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.
After riding through the tunnel we stayed on the railroad bed to minimize interaction with the Covid Zombies but that was short lived when he hit the dirt road. When I started ringing my bell to clear a path Mike remarked that he has one too but never put it on his bike. Seeing the amount of people on the dirt road was a good reminder for him.
Leaving the Steep Rock parking area we started climbing towards the Holiday House Ruins. Initially, the trail is tough if you are not ready for it.
But then it flattens out until you get to the last bit at Ferry Bridge, then it's a small hike-a-bike
The railroad bed starts out as dual track but eventually gives way to just a single track trail
|Photo credit: Scott Davidow
We stopped for a bite to eat at the end of the reservation. At the end of the line, we headed north up Romford Road towards Mt Tom. I wanted to explore the back way into Mt Tom but decided to hold off and planned to do that one solo at some point. Probably work in the rest of the old railroad bed, too, on that next one.
|Photo credit: Scott Davidow
Leaving Romford we were on Rt 202 for bit before turning onto Old Mt Tom Road. A nice gradual dirt road climb that lead us over to Prospect Mountain Road.
While discussing the merits of climbing, Scott noticed a pattern that the roads with the name hill were climbing but the ones named Mountain were steep. Well, if you are going to ride the Litchfield Hills you should be ready to climb.
We continued north into Milton and then went as far as Goshen
Nearing the apex of the route there was this one particular wall that didn't show up on Climb Pro that Mike appropriately renamed F@#K YOU Hill. He was starting to cramp. The climb on Eli Bunker Road was equally hard and a bit steeper. It did, however, show up on Climb Pro.
Riding back into Milton we then headed up Sealy Road and yes, it was another climb.
From here we headed over to Flat Rocks Road, which is a dirt descent and climb with a section of chip seal in the middle at the river bride.
And the climb out was equally challenging. Right before the stream crossing these is pretty good looking forest road I want to explore some time to see if it connects to Dudley Town.
Another bucket list item that was doable.
So this makes two flats on these Vittoria Terreno Dry tires. I went a whole year of riding gravel since the first flat, was my fault, that I went out and got another set for my CAADx and now I am wondering if I made a mistake. I love them, though, because they have very little rolling resistance with knobby edges that hold turns in the dirt. Perhaps I should consider going to tubeless.
After fixing the flat we road to Kent Falls Brewery
I was hoping there would be open for sit down service but due to that stupid law they passed in the State of Connecticut requiring food to be served at breweries and due to the fact that Kent, CT has a food truck ban, Kent Falls still doing take out.
Mike recommended that we get the Superscript but before we could crack open our cans the owners told us we couldn't drink on the premises. So I loaded up the handlebar bag and we headed off down the mountain. Once crossing over into New Milford on Sawyer Hill, we found Old Sawyer Hill which is another dirt road I never knew existed. I didn't bomb it like I usually would because I was having confidence issues with my rear tire.
Mike replaced his Salsa Cowbell bars with these Shimano PRO Discover gravel bars and they have great flare!
On the down hill portion of Walker Brook, Mike took off. Scott and I took it easy, me for obvious reasons, and Scott is still learning the area and wanted to take it all in. This is the best direction to ride this road because when you get down to the bottom you can ride out on Judds Bridge or climb out on Judds Bridge. I like climbing. It has to be one of my favorite climbs in the Roxbury area.
Back at the town hall we ate the rest of our food. I finally had my PBJ that carried for the whole ride expecting to eat it at the brewery. Scott broke out the Pretzel Rods. A little bit later this guy rode up on a real nice carbon Kestral with carbon wheels. He's a research scientist at Yale and wanted to try riding in the Litchfield Hills since where he usually rides is much more flatter.