyclist run down by SUV, Washington Ave. Ext., Albany
  • John J. Cummings – January 27, 2016 (age 65) Bicyclist
  • run down from behind and killed, Amsterdam Rd., Glenville
  • Robert Agne, DVM – September 7, 2015 (age 54) Bicyclist
  • killed by sleeping driver who crossed centerline, Rt. 30 Pawlet, VT
  • Stephen Nolan – June 2, 2014 (age 53) Bicyclist killed by
  • car, King & Federal Sts., Troy
  • Brian Bailey – March 11, 2014 (age 37) Bicyclist killed by truck, Route 9W, Ravena
  • Matthew Ratelle – December 20, 2012 (age 40) Bicyclist killed by impaired driver, Rt. 22, Petersburg
  • Paul J. Merges, Jr. – November 24, 2012 (age 45) Bicyclist killed by drunken driver/pickup truck, Manning Blvd. & Roosevelt St., Albany
  • Nicholas Richichi – October 19, 2007 (age 53), Bicyclist killed by motor coach, Fuller Rd., Colonie
  • Diva De Loayza – June 6, 2007 (age 40) Bicyclist killed by car, Western Ave. at Homestead Ave., Albany
  • Alan R. Fairbanks – October 29, 2006 (age 72) Bicyclist hit by car/died, Rt. 5-S at bicycle path, Rotterdam)
  • Jose Perez – August 3, 2006 (age 60) Bicyclist killed by SUV, Broadway at Quay St., Albany.
  • Joel Melnikoff – July 3, 2006 (age 49) Bicyclist killed by drunken driver, Rt. 32, Bethlehem
  • David Ryan – June 29, 2004 (age 32) Bicyclist killed by reckless driver, Riverview Rd., Rexford
  • Robert F. Zayhowski – July 16, 2000 (age 43) Bicyclist killed by drunken driver/SUV, Rt. 66, Sand Lake

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Filed under Ghost Bikes, Local Bike Rides