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.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Captain Lawrence Singlespeed Metric Century

After last week's True to Brew ride I got the bug to ride to another nearby brewery, the Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, NY.  Being located near the southern terminus of the North County Trailway I figured I could kill two birds with one stone. Ride to another brewery and pedal down the entire length of the North Country on a singlespeed. No one from the LunArtics were available but Karl from True Cyclery was definitely interested so we planned to meet at the trail head in Southeast, NY and ride the Putnam Trail (the Old Put line) to the North Country and then to the brewery!

Our start got delayed because I should have done a better job posting the parking lot location for Karl and then right before leaving I realized I lost my pedal magnet and we went searching for it but to no avail. Despite the windy conditions it was a perfect day for cycling.

Riding on the old railroad bridge over the New Croton Reservoir was cool

Next time I do this ride I think I want to try riding it fixed!

9 miles from the Brewery was when the first mishap occurred

Karl got a flat! It would appear that a very sharp piece of acorn cap must have punctured his tire.

I went and checked the vicinity where it popped and all I found were pieces of acorns.
Karl lined is tire with a ten dollar bill and then we took off.

Further down the trail it got really leafy and the next thing I new I was off the trail and riding in the gravel. I tried to pull back onto the trail when the leaves caused me to slide and I went down on the deck. Getting up my right hip hurt and figured I was going to have case of road rash by the looks of abrasions on my best tights.  My right knee hurt from the impact as well, along with my right elbow and hand. What hurt the most, however, was my left thumb. Somehow I jammed it and that could be a problem as I learned later while trying to climb on the hoods to the brewery. Otherwise, I felt pretty good. 

Upon arrival at the address we wandered around till we realized the brewery was in the back of the building. While I came prepared with a bike lock I was pleasantly surprised to find ample and secure bike parking. In fact, we weren't the only cyclists there. There seemed to be two or three groups there as well.

Captain Lawrence doesn't sell flights, rather you buy a sampling glass and then poker chips. One chip for sampling beers 6.5% ABV and below and 2 for anything above.  That's a great system.  Karl and I split a 10 pack of chips.

I sampled the following beers:
Freshchester Pale Ale
Hop Commader IPA
Centenary IPA
Effortless Session IPA
Brown Bird Brown Ale

Karl had:
Effortless Grapefruit IPA
Liquid Gold Belgian Gold Ale
Effortless Session IPA
Double Fisted Double IPA (7.5% ABV)

We also had the Bacon Truffle Mac and Cheese and it was UFB!

I bought a 32 oz growler of the Freshchester and it fit perfectly in my Banjo Brothers Trunk Bag. In fact, it looked so roomy in there that when I got home later I tried putting in a full size growler and it fit perfectly so you know what I will be doing on the next brewery ride!  Karl got a 22 oz bomber of the Apricot Sour and it fit perfectly in his back pouch. Something to remember for the next time as well if I don't bring a bag to hold a bottle.

Being a railfan, I had to stop on the way back and take some pictures of these tracks.

We were 9 miles from the end of the ride when Karl got another flat on the same hole.  What ever got him this time went right through the bill and got him again.  Fortunately I had a spare tube (I always bring two) and we were shortly on our way.

Despite the flats, crash, and the brutal head winds, it turned out to be a great day of riding and sampling beer. Where to next?