Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ride to the Beach and Lunch at the Club

My original plan for riding the Saturday after Thanksgiving with Gavin was to do the Alice's Restaurant ride from Salisbury, CT to Stockbridge, MA. However, seeing that the forecast was predicting even colder temperatures, that meant that it was going to be even colder north of here, so we decided to ride south instead where it would be warmer by midday.

Starting from Gavin's house we cut across Monroe to Rt 59 and then there came upon all this traffic. There was a line of cars going all the way up North Park Avenue, obviously to Maple Row Farm. I have never seen so many cars lined up to get Christmas trees. It could have been since there was snow in the forecast for Sunday everybody was trying to get their trees on Saturday.

Friday, November 29, 2019

OOF Turkey Burner

I opted to bike commute Wednesday instead of ride with the Newtown Lunartics to Ovens of France. To make up for my folly Paul and I rode on Black Friday and we took did Trampy's Hill to visit with the cows.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Video: Cyclist getting buzzed by Newtown, CT Police Officer

As a Newtown resident and a cyclist, getting buzzed by cars is common. The law says that you have to give at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. On many of the town roads there are even signs to remind drivers of the law.

Unfortunately, these reminders don't seem to be getting through because I am often buzzed at least once every ride if not more. A friend of mine was riding through Newtown on Wednesday, November 27th when he was buzzed by someone who is supposed to uphold and enforce the law. This video demonstrates that the Police Officer not only shows no regard for the law by passing the cyclist too close, when called out, threatened to cite the cyclist.      

The police officer said he gave him way more than three feet and yet the car's left tire didn't even cross over the the double yellow line. I thought I would run the numbers and see if the officer was telling the truth or not.


1.  The width of a standard lane is 10 feet but lets assume there is also a 2 foot shoulder so you have 12 feet to play with.

2.  I am going to assume the cyclist's wheel is 2 feet or so from the edge of the road, and the handle bars extend another 9 to 12 inches from the center of the bike, so let's call it 3 feet to the outward edge of the cyclist.

3.  Add another 3 feet for the law and that's 6 feet into the lane. That leaves 6 feet remaining for vehicles to safely pass this cyclist. 

4. The width of the Ford Explorer with mirrors is 7.5 feet wide. Seeing that the tire of the vehicle is basically in the center of the road that leaves less than 3 feet clearance between the vehicle and the cyclist.

5. In order for the officer's claim of giving the cyclist way more than 3 feet clearance to be valid, the vehicle would have to be basically traveling down the center of the road. Which it is was not.  

Doesn't look like the Office gave way more than three feet as he claimed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An abortive attempt at a new route

Two weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook about a ride where someone wanted to test a gravel route out. It piqued my curiosity and I noticed that this section of Connecticut was blank on my Roubaix to Brew gravel road map. 

Of course this prompted me to start scouring all the mapping resources at hand to update my map and like any new route I come across I could not help but throwing in a few tweaks based on what learned through my electronic reconnaissance of the area. The ride was scheduled for Sunday and I had mentioned it to my brother-in-law, Will, but then he pointed out on the Thursday prior that it was supposed to rain Sunday and suggested that we ride Saturday instead.

Monday, November 18, 2019

When is it too cold to bike commute?

I saw this meme on a Facebook post the other day and it got me thinking of my bike commute this past Friday.  The weather apps were saying it would be 26 degrees in Newtown around 5 AM.  I even checked a neighboring weather station on Weatherunderground at 4 AM and the temperature there read 25 degrees.  Since I missed the opportunity to bike commute on Veterans Day when it was truly a warm day I decided to go for it, afterall I rode last Saturday in similar temperatures and was quite fine.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dirty discoveries in the Berkshire Foothills

I set off Saturday morning on a scriptless, local gravel exploration to try some new stuff and explore dirt roads on the Roxbury/Woodbury border that I seldom ride. I actually had a route planned but it was much longer than what I time for as I left later than I had originally intended. I waited for it to warm up a little more. With the sun higher in the sky and the temperature at 32 degrees, I rolled out.

I took my usual route from the house to Roxbury in which First Dirt is less than a half mile Sanford Road. Headed over to Black Bridge by cutting through the winery and then climbing up Walnut Tree to make a short, dirty descent on Lester Road. Unfortunately, Black Bridge is a fun descent down to the Pootatuck River.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Dirty Apple Reprise

Since Will and his wife were having dinner with us at my wife's parents' house Will and I decided to ride some gravel before hand.  Since he was taking the train I suggested we ride the dirt roads in Westchester County and I planned a route very similar to the Dirty Apple which I rode a couple of weeks ago. Only this route had a tweaks that I wanted to explore.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Pilgrimage to Mt Riga

Every year since I started riding at D2R2 I have used Mt Riga Road and Sunset Rock Road as my training ground. If I can climb those two roads without having to stop I am ready for anything. This year however, I never got to Mt Riga in the spring for some reason, and when Will mentioned that he had nothing going on this Saturday and wanted to ride some gravel I suggested that we ride Mt Riga. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Hat City Invitational: Fall Foliage in Full Affect

Eric sent out an email a few weeks ago inviting me to ride a loop that is/was a popular Hat City Cyclists ride - Hat City folded last year - but the members still keep in touch and ride together. Today, we met near Macedonia State Park in Kent. On today's right was Roger,

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Dirty Apple: Rotten to the Core

I got to Golden's Bridge around 8 AM and it was a mad house.  It was impossible to find the check in line because they put the signs in front of the tables instead of behind and in view.  I recognized a former work colleague from my days at IBM, Gail Blumenfeld, that I said hello to, but she was crazed and couldn't spare any time.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Rough Road Ahead: Tighten your bra strap and remove your dentures (F2G2)

If you rode F2G2 last year then any threat of rain would probably make you a bit nervous. I think the first time I did the ride in 2014 it rained in the morning but that was nothing compared to what it was like last year (2018 post: I got lei'd at F2G2). This time around there was some rain in the forecast today but it was a 20% chance starting around 2 PM. Otherwise, the weather at the start of the ride was your typical fall day in New England, overcast and in the mid 40s.

This year's ride had a big change in that it wasn't starting from the Cantebury Farm, rather the Tyringham Fire Dept pavilion and the route mirrored the 2015 route.  I have a Google Map of all the routes:  Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder Routes. I spent the night before at Will's place in Spencertown, NY and the drive over to Tyringham only took 25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Palm Trees in Pennsylvania?

Headed down to Carlisle, PA to visit my daughter for Parents Weekend at Dickinson College.  My wife insisted on me bringing my bike because I am an early riser and she likes to sleep in. I asked around the interwebs for routing recommendations and only one person from USMES suggested that I ride to the top of King's Gap.  I had also found some routes on RideWithGPS, too. What I really wanted to do was ride to Gettysburg but that was a little too far.  I ended up creating my own route that included King's Gap and tried to stay off busy roads.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder

Gavin (left), Will (center), and Me (right)
We couldn't have asked for a better day for this ride. It would be Gavin's first organized gravel grinder. It would be my second gravel grinder in Pennsylvania this year, one that I hoped to finish this time. Early in the spring Will and I attempted the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo on a cold and miserable day only to bail at the first rest stop because we were soaked and freezing.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fallsburg Rails to Trails

Gavin and I signed up for the Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder, taking place on Sunday, September, 22nd.  Since the ride started about 45 minutes from his cabin in Smallwood, NY, we headed up there on Saturday and then headed over to Hurleyville to check out the rail trail.

We headed east down the paved rail trail thinking that we could ride it some distance. Unfortunately, we the paved part of the trail ended abruptly and then we were riding on an old rail road bed. Fortunately, we had our gravel bikes but I figured that we would be riding a paved trail I decided to not bring my gear back or pump. 

We didn't find this map until we were almost in Fallsburg so we weren't really sure how far we would be actually riding.

In Fallsburg, the trail evaporated. We went riding on some roads to see if we could find it again but didn't, unfortunately.

We found a road called Tunnel Road but never found the actual tunnel. Turns out it was right under our nose.

Once back in Hurleyville we set off in the other direction and found more paved trail that we road until it stopped and then turned around. We were still able to get a few miles in and Gavin found a new place he could ride with this wife.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

New reroute on the Gussy looks like an extreme form of dumbing down the trail

I headed out to Upper Paugussett Saturday morning to ride all the trails and see how they are holding up. It's been a while since I have been on the mountain bike. First there was the issue with a broken spoke, which led to needing to have the rear hub replaced.  Then I hurt my back and couldn't ride at all. Once I was able to ride again, I found that the hub was loose and needed to take it back to the shop to get that fixed. Almost 2 months later, I am finally out on the trails and what I found was surprising.

Coming up from the first new re-route, the bermed climb, the trail did a little s-turn and then headed back towards a cool technical section with a small roller and a rocky section.  I was surprised to find this blocked off and the trail went back to the old route that it used to take pre-tornado.

Where you see the mile marker is where the reroute is. It has a nice to flow to it but I reopened the blocked off section (see map above) and rode the techy roller in both directions. It's a tough feature but it's fun. Who ever did this is pretty selfish, though, because you shouldn't block off the fun stuff because you can't ride it. I can understand the need for a B-line, only this is pretty extreme.

Here is the overall map for your reference. I will say, however, that this reroute will go nicely with the big re-route that I have to finish doing just south and west of here. Look for an announcement of work days in October.

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.