Getting Funky with Fats in the Cats

It’s not often that you hear the adjective “funky” associated with mountain biking, and yet, it so aptly describes the last few times I have ridden with the Hudson Valley’s very own IMBA chapter Fats in the Cats. Collectively nestled just outside of New York’s original capital, Kingston, Fats in the Cats have been actively advocating and engaging in the cycling community throughout the Hudson Valley and the Catskills since 1994. Through trail building and maintenance, as well as organizing community service projects (such as holding an annual bike giveaway every holiday season for children in need), Fats in the Cats have been dedicated in their holistic approach towards improving the cycling community in the region.

Fats in the Cats riders jockey hill

Pat and Chrissy of Fats in the Cats, in front of an area that had been burned due to a wildfire.

One of the areas that they build in and maintain is Jockey Hill, and what a pleasure it is to ride there. Jockey Hill is conveniently located near Kingston, NY, making it ideal for those looking for a quick, post-work ride, however it also boasts approximately fifteen miles of trails, so it’s no pushover when it comes to logging in the miles if need be. There is plenty of variety of terrain located in Jockey Hill’s tightly packed trail system. From technical rocky sections and smooth singletrack, to ridgelines, sections of both coniferous and deciduous forest, and everything in between, Jockey Hill is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Jockey Hill mountain biking

Pat, rolling one of many large rocks in Jockey Hill.

Pat and Chrissy from Fats in the Cats joined me on what was going to be a typical post-work, afternoon ride. However, things quickly changed a few miles into our ride. Before riding the newest trail located in Jockey Hill (more of that later) we had come across a large area (approximately twenty acres) of charred forest, due to a wildfire that had spread the day before. Miraculously, with the help of local firefighters and the DEC, the fire was contained and no people were injured and no nearby homes were damaged.

Jockey Hill singletrack

By the grace of the mountain bike gods, the trail escaped unharmed from the wildfire.

Back on the subject of the new trail that was aforementioned above… The new trail is currently unnamed, but is unique in the sense that it has finally been completed after about four years of working and negotiating with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The building and subsequent completion of the trail symbolizes a growing acceptance of mountain biking in the Hudson Valley, particularly amongst the local DEC chapters. As with other areas such as Stewart State Park and the Teconic-Hereford Multiple Use Area, the DEC has shown a willingness to work with local mountain bike clubs in building new trails on state-owned land, which is surely a positive sign for mountain biking.

Jockey Hill mountain bike rock garden

Chrissy, riding a hand-built rock garden on the new trail.

With new trails being built, communal events being planned, and a positive, growing relationship with the NYS DEC, Fats in the Cats are doing their part in making sure the cycling community is thriving in the present but also is sustainably built for the future. With work going on in Jockey Hill, Illinois Mountain, the Taconic-Hereford Multiple Use Area, and Shaupeneak Ridge, Fats in the Cats are somewhat quietly ensuring that the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions should be considered among the premier riding destinations in the Northeast.

Jockey hill mountain bike trail signage

Thanks NYS DEC for cool new trail signs.

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