Saturday, October 22, 2016

True Cyclery: True to Brew Adventure Ride

About a month ago I got a question through social media from True Cyclery about dirt road riding around Kent, Conn. I pointed to some of the gravel rides that I have set up in and around Kent but the idea they had in mind included a brewery stop.  I was definitely intrigued.

Then, about two weeks ago I found out True Cyclery couldn't make the ride work in Kent because the destination brewery didn't have a tasting room and instead they planned to do a ride from New Haven to Oxford and stop off at two breweries near the Larkin Bridle Trail. Seeing that my son's soccer game was to be played the night before, I was free to ride on Saturday!

Starting in New Haven meant that it would be warmer given the week long cold snap we were experiencing further north.  Pictured above is Dreux, who I met on the Detour and I really liked how is Surly Cross Check is decked out.  I also recognized Taylor from Detour, too.

I wasn't the only one from Newtown, either.  Fellow LunArtics ride, Pauly Walnuts drove the hour from Newtown for this adventure, too.

While the majority of the group was from the New Haven area, Tim, on the left, was all the way from Mystic and another cyclist from Weston by the name of Ian.  We left the shop and started riding north through the center of New Haven.  I have never ridden in a city before and I found all the traffic lights made the ride cumbersome and slow.  Finally we were out of the city and started riding a nice gravel trail through West Rock Ridge State Park and a long Lake Wintergreen.


After riding some pavement and then some more gravel road, the route we were following turned into single track and the riding go a little more challenging.

After the single track it was time to delayer and fuel up for the next segment of the ride, The Shadowlands.

The Shadowlands is the backside of West Rock off of old Baldwin Road.  

It's an old road that connects Baldwin Road to Brooks Road, however, there are many old rights of way and trails coming off the road that on a cross bike are quite easy to ride.


Coming off of Baldwin Road it starts out flat but then quickly descends into a curved and banked section of trail that you can easily rail.

Rather than continue on the old road we veered off on some single track and then picked up another dual track, old right of way through the woods that had a tree blocking the path that proved a challenging obstacle for some of the riders.

Eventually we popped out on Brooks Road where we met the lone road biker in the group, Braxton. He was circumnavigating the trails and meeting us when we reappeared on the roads again because he was rolling on 25c's.

From here we road pavement for a couple of miles till we came to the next gravel road section.  This road was called Downes road and the gravel section was closed to vehicular traffic.

Being autumn in New England, the foliage was spectacular in some places.

This was an awesome gravel road that I didn't know existed. In fact, I didn't know any of these roads existed.  Looks like I will have to update my Gravel Map.

From here it was move pavement, including what they call the Wall which is the back side of the ridge that eventually leads down to the Naugatuck River Valley.

Then we made our way through Hop Brook Park

We rode to the base of the dam

And then there was only one was to go from here

Which was up

and up

Time for more people to head up, too

and up

It was challenging for the roadie in road shoes 

Then a quick bomb down the front side of the dam, on and access road and then over to the Larkin Bridle Trail Head.

At the parking lot I noticed some horse trailers and figured we were bound to run into some horses.

And we did.  We all dismounted but we appeared to spooky for the lead horse to walk by us.  Maybe it was all the spandex everyone was wearing?  The riders went back to the previous grade crossing to let us pass.

The OEC brewery is right off the rail trail but separated by a big wetland.  I thought there might be trail to the brewery but the trail we eventually picked up led to a grassy field that we road up to Commerce Drive.  Apparently the roadie amongst us was not too happy about riding through a grass meadow.

We found the brewery and most of us ordered flytes of their beer, which was mostly sour beers.

The sour beers were interesting.

Paul got his flyte, too.

The sour beers reminded me of drinking Zima.

Karl picked up a few bottles to take back with him.

A couple of miles from OEC was Black Hog Brewery

You could order the top 8 or the bottom 4.
Most of us went for the 4, the thought of 24 oz of beer
and then having to ride another 35 miles was not appealing.

This was much better than OEC

Happy cyclists drinking beer

And there was a food truck, The Green Grunion
selling burritos.  Nothing like a little extra propulsion later!

Then it was back to the Larkin.

More fantastic fall foliage

Even the Larkin has a hike-a-bike section

From the Larkin we rode down to Naugatuck State Forest

We had to ride down the face of one of the dams

A couple of us rode it.  I just rode it like a mountain biker,
my fourth point of contact as far off the saddle as possible

Back to the roads for awhile and then a loop around a pond near Route 8

Last big climb of the ride was on Rasberry Hill

The sweet taste of success!

Rolling back into New Haven

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