A Ride That Takes You Off The Beaten Path
From garage to theatre: Pendragon revs it up!


Just wondering: did you try to clear the path of the blowdown? The first looks rotten enough  that you might break it off by stomping on it; the second small enough to pull to the side or slide out of the path. I like to think I can give the next rider the treat of a clearer ride.

A beginner's mountain bike adventure

I am most definitely a beginner. Like, you can't get much more beginner than me. I'm the beginneriest of beginners. 

I rode bikes all the time as a kid, tearing up and down the road I lived on and counting on my bicycle to get me to my friends' houses. But I haven't really owned a usable bike since I was maybe 12. So, it's been a while. But I recently decided it was time to get back into it, and I found an affordable, used mountain bike for sale online that I brought home. 

The first time I hopped on it, my boyfriend told me that it looked like I had never ridden a bike before. I could barely keep it vertical, let alone propel it correctly, and standing up while pedaling was entirely out of the question. I guess what they say about it being just like riding a bike isn't the most truthful phrase ever. But I've been practicing on tiny little jaunts around my house — like seriously, .25 mile treks on the cul-de-sac across from my house, for the most part — and I was starting to sort of get the hang of it, so I decided it was time to challenge myself (aka I got an assigment from work). 

I'm ready!

A challenge

The first challenge was figuring out how to get the bike attached to my car so I could take it somewhere. I had borrowed some sort of weird torture contraption from a friend that he claimed was a bike rack. It took me maybe six or seven hours, but I finally figured out how to get it strapped on to my car. And then it was probably another four or five hours to figure out how to get my bike actually attached to this thing in a way that it wouldn't fall off the second I pulled out of the driveway. I may have had to google the name of the bike rack and find the instruction booklet online. But in the end, I made it work. See? 

I'm brilliant. Seriously.

And it didn't fall off when I started driving. I swear! 

 So I have this little brochure with mountain bike adventures in my area of various lengths, and I decided to go for the shortest one: the Rat Pond/Sunday Pond Trail. Here's the description: 

Part 1

And the sequel

Getting on the trail

I drove to Lake Clear and easily found the DEC trail sign noted in the description. I had been out that way before to check out campsites on Little Clear Pond and Little Green Pond. I turned left right after the railroad tracks and was happy with how pretty this adventure was already. 

Road next to train tracks

 I followed the road back as far as I could, but it continued past where I thought my very-low-framed Honda Civic could make it, at the turn-off to Fish Pond. I figured that's what the bike is for, so I parked and road the rest of the bumpy road to its end. 


So, the single track that goes over the railroad tracks is... a bit much for me:

Single track up

I don't know if most mountain bikers can do that easily or not, but I sure as heck wasn't going to make it. So I hauled my bike up to the top of the train tracks. And that was a nice view! 

train tracks

Aaaand I wasn't really into the immediate, super sharp decline on the other side of the tracks, either: 


I hauled it down and then hopped on. Then I had to hop off again and haul the bike over some blowdown. 


And now, to ride!

But, just after that, the trail met up with what the pamphlet calls a "woods road network," which are roads that are actually used by vehicles (I didn't think they would be, for some reason). I didn't see any vehicles, but I did see tracks where trucks had bombed through deep puddles. It was great to have a level surface to ride along! 

flat road

And it didn't take long before I got some beautiful views of the regretably named Rat Pond

Rat Pond 1

And more.

Rat Pond 2

Had I run into this at the end of my trek, I probably would have jumped on in.

(I hear there are also cool options for hiking in the Rat Pond area.) 

From here, I may have veered from the brochure's directions a bit. They got a little confusing at points. But regardless, I rode through the woods, turning left eventually and then heading out onto the road. 

Sunday Pond portion

When I came to Route 30, the brochure said to bike .1 miles before getting to the woods road to Sunday Pond, but where I emerged from the Rat Pond area was pretty much directly across the road from it. Look for this little gap in the trees:

woods road

It's to the left of Sunday Pond B&B, which is an adorable little Inn, if you're looking for a place to crash after your ride! 

I also got a little confused by the brochure's directions once I had got back in there a bit. I think I passed Sunday Pond, but I'm not sure! And when I backtracked, I'm not sure I did to the correct place. But either way, I had fun riding through the woods. 

riding in the woods

I also ran into some blow down here, and there was a good section where I had to lift my bike over five or six trees.

more blowdown

But for the most part, the horse trail was even easier to ride on than the roads; there aren't ruts from tires, but rather one level path the whole way. 

As I was biking this path, it started downpouring. Under the cover of trees, it took some time before I got too wet. 


But eventually I was pretty drenched and gave up on trying to follow the brochure's directions. Instead, once I hit the road, I went straight to Fish Hatchery Road and followed the road I had come in on to get back to my car. The railroad tracks were so pretty in the rain!

not snow

Oh, and I am now a pro at strapping my bike into the bike rack. 

bike rack now

And of course, the sun came out IMMEDIATELY after I got into my car. 


Stop for a bite

I figured I'd dry off while grabbing something to eat, so I stopped at the newest local eatery, the Cone Cabin, at the Lake Clear Junction. 

cone cabin

I had a delicious burger and fries and chugged a bottle of water, and I felt like a new woman. 


And when I got home, I was pretty proud of my little adventure. Look at all that mud on my tires!

bike tire

I had enough fun that I definitely want to do more mountain biking. Hopefully I'll see you out on the trails! 

This week in related ADK biking news:

Ready, set, shred

Prime pedaling

Going down, down, down

A week-long adventure

Biking the backroads

Back in the saddle

Try Tupper tri

Categories:Cycling, Summer
A Ride That Takes You Off The Beaten Path
From garage to theatre: Pendragon revs it up!

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About The Author

Jess is the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism's communications manager. A Tupper Lake native and Saranac Lake resident, she is passionate about the arts, especially live music and theater, and she will drop anything to go to a concert. She also enjoys swimming, kayaking, hiking, snowboarding and riding her Suzuki Boulevard S40, a 650 cc motorcycle. If you have an arts-related item you think would make for a good blog post, email her at

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