Saturday, September 11, 2021

Do Pink Flamingos on your helmet make you faster?

I went to see my son compete in his first Para-Tri that he had been training for all summer at the Madison Surf Club and he came in first place in the team event. His guide did the swim and he rode a tandem and ran with the guide. 

Elliot finishing the ride

I had originally planned on riding after the event from another location but couldn't get out of the parking lot because it was blocked by the event that was till in progress. I hopped on my bike and worked my way out of the backside of the Surf Club to Rt 146 and the route I intended on riding.

I forgot that September 11th was also the day of the 2021 Closer to Free Cancer Charity ride but due to increase of COVID cases caused by the Delta Variant the organizers went virtual or DIY. That would explain why I was seeing all these cyclists on Rt 146 between Madison and New Haven and one rider, a cancer survivor, caught my interest as she had a pink flamingo attached to her helmet.

It was such a beautiful day, low 70s, no humidity and no wind, either. The route that I came up with was kind of a hybrid road route of sorts. Mainly pavement but there was dirt sprinkled in here and there to keep it interesting.

After crossing over the Shoreline East tracks I made my way inland. I planned this route to use as many new roads as possible after having ridden out this way in the past a few times.

First Dirt was on Schoolhouse Road in Guilford. Houses are on it at the bookends of the road and it's more of a connector between two other roads.  The next dirt road on the route was Howd Avenue. Another cut through road that I imagine was left unpaved in order to discourage cut throughs.

The tide was out and made it odiferous when riding close to the water

 There were people fishing and kayaking in all the little tidal marshes

The closer I got to New Haven the more Closer to Free riders I passed

My route took me to the Branford Trolley Trail and more non paved surfaces

I was so excited to be finally riding the Branford Trolley!

It's kind of short and not paved

and the original trolley bridge is still standing but it's only wide enough for one bike

The railbed also went through a tidal marsh

Then crossed over the Tilcon siding

Edgewater Beach

Stony Creek Brewing


After the brewery and rode into East Haven and then turned north. My route took me on Route 80. Cars do go fast but it has a decent shoulder for most of the route and I even saw one or two Closer to Free riders coming the other way, along with this one old guy with a beard rocking an old bike with downtube shifters and a Cannondale Casey handlebar bag.

There were only 4 climbs on this route and the hardest one was in Killingworth

Almost a mile long with an average 6% grade

It was the longest climb of the day

Turning into Butter Jones Road and the last and longest dirt road of the route

Butter Jones turns into Spruce Ledge Road

It was doable on the Waltly but it would have been a lot better on a gravel bike

There were a lot of mud puddles

On the way, the first house on Butter Jones had a big Cock statue in their front yard.
I should have realized that I was heading into Cockaponset State Forest.

Dropping down into Westbrook I started riding on Rt 146 again and came across more Closer to Free riders.

Turning onto Route 1, I got on the wheel of some UCONN Alumni but that didn't last long because my route headed north again to avoid roads that I have already ridden.

This was the longest ride on the Waltly to date and it was really comfortable. I was finally able to use the top tube bag I got at REI a few months ago to hold my food.

Another view of the Shoreline East tracks

Stopped at a nearby beach to get this wonderful view of Long Island Sound. As I was putting the bike in the car I messaged an old friend who lived in the area and she was pleased to hear from me. Melanie invited me over to her house where she and her boyfriend were having a BBQ with some other friends. I ended up joining them and didn't leave the area until 8:30 PM!  What a day.

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