The girls enjoyed their introductory ride at CP yesterday, but I still needed to get my own ride in. The skies were threatening, but the weather maps looked like I'd have at least a few hours before anything serious was to roll in so I suited up and headed up to Rocky Point [map in pdf]. This was my first trip over to RP this year and I didn't intend to do the whole thing. If you do every single black diamond and optional West Side loop its something over 20 miles which for me is a 2 hour ride. I skipped the West Side, did a few of the black diamonds (the Moguls and Campsite), then bailed down Firestone Road for a total of 11 miles in 1 hour 10. The trails at RP are nice and smooth track, without roots and you can get up serious speed at some points.
Firestone Road isn't a fire break - its a road that was used on the RCA property to connect the main powerhouse building of Radio Central with a smaller building to the North (currently only marked by a small area surrounded by a chain link fence with a Hazardous Materials sign on it). When I was younger...
I traipsed all over that land and remember the buildings well. They've all been knocked down, including all the old radio towers that covered the entire area. The multi-story main powerhouse building had a ladder that went to the roof on the exterior wall and a huge smoke stack in the rear as well as underground rooms (under the smoke stack and behind the main building) so it was inevitable that somebody was going to eventually get hurt there if they left them up. The state has demolished nearly every vestige of the old transmitting facility. I'm not sure if the receiving station (located in Riverhead) is still standing, but I've been out to that as well.
Three shots of the main power building taken from approximately the same vantage, one from the early 50s while still in operation, another from the early 90s after it had lain abandoned for some time, and the last from my ride today.
Update July 31, 2010: The weather was awesome today so I headed back to Rocky Point with intent to do the whole trail this morning. I think I may have missed one black diamond where the sign had fallen down because I recognized the trail when it met back up with the one I was on, but otherwise I did 19.5 miles and every black diamond and double black diamond there (that includes the West Side Loop. Wasn't stymied by any of them including Log Jam and Shorty which sometimes give me some trouble. I was pacing myself so I didn't get too tired and stopped a few times for water and to take a picture here and there so the ride took me 2 hours and 15 minutes which works out to something better than 8.5 miles an hour. The temperature was absolutely perfect this morning under the trees, nice and cool. I disturbed some deer who were lazing around near the trail and watched them bound off into the deeper woods, noted some of the old telephone poles that were part of the massive radio transmission setup from the early 1900s that used to cover the entire property. They were all cut down so kids wouldn't climb on them and get hurt, so now they just lay like lincoln logs this way and that throughout the woods. Covered in what is probably creosote, they are very dark and oily looking - a lot darker than most of the wood poles you see today (they're no longer allowed to use creosote) - they look no worse today than when they were first put up which might be as early as the 1920s to as late as the early 50s, and they were likely 50 to 75 years old when they were cut down (some are HUGE at the base). Riding Fern Valley was fun and seeing Big Birch is always a surprise - a huge white birch in the middle of a scrub oak woods - always makes me wonder how it got there.