A good Randonneuring course showcases its region. On the ride, you get an intimate appreciation of the terrain, a feel of the place's history, immersed in the geography. Going to the controls to get receipts and brevet cards signed (which seemed odd when I first started) forces you to interact with the locals beyond the basics of buying and selling, you hear their accents and exchange greetings - you talk to people. You get a sense of the soul of the area in a fingers in the cool earthy dirt kind of way. Randonneurs not only ride through a place, we participate in it, we live in it, if only for a moment. Such was the case on this ride.
The Catskill 600K starts near the majestic Hudson River. The scenic course is a visual treat. From the Palisades cliffs along the river, it weaves through mountain towns which run the gamut of mountain town possibilities; from standard middle America to art enclaves, exclusive schools, monasteries, many places of exotic worship or meditation and working farms. Sets of pictures from this year's ride can be found here and here.
The NJ Randonneurs have a detailed description of the Catskill 600K course on their website. They also gave fair warning that finishing would mean lots of climbing - over 22,000 feet of elevation gain.
This would be the climbiest 600k course I had ever attempted. But somehow, despite the fact that I make a much better descender than I will ever make as a climber, I decided that I would keep to a schedule for a personal best 600K. In fact, I would eat and sleep well and finish the second day strong. Yup, that was going to happen, for sure. All I had to do was follow the plan.