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.
We got to the point where Flag Swamp turned to dirt and Scott and I rode a little farther on up but didn't find who we were looking for.
Meanwhile, Gavin didn't want to take his new bike on the dirt and stopped short. We headed back down the road and then at the intersection with 172 we got a message saying that Someone was at the Southbury Training School and would meet us shortly.
When we saw a lone rider at the bottom of the hill Gavin said he wasn't waiting and he took off. So did Scott and I but when we got to the first climb we circled back. Scott waited but I went on ahead to meet Gavin. Finally, that Someone, was Mike, caught up with Scott.
It turns out that Mike forgot to load the route he wanted to take and ended up ad libbing it over to Roxbury and hitting some climbs that he wasn't prepared for, as well as, missing a crucial turn. When you ride up the Roxbury side of Flag Swamp you come to an intersection with Mallory Road and Mike was supposed to turn left but he was looking for Flag Swamp and not Mallory so he continued straight through the intersection, which is actually called Cassidy Rd.
The other highlight of the day was the reaction by Dennis, owner of Ovens of France, to the news of Gavin's new bike, which is a custom painted Cannondale for Team 26 honoring the 26 students and educators who died in the Sandy Hook Massacre.
When I mentioned the bike to Dennis the first thing out of his mouth was, "Did he get an new pair of legs, too?"
Leaving OOF, Gavin rode back to Cover 2 by himself while Scott and I offered to ride with Mike back to New Milford to make sure he got home safely because he wasn't feeling good. I guess that's what happens when you do train all week and then bite off more than can chew come the weekend. Paul accompanied us north up Nettleton Road and then he left us to ride back to Watertown. Meanwhile, Scott and I were waiting for Mike and flagged down a car to ask if he had seen a cyclist back there. He did, and said the poor guy was sitting on the ground on the side of the road. We rode back to get him.
By the time we got to Romford, which was only a whistle stop back in the day when the Shepaug, Litchfield and Northern Railroad passed through here 120 years ago I got an urgent call from Mr Hanky and was really hoping there was a port-a-potty to be found at one of the school fields at the Prep School.
|Photo Credit: Scott Davidow|
I found one at the Tennis Courts and blessed relief was attained. Afterwards, the Tennis Coach came out and said hello and we chatted a bit. Turns out he's a cyclist, too, as well as long distance swimmer and was planning on swimming from Block Island to Newport this summer.
From where we were there were only two ways to continue our route to back to New Milford and both were dirt roads. Romford Road continues and turns to dirt shortly after the intersection with Whittlesey Road. We decided to go up Whittlesey. I was a little nervous taking my 23mm tires on a gravel road but the Voodoo handled it well. The one thing I figured was there was less chance of a pinch flat because we would be climbing up slow. Whittlesey is quite the climb, too.
Whittlesey is actually two climbs, the first one starts after you cross over the Shepaug River and it has an average grade of 4% and wasn't bad on the road bike. The second part, past the farm, is crazy steep with a 11% grade and max grade of 17%. Fortunately, it was paved and Scott and I got up it with no troubles. Mike on the other hand wasn't having any of it and did the Walk of Shame.
Not quite at the top of the climb is this little vista that I call the The Money Shot. It's the best view, I think of Hidden Valley that you will ever get unless you are using a drone to capture the scene. The farm fields give way to the Shepaug River and running along its banks is the old railroad grade that we usually ride on our gravel bikes.
After the The Money Shot vista you still have to climb up the road to the top and then road turns to dirt again. Scott and I took it really slow while Mike bombed it because he had the bigger tires. We road down Rt 202 and then turned down Paper Mill Road, which is the best road to ride down into New Milford. Very few cars and following the East Branch of the Aspetuck River, a gradual descent. Once we were in New Milford proper we parted company with Mike, while Scott and I headed back to Newtown.
We stopped at Lover's Leap to eat the remaining food we had brought for this ride. Scott had a PBJ and I had a banana - good planning right?
From New Milford we took the flattest way back, which is this quaint road called Erickson Road. When we got to Brookfield we detoured to the Bicycle Center bike shop where Scott picked up some things he needed and I got some new bottle cages for the CAADx. Scott and I parted company on Grove Street and road back to our respective homes. I am glad I took my wife's advice to do a big ride today because Sunday's forecast was for rain all day.
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