Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lake 2 Lake with an unauthorized stop at Ovens of France

This year's Lake 2 Lake was moved to the fall so it could coincide with one of LOF's adaptive waterskiing clinics that was being held at their new location, the Southbury Beach. It's not really a beach but it's on the water and the ideal location for what they do. As with past years I once again helped get the word out and planned the routes, which were 100K and 50K routes.


It was a crazy start because the driveway is a 25% grade to the road that you had to walk. It was really foggy but the temperature was hovering around 60 degrees and you know that once the fog burned off it would be a glorious day and it was.


Unlike previous years, this route headed up Purchase Brook to Brown Brook and on into Roxbury. We broke out of the fog just before the climb on Brown Brook but once you got to the top Painter Hill at Topland Farms could you really appreciate it.


The best view on the ride was from Painter Ridge.  


The first rest stop was at the Murals after you turned onto Route 47 from Route 109. At 20 miles, it was the perfect point for a stop to get some food in you and top off the bottles.


We then headed up Route 47 towards New Preston. This section of road is a flat climb to Route 202 and a stretch that you can really hammer on. Then it was down Rt 202 and up Flirtation Avenue to Lake Waramaug.  


Apparently Brendan, pictured above, as well as Scott, have never ridden around the lake before and it was on their bucket list. 


The lake this morning was like glass.


The climb up to Warren was equally nice and then ripping down Rt 341 was refreshing. After turning onto Rt 202 we climbed up and then turned off onto Looking Glass Hill and climbed some more.  I had some reservations about this section but it wasn't that bad.  Then we rode over to Rt 209 and then to rest stop at Bantam Lake.  


At the rest stop we decided there was no way we were going to ride through Woodbury and not stop at Ovens of France (aka OOF) so when the route turned onto Transylvania Road we parted ways with Brendan and headed down to OOF.

Photo Credit: Gavin Arneth
I finally got to try the Sausage and Cheese baguette and it was delish! The French Roast was also a good pick me up.


The detour added a mile to the ride and a little extra time but it was totally worth it! When we got back to the beach I broke out the beer and we had BBQ hamburgers.  Brendan also won the free bike!

Photo credit: Scott Daviddow
Looks like someone in his family is getting a new bike

Photo credit: Scott Davidow


Sunday, September 08, 2019

It's not just a ride, it's an adventure!

What I really like about this ride is that every year it's a different route and there are no crazy climbs like what you would find at D2R2 or one of those Vermont gravel races. This ride combines just enough challenge with some great scenery to welcome in the fall gravel grinder season.


The pre ride briefing was held promptly at 8 am and then we were off!


Joining Will and I today was Tim McGrath who we met a few years back while camping with Mike Sage-Robinson's crew at D2R2. I thought it was going to be a lot warmer today, at least that is what the forecast had predicted, but the hurricane that passed by in the night was drawing colder air down from the north which kept it chilly as the day wore one.


As I mentioned before, each year the NERAC guys who put on this event, change up the route and this year it was really different. After bombing through Boston Hollow and heading into the Yale Forest we turned onto the Axe Factory Road(?), which is actually a dual track trail through the forest. Tim and I made a wrong turn and Will called to me about the error so I turned back but Will was long gone. We met up with Will later at the first rest stop.


A big change in this year's route was the first rest stop being at the Our Companions Animal Sanctuary, which has always been the last rest stop on the previous rides.  There, I ran into Laura Kelly who happens to be friends with Steve Taylor, someone I met via Instagram who spends a week at Sticks and Stones riding gravel in Western Connecticut. We have ridden together during the past two years. Laura also introduced me to her friend Gail Harris who is an avid gravel rider and wants to learn more about the gravel roads in Western CT because it's part of her work territory so I am going to introduce her to my Roubaix to Brew Gravel Map.

  

The route took us north into Woodstock and Union. We stopped in at a YMCA camp, Camp Woodstock, where Tim is on the board of directors, for a little break and then headed north again. This would be a great place to have a rest stop if the route comes through here again.


With the previous two rides I was just starting to familiarize myself with the territory, however today I felt like a Stranger in a Strange Land. From Woodstock we worked our way south towards Pomfret and rode a really nice road called Quarry Road.



Never saw a quarry, though. It was probably the longest dirt road of the route and it was pretty flat.


Then we came to some singletrack off of Firetower Road. 


It was totally buff and fun to ride.  


At the end of the trail was another rest stop at Frog Rock.


After three miles of all dirt roads we hit the Airline Trail.


Which is a graveled rail trail that runs from East Hampton, CT to the Rhode Island border


The longest and probably the steepest climb was up Tower Hill Road


Once at the top and down a ways there was the final rest stop with Maple Syrup shots and Watermelon! From there it was just 6 miles back to the start point.

Monday, September 02, 2019

2019 Edition of the Roxbury Roubaix


Originally, I had planned a much longer ride but since I was going solo I started later and made some audibles along the way, first of which included the climb up Old Roxbury Road to Lower County. I haven't ridden this way in awhile and figured I might as well hit some of the oldies but goodies along the way.


The weather on Sunday was truly spectacular starting out in the upper 50s to low 60s and during the whole never really got hot. Since I was already off course, according to my Garmin, I headed down Moosehorn where I came across a group of riders going the other way. Not sure why anyone would want to subject themselves to that kind of torture but I guess they do. 


I guess old habits are hard to change.  When ever I start from the Roxbury Market I like to head south and then turn north again, unless I am riding to Kent Falls Brewery. In that case, I will take the fastest way there.  Unfortunately, they aren't open on Sundays so I while my route would be taking me by them there would be no temptation to stop.


I picked up Battleswamp and headed over to Judd's Bridge.  I saw tracks in the dirt but I couldn't tell if they were going up or down. The end of Battleswamp is equally torturous as climbing Moosehorn in the wrong direction.  I have never walked Moosehorn but I have walked the first part of Battleswamp.



Another oldie but goodie is the Judd's Bridge climb. It's long and steep and but worth every pedal stroke. I think it's one of the signature climbs of this area and the only way is go up.


From the top of Judd's I hooked around to descend down Hartwell and then head up Walker Brook which is great in either direction.  Once I got to the end, I headed over to Old Mill which is a tight little gravel road that follows the East Branch of the Aspetuack River and then climbed up Upland Road and past Hunt Hill Farm, which unfortunately just closed for good.  Then I headed up Crossman Road, which is a dirt road that I haven't ridden in quite some time.  Popping out onto Rt 202 I headed south until I got to Paper Mill Road until I got to Bucks Rock Road.  Paper Mill, however is the nicest road and definitely need to work that into my next road ride through New Milford.


I have known about Buck's Rock being a dirt road for quite some time but have never actually ridden it until today. Just getting to it though is pretty challenging, there's a 9% climb up the worst paved road in New Milford and after going through some sort of summer camp you finally come to the dirt road. 



From there I headed over to Rooster Hollow.  I need to climb this some time because it's steep and winding and overall a wicked challenge.  


From Rooster Hollow, I rode up River Road to Old Stage Coach Road.  I was debating whether to go up Front of the Mountain and then decided to just go for it.  Another wicked, steep climb but worth it.


Then it was on to Mud Pond Road


After you pass the pond you are in Kent


Originally I was planning on riding up Kent Hollow and then coming back on the dirt roads on the other side of Iron Ore Mountain but I was running out of time and had to cut that section out.  


I made it to Lake Waramug but decided not to stop at the State Park to water up. I figured if I really needed water I could stop at Washington Depot.


Heading north on Rt 202 (New Milford Turnpike) I got cut off by some jerk in a black Range Rover who turned into Bee Brook Road.


Eventually I got off the road and headed down the old Shepaug Railroad right of way to Hidden Valley.


When I got to Washington Depot I still had a water bottle left so I pressed on. 


While in Steep Rock, I noticed the Range Rover that almost ran me over and took pictures for the Close Call Database.


Then it was through the tunnel and back to the Market where I enjoyed some delicious Ferris Acres Ice Cream!






Saturday, August 31, 2019

Back to OOF


It's been almost a month since I have ridden to OOF (Ovens of France) and Friday morning, the Lunartics were headed out at 6 AM to ride the Trampy's route, which is over Purchase Brook.  It's not a bad climb but one member in the group is not a fan.  It was cold, though! Everyone was wearing at least arm warmers. I decided to test out my new United States Military Endurance Sports kit (USMES). 


If you ride Zwift you might have seen their group rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Over the winter, I rode them religiously and even led a few rides myself. Which prompted me to join the organization since I am a veteran.  I wore my long sleeved jersey this morning because I am still waiting for my short sleeved one, it was back ordered.  The jersey was perfect for this ride, as was the rest of the kit.  It was 46 degrees at the start of the ride and the descent down to the river is always a cold one.


On the ride up Purchase Brook my rear wheel was making a noise. I had just gotten it back from the Bicycle Center where it was trued and had a new tire put on it. The trueing was a must but I was shocked to learn the Maxxis Re-Fuse tire that I bought at Outdoor Sports Center in Wilton on clearance was damaged. What I was feeling since the start was a bulge in the tire that I took for a flat spot in the rim.  Having another Sefas SECA tire, though, will last me quite awhile, though.


Catching the sunrise at the top of Spurce Brook was glorious! The fog in the valleys belied the fact thats where the cold air lies.  


Seeing the cows at the top of the climb, in addition to the sunrise, is also part of the fun, although they were just waking up and one in the fore ground was pissing.


Then we bombed down Spruce Brook, which is a really steep descent and you can pick up a lot of speed. However, it was recently chip sealed with the new top coating and the gritty surface adds a lot more resistance and thus keeps the speeds down. It was foggy riding up Route 172 and finally lifted by the time we hit Route 6 in Woodbury.


It was glorious to sit outside and enjoy our pastries and coffee


As we were leaving the parking lot Gavin noticed his tire was flat so we watched him change it. Steven broke out a CO2 because Gavin didn't. Good thing because we would have been there for another 30 minutes waiting for Gavin to pump up his tire.


Heading back, it got foggy again after Route 172 as you got closer to the Housatonic River. Scott and Steve pealed off before the highway to take the bike path over the river and head to there homes over behind Fairfield Hills. Paul split off at Walnut Tree to do the same and Gavin and I climbed up Glenn Road back to Cover 2, where we parked our cars.