Monday, February 06, 2017

Winter Riding in the Catskills

A mid January thaw afforded me to break with the routine of Saturday uphill skiing at Windham and go riding instead. I set off on my Cyclocross bike for a quick loop around the ski area, only to find that I might have bit off more than I could chew or pedal for that matter because I had to be back in time to meet my son for lunch.

My morning route took me west on Route 23 out of Windham to down towards Red Falls and then turning south onto Route 23A.  I really had no clue of what to expect and when I turned off the main road onto Airport Road I encountered my first serious climb on Airport Road.

Airport Road is a monster, almost 1000 foot climb.  The first part has a max grade of 12% and the steepest section is upwards of 18%! 

Once you get to the airport, if you call it that, the road continues to climb.  On the middle climb I had to stop 3 times for fear of passing out and a clear indication that I am grossly out of shape.

Not much going on at the Maben Airport
Right be the road starts the last major descent there is a great view of Hunter Mountain and the Round Top.

By the time I got to Jewett I knew I had to head back so I cut back through the Jewett Pass and then rode through the heart of Windham back to the Adaptive Sports Foundation lodge to meet Elliot for Lunch.

After lunch I went out on a more manageable loop with yet another killer climb.  Campbell Road has a max grade of 18% only this time I was able to ride the entire ascent without stopping.  Turning east onto Cunningham Road I was treated to spectacular views of Windham Mountain and numerous historical sites.

I found this abandoned Church in Ashland that reminded me of the Church in Roxbury, CT with the green shutters.

The further I got up the road the more spectacular the view of Windham Mountain got.

By this point it must have been 50 degrees and I was sweating profusely.

Leaving Cunningham Road and turning south back towards Windham it was literally all down hill to Route 23.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Upper Paugussett Bushwhack

I have been without a mountain bike for almost 4 months now and while in the past I rarely rode in the woods I hear them calling out to me ... YOU MUST COME BACK TO ME!  I spoke with the Mountain Bike Stork the other day and a new baby is about to be delivered, which is the impetus to getting back into the woods.  

Today's Hike (Dark Blue) Existing trail network (light blue)
The trails that we all love to ride are in need of some TLC.  To that end, my friend Pete and I are trying to assemble a coalition of trail users to work on trail projects throughout Newtown and the surrounding areas.  Today (Sunday) we met to have a look around at some of the trails at Upper Paugussett that have some significant issues to get an idea for what needs to be done.  

We met at the turn out before Pond Brook and headed into the forest on the connector trail that I built a few years back at the request of the State only to find that some new some new short cuts that must have been created by hikers.  We took the Jalopy Trail to the Snowshoe trail and then over to the Mulikin Trail.  We could see that the blue trail is getting quite a bit of bike traffic and it looks like people have cut a new line on the trail to get around the rooty section.

Mulikin Trail

Further up the Mulikin we found that a tree had come down and was blocking the trail but trail gnomes turned it into a nice up and over.  The rutted out section is just getting worse and worse.  I wish people would stay off it during mud season and other times when the ground is soft because it's just getting worse and worse.

At one point I had envisioned extending the Gussy Trail to the Mulikin Trail and fixing the rutted out section but last fall a hunter complained to the State DEEP about the Double Secret Probation trail. When I inquired about getting the ball rolling on my plans to extend the Gussy, the response from the State was no due to the illegal trail building that took place.  I guess we'll just have to live with what we got.

Leaving the Mulikin we followed a few hunter trails between the Mulikin and the Blue Trail by looking for reflector thumb tacks stuck in the trees.  There is one path that leads to a big blow down with a plastic chair laying near by.  We followed the Ravine south to the to the barely visible that connects to the old, old white trail which leads out to the Poly Brodie.  At the Double Roller we turned west and bush whacked, crossing over the Poly Brody, then Double Secret Probation, and the Gussy Trail.  From the Gussy, we continued west to the Blue Blazed Trail and then picked up the old Yellow Blazed Horse trail.  Eventually, we got back to the Jalopy Trail and headed back out.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Veraciously Oof

A staple in my weekly rides with the Newtown Lunartics has been riding to the Ovens of France bakery in Woodbury usually before work starting at 5:30 am from Cover Two in Sandy Hook.  With the onset of winter, the colder morning temperatures has forced many us to riding trainers in the morning instead of the roads. This has pushed us to start waiting for Saturdays and leaving later in the morning when it has warmed up a little bit.

With temperatures in the upper 30s, Mike and I climbed up to the top of Spruce Brook Mountain and visited with the cows.  They aren't at all shy.  I see these cows in pictures from other cyclists on the interwebs.  They are famous!

I call this cow Porche because his/her tag is 911

These little Dogies were all bunched up checking us out

We got to Ovens of France, what we now call OOF, in record time and or course I had the Ham and Cheese Croissant which is simply delicious.  Since I hadn't had breakfast yet it was even more tasty. The French Roast was equally savory. As always, I purchased two almond croissants for my wife and daughter and tucked it into my jersey pouch.

Riding back to Newtown we took the I-84 Rochambeau Bridge bike path to by pass riding back through Sandy Hook Center.  At the bottom of the path, at root has grown underneath the asphalt and pushed it up forming a little jump.  I bunny hopped over this but Mike wasn't so lucky.

After Mike replaced his tube we rode through a few neighborhoods to get over to Toddy Hill Road and then made our way into Monroe.  The flat tire set us back a bit and we had to call an audible to make up some time so we rode down Jockey Hollow to Pepper Street.  Rather than ride down Rt 25 we were initially going to take the Rail Trail to Purdy Hill but then I remembered Old Newtown Road.  

The brew master was really cool and let us bring our bikes inside.  Mike and I both ordered flytes. He went with the best IPAs and got the Freddy Stout, Dopplebock, Aint No Sunshine Dark IPA and the Problem Child IPA.  They were all great but I decided to fill my half growler with the Dopplebock.

The ride back was colder due to the head wind from the north but the beer made me impervious to the cold. 

 Just to be safe from any leakage I seal my growler with electrical tape

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Roxbury Roubaix at night

As winter approaches and the days get shorter it's hard to find a good time to ride but having ridden Roxbury dirt roads countless times over the years and knowing that during the week it would be really quiet I finally took the opportunity to meet up with Jeff on one of his Dirty 30 night rides.

This was the first time where I was the only one on the ride on a cross bike and everyone else had mountain bikes.  I was a bit slower on my descents on the trails not having the squish and equally cautious on the other descents in the dark but none-the-less it was a blast.

The route we took was a lot different than what I am used to as I tend to stick to my favorites, like riding up Judds Bridge, descending Mine Hill and Hartwell.  On this ride, however, it seemed that it was all in reverse.

The temperature started out in the upper 30s but I knew it would continue to fall but kit choice had me sweating at the top of the first climb on Mine Hill.  After the second climb on Old Turnpike, I opened everything up and then descending down the other side I cooled off and it felt great.  In fact, the whole ride I never got cold and I was glad that I didn't wear the Lake303s.

The crazy thing about climbing at night is that it seems to go by a lot quicker.  When I got to the top of Mine Hill I felt like I missed something.  I think it's because you really can't see what's coming next so you are living in the moment of the climb in front of you.  However, climbing Old Turnpike, a few cars passed by and you could see cars in the intersection which made that climb painful. However, Shinar Mountain, was the same and this time I didn't stall out by the cows!  At West Church Hill I really wanted to just bomb down to Steep Rock and head back but I stuck with it. 

Eventually, we got to Steep Rock and it was beautiful.  No people, horses, or cars, just the sound of bikes on dirt and the bubbling of Shepaug River on our right.  Riding through the old railroad tunnel with lights on was the first time I have actually seen the inside of the tunnel.

The last stretch of road was Judd's Bridge.  On the second to last climb, one of the riders, Ben, had a bit of chain suck that we had to stop and fix and then we came to the end of the dirt and the ride.  It was beautiful and something that I will definitely do again.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Roubaix to Brew: Big Elm Brewery Gravel Grinder

Today's ride was inspired by the True to Brew ride and the Captain Lawrence Singlespeed Century that I took part in last month.  The idea behind a Roubaix to Brew ride is to find a route less traveled with a brewery destination.  To help in the planning, I have created the second edition of my Gravel Road map called Roubaix to Brew.  This ride and those that follow are essentially a gravel grinder with a beer stop, however, the real accomplishment is to carry some sort substantive take away from the brewery, like a 4 or 6 pack of cans, a bomber or growler to the end of the ride.

Today's ride started in Copake Falls, which has a pretty good parking area for the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and the Depot Deli is right there in case you need something to eat or drink.  We started out with five riders: Jeff, Andy, Ralph, Paul and myself and we headed down to the end of the Rail Trail and then up this farm road which went through an orchard that I originally had on my gravel map but have taken it off because there are gates indicating private property.  

The first climb of the ride was Sunset Rock Road, a gravel road has an average 12% grade and a nasty switch back with a grade of 20%.  Once on top of the mountain we worked our way over to East Street and then headed down through the Catamount Pass.

Looking north from here you just make out East Mountain State Forest

That is the back side of the Butternut Ski Area

Which is wear I learned to ski and in Mt Washington, MA, is the home of Camp Hi-Rock, where I went when I was a kid.

On the way down Jeff got a flat

It must have happened when we were bombing down West Street.

When I originally planned this ride it was going the other direction but with the change it meant we had to kill an hour before the brewery opened so we headed down to Connecticut and followed the route between Washining and Washinee lakes.

Between the Lakes Road cuts through the middle of Twin Lakes

Lake Washinne was smooth as glass

From Between the Lakes we bombed down through Wildcat Hollow and then turned north on Housatonic River Road.  In the past, I have always ridden this south but this time we were riding the dirt road north.  Then we went down Rt 44 that turned onto Twin Lakes Road.  We followed that to Weatogue Road which continues into Massachusetts and becomes dirt.  Then we took Rannapo to Bull Hill (dirt) to Silver Street and straight to the brewery!

Brewery opened at noon and we got there at 11:50. We parted company with Jeff and Ralph who had other afternoon obligations so that just Paul, Andy and myself.

I ordered, from left to right:
413 Farmhouse Ale
God Save the Queen ESB
Gerry Dog Stout
Transformer IPL

Not much in the way of food except pretzels.  They did break out cheese, pretzels, chocolate and pepperoni for patrons to snack on.  I filled my half growler with the 413 Farmhouse Ale.

Paul and Andy

Myself and Paul

I brought electrical tape and sealed the growler shut because who knows what was going to happen on the remainder of the dirt roads that we had yet to ride.

Upon leaving the brewery we followed the original route back down to Connecticut and between the lakes again. 

View of Bear Mountain from Barnum Road

Ironically I hit a PR on the Between the Lakes segment, carrying 32 oz of beer.

Private driveway and the old Central New England Right of Way

Rt 44 was recently paved and it was:

Black Butter!

After a pit stop at the Sweet William Baker it was onwards and upwards to Mt Riga

With the setting sun the lower part was kind of chilly but once back in the sun it was really nice!

For the first time we encountered a gate blocking the road about a half mile from the state line.