Welcome to the site for all the latest information about Connecticut's dirty little century, roughly 118miles in early September, about half off paved surfaces. Please start by reading The Basics (this is a link) for information about the ride (if current year Basics is not yet available, the previous year will give a general gist).

Rather than answer individual questions repeatedly, please address questions as "comments" to the MOST RECENT post and I will answer in a blog posting for all to see.

Monday, October 28, 2013

This Saturday 11/2: the all new Manchester Parks Tour

Inspired by Brenden's most excellent Eel-venture, I finally sat down and figured out a route through Manchester's myriad of parks, public lands, land trust holds, and other various pedestrian/bicycle cut-throughs.  Somewhat like the Hartford Discovery Tour, but free, unsupported, much rougher, and generally quite a bit more silly.  You know, one of my rides.

Here's what you need to know, and probably a bit more:
When: Saturday 11/2/2013, ride departs at 9:45 sharp.
Where: Meet at the gravel parking lot for the Cheney Rail Spur on Hilliard St.  The lot is immediately to the west of Capitol Equipment and Marine, which is 28 Hilliard.  If for some strange reason the lot fills, there is street parking nearby (and I need to start giving even less advance notice for rides or too many people are driving).  Start is about a 45 minute ride from the bridges in Hartford.
What: See the route(ish) below.  Plan on a substantial amount of time off the roads.  I'll be riding a mountain bike and will recommend one, although a cross bike or something of that ilk would be manageable if you really like mountain biking on one and don't mind having to walk a few extra times.  I'll be astounded if anyone rides everything on the route, but figure around 100yds of walking for the whole look.

How long?: I don't know.  See the picture above.  Figure on "long enough" or slightly more, and I wouldn't make plans for the afternoon.  I've ridden it all, but never as one ride all strung together.  There are options so we can make it longer by explore some of the parks more.  Also, the start if fairly central, so there will be lots of options for cutting out early.

That's about it; hope to see a bunch of the eelers and others out on Saturday.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Round of Thank-Yous After Rounding Eastern Connectict

As these people are still smiling,
obviously the pre-ride photo.

First of all, thank you to everyone who came out to ride on Saturday.  From Todd's starting shot, I counted 20 and another two had already started rolling down the trail in advance of my yacking.  Without you, well, it would be rather silly for me to be making this blog.  I hope everyone had a good adventure, and remember, even if you got lost, it is a wonderful part of the state in which to do just that.

And of course, a huge thank you to Glen in Hampton for his 2nd annual feed stop in the most perfect of places.  Thank you, Glen, for your generosity and for living is just the right place.  I hope everyone remembered to sign the note.

Also, thanks to Jessie for supplying the major outline for the cues and to my dad for helping me catch a few of the errors hidden in there.  I'm getting a better sense of where the problem areas in the instructions are and I am already working on clarifications for next year.  Again, at least it's a nice are to be lost.

To anyone I might be forgetting (shame on me), a thank you to all, and remember, at T.H.'s suggestion, the date is henceforth set: the last Saturday in April 2014, we ride the Detour de Connecticut again!

And there she goes....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Let's do it!

Again, if you haven't already, start by reading The Basics for most information about this year's ride.  Also, if you downloaded the cue sheet prior to April 23rd, please get a new copy as some errors were caught just in the nick of time.  NOTE: this is the 2nd cue sheet revision; sorry and many apologies for the confusion.

Now for the fun stuff: weather forecast for Saturday is looking downright fantastic, so let's do it, ride is Saturday for this year.  Rolling at 8am sharp.  I will make some short blathering speech a couple minutes before that with any last details and inspirations (I did say blather), then it's a go.

Also, Glen in Hampton has agreed to put out a water cooler for us again this year.  He is at #58 Old Kings Highway, and the water stop will be across the street from the house next to the old red barn close to the road.  Many thanks again to Glen for closing this long services gap.  If any make a stop in Scott's Cyclery in Willimantic, be sure to offer your thanks and appreciate that Glen keeps hoping for a rain-date year so he can join the ride with the shop closed.

Other stops for services are the two passes through Willimantic (I recommend the Coop which is a few blocks off the route) including the natural spring which is noted in the cues.  Other than that there is the center of East Hampton at the end of the long section of Airline Trail after the second pass through Willimantic.  The library is a block off the route (HERE) and closes at 5pm on Saturday.

As you will note, for a LONG, ROUGH ride (first two rides made it in last year right at 9 hours), there are few services.  I plan for being as self sufficient as possible, allowing for water stops only.  Be prepared!  Remember, delays happen, bikes break, people get lost, and more.  Have multiple back up plans and be safe while remembering to have fun.

Hope to see you Saturday.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oops, did it again: NEW CUE SHEET UPDATES

From the files of, "that's what fathers are for," thanks go to my dad for noting some problems with the cues on both passes through Willimantic.  The second mistake was there last year (a misnamed route number) and it seems everyone survived, but the first one was a jumbling of the order of the cues in the columns I had been provided.  My apologies for not thoroughly checking those instructions when I received them.  Anyhow, I've done that now and made a few clarifications to the directions given by Google, so the current cue sheet (AVAILABLE HERE as well through The Basics link) has been posted, and I am confident this will be the final update for this year.  Well, at least it is a nice part of the state in which to get lost.

Otherwise, while I tend not to trust forecasts this far out, weather is currently looking good for Saturday.  Again, I will post by noon on Friday the final decision of the ride going off Saturday or opting for the Sunday rain date.  Anyhow, hope to see a bunch of people out there in just a few days and again, by apologies for all the cue sheet updates.  Guess you get what you pay for....

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wee Tour de Connecticut 2013

Just a wafer thin ride

Note: if this is your first time visiting the blog for information on the 2013 ride, start by using this link to The Basics.

Ok, ok, it's true, I resisted, kicked, scream, and generally offered a childish unwillingness to acknowledge a shorter version of this ride, but finally demand, age/wisdom, and sensibility have won.  So, here it is, a Wee Tour de Connecticut for those someone saner, but not completely sane, few who think 118 miles of half-dirt is a bad idea in April, or possibly any time of year.

My goal for the Detour in general is to share some cool parts of the state I've found, but also to get people out riding together.  The more the merrier, so I'd like to see attendance grow.  Last year, my father arrived late for the start and I was please.  No, not that he missed us, but rather that, despite missing the group launch, he still various groups to join through most of his day.  My hope is that we'll have enough riders so everyone and every pace will have company.

So, here's my idea for a shorter version: the large loop is actually two loops forming a bow-tie shape with the center in Willimantic.  While one possibility would be to start with the long riders and turn back west on the Airline Trail when the ride reaches Willimantic the first time, I am of the opinion that the better option is to join the long riders on their first pass through Willimantic and ride the eastern loop with them.  This is more remote, and I think more interesting, section.  It also allows for the greatest number of people to ride together for the longest time.

WHERE: The junction of Routes 66 & 32 in Willimantic where it drops into the cemetery.  On the CUE SHEET, this is two instructions down from the top in the 2nd column of the 1st page (look for the mention of Valley Oil).

WHEN: Same date and rain date as the Detour, April 27/28 for 2013.  As for time, the long ride departs Manchester promptly at 8am, and it is 20.6 miles of dirt path with a long gradual rise and long descent to the Wee Tour start; figure out what average pace you would like to ride for those conditions and divide that into 20.6.  Add that to 8am for you start time.  
For example: if you'd like to ride with a 12mph group, you should be ready to ride at about 9:40 and jump into a group that comes along.  In picking your pace, remember to factor in slower speeds for dirt.  For reference, the fastest overall average speed for last year was about 13mph.

PARKING: On Rt66 in Columbia, at the junction with Rt6 (MAP HERE), there is a CT state Park & Ride lot for free, legitimate parking.  This is under 2 1/2 miles from the Wee Tour start.  It may be possible to find suitable parking closer, but that is at your risk.

As a VERY rough estimate, this loop is about 50 miles.  If joining for just the Wee Tour, please still read through THE BASICS as there is more useful information in there, and I'll hope to see some of you in Willimantic and beyond....

Route Update and Revised Cue Sheet!!!

This is very exciting, trust me.  I've been waiting for this.  Whee, whoopee!

But enough hype, as of 4/12/2013, the cue sheet for this year's Detour de CT has been updated due to a route modification.  If you had already downloaded the cues, sorry, but, really, the change is a win.  The new cue sheet can be found HERE.  I will also be amending the link included in The Basics.

"So, what gives," you ask.  Well, in past years, after the 2nd pass through Willimantic, there has been a departure from the Airline Trail to go around a section usurped by a farmer for grazing.  That situation has been finally corrected and while improvements are continuing, the trail is now passable, so: Yahoo!  There is now a roughly 20 mile run of rail trail connecting Willimantic to East Hampton.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Basics 2013

When: Saturday April 27th for 2013 (with Sunday the 28th kept as a rain date--final decision to be made Friday). Start riding promptly at 8am. That may sound early, but this will be a LONG ride. Add roughly 50% to your time for 118 paved miles; bring lights if in doubt. Sunset is at 7:43pm on Saturday. I had considered Sunday with a Saturday rain date, but this makes more sense.

What: The 2013 Detour de Connecticut looks to build on the last two years' rides and the relative success of previous "invitation-only" events, or as a participant described one, "Nobody died." This year's "bow tie edition" (the rough shape of the route) looks like it will be 118 miles, now improved with more dirt. Yup, here's the kicker: about half that mileage is off paved roads, with maybe 5 miles tops on numbered highway routes, thus the Detour de CT. If you like D2R2, adventures, mild orienteering, don't mind getting a toe wet (ankles should stay dry this time), short rough sections, not to mention loads of gorgeous back roads, this is a ride for you.  Note: this is a self-led ride; you are responsible for finding your way from the directions.

Route: New for this year, and many thanks to Jessie, the route now exists as a single text document of cues  (there are 3 columns per page, use one page at time--complete full page before continuing to columns on next page).  The file can be downloaded from Google Docs HERE.  (Note: this file was updated on 4/23/2013, so please grab a new copy if you downloaded previous to that.)  Within the cues there are references to numbered maps for which there are links below.  Note, not all of the route has/can be mapped (you need the cues) and Map 8 has been removed due to changes this year.  Also, Map 10 has one deviation from the cues (cues are correct) in the last 1/2 mile.  Again, trust the cues; the maps are just visual aids.
For those who rode last year, the loop is mostly the same except for a different (and I think more interesting) route through Willimantic on the 2nd pass, as well as an extra 100 yards of dirt right at the end.  There may be a couple extra dismounts this year as Hurricane Sandy dropped a few trees and the rail trail section in Chaplin has new blocker stones at the road crossings to dissuade ATVs.
Lastly, there is a GPX file for last year's route with is mostly correct except as noted above.  It can be found HERE.

The Bicycle: Minimum 32c tires are good for the soft soil sections, although I would avoid knobbies as there is still a lot of pavement, but an inverted tread tire might be nice. Some woods roads on the loop are very rough, but nothing a Model T couldn't handle. There are two sections of rail road track crossings where I had to walk as well as some potentially wet woods roads in the Mohegan State Forest. I'm not trying to impress anyone, but in choosing your equipment, keep in mind this is the evaluation of a retired pro mountain biker. If you consider a cross bike just a dirt-road-bike, a mountain bike might be a good choice. There are sections rougher than D2R2.
Lastly (for now), there is a bike shop in Willimantic, but they are open only on Saturday, so if rain date is used, you get the idea. Regardless of the day, there are LONG stints with nothing resembling support, so plan for self sufficiency.

The Cost: I like free things, so this ride is free. If, on Monday, you feel like you did a fantastic ride, I'd encourage you to donate $5-10 to Bike Walk CT. With their efforts, we can improve and expand the rail trail sections in future years. Again, this is completely voluntary; there is no cost for riding this loop.

Food: The center, or knot, of the bow tie is Willimantic, CT, and the route passes through at roughly 1/3 and 2/3 distance. These will be opportunities to buy food. I recommend the coop in town which is not far off the route. Also, on the second pass through town, the loop will go by a roadside natural water spring.

Parking: I know not everyone will ride to the start, but you get serious bonus points if you do. There is limited parking right at the trail head. Nearby are Progress Dr. and Utopia Rd. which should be reasonable for street parking. If you drive, you are responsible for obeying parking laws.

One more plug: Why am I doing this? I like riding a bike, and I like riding bikes with other people. I like back roads. I like dirts roads. I like woods roads, and I like sharing what I've found with others. This loop is not for everyone, but I love it. It's challenging, frequently beautiful, and comprises so many of the reasons I enjoy spending time on two wheels.

Disclaimer: This is just a possible route. I will be riding the loop at the specified day and time. If other's choose to do the same, they do so at their own risk and choosing. To my knowledge, there is no restricted open public access sections of the route, but I do not guaranty this. Obey all no trespassing signs. Route is not solely on maintained public roads.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's all about the blog, man.

In the comments, there was a question about being emailed with information about the ride.  Good question, but as a free-for-all, services relating to this ride are limited.  There is no email list.  Best bet is to subscribe to the blog and you will receive notice as more information becomes available.

And more apologies: I really wanted to have this year's "Basics" posted by now, but large portions of the route are still covered by snow.  In case people are missing it, that gray print in the text at the top of the page (just below the title picture) is a link to the nuts and bolts of the ride.  For now, that is still the 2012 version, but for this year the main change is to the date, April 27th, 2013 (with Sunday rain date).  Other than that, I expect the loop will change by less than 100 yards, but I just need to inspect route conditions before finalizing this year's "Basics."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Blame the Scape(cartoon)Fish

So, New England had this pretty big storm a few weeks back, lots of snow and all that.  That meant a day or two of moving lots of white stuff from one place to another and not much riding.  With all these freakishly big storms, it's almost the climate changed or something....

So, yes, snow melts, and this dropping is doing just that.  I'm seeing more and more ground everyday, but most rail trails and the like are still well covered.  I'd hoped to have this year's "Basics" posted with final route description and all that, but I haven't been able to make a test run yet, so for now, that will wait a wee bit.  The route, however, is basically set, so feel free to take a gander at last year's "Basics" if you are new to the ride.  For those and all, rest assured, we are still go for the last Saturday in April (Sunday rain date).  Best be riding!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy New Year...belated

With the dropping of the ball and other New Year's traditions, we passed into that magical time when the current year's Detour de Connecticut has yet to be run.  All those adventures are still in store, what fun!

The Detour route in January
The is from the run through Porter Reservoir to the finish.

So it seems southern New England is actually having snow fall this year after last winter's near lack of the white stuff.  Maybe someday I'll think up a "Ski Tour de CT," but for now, the traditional bike version is drawing near, only three months to go until late April is upon us.  I'm hoping to give the route another run by late February or early March to check for any necessary changes, and then I'll get this year's Basics posted and it's all systems go for the last weekend in April.  Let's get riding!