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.

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!