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.

The ride started with Mike, Marshal (a recent college graduate who just got into cycling and was friends with a high school friend of Mike's son), Roy the ride initiator and myself. The weather was supposed to be hot but starting out it was kind of cool and overcast. 


We headed out on Toomey Road and then turned on to a forest road that the State Map listed as Tracy Road and was supposed to be dirt road. It turned out to be more of forest road/dual track but hey, dirt is dirt and this was first dirt, too. We popped back on to Toomey Road and followed it out to Turkey Hollow Road.  This road turns to dirt and dead ends in a some sort of quarry. According to the Topo map there was a road that connected Turkey Hollow to Thompson Road in Goshen.

After some investigation at the end of the road we found trail

It was rideable initially but for those that didn't put on the bug spray before leaving the parking lot found that there were a lot of ticks. Roy said he pulled 8 of them off him!

Mike went as far as he could but found the rest of the trail to be flooded so we turned around

We backtracked and then rode Rt 4 to Thompson Rd to Milton Rd and then turned onto Eli Bunker Road, aka State Forest Road. This dirt road cuts across the lower half of the State Forest.  We then turned onto Bear Swamp Road.  

The State map indicated near the end of Bear Swamp there was a road/trail called Lucas Road and our goal was to ride that back out to Milton Road because I couldn't tell if Bear Swamp went all the way through or just stopped in someone's backyard.

After crossing a shallow stream Bear Swamp starts 6% climb for half a mile


There was a little descent and then we turned onto Lucas Road and it despite some ruddiness at the start it was ok for the first 100 yards

Then we found multiple trees that were down blocking the road making it unrideable which turned this part of the ride into a Napoleon's Death March

 Eventually we found the other end of Lucas Road only first by riding through a freshly mowed hay field and then walking up through someone's backyard. Then it was a short descent down Milton Road to Shearshop Road, which is a dirt road that brings you into the heart of Milton. At the town green I discovered my rear tire was going flat so I changed it in the shade by the side of the road.  The temperature was starting to climb, though.

Mike and I, along with another Newtown Lunartic rider, Scott, road most of this route in the other direction 4 weeks ago.  What's nice is that the route alternates between dirt and pavement all the way down to Rt 202.  Turning onto Old Mount Tom Road there is an insane dirt road climb that is about a mile long and averages 7% with a nice little 17% kicker at the end.  Prior to riding this hill Roy decided to turn around and head back because the heat was getting to him.

The final descent to Rt 202 on Old Mount Tom was nice and dirty

We ate our Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches at the beach

Fearing another Death March we opted not to look for the back way to Romford Road and continued on the route to the hill that combines Couch and Jack Corner Road. We climbed for 1.2 miles at an average grade of 8% and a max of 13.6%.  

While this would be the biggest climb of the ride it wasn't the steepest.  However, at the top there were cows!

This might not have been a very long ride but it definitely had a lot of vert, over a 100 feet per mile.

Next came the biggest climb of the day - Angevine Road

Garmin Climb Pro showed said the steepest part was 22% and RWGPS says 20%. Whatever the actual grade is, it was steep, but it was a necessary evil in order to get to the closed off section of the road that connects to Hard Scrabble Road.

After bombing down Flat Rocks and another brutal climb up in the heat we came upon more cows

These guys were pretty curious

and looking for a handout but we had to leave because the owner came out thinking we were doing something untowardly to his herd

It was nice to descend Seely Lane this time

Eventually we came back to the other side of Eli Bunker

Turning north we headed up Waldhams Road, which was a pretty good dirt road with quite a bit of vehicular traffic

It is, however, one perpetual climb up Mohawk Mountain

It just kept climbing until we got back to Toomey Road and then started descending back towards the parking lot from where we started.

There was a nice vantage point that looked north west towards the Taconics

From left to right in the distance you can see
Mt Riga, Mt Frissel, Bear Mt
the on the far right, from left to right
it's Race Mt and Mt Everett

By the time we got back to the cars, we were hot, exhausted and out of water.
Fortunately, I had a cooler of ice cold Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent work. What do you guys think about Mt. Tom road between the state park and Romford? Seems like private property but there is heat map. Ever been back there?