Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Eel XI


From right to left:
Dreux, Nancy, Mike, Me

The eleventh running of the Eel started out on a cold Sunday morning from Brendan's house in Tarriffville.  The Eel had its origins as an unofficial mixed terrain rain along the CT River but now has moved a little further north and has gotten a little longer. 

Brendan gave his briefing

The guy in the sandals is Mike but we all started calling him Sandals Guy

Salem was in attendance. Incase you are wondering who he is, he is the creator of the Detour De Connecticut. Which is another Alley Cat styled mixed surface ride, approximately 120 miles long that I did once a few years ago.

Mike did the lead out.

Mike fell back with us and there was a big group that charged on ahead and missed the first turn but they caught up.

The water features on the trail made things interesting

Nancy was cursing Brendon

It looks like Sandals Guy brought the right gear

The trail we were on popped out on the power lines and then headed back in. The sun made things a lot warmer and clothes started coming off.

The trail we were on came out on the Farmington Rail Trail

You couldn't have asked for a nicer fall day to ride

In this part of Connecticut its peak leaf season.

I made some alterations to the course trying to get more dirt only to find that not only RWGPS is out of date but so are all the satellite photos. We went up Nicholson Hill, which turned out to be a big climb and there was no dirt to be found.

First Dirt was eventually found on Sodom Mountain Road, 15 miles from the start, but it was short lived because it turned into a Napoleon's Death March climb

Eventually you could ride the trail

And it came out to a dirt road that I guess you could say was truly First Dirt.

My altered route took us directly to the Granville General Store where I made acquaintance with Sandals Guy and few others as we took a rest break to fuel up and prepare for what was to come.

Mike and I had coffee 

My altered route took us from the Granville Store up a 3 mile climb only to find the road that I wanted to ride was impassible.

So we continued on up and eventually found dirt on Blanford Road which was nice and flat and a welcomed respite after all that climbing.

Between Mike looking at Google Maps and me using RWGPS we found a nice ATV trail, called Wendy Road, that headed back to the original route.

It was pretty a pretty good trail until we started descending the other side.

The trail descended near a stream and there were quite a few washouts. Since it is Water Company Property the road repair was done with big trap rock which made descending nearly impossible. A mountain bike would have been nice. In fact we met a few mountain bikers that were climbing up and that was their recommendation.

The trail got better after the power lines

We found this big water tower on Wildcat Road and stopped to peer down into the valley

It made for a good opportunity to take a picture

Wildcat Road was great

and there were some big climbs

At Farnum Road we met up with a guy named Greg who missed the turn and back tracked to this point as we pulled up. We had to wait for the farmer in his tractor to climb up the hill before we could start again.

After yet another punchy climb

The road turned to a trail

which turned into some tricky maneuvering if you wanted to stay out of the mud

Most of the road was pretty doable

And it got better the closer we got to Tolland, MA

The turn onto Schoolhouse Road was met with relief because it was smooth and paved.

It did turn back to dirt but nice dirt

and it was pretty much down hill

At the intersection with Jeff Miller Road we found the water that Brendan stashed 

and it was perfect timing because we were getting low.

Before getting here Mike had told Greg that we were on the 70 mile route and Greg said he was doing the 50. This was the split off point for the two routes and Greg went on his own.

The closer we got to Connecticut the worse the road became

and another Napoleon's Death March ensued

We came upon some dirt bikers after one particularly nasty mud bog and one of them was attempting to fix his bike that rendered it unusable.  His buddies were all hanging out drinking beer watching him work.

They were impressed that we were riding rigid bikes

We made it to the State Line

And the trail got better so that we could actually ride faster

There was a gap of approximately 10 miles till the next dirt road which was Fuller Road.

I was expecting dirt through People's State Forest but the road was for the most part paved, crappy, but not dirt.

Goose Green Beach Road is one that I have always wanted to ride.

Everytime I go skiing at Ski Sundown I see the southern entrance and it looks so enticing

And it is definitely worth riding

Then there was a short paved section till the route turns to dirt on Old Farmington Turnpike

It was quite busy and at one point we got stuck behind some slow moving cars

Then came Breezy Hill, the second to last really big climb

It was brutal

Mike cramped in both legs at one point. I came close to cramping few times.

Then we had a nice mixed terrain descent in which I started to get cold and was glad that I brought a cycling jacket.

The last really big climb was North Mountain Road which tops out at 20%

Then we descended down to the rail trail

The ride through Stratton Brook was absolutely lovely

It looked like we were the last ones to return but there were still a two cars with empty bike racks so I don't know if we were really the last ones to return.

I am glad, however, that I wore my Lake303s with all the mud we encountered.  


Dreux Beirne said...

Nice write up!

Brendan said...

The dirt roads through People's are a lot less interesting than the road descent.

Mark said...

Yeah, I was looking at the map last night to go through there from Norbrook Farm and nothing was appealing.

Mark said...

Thanks Dreux