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%.
I posted the ride on the Facebook Page, Northeast Gravel Rides, but there were no takers. Too bad, because you haven't ridden gravel in CT until you have ridden Mt Riga Road. I did, however, have a great turn out from the Newtown Lunartics along with my friend Shepard who lives in Salisbury. It's been awhile since we have ridden together.
If you have ever ridden with me you will know that I seldom do the same route twice and today's ride was no exception. We started from the Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village and rode south to Covered Bridge hitting first dirt on River Road and riding along the Housatonic at flood stage.
After riding through the covered bridge in West Cornwall we turned south onto Route 7. I am not a fan of riding this road but it was the only way to get to Smith Hill Road, a dirt road that I discovered last year. Turns out it's also a formidable climb, too. Then we rode north to Eggleston Road, down past Lime Rock and then up Route 112, again, another climb to reckon with.
Turning onto Race Track Road it was time for a break and it appeared that Mike was starting to cramp, which is not a good sign.
What I love about this part of the route is after Old Sylum Road we turned into Dark Hollow Rd, which is a dirt descent through a forest and is quite cool.
We popped onto the rail trail for a bit and then stopped at the Salisbury Fountain to fill our water bottles. I needed a bathroom something fierce and wound up going to the tavern/inn on the other side of town. They were really nice and I didn't have to buy anything at their store, either. Turns out there was a port-a-john 20 yards from the fountain but hiding behind a tree.
Mike took off while I was taking care of business and then Shepard, Scott, Marshall and I started up Mt Riga. We stayed together till we hit the dirt road and then the three of them were gone.
Climb Pro was showing 12% when on the first part of the dirt road but then it went up to 19% (that maroon part on the screen) in the steepest section. I was wishing for a smaller gear but was still able to make the climb . I figured if I can make this, I can make it up anything.
Three quarters of the way to Lake Riga I caught up to Mike. He was doing rather well and didn't have to stop at all.
We stopped at the lake to fuel up, chat with some walkers, and mentally prepare for the next section, which is a punchy 16% climb.
Mike needed to stretch and we all ate the snacks that we brought.
Then we started climbing again.
At the entrance to Camp Hi-Rock, where I went as a kid in mid 1970s, Marshall discovered he broke two spokes on the descent out of Mt Washington State Forest.
Shepard was able to adjust and retention his remaining spokes so that Marshall could at least limp back to the cars. Mike went with him because he was still having cramping issues.
We ate lunch at the Depot Deli. I brought burritos and Scott had his famous Bee'm me up Scotty Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich.
Then we headed out to North Mountain Road in the direction of the next big climb, Sunset Rock. Looking across the Harlem River Valley you could see huge stands of trees that were barren leaves, due to, I think, Gypsy Moth Caterpillars.
If you think Mt Riga is steep wait till you try Sunset Rock. It starts out at 7% and hits 22% (according to my Garmin) at one point. There's a switch back that is really mean. I made but it was slow.
While making our way over to Barnum Street, which is a dirt road that I have ridden past many times coming from Big Elm Brewery but never had the occasion to ride it we came across this chainsaw tree. Each saw was embedded into the tree.
Barnum Street is really flat and at the split, I had the route take Upper Barnum and I will have to come back to hit the rest of Barnum another time.
Barnum continues south to the State Line where it turns back to pavement. This time, however, we headed west on Hammertown Road back to Route 41 with the intention of hitting Beaver Dam Road, only Shepard suggested we ride North Beaver Dam Road because it was dirt.
That was the right move since this was a gravel ride. Shepard pointed out that North Beaver Dam passes by Meryl Streep's compound but you couldn't see anything from this part of the road.
We worked our way over to Between the Lakes and then climbed up to Rt 44 where we parted company with Shepard.
Scott and I bombed down Wildcat Hollow and then rode south along the Housatonic back to Falls Village.
Scott and I rode back to the School where we found Marshall and Mike and I broke out the refreshments. Mileage at that point was 68.5 miles and Scott wanted to level up to a multiple of ten. We tacked on the extra credit by riding on Rt 112 nearly to Lime Rock Park and back.
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