Sunday, September 04, 2022

Ralph Pruitt's 40 mile Gravel Grinder

You might say Ralph Pruitt is somewhat of a legend in our area. He is a prolific gravel rider and I have had the pleasure to ride with him a few times and kills everything. Before he moved the south the last time I rode with him was back in 2017 where we did a 70 mile gravel ride to the Barrington Brewery. Prior to this ride I had a made a few suggestions to get a few more dirt miles in but Ralph really wanted to hold the route to 40 miles so I decided to do his ride in three parts:

  1. Ride to Gaylordsville and along the way meet Mike and ride a little dirt along the way
  2. Meet up with Ralph and his crew from Pawling Cycle and do his route
  3. Ride home and hit some gravel roads in Newtown and perhaps stop at a Brewery

 I hit First Dirt only a half mile from house on Pond Brook Rd

However there was an ocean of Black Butter between Pond Brook and the next dirt road

Initially I was just going to take the flattest route to New Milford but all the new fresh pavement was was too enticing so I did the climb up Rt 133 to Brookfield Center and then the new pavement on Long Meadow Hill

After bombing down Pumpkin Hill I got in some Wandrer Miles but riding by the Kimberly Clark plant and then decided to ride to Boardman Bridge, where I was meeting Mike, along Rt 7. I passed by AutoTechnic who sells the coolest Mini Trucks imported from Japan.

When I got to Boardman Bridge I texted Mike to see what his ETA was and he hadn't even left his house so I started riding back towards New Milford in search of some food. Riding down Boardman Rd I found a PeeWee football game about to start at Bulls Field and stopped at the Snack Shack for some more energy drink and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.

Just as I was finishing my breakfast Mike showed up and we headed north through Sega Meadows.

Came out on River Road and continued riding the north. 
The Housatonic was looking pretty low.

River Road is one of the best dirt roads around. Five miles up to Gaylordsville with nice views of the Housatonic River

and then there is Gaylordsville Spite House also referred as the Cake House (when it was painted pink)

We got to the Gaylordsville Market at 9:30  and Ralph and a few of his crew were already there.
From Left to Right: Lou, Malcolm, Mike, Steve and Ralph.

Also in attendance was Heidi, Melissa, Jim, Curt, and Paul
and this is the route we were riding which included quite a few dirt roads I have ridden before just not in this direction.

We headed out riding south on River Road, First Dirt for this ride.

There were two people on Mountain Bikes, Ralph and Malcolm

The first climb was on Rooster Tail Hollow

which kicked off a 3.5 mile climb up to the top of Hine Road

Coming down Rooster Tail Hollow is always a white knuckle descent with 16% a grade and a 90 degree turn in the middle

going up it was a grind

there are some flat parts, too, and a final climb to the paved portion of Long Mountain Road.

It was on Long Mountain Road that I remember running into Andy Engel around 2013, who was training for D2R2 with his friend Joe Shrack.

 Then began the white knuckle descent on Hine Road. 

There's one particular nasty section with a switchback that has a 20 percent grade that took its toll on the group. 

Lou got a flat and Jim lost both of his water bottles.

Mike and David at the end of Hine Road

Jim headed back up Hine Hill followed by Mike and Melissa to look for his water bottles

I went back to, too.

Only I got distracted by the farm animals

The cows

Another particularly hard climb, probably the hardest of them all was Indian Trail Rd

Again, another road that I haven't ridden this direction on and it would tough!

Then we all came down Long Mountain. On the left side of the road there was a rock that I and a few others didn't see and were surprised by it but that was it.

Mike hit it too only he wasn't so lucky and ended up crashing.
He had a gash in his forearm and his knee was bleeding, too.
I offered to ride with him back to his place but he wanted to keep riding.

Then we were in the flats for a bit on Mud Pond

The next big climb was Bulls Bridge but it was paved

Turning north again we rode another favorite gravel road, Schaghticoke Road

Photo credit: Heidi Baks

Here's today's crew from left to right:
Jim, Melissa, Curt, David, Steve, Lou, Mike, Me, Ralph, Malcolm

The last big climb of Ralph's ride was up through Macedonia State Park and the back side of Skiff Mountain

We stopped at the Pavilion to water up.

Mike also wanted to wash off his injuries, too.

The nice thing about riding this direction is that it's a shallow climb

yet also long

and the worst part is the back part of Skiff Mountain

We regrouped here and some folks decided they wanted to descend on the paved road

I went for North Kent Road #1

This makes the second year in a row that I have only descended it.

I think when it gets cooler out I am going to have to climb it this year

It's a white knuckle descent

and today it was particularly nasty because it was so dry

Apparently, Ralph caught up to a car that was headed down the road and couldn't get around it thus quashing his attempt at the PR on this descent

Meanwhile us drop bar riders just wanted to get the bottom in one piece

This portion of River Road from North Kent back towards Skiff Mountain is really nice because its closed to traffic all summer

After River Road we rode into Kent and stopped at the Citgo to get more liquids and some food.

Then we pacelined back to Gaylordsville

I hung out for bit and had my meat stick and then headed home back down River Road 

There was rain in the forecast for around 4 PM

I was on Erickson Road around 4 and there was no rain

However, climbing up Iron Works Hill it appeared to have just rained

It did start to rain by the time I was on Pocono Rd and I only stopped to seek shelter from the lightning.

Ate and drank some more

before it lightened up it came down even harder

When the rain got lighter I headed out.
Stopping in Dodgingtown for another snack I was 91 miles into the ride and decided to hit some Newtown Dirt Roads on my way home that would surely get me to 100 miles for the day

That coke was the best!

While climbing up Mt Nebo Rd to ride down Ox Hill, which is dirt, I got passed by two fire trucks.
Turning onto Ox Hill I saw one of them coming up the fill towards me so I pulled over.

When the fire truck got to me I asked where's the fire and he pointed to this tree behind me.

It was smoking, probably got struck by lightning

As I slowly descended Ox Hill the road got worse and worse

It was really soft and washed out

I hit a sandy part and crashed in the middle of the road.
Nothing wrong with the bike but my leg got a few abrasions and my hip felt like it went through a meat tenderizer 

Beaver Dam fared no better, either.
I stopped at Brad's where I was able to wash off the cuts on my leg

Finally, down at Elm Street, the road was closed due to down wires

Where the cable crossed the road I decided I wasn't going to try and ride that way further so I cut through the Country Club and made my way back on South Main Street. Turning onto Hanover Road, the rain started again. Glad I didn't stop at the brewery.


Heidi Baks said...

Nice write up! I'm glad you didn't accuse me of having a mountain bike. :)

Anonymous said...

You forgot to include me otherwise it’s a good write up