Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Variations on a Theme

It's getting harder to come up with a different route each week for Riding Club Ilumenati's Tuesday Night rides. The route for this evening's ride had us cutting through the northern part of the Park City and there were a lot of cars. However, this was the only way over to the rail trail so it was a necessary evil.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Newtown Roubaix

In honor of the famed Paris-Roubaix, Gavin, Brad and I decided to do a little mixed terrain ride around Newtown Sunday morning and then watch the end of the race. 

It was foggy and a little chilly leaving my house but that all changed when the sun finally burned off the fog and things started heating up

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Starting to feel like Autumn

The seasonal change appears to be upon us and it was a chilly ride to Ovens of France this morning. It was foggy down in the Housatonic River Valley but broke when we started climbing out. We took the shortest route today because Gavin had somewhere to be.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Tuesday Night Ride on Thursday

Photo Credit: Scotty D

Scotty D is officially back with Riding Club Ilumenati and couldn't have picked a better ride for his come back tour. Originally, I had suggested a Key Party Route (watch the movie Ice Storm) because Pete needed a ride closer to home but then he checked with his mother and she said she would love to have us stop by so that was settled. Also, we needed to get a picture with her this time. She even said something about it.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Ride Bikes, Hail Satan

I don't know if its the change of the seasons or that the end of the 2021 cycling season is quickly approaching but I feel like I have to get out there are ride outside as much as possible. There's always things getting in the way like family, work, and rest days. For some reason, I am dreading getting back on the trainer and riding Zwift for some reason but to stay in shape its a necessary evil.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Stay between the ditches

Parents weekend at my daughter's college didn't hold the same attraction as it did when she was a freshman but we went down anyway because we wanted to see where she was living and bring her a few things that she forgot to take with her.  We drove down to Carlisle on Saturday morning and I brought my bike, of course, figuring I could at last get one ride in on Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Do Pink Flamingos on your helmet make you faster?

I went to see my son compete in his first Para-Tri that he had been training for all summer at the Madison Surf Club and he came in first place in the team event. His guide did the swim and he rode a tandem and ran with the guide. 

Elliot finishing the ride

I had originally planned on riding after the event from another location but couldn't get out of the parking lot because it was blocked by the event that was till in progress. I hopped on my bike and worked my way out of the backside of the Surf Club to Rt 146 and the route I intended on riding.

I forgot that September 11th was also the day of the 2021 Closer to Free Cancer Charity ride but due to increase of COVID cases caused by the Delta Variant the organizers went virtual or DIY. That would explain why I was seeing all these cyclists on Rt 146 between Madison and New Haven and one rider, a cancer survivor, caught my interest as she had a pink flamingo attached to her helmet.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Labor Day Roubaix with the Newtown Lunartics

The Newtown Lunartics headed out from Bridgewater Connecticut for a 30 mile, mixed surface, ride to Lake Waramug and back. It had rained quite a bit the night before which made for a wet start.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

One broken spoke, no problem, but two?

I noticed that someone I ride with on Tuesday nights was riding gravel in the Charlemont, MA area and the route he did looked pretty interesting so I put my own spin on it trying work a lot more dirt in hitting some new roads. The funny thing about RWGPS new dirt feature is that often what it thinks is dirt turns out to be paved.

I drove up to Spencertown and picked up Will and we proceeded to Florida, MA where I parked at the Abbott Memorial School. It was raining lightly the whole way up as well as when we started riding.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

IlLUMENati Wacky Tracks Ride

Snack stop at Pete's Mom's house

This week's Ilumenati ride started and ended from the commuter lot at the intersection of Wolfpit Road and Route 7 in Wilton.  The planned route had quite a bit of different terrain including gravel roads, rail trails and a greenway. We headed south towards Norwalk and Silvermine and then turned north. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Dirty Drunken Farmer's Daughter Gravel Grinder

Riding the dirt roads between Hillsdale and Chatham has been on my bucket list after the first Farmer's Daughter Gravel Grinder I rode in 2016. When Roe Jan Brewery opened up a few years ago it made for the perfect combination of riding, dirt roads and drinking beer but COVID dashed those plans last summer so here we are one year later riding brewery to brewery. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Abandon hope all ye who enter here!

The 160 KM route for this year's Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee was a modified version of the first mystery ride in 2016.  Of all the rides Will and I have ridden together, the 160 KM remains our favorite route and have been riding it since 2014.

Will and I attempted the first D2R2 Mystery route back in 2016, which I named my post about it: Napoleon's Death March. We probably would have had better success if we had did the roadie version instead of the mountain bike one. Today was our chance to take a mulligan on the original D2R2 Mystery route, accompanied by Will Boericke,  a member of our D2R2 crew with a similar lust for adventure and challenging bike rides. Wheels were rolling by 7:05 AM.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Gathering before the big event


When we learned that the organizers of D2R2 (Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee) weren't going to have camping this year due to COVID the Crew decided that we would make our own camping arrangements. We settled on Erving State Park, about 20 miles north of Deerfield.  Rob was already there but had went out with his wife and daughter so while Will and I were setting up the tent the others arrived.  We then went off for a little ride before dinner, not wearing any kit, around the park and on some back roads.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Gearing up for D2R2

I purchased a 11-42T cassette and a Wolftooth Road link before I went to Chicago and my plan was when I got back I would install at use that set up for the Farmer's Daughter and D2R2 Gravel Grinders. However, I didn't really look too closely at the Wolftooth instructions and when I got everything installed it didn't work correctly. It would shift into the lowest gear and then get stuck there!


That's when I discovered that the Wolftooth link only works for 11-40T cassettes, DOH!  For the Farmer's Daughter, I ended up going back to my old 11-32T cassette and putting my 32T front chain ring on and had no trouble climbing, albeit I was slow as molasses on the hills. When I got back to CT after the ride, I ordered the right cassette and the day before I was headed up to Massachusetts I installed the new cassette and it worked. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Price Drop!

Following up on my She cleans up good but buyer beware post from a month ago, the bike I sold to the Hartford Bike Flipper has dropped the price to  $1,200! It's a 7 year old bike with 21,000 miles on it. Of course any would be buyer isn't going to know that and neither does the seller because he never asked me.  I know bikes are still scarce right now but who would pay that much for aluminum 10 speed?

Monday, August 16, 2021


Lately I have been on a quest to ride as much unique mileage as possible driven by an application that works with Strava called Wandrer.  One of the motivations in going to Chicago for a week and bringing my bike is the target rich environment of roads that I have never ridden before.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Farmer's Daughter - Wandrer Edition

I signed up for the 2020 Farmer's Daughter but it was initially postponed due to the COVID Pandemic and then when things really went downhill during lockdown it was canceled altogether.  

For 2021, I initially opted not do the event but after returning from Chicago there was nothing going on that weekend and Will wanted to know if I wanted to ride with him. Seeing that it was a last minute entry to this year's Farmer's Daughter Gravel Grinder. Will was trying to see if he could get me in by some other means when I found someone on FaceBook selling their registration so I bought it off of them and was in. Had I registered with the normal people I would have had a personalized name bib.  Looking back, Will and I have ridden this together twice:
In 2017, Will and I rode the Columbia County Gravel Grinder that was put on by his bike shop and the Chatham Rotary that hit many of the same roads. So when I got the route and looked at it through the eyes of my Wandrer application I decided some route changes were needed in order to get more points.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

HVNEMBA's Rockhouse Hill Sanctuary Challenge

When planning a mountain biking event sometimes you have to roll the dice and take a chance on the weather. We did that this Saturday for the Rockhouse Hill Sanctuary Challenge.  The Housatonic Valley Chapter of New England Mountain Bike Association held their new fund raiser at the Oxford High School, which happens to neighbor one of the up and coming premier mountain biking destinations in Western Connecticut.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

More Cowbell

While I was in Chicago the 90mm EC90 Carbon stem that I ordered came in and so I took off the Ritchey handlebars that came with the bike and retaped the Salsa Cowbells that I got from a friend last month and installed the new stem.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

And we're back!

When I got home from work on Tuesday I rebuilt the Jamis so I would have something to ride the next day.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Beyond the Velodrome

For my last day in Northbrook I decided to hit a few more roads to add to my Wandrer total and ride some more at the Velodrome.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Brats and Beer for Breakfast

I took a rest day on Saturday in anticipation for a big ride on Sunday to Wisconsin.  Kenosha is only 35 miles aways from Northbrook and that like my beach ride, only here there is no climbing.  I left my Aunt's house before 5:30 AM and took a circuitous rate to Highland Park where I planned to take Sheridan Road north. At this time in the morning I could have ridden Lake Cook Road because there was no one on it.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Wauconda Forever!

With Summer hours in effect at work I was able to knock off early and go for a bigger ride, 10 miles more than yesterday. I really wanted to ride to Fox Lake where my Aunt keeps her boat, which would be a 50 mile round trip but I was meeting a friend from college this evening for dinner and couldn't afford the extra distance. 

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Suburbia Sucks ...

... if you are a road rider.

Had to work today and since Chicago is an hour behind New York and I couldn't get up early enough this morning to beat the heat so I had to settle for a ride after work.  It didn't look like there was smoke haze today but the afternoon sun had a unique quality about it that you don't find on the East Coast.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

2757 West Jerome Street, Chicago, IL

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go! My original plan for my first day in the Chicago area was to ride my grandmother's old house in the Rogers Park section of Chicago but after the little maintenance issue I needed to tweak my route a bit. My grandmother's house is a place of many memories and having never lived in Chicago and only visited for 40 years I always considered it my second home.

Ride back from Deerfield Cyclery

 I called the shop at 2 pm and they surprised me saying that it would be ready by 3 PM!  That was awesome, only my Aunt couldn't take me to get the bike. She said, "just take an Uber." That's what I did. I got kitted up, through my cycling shoes into a little shoulder bag, requested a car and went over to the bike shop.  The bike was ready to rock!  I even bought a jersey to say thank you for turning it around so quickly.

Leaving on (another) Jet Plane ...

A cousin of mine from Chicago reached out to me in June wanting to know if I was coming to Chicago for a family reunion and I had no clue that it was happening I immediately called my Aunt and she told me what was going on and that I welcomed to stay with her. I was inadvertently left out of the planning because the thought was that I wouldn't be able to bring my family due to the cost of air travel and some other issues. As it turns out, the weekend of the event was the same time my wife would be taking the boys and her sister to Maine for a long weekend.

Turns out that it was more economical for me to come out for a week then it was to come out for the weekend so I booked my flights for Wednesday and returning Tuesday.  I borrowed a bike bag from a former Newtown Lunartic who moved to New Jersey and the Sunday before I was supposed to leave, took the Jamis apart and put it in the bag.  It was so light, both the bag and the bike together that I was able to get a bunch of other things in the bag as well. I am getting one these bags.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Bikes & Beers: The Perfect Combination

This event popped up in one of my social feeds last month and I knew I had to be there. I even created a team for our self proclaimed riding club and surprisingly almost everyone joined up. We had Gavin, Mike, Marshal, Andy (honorary member and Gavin's future son-in-law) and myself. Having it at Two Roads was great because they have such a variety of beer but the only thing I didn't like was the course because to get to 45 miles you had to do another lap of the top most section of the course.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

2005 Jamis Xenith Pro Build

I finally finished building up this Jamis Xenith Pro last week!

It all started when a friend of mine gave me the frame for $10 Starbucks gift card. Originally, it was just supposed to be a Caramel Macchiato but due to Covid I ended just sending him a gift card.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Selling the Sex Machine

After purchasing the Waltly I found myself in a bit of conundrum - do I need three gravel bikes?  With the CAADx now my most favorite gravel bike since giving it a makeover and the Waltly being an any road bike, did I need my REI Adv 3.1 anymore? 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Afternoon Dirty Delight

I made those changes to the Waltly that I talked about in my July 21 post and picked up my new tires from the Bicycle Center but didn't put them on. I did go out for a test ride Friday afternoon only to discover that the saddle was canted downwards too much. I finished the ride and then fixed it so it was right. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Lemonade and Ice Cream

I was driving home work on Wednesday when at the bottom of Church Hill Road in Redding I noticed a Lemonade Stand so I stopped. Unfortunately, the kids were in the process of cleaning up so I couldn't get a cup but I told them that I would be coming by with my riding group tomorrow and I was sure they wouldn't mind a cold cup of lemonade. 

Photo Credit: Scott Davidow

We ending up starting later than I wanted and I wasn't sure they would still be open but they were and really excited that we showed up.  We all got our cup of lemonade and tipped them, too. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

A Badger sighting in Roxbury

I went out early Wednesday morning on the Waltly and rode north into Roxbury. I went for something a little different instead of just riding up to Topland Farms and then zooming down Painter Hill. That route is also my preferred solo route to Ovens of France but they were on vacation for the week and closed. So I chose to climb up Davenport Road to Painter Ridge and then try something different, like work my way over to to Upper Grassy Hill and then head home via Rt 172.

Monday, July 19, 2021

She cleans up good but buyer beware!

Two weeks ago I took my Synapse off the trainer, cleaned it up somewhat and put it up on Craigslist (see add below), Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace for $600. There was quite a lot of interest and many low ball offers but I finally sold it $550 to some guy with a heavy accent from Hartford. As I am always looking at and looking for bikes, the other day I was searching Craigslist for Cannondale bikes and look what I found!  That's my Synapse that I just sold and the guy is flipping it for over double of what he paid for it!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Dirty Wachusett

Will from Mike's Boston area D2R2 crew, suggested last week that he wanted to ride the Dirty Wachusett route. Apparently Mike, Will and few others of the D2R2 crew did it before and Will thought re-riding it would be good to prep for this year's D2R2. There was interest from everyone at first but then they bailed leaving just Mike, Will and I. We met Will at the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail head and headed down the rail trail. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Annual Mt Riga Pilgrimage

Every year I try to combine Mt Riga Road and Sunset Rock Road into some sort of a ride that is different every time. Mt Riga Road is known for its length and steep sections, combined with the fact that it's a dirt road that spans both CT and Massachusetts. According to Ride With GPS it is a Class 1 climb that is 6 miles long, a max grade of 15% and average grade of 5.4%. Sunset Rock Road is just steep. 1 mile long with an average grade of 12%.  My Garmin said there were sections that were 22%.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Troubling Times in Tubelessville aka Trampy's Hangover Ride

One of the original Lunartics that moved to New Jersey last year came back up to Newtown for a party and got really wrecked the night before but still made it to our weekly ride to OOF. It was a cold morning after a storm came through the night before and we were dressed with long sleeves in summer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Sprint like Cavendish

The weather boffins predicted rain would start around 8 PM in the lower foothills of the Berkshires so Mike, Scott and I headed out from Roxbury Market on an unscripted gravel ride. It was again another hot afternoon reaching into the 90s but given that we would be riding mostly in the shade I wasn't terribly worried about it. There was no question of a happy ending but how wet was it going to be?

Mike showed up in his Ultraromance Gravel Kit and we headed to Judd's Bridge. We came across two guys headed in the same direction but didn't really slow down to chit chat. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Creepy Doll in Poverty Hollow

My daily commute from work has me driving up Poverty Hollow Road in Redding and Newtown, which also happens to be a popular cycling route and one that ride frequently. It also tends to be a mainstay for our evening Illuminati rides. On Monday, while returning from work I noticed a big doll that someone had propped up against one of the graves.  That evening, one of the Newtown Lunartics, Gabby, rode by there and went social media on it.

I wasn't thinking about the doll when I planned out the route for Tuesday's ride because I was more concerned about getting to Ferris Acres before 8:37 PM.  

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Dante's Inferno

Having just gotten back from vacation and wanting to ride something different Mike suggested we do section of a ride that a friend of his did the previous weekend.  The friend rode 130+ miles but Mike only wanted to ride around half that distance and then go back to his house to cool off in the pool and drink some beers since it was going to be a scorcher of a day.  The route that he picked had us leaving from his house and heading up to Millerton, NY and then coming back on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and then back roads back to his house.

Of course, as most of my cycling friends know, when I see an intended route I am liable to make changes to it and of course I couldn't help but change this one. I modified the route so that we would go north of Millerton, ride up to Boston Corners and come back on the new section of the HVRT that just opened this spring (Millerton to Boston Corners). I always have a cycling agenda.  

On the way up to Sharon we met up with Steve, on the right, who told us he lives on Westwoods Road No 1. If you have ever ridden this road you will recall that it's brutal, dirt road climb up the backside of Skiff Mountain. Steve told us that he usually drives down the hill and parks at the bottom so that he doesn't have to climb back up after big ride. That's pretty smart.  Steve was meeting a friend in Sharon who was going to ride Deep Hollow into Millbrook.  We parted with Steve and Mike and I continued north.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Checkpoint Charlie


Right after High School, in 1983, I went to Germany as an exchange student and one of the trips we took as a group was to Berlin.  At that time, the Berlin Wall was still standing aimed at keeping the west out when it was really meant to imprison those in the east.  That socialistic pipe dream came crashing down five years later.

43 years later, here I am standing at another border crossing, having ridden to it from where we were staying on Lake Champlain, on a day of fierce winds that made fishing nearly impossible. I got the same feeling as I did back in Berlin, only this exclusion from another country wasn't due ideological/political reasons rather the Global Pandemic that has closed our borders to all unless deemed essential.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Cycling in the North Country

The border with Canada was still closed to tourism and thus my father and I had to settle for another trip to Lake Champlain for the annual father and son fishing trip.  On the second day of the trip the wind was so strong we got blown off the lake and I was glad that I brought a bike to ride for these situations. I did it last year, too, as we had some not so pleasant days out on the water, too.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Kent Falls Roubaix

This is now Marshall's second gravel ride with Mike and I and you could start calling us the three Gravel Amigos.  We started from Mike's house in Gaylordsville and out of the gate began the first climb to the top of Stillson Hill.  Stillson wasn't the biggest climb on the route but it was dirt.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Illuminati Summer Solstice Ice Cream Social

Photo Credit: Scott Davidow

This week's Illuminati ride started a little bit earlier than your normal ride time because our goal today was to ride 50 miles.  However, we got off to a late start because John invited some buddies from the Hartford area and one of which had car trouble and was running late.  We went out for a warm up loop that netted us almost 6 miles.  By the time we got back to the Library, John's friend was ready and off we went.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Thank you God!

Remember that scene in Animal House towards the end of the movie where the kid is sitting on his bed looking at a Playboy and one of the women dressed as a Playboy Bunny was catapulted off the float and lands on the kid's bed? He exclaims, "Thank you God!" Well that's what it was like today on the Mullikin Trail at Upper Paugussett State Forest.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Joe versus the Volcano Roubaix

After last year's Lake Winnespaukee Gravel Grinder ride I took an interest in this part of New Hampshire to add more dirt roads to my Roubaix to Brew dirt road and breweries map. Being somewhat of a topography/cartography nerd I found that were quite a few circular shaped mountains in this area. After some research I found that this part of the state was home to quite a few ancient volcanoes and Pawtuckaway State Park caught my interest. Also known as the Dragon's Eye, the concentric rings around a center mound mark the center of an ancient volcano where the magma chamber solidified and then collapsed upon itself, called a ring dike.