All in the Family
I’ve ridden a ton of miles along the Adirondack Coast on my bicycle over the years, many on my own. But I do find that if I ride with someone else, I’m more motivated to achieve a certain distance goal. Plus, it’s just plain more fun.
My sister Jennifer lives nearby, and just acquired her first real road bike this summer, so now I’ve got a built-in cycling friend with whom I can share my favorite loops. As a bonus, she’s also fine with my tendency to enjoy little…diversions…from the bike route itself, whether that means stopping to talk to friends who are working in their yards as we go by, or stopping to sample some of the local food and drink options along the way.
So we’ve set off on a series of rides of varying lengths along the Adirondack Coast this summer. And, on a recent bluebird-sky day with ideal temperatures and little wind, we decided to ride my absolute favorite short cycling loop. (Yes, I realize that I live in the middle of the consummate landscape for road cycling, but out of all the spectacular, scenic, well-maintained, lightly-trafficked, nicely rolling routes, I DO have a favorite.)
It’s one I call the Dogwood to Pink Pig Modified Figure 8, and it’s precisely awesome on its own or as part of a longer tour, but you won't find it in the regular listings as I made it up.
The start of this loop is at Dogwood Bread Company in Wadhams, where Route 22 meets the aroma of fresh baked bread and Route 10, or the Lewis-Wadhams Road. Now, you can indulge in the bakery’s delights either at the beginning or at the end of this loop. Either one is acceptable.
Depart from Dogwood for the first leg of the ride on the Lewis-Wadhams road along the Boquet River. This is a short scenic section, and you’ll take the first right at the junction with Sayre Road, or Route 55. I LOVE this road. One of the first things you’ll come across is the Art Farm, which is also a location for one of the Champlain Area Trails, aptly named the Art Farm Trail.
At the second junction, veer right onto Walker Road; pay attention and stay right, instead of continuing onto Power Road. This takes you through gorgeous farmland, and eventually down a long hill with a spectacular view that takes you to a stop sign right in the middle of Whallonsburg.
If you look carefully, you can see my sister in the distance ahead. Far ahead.
Go directly across Route 22 onto Cross Road and continue over the bridge, under the train overpass, straight up the hill, taking the slight left onto Whallons Bay Road where it meets up with two dirt roads and begins to go downhill. You might want to click out of your pedals and take a look around, as there are incredible views toward the High Peaks of the Adirondacks as well as of Lake Champlain and Vermont in the opposite direction. Continue on this road down in elevation to its terminus at the lake itself on Lakeshore Road.
Take a left onto Lakeshore Road and head along this scenic lakeside route all the way into Essex. When we arrived in Essex, we decided that although we’d only ridden about 10 miles it was OK to have brunch, so we stopped at the adorable Pink Pig Cafe.
The Pink Pig Cafe is located adjacent to the Pink Pig, which has an eclectic collection of “cottage furnishings, antique collections, and vintage finds” (which is what is printed on the window, and it’s an extremely accurate description). I’m guessing that the proprietor, Deb, will be happy to ship whatever you buy so you don’t have to tote your new cool stuff on your bicycle.
There were some folks sitting outside, but we decided to sit inside at the counter with a window facing an awesome view of the lake. Given our level of perceived starvation it all looked terrific, but in the end Jennifer ordered the quiche of the day which I believe was ham and parmesan with roasted garlic, and I had the Farm Wrap, with local farm eggs, avocado, spinach, cheddar, and tomato. We will repeat these choices in the future.
We took our time eating, chatted briefly with Deb, and headed back outside, where we were additionally delayed due to the presence of a puppy, (who didn’t even know that she was appropriately on theme for our dog/pig ride).
Freshly fortified, we headed due west on Route 22. Remember that nice downhill on Walker Road followed by another downhill to Lakeshore Road? Well, not far up Route 22 we were presented with the steepest hill of the loop to get us partway back up to elevation, and an opportunity for Jennifer to test out all of her new gears. We rode up, up past Essex Farm on the right, and then at the junction of Middle Road, where you’ll find the Hub on the Hill, we took a left onto Middle Road.
This is a fairly flat, newly paved road that takes you back to Whallons Bay Road (you can’t miss it; there’s a huge osprey nest at the junction), where you take a right and ride back amongst the gorgeous views on your way to Whallonsburg.
This time, take a left on Route 22 and head back to Wadhams, where you’ll find your starting point and the scent of whatever goodies they are baking at Dogwood that day.
Now, this modified figure 8 is exactly 20 miles total, and probably doesn’t merit two food stops, so I understand if you’ll want to tag on an additional 10 mile leg or two, depending on how much time you have left after you eat lunch at Dogwood.
Where to find information about the additional loops? I’m providing a link right here to all kinds of road biking options on the Adirondack Coast.
My sister and I are taking them all on, one at a time, increasing our distance every week. It’s a fun family activity for us, and sometimes, we’ll finish a ride without even stopping. Unless we see one of our friends.
Or a puppy.
-Kim Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, and easily distracted.
This week in related news: ADK BFFs