Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dirty Social Distancing

I had not ridden the intervening days between returning from my ski trip and the weekend. I had planned on riding anywhere between 36 and 76 miles starting from the Roxbury Market to start training for the Frozen Apple next weekend but an email arrived saying that it's being canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  I guess it was good thing no one wanted to ride so I could practice social distancing. I decided to do a solo ride from Chez Cyclensack and just see where I would end up.

I headed north from my house into Bridgewater. As I was giving the one fingered salute a pick up truck that passed me awfully close a group of road cyclists past me on a climb. In that group was Shin Myoshi that I have ridden with a few times.  They took a break before the 133 Bridge but then caught up to me on Hut Hill.  They were heading to the Bridgewater General Store for lunch but I pressed on riding north.

The weather was superb but the wind was coming out of the north west. Since I was climbing the first 15 miles of the ride I was pretty warm but when I hit First Dirt, on North Branchville Road I started to get cold, so I put on a vest and never took it off for the remainder of the ride.

My first through was to ride to Chapin and take that down to Walker Brook and then end up in Southbury where I could ride Bates Rock, a local dirt road on my bucket list that I still have ridden yet. Then I would head over to the park near Flood Bridge and find a better way to connect to Old Poverty Hollow.  Looking at the trail map for Platt Park there is appears to be a trail that parallels the old right of way that I tried riding a couple of weeks ago but found it be only worthy for a mountain bike.

However when I found Chapin Road I decided to push on and ride to Lake Waramaug. Instead of riding to New Preston I rode up this super steep road called Findlay Rd. I have only done it once before and it is really steep. My Garmin registered a 24% grade! It was worth it though because I got to descend Gunn Hill and take the back way into Lake Waramug on Ash Swamp.

The added benefit to this route were the cows on Gunn Hill

And of course a view of Lake Waramaug that I have never seen before, because I am usually going the other direction. This Social Distancing seemed to be happening at Lake Waramaug because besides a few walkers there was no one out and about.

To round out my course I headed north to Warren and then back on 341 to Jack Horner and then descended the dirt section of Couch back to Route 202 instead of staying on 341.  From there I headed over to Romford Road.

After crossing over the bridge I found the back way into Mt Tom State Park.  I didn't have time to explore so next time I come up this way I will have to hit it.

Of course the point of coming this way to to ride the old Shepaug RR bed from the Rumsey Hall School down into Hidden Valley and I was surprised at how dry it was considering all the rain we got on Friday. There were still a few wet spots but with my new fenders it made no difference. One thing I noticed was the uptick in people out and about. 


Steep Rock was equally crowded.

There were still two chunks of ice left in the tunnel. Nothing that would impede travel but it won't be lasting very long that's for sure.

I rode up Hemlock and then down West Chalybes. Someone cut the tree that was blocking the trail and except for one sketchy spot I was able to ride all of it.  Even looked like someone had ridden through there earlier today.

The last big climb of the day was Garnet Road. I have ridden past this road so many times and finally I was going to scratch this one off the list and it is steep!

The road turns to pavement and the name changes to Perkins Road.  After you make a hard left turn there is another insane climb or 14%. I was toast after this last climb but couldn't stop because I had 11 miles to go and one last climb up Church Hill. I was tempted to stop at the brewery but thought I might not be able to get back on the bike. Once on Hanover I did take the Old Echo Valley Road section and right before I hit the tree line a car pulled out of the lone house drive way.  I just nodded my head and kept riding.

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