I discovered this route via a discussion on the RUSA members group, where people were talking about the most beautiful routes they’d ridden. Conveniently, it was less than two hours away and I’d been jonesing for a big bicycle ride over the weekend.

Molten Java Coffeeshop. Bethel, CT

It was also going to be my first official populaire. More on that later.

True to description, this route is gorgeous! Lots of lush greenery, curated wildflower embankments, ponds and rivers, and utterly stunning scenic vistas looking over rolling hills, farmland, and forests. We even saw a whitetail doe and two fawns bound across the road in front of us at one point!

Ball Pond, CT

Just as we arrived at passed the first checkpoint, in a slight panic as I tried to pull into the parking lot I had a small storm of things happen in the space of a split-second: I realized I was next to a curb and not a cut and would just fall over if I tried to make the turn; as I pulled on my brakes, the right hand one suddenly had no tension and I was just barely able to pull my foot free of the pedal before going all the way over. No injuries, but I’d broken my rear brake cable! (The mushroom shaped stopper popped off)

Pawling Cycle & Sport. Patterson, NY

Very very luckily, I found a bike shop nearby that was less than three miles away, and only a half mile off the route! We rode up and within about 15 minutes I had a new cable and we were off and running. And promptly started hitting the hills.

The hills were a killer. NYC is mostly pretty flat, especially by comparison. And I hadn’t closely inspected the route before committing. If I’d noticed that this route included ~5000 feet of climbing and a maximum 10% grade, I might’ve gone hunting for a slightly easier route to start with. I walked up far more hills than I’m proud of.

Ultimately, we finished the route in 8 hours and 20 minutes. I didn’t finish it in the time required for RUSA credit, so I’m a little disappointed in that result. But I’m also not remotely upset about such a great day of riding.

Notes to self for next time…

  • Skip the coffee cake. You already know the kinds of calories you take in matter. It gave you a sugar buzz, but wasn’t much of a pick-up. The Gu packet felt a lot better, even if it tasted really disgusting (pass on the Salted Caramel flavor in the future).
  • Consider the feasibility of carrying a spare cable, and pliers/cable cutters in your toolkit.
  • Take more pictures. A shot of the cormorants sunning themselves on that dock would have been great.
  • Read over the details of the route before committing.