The route for the Detour de Connecticut was great. I thought you might enjoy hearing about a little of my experience from the day:
As you know, we all met up at the Hop River trail-head on an ordinary Saturday, but with questionable weather forecasted, and with a challenging route planned. It was great to see so many friends and acquaintances made it to the start of the ride. We left the parking lot like a stage of the Tour de France, “gruppo compatto”. It was a great way to start the ride and the day. As we easily rolled along the mild grades of the rail trail, it turned out to be a great time to chat with old friends. I caught up with Todd, who I haven’t had a chance to speak with in years, and I spoke with some other riders I met on last fall’s epic ride (The ride known to most of us as the “river crossing” off-road ride).
After we crossed thru Willimantic, the pace of the front group picked up slightly faster than my heavy touring bike could handle. As we headed out of town on Plains Road, and raced through an off-road section, which was full of fast whoops and turns, I eased my pace and took my time in the woods. I was really on the ride to enjoy the day!
When I returned back onto the pavement, a handful of us created a "second" group. Once we got rolling, my friend Melanie sat on my wheel, while I drafted, Jordan’s boyfriend, who followed Jordan, who was being towed along by her father Wayne. The back roads were really pretty, and Wayne was motoring pretty hard at the front on his Richard Sachs CX bike, I noticed that our small group was down to only the five of us. The others had fallen off and created perhaps a third group. I knew this was Mel’s first ride in excess of 100 miles, so I encouraged her to stay with Jordan and her father since they were making good time. I figured they were pretty well seasoned at riding longer rides like this, and they knew the route. As I later learned, they were only riding to Willimantic, so I was a little worried about my decision to encourage Mel to push the pace. I knew she had a goal to finish the entire ride, and based upon her breathing at times, I knew she had been burning some matches. As we continued through the rolling hills I felt pretty good and helped Wayne keep a steady pace at the front. Jordan’s boyfriend peeled off the group somewhere near Canterbury to head to work. After we crossed Route 14, we came across Robert who had been popped from the front group and was waiting to ride with a group. We all got together and took turns being the last one up the climbs until we got to the rail trail again.
Once we were back on the bony Greenways route, we picked up another rider from the front group named Tony who was eating a sandwich while waiting at one of the yellow gates. More riders only slowed us down with more mechanicals etc, although the added company was nice. I enjoyed conversing with Tony about his bike touring experiences and adventures.
On a very rocky section, Robert experienced multiple flats, at which point he ended up walking out to the main road and hitchhiked back to Willimantic where he met back up with us at Willi brew. The six of us hung out there outside under an umbrella, and had burgers and beers, and enjoyed the nice afternoon for a while. As a brief rain shower passed by, we waited inside the restaurant and kept dry. Then Robert hitched a ride back to Manchester with our draft mates (via roof rack), while me, Mel, and Tony rode down the Airline Trail, and up and over thru Mesh, chugged over the climbs and slid back down off birch mtn. The only interruptions we had was a lost or found Fig Newton, the cute coffee shop stop in East Hampton, and small passing shower that washed a bunch of the dirt off of my legs.
The three of us stayed together and completed the entire route in around 9 hrs ride time and had a great time. Mel was psyched since she is an avid mountain biker by nature, and this was her first time logging this many miles in one day. I think she is still smiling.
Thanks again for putting together this distinctive route for this non-organized ride on such an ordinary day.
Hoping we can do it again!