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Dirt Touring Poughkeepsie to Wookstock, NY

A little over 80 miles North of New York City is Poughkeepsie, NY. A connection to the Hudson and Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and finally the Onteora Trail which will lead you in route to Woodstock, NY. For us, this was an overnight dirt touring trip. A quick weekend getaway that’s mixed with 80% dirt and gravel. I’ve ridden this route solo last July of 2016 on 23mm tires on my full carbon road bike setup for a fast light tour. You can read that write up here.

This trip was a duo with my friend George. A skilled mountain biker at heart with the desire to travel by bike. This is the first trip I’ve went on with George, and certainly not my last. You can sense the companionship through banter, views of the world, and bike stuff. I knew it was going to be a great trip.

The route is mainly intended for travel by rail via Metro North from Grand Central Station in New York City. Once aboard the train to Poughkeepsie you’ll be relaxed for two hours. George and I conversed back and fourth and before we knew it, we were on our bikes and off to the “Walk Over The Hudson”. This will put you directly on Hudson Valley Rail Trail. This 4-mile gravel trail passes through wood forest and creeks before leading you through New Paltz, NY where you will then pick up the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

One of the more difficult sections is the hike a bike up to camp at Overlook.

Walkway to the abandoned hotel that burned down several times and left for ruins.

Manual Pedal

Photo: George Regus

Some sections can be ridden while others can’t.

Beautiful vistas at the summit where we setup camp for the evening.

GPX Source: George Regus


Kokopelli Trail Report: Day Two – Three

Day Two:
Woke up with a sweaty puff jacket sucking up all the oxygen in my tent. The sun was warm. Stepping outside Mickey was already breaking down and packing up. After a short breakfast and game plan we hit the trail. Lots of hiking over big rocks and steep climbs exhausted us. We were looking forward to getting off this single track and on to some gravel. We were both low on water and Mickey was getting frustrated, I can understand. We met Fernando from Spain who was R/V camping with his family. After chopping it up he let us fill up our bottles so we would stay hydrated for the rest of the ride.

We mad it to camp on time at 5pm. We setup our tents, rest, eat and talk before settling in for the evening. We watched the vast landscape and sun hide behind the mountains. Night fall, rain pounded our tents with strong wind. Sunrise, at it again.

Day Three:
Crazy climbing over mountains. Bike push up, ride down, repeat. Dave the Australian – legend.

Route Reference: – Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli Trail Report – Day One

A short train ride into NYC, to meet Mickey, then pack up our bikes and board a 3:30pm to Chicago. The journey begins.

It crossed my mind that I forgot my tent poles at home half way to Grand Junction. Convinced by Mickey and a bit of hope that my tent poles were in my frame bag, my tent poles weren’t in my frame bag. We built our bikes at the Grand Junction Union Station anxious to get to Fruita and hit the trail. Time wasn’t particularly on our side so the plan was to find a place to crash for the evening since it was already 6pm and didn’t want to hit the trail and ride at night. We got into Fruita at 6:30pm and made a stop at Over The Edge Bikes to get info on the trail and ask where I can find tent poles. Greg helped us out leading us to a couple stores that didn’t have what we needed. REI was back in Grand Junction so we ended up riding back there and parking at a hotel for the night. I pulled Mickey back to Grand Junction as if we were on TT bikes. We had to push, the sun was dropping out the sky, and the chill crisp air was upon us. We made it to our room, pizza, Discovery channel and route planning was the rest of the evening.

Day One:
Met up with Greg who loaned me his tent poles for my Akto. Shortly afterwards it was breakfast then off to Fruita. Quick stop at Over The Edge Sports for a tube, chop it up with the locals, and on the trail by noon. Bike pushing through technical sections, Mickey went down on some rocks pretty bad. I fell on a cactus scrapping my hand but nothing to complain about. The only way is forward. Exhausted from the biggest star in the sky, doubt started to take hold. GU was offered by Mickey, two bottles of H20 down and 15 miles to camp. What a day.

Route Reference: – Kokopelli Trail

Kokopelli Trail & Surly Long Haul Trucker

My Surly Long Haul Trucker reminds me a lot like my old BMX bikes. Swap parts, shave dropouts, smaller chainring sizes & cogs, completely mod the bike. However, still retaining its timeless old school touring/MTB style. So far on the resume this bike hauled me across the U.S. back in (2014), and Virginia Blue Ridge PKWY tour in (2015) where I swapped out the drop bars for a MTB crossbar and XT shifters.

I wanted to push this bike to the limit and see how I can modify it for 5 days riding the popular Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. The 158mi route consist of of mainly 90% unpaved road, single/ double track, sand, dirt, and tech climbing. One thing I knew I would need right out the gate was bigger tires. My 35c Schwalbe’s soon upgraded to 2.1’s, along with my 44,34,24 triple that went down to a 32,24 double.

After making a short list of items that I needed to convert my bike to a bikepacking machine, I still had to make some serious modifications to fit the tires. Purist Surly owners may cringe after sharing that I shaved my chainstays and fork just to fit the tires. But I was confident enough that this frame would withhold the stress factor I put it through. In and out the shop leading up to our departure, the bike was finally where I wanted it to be.

Mickey grinding down my fork to fit a 2.1 in the front.

Surly Long Haul Trucker
Surly Long Haul Trucker, 4130 CroMo
Crankset/Bottom Bracket:
Shimano Deore
Old School MTB Bear Traps
Shimano Deore, Shimano 32/24X10-36 Cassette 10spd
Shimano XT (front) Shimano XT Long Cage (rear) 10spd
Shimano Koyak MTV Crossbar
Thomson Masterpiece, Specialized Toupe
Front Wheel/Hub/Tire:
Alex Adventurer, 36h rims, Shimano LX T660 36h hubs, WTB 2.1 front
Rear Wheel/Hub/Tire:
Velocity rims on Shimano hub, Specialized Fast Trak 2.0
Outfitted with Revelate Designs bags

Sunday Ride 005

As accustom as I am to the winters here in New York, I’ve slowly grown apart from it’s melancholy and pass my attention to greater ranges of the world where it would be warmer. My vision board just climbed to 3 plus photos of homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colombia and Australia. Dwell (literally) became a major contributor of my current collage.

Since winter is slowly becoming a past tense, I no longer need to reflect on the numerous counts it battered us with blizzards and a nor’easter that wiped everything out. In lieu of pretending that riding would continue, it slowed down completely, which isn’t uncommon here.

We had some really cold days, and I don’t mean cold in the conventional sense, like it was brutal. So in effort to make winter somewhat captivating I did as much riding as I possibly could with most of it commuting, riding the local hike/bike trails or my Indoor rollers.

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Nowhere Fast: Bikepacking The Blue Ridge Parkway

It was one of those kinds of mornings when you wake up psyched in knowing the days ahead are going to be super rad. My alarm sounded off at 5 a.m. and I jumped right out of bed, brewed a cup of coffee and watched the sunrise burst through my window one blind at a time. I double-checked my gear before leaving to board a 9 a.m. train to meet Mickey in Brooklyn. Thankfully we pre packed my bike and most of my gear the night before making my commute in a bit easier with just a backpack to carry.

After arriving at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, I spotted Mickey. We chopped it up, fit the gear in the back of his Volkswagen and we were off for a 7-hour drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains in South West Virginia. Along the way we panned out what the days would look like ahead. Now I’ve never traveled with Mickey before but I know he had a few trips under his belt, and that we both knew the common language of bicycle travel. I knew if anything were to go south, I would be able to develop some alternate plans on the fly but I had faith in that everything will turn out well.

We arrived at Otter Creek on the Blue Ridge Parkway right outside of Lynchburg, VA. At around 6:30 P.M. We unloaded and assembled our bikes, loaded all of our portage and left a note at the range station stating we’ll be back in 5 days. Typically, this is the common thread when riding the parkway and is permitted at most ranger stations.

Image credit: by Mickey Cheng


After driving all day we decided to ride three miles and setup camp at Otter Creek for the evening. This will be our point of departure for the days ahead.



We got up early and did a quick breakdown of our paraphernalia. We did what we can, to consolidate the gear for the days we were spending on the Parkway. I had a little less than a gallon of water packed which included two 40oz Kleen Kanteens, my 25oz water bottle and a 20oz reserve.


After breaking camp at 8:00 a.m. The Blue Ridge Parkway  was bright with light leaks that broke through the trees leaving their abstract branch shadows on the road. It was all too familiar, but so different, quaint and still with the sonic sounds of nature that moved everything. We were riding for about 10 minutes before we were introduced to our first 3000-foot climb. It wrapped us around the beautiful picturesque ridges. When I told Mickey I’d know within about 10 minutes if I were going to be comfortable in the saddle. He said not to think so much about what’s ahead of you, when it comes just take the climb. You begin to develop a rhythm and before you know it you reach the top.



Image credit: by Mickey Cheng



We went with the flow. No pressure, no time restraints and no strings attached. Just bike and experience what the Blue Ridge was giving us.


Image credit: by Mickey Cheng




We were headed for Roanoke Mountain, which was about 60 miles of climbs and switchbacks. Temps were climbing in the upper 80’s with inclement conditions at higher altitudes, “Keep on pedaling.” We were exhausted at times and took breaks here and there. We circled back to a ranger station where we took a break. After a brief refuel we were off with our legs spinning surrendering to the granny gear up Roanoke Mountain. We were nearing the main city there and decided to get a room at a local motel in town for the night. It was much needed.







The next morning the road back to the Blue Ridge climbed for several miles before it topped out. We were back on within 45minutes and heading back North towards Jefferson National Forest where we would stay the night.





Image credit: by Mickey Cheng



I was awakened by a series of “Koww” sounds from crows that echoed around our campsite. Mickey was wide-awake. I made my way out of my tent for breakfast at the camp table. We shared laughs about the night before, packed our gear and set off for a 34-mile ride back to the car. Each day was different, something like a biking paradise. Steep uphill climbs with long rolling down hill descents. Swath of foliage that wrapped around us as we pedaled the tarmac. And beautiful views on the tops of every mountain. We rode fast going downhill awaiting for the next nuance around the bend.


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5 Day Minimal Gear Packing List

Last year I brought the entire kitchen sink for a 75-day trip across country. This time around, I’ll be going minimal and wanted to share what I’ve packed for a 5-day bike packing trip on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders for 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. We’re planning to start East in Lynchburg, VA to Sparta, NC, and hope to cover somewhere around  200 miles. There are several grades especially when traveling from the east, so swapping my platform pedals for clipless pedals is a must. My camera gear would be the heaviest in my arsenal but I look at this as a necessity. Aside from that, this is a very light collective of gear packed for the terrain we’ll be covering.


I’ll also be carrying Voltaic’s V72 battery that will keep my electronics charged throughout this trip.


In terms of food, I’ll be keeping it simple and light with the exception of a couple of cans of beans and corn. Other foods will include pasta, trail mix, small loaf of bread, peanut butter, jam, apples, avocados, a couple packs of ramen and candy.



In addition to my two 21oz water bottles these two 40oz Kleen Kanteens will house my water for the entirety of the trip.


Nights will be spent getting cozy in my REI Radiant 650 down sleeping bag. It’s rated at 20 degrees for 3 seasons. I often find myself keeping it halfway open if not sleeping on top of it during the fall season inside my Akto






Front/Rear Lights

Puff Jacket/Rain
Jersey/ 2 shirts
Cycling shoes/ Sandles

Pump/Tube/Patch kit/Tire levers
Allen key set

Hilieberg Akto Tent
REI Radiant Plus
Sleeping pad


Manual Pedal Over Portland

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]raveling opens up new wonders of the world and I think, anyone that does has the common thread for adventure and endless possibilities of becoming friends with unknown people.

Some who share similar collections of thoughts, ideas and stories that are deeply rooted within themselves and are relative to the listener. It’s surprising sometimes how people can have so much more in common than they realize.

The “East To West” film was being screened at “Filmed By Bike” in Portland, OR during the weekend of the festival, so we wanted to take full advantage of a trip across the country. Only this time, we boarded Amtrak and it didn’t take 2 ½ months to get there. I think our basic hierarchies of thoughts for a three-day train ride across the country, were how we would sleep, what kinds of people we would meet and what we would eat for three days. Hence, our trip preparations where camp vibes at it’s finniest. We packed the usual PB&J, cold cuts, Tortillas, black beans, corn and trail mix to hold us over.



Our first stop after leaving New York was Washington D.C. We had a three-hour layover, so we decided to hit the capital on foot since we weren’t able to access our bikes. We were a bit under prepared for the 80-degree plus weather and Nonetheless, our 65 liter backpacks weren’t helping one bit.



We met Frank after leaving Washington D.C. He caught us propping up video cameras on the train platform before boarding. We were heading in the same direction and once we boarded the train we had a small crew that held tight about ¾ of the trip.





In fact, navigating through the city was a breeze. Vehicles are very considerate to us cyclist making it very safe to ride. We arrived at Union Station in Portland around 4:30pm. We were anxious to build our bikes and explore. But first thing first, we needed to indulge in some real food after three days of PB&J and cold cuts.


Our first stop was UGARIT, A Mediterranean food cart. Rolling up on our bikes sort of reminded me of the Gyro food carts you’ll find around NYC. Only UGARIT’s was more authentic. He’s the only food cart that sells fresh Lamb meat in Portland, OR. We were more than happy with our dinner.


Our next stop was to hit the donut shops that the Portlanders rave about. ”Blue Star” was at the top of our list. They definitely do not disappoint with their carrot cake donuts.


Roberta and Adam who reside in the Alberta District neighborhood in Portland hosted us. The area is surrounded by shops, galleries and every kind of restaurant you can find to complement your palette. The morning of the festival we went for a ride around Alberta to check out the scene. “East To West” was being screened in the evening so that gave us plenty of time to wander.



The morning after the screening ”Velo Cult” bike shop hosted a group ride with the filmmakers. It was a good chance to meet everyone, ride, explorer Portland and get weird. We made stops at several brewers with Base Camp Brewery being among one of our favorites.



Our last days were spent exploring the city rivaling the downtown Portland food cart scene and exchanging conversations with people from all walks of life. I can say the one thing that people have in common in Portland is cycling. It’s hard to not find anyone on a bike. I think this is great because the bike then becomes a human, which opens opportunities to interesting conversations with people. Until we visit again, stay weird Portland.



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Spring In The Catskill Mountains

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s about that time of year again when we convince old man winter to finally take his seasonally depressed ass home and spare us the cold sobering snow job he’s been dishing on us for the past few months.

Spring In The Catskill Mountains Audio


Yep folks, Spring is here!! …And as usual, the celebratory moment for the change of weather is but short lived when we take inventory of the vitiated roads that once lied buried beneath the snow.  R0135740

I mean, needless to say the potholes and craters make an already bad situation worse for cyclists and motorists alike…but you add a healthy helping of the overly zealous, confiscatory policy called Vision Zero and you have a wonderful cluster f**k of unease and befuddlement.

With that aside.,. the Manual Pedal team decided to pack up the gear and track bikes and drive way up to the Catskills Mountains in Woodstock. MP.Kitstills06

Our first order of business upon arrival was to make nicey-nice with the natives. I’d say we more than accomplished our goal by engaging in hill bombing sessions on their narrow, R0135746_Update

R0135753meandering stretches of road, simultaneously blocking traffic and narcissistically training our filming equipment on ourselves all while decked out in our ostentatiously emblazoned ‘MANUAL PEDAL’ kits (available for preorder soon).


MP.Kitstills02And if that weren’t enough fun, somewhere down the line I’d decided that the conventional method of riding a bike upright was way too common for me and that it MP.Kitstills03would be far more effective to slide on my back coming down the base of a descent at about 20mph! Call me crazy Dwayne, but I think I may have beat you on that one. Cheers!

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Image credits: Top, by Antonio V. Grayson; Bottom, by Micah Wallace

Location Scouting: Catskill Mountains

We are in search of a lucid depth of clarity! The kind, that invariably tends to abscond us even in the least disquieted streets of the urban quotidian. Hunkered down in an icy coated forest, the ambivalence of raw emotions being carried by the wind overhead, explodes into a canopy of barren trees… creating a cacophony of howling, rattling, snapping sounds… With bated breath under the cloak of a velvety night sky, we wait for the final death throes of Autumn… to pass.

Location Scouting: Catskill Mountains  Audio