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.

Friday, June 11, 2021

My first Titanium Bike

I have been thinking of getting a new bike lately. A friend of mine had given me a carbon frame to build up and I just about have everything I need for the bike but then I was perusing Facebook Marketplace when I found this:

Frame is custom Waltley 60cm 
Prime Pro Race disc wheelset
30c WTB Exposure tires
Shimano 105 11 speed groupset
Duraace 50/34t 175 mm crankset
Ultegra 11-32t Cassette
TRP Spyre SLC disc brakes with Ultegra Rotors 
44cm Superlite Handlebars
Ritchey stem and seatpost
Fizik Argo Tempo R5 Saddle

Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day Maybrook Singlespeed Metric


There's a new rail trail that essentially connects from the Connecticut State Lane (almost) to Hopewell Junction that is actually a Rail with Trail. We met at the Exit 1 Commuter lot on Memorial Day and headed west on Rt 202 looking for the entrance and we finally found a way using Joe's Hill Road in Brewster. Granted the trail here is still under construction and by the looks of things appears that it's going to go to the State Line.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Dirty, cold and wet, Thirty Roubaix

The weather boffins predicted a break in the rainy weather on Saturday around 3 PM and Mike and I were batting around different ride ideas earlier in the day but didn't come to any conclusions. I started rebuilding the CAADX and just happened to check my phone at 2:45 PM and discovered that Mike and Marshall decided to do a gravel ride from the Roxbury Market at 3:15 PM.  I told them I would meet them and got hopping.  Roxbury Market is a 10 to 15 minute drive from my house.

I threw on a pair of bib shorts, a long sleeve base layer and a long sleeve jersey, grabbed a vest and my cycling rain jacket and drove like a bat out of hell to the Market only to get stuck behind someone on the road to Bridgewater who decided they should drive the speed limit the entire way to Route 67.  I got to the Market at 3:15 and was rolling in 10. I love that I live so close to some of the best dirt road riding in the State of Connecticut.

Friday, May 28, 2021

I hate Chip Seal!

We got a half day off from work to start the Memorial Day weekend early and I headed out for a ride wondering whether I was going to get rained on at some point because the weekend weather outlook was pretty crappy. 

With no goal in mind I rode towards the War Memorial and then climbed up Sunset Hill, a through road, between Hanover and Currituck that I had been meaning to try. Then I headed to Tower Road in Brookfield, another road that I haven't ridden yet. Both roads gave me an additional 2.2 miles to my Wandrer total.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Singlespeed Night Ride

This Illuminati ride started from the Gaelic-American Club in Fairfield, CT and again a little earlier due to the pending weather situation - strong thunder showers were predicted for the early evening hours. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

When the pavement ends the fun begins


There was a post on the CT Gravel Grinders Facebook Page about someone looking to ride gravel between Mohawk Mountain SF and Mountain Tom that Mike alerted me about.  I posted up that I was interested and wondering if the ride leader had a route in mind. He did not so I drew one up on RWGPS using my Roubaix to Brew dirt road map. I have ridden a few roads in and around the forest but I knew there was more to sample so I started looking at the USGS Topo and the State's Map of the forest and found some additional roads to explore.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Gros Ventre Gravel Grinder

Our last ride in Jackson Hole

Fitzgeralds recommended this ride as well.  It's an out and back that you can do for 45 miles up the Gros Ventre river valley but we opted for 20 miles because we wanted to do a little shopping before we left and we had to pack out bikes, too.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

I could really use some pavement right about now

Will said to me after we climbed out of the Reservoir basin, "I could really use some pavement right about now." From the start of the Blackfoot Reservoir access road to this point, we had ridden 15 miles of some of the toughest gravel road in our lives. Granted, we have ridden everything from singletrack, dual track, old farm roads, and rights of way, but none of that compares to the roughness the gravel on this road.

Sometimes you would find a smoother patch and ride that or in the shoulder but that was more than not sandy and worse to pedal on. At one point I was riding trail that paralleled the road for a bit but that didn't last long, either.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Susie's Nipple Gravel Grinder

Fitzgerald's also talked about riding in Teton County, ID, the valley on the west side of the Tetons. In the words of the shop owner, they have a shit ton of gravel roads over there because it's all farmland. In my pre planning stage I had seen that and drawn up a few routes that looked fun.

In looking at some of the routes that the bike shop suggested the thing that stuck out in Will's mind was riding along the state line. The Tetons are completely in Wyoming and the state line runs up the east side of the Idaho Teton County valley so I incorporated those rodes with my own route that focused on Susie's Nipple, a small hill top on the western edge of the valley to come up the with Susie's Nipple Gravel Grinder.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

The Dirty Grand Loop


The Grand Loop is where you ride from Jackson on the Cycleway parallelling Highway 89 and then into the park and up the Jenny Lake, turn around and come back, only once leaving the park, you head down Moose-Wilson Road and then loop back into Jackson.  Since Will and I were on Gravel Bikes I thought it would be fitting to expand the route to hit more dirt roads along the way and this would be our first big ride of the trip - 80+ miles.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Hoback Roubaix

The Grand was finally visible at the start of our second ride of the trip. In my internet reconnoiter of I came across a road called Falls Creek Road and the bike shop confirmed there was a good section of dirt on it, too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

National Elk Refuge Gravel Ride


Originally, I wanted to ride the causeway along the Snake River to acclimate to the altitude but found out that it doesn't really go through. There is a trail but it's on private property and trespassing is taken pretty seriously around these parts.  Fitzgerald's suggested a ride through the Elk Preserve. It's an out and back but there's a little climbing and they felt it would be a good opener, so off we went.

Jackson Hole Gravel Adventure

I have always wanted to do some sort of epic ride but never found anything that I felt comfortable enough with.  That is until my father offered up his condo in Jackson Hole in early May to me and my brother-in-law, Will, to stay at and do some riding. After buying our airline tickets I did some digging for Gravel Routes in the area and poured over satellite imagery looking for dirt roads. I found some in Jackson Hole but in neighboring Teton County, Idaho, there were tons.

Leaving on a Jet Plane ...

My CAADX is in that box and this morning we are flying to Jackson, Wyoming for 6 days of gravel riding around the Grand Tetons

Monday, May 03, 2021

When did this road stop being dirt?

On Sunday's (5/3) Norbrook Farms Roubaix, the route used Westside Road, Lover's Lane, and Elmore Road, which are three main dirt roads through Norfolk, CT. We found them chip sealed.  It was a different kind of chip seal that we have never seen before. The rock material was marble sized and still gave the effect of riding a gravel road. Does this still classify as gravel?

As we were cresting the top of Elmore Road I asked the guy working in his yard, "when did this road stop being dirt?"

Friday, April 30, 2021

Lunartics NewSylum Petit Roubaix

This is the second time this year to do this ride and might start becoming a thing. Friday, after work, we meet at the NewSylum Brewery in Newtown, CT and go on a short, mixed surface ride that I like to call a Petit Roubaix. There's singletrack, grass fields, paved and dirt roads, and old rights of way on the route. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pink Super Moon 4 Handle

Last month, my friend Scott invited me to join a great group of guys that rode Tuesday nights in Easton, CT. There isn't a lot of traffic on the backroads in and around here making it the perfect location for a night ride. I have done rides from here after work, pre-covid, but not as regularly as this, and it's perfect because Tuesdays I am in the office and this is kind of on my home. 

Photo Credit: Scott Davidow

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Continuing to improve the CAADX

After Saturday's ride to OOF using the 34T chainring and getting dropped I decided to see if I could get a bigger chainring. I found a green anodized 38T Amazon Prime deal for $4.95 it would be delivered the next day! That's insane, so I pulled the trigger on it and also got a 40T, in black. I found a green one but the delivery didn't match my timeline.

Friday, April 23, 2021

CAADx Rebuild

For the past year, I have been running 50c tire on the front of the CAADx and I have really loved the Monster Cross feel of the big tire upfront but I couldn't do the same in the rear, unfortunately, so I have been thinking about changing this bike up and making it my primary gravel bike. I don't plan on selling the Sex Machine but I think I am going to use it for commuting and bike packing, as well as the occasional gravel ride.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Kent Falls Roubaix

The weather boffins predicted that Sunday would be the best day of the weekend and that meant it would be a great day to ride some gravel roads in the Litchfield Hills.

Riding up Old Mount Tom Road

Today's script was to ride the old Shepaug railroad bed, through the famous Shepaug tunnel, and up to Romford; ride all the available dirt roads to Goshen; come down through Mohawk State Forest to Waren; try a closed road that I have been wanting to ride near Wyantenock State Forest; skim the top of Lake Waramaug; stop at Kent Falls Brewery for a pint; ride another dirt road that I just discovered the other day, Sawyer Hill; then fly back to Roxbury.

Scott, Mike and I met at the Roxbury Town Hall around 9:30 AM. It was nice not having to wake up early for a ride and having a later start meant it would be warmer, too.  I think everyone else we passed on bikes, with the exception of an unfriendly Tri-Dork at Lake Waramaug, were wearing tights.  Of course Scott was wearing tights but at least he had the option of taking them off at any point during the ride.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Newtown Lunartics OOF Metric+

The Newtown Lunartics Saturday Morning Ride to OOF started out with some twists and turns. Someone, who shall remain nameless, said they would meet us at the end of Flag Swamp Road at 8:40 AM. Scott, Gavin, and I left Cover 2 at 8 AM and I knew that we would probably get to the meeting point early, which we did. So we rode up Flag Swamp to find our cycling sister who was riding over from Gaylordsville.

Friday, April 09, 2021

eMTBs at Waldo

On Friday Scott decided to join me on a mountain bike ride at Waldo State Park in Southbury. We headed out on the main trail and as we neared the big climb these two females were on what looked like eMTBs coming the other way, but I could have been mistaken.  This is the first time I have been out riding in the woods and seen others riding, too. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

A 3 Handle Ride

The temperature on Thursday topped out around 70 degrees and it was too nice to pass up. I headed out on Just Good Beer wanting to get a 3 Handle because I took a rest day on Wednesday. Granted it was worth it because the last brake I took from cycling was one day off in mid March.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Getting Bolder

I am finding that riding dirt on skinny tires is not as bad as I imagined

and I find I am doing it a lot more now


Sunday, April 04, 2021

The Dirty Bunny Roubaix


Will contacted me last week and wanted to know if I wanted to ride Westchester Dirt Roads. His wife had the car for the weekend and he suggested we meet somewhere along the train line.  Since Easter is no longer a big celebration at my house I suggested that we ride on Sunday since the weather was supposed to be a little warmer than Saturday.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Roubaix to Brew: OEC & Newsylum

Originally, I was thinking about doing a ride up Mt Riga Road for a first day of spring Gravel Grinder but from all the posts that I had seen on the Socials it looked like all the dirt roads further north of me were going to be a sloppy mess. So, I figured something down my way, hit a few dirt roads, make a brewery stop would be the best way to celebrate the coming of spring.

The idea for today's ride was to enjoy the bout of warm weather we are having, ride a few local dirt roads and drink some beers half way through. The ride ended of being a little longer than what I had imagined but it was still a blast.