John S, Brian H, Rick, Mike Sousa, and Dave F. Mike is new to the club and new to cycling(3 weeks addicted) and this would be his first long distance ride with a goal of around 40 miles. This was supposed to be a moderate to slow ride which I think overall it was. The weather was perfect and the temperature couldn’t have been better. It warmed up nicely after our decent down Anthony which had some pretty cold pockets. We had a nice pace line going down 32 towards Stafford and were just getting warmed up when we headed up Village Hill which is a climb I always enjoy. John’s new chain and cassette was skipping a bit so we stopped at the top for some adjustment. We took a right on Schofield Rd that has little traffic and beautiful scenery. After crossing RT 190 and another fine adjustment to John’s drive train, the route becomes Stafford Street which is similar to Schofield in that you remain on highlands above the Willimantic River valley on a road that has a good rhythm of rolling climbs and descents, which is the most awesome way to get to Stafford Lake. Everyone seemed to be riding well and Rick was making it look so easy on his cyclocross bike that I think he should be required to ride that on all road rides. We descended to RT 19 and did another nice pace line to into Mass. Rick snuck up on John for the state line sprint and it was all out to the sign. I’m not sure who won but it was close. We took a food break at Lake George and headed back towards Ct via Union Rd and New City Road. New City seems to be the route for cyclists because we passed several groups and individuals on the climb. The spin back down 19 to Stafford was fast and before you know it we were in front of the French Bakery in booming downtown Stafford. The bakery had fresh chocolate croissants right out of the oven but NO COFFEE!
So we pocketed our fresh French baked goods and crossed the street to that famous coffee house Che’X-Tra-Marte’. The Xtra Mart coffee was superb and we relaxed in the sunshine by the Willimantic River and recharged. Mike made a comment like…”do you guys always stop and eat?” to which I replied…”just on Sundays”.
From here things got interesting because once we were back on the bikes and started to work out the stiffness from stopping, we made a right off of Rt 32 just to show Brian, Rick, and Mike what Plains road (Girl Scout Hill) looked like in case they ever wanted to give it a shot. Bikers can’t say no to a challenge so off we went. It was painful as usual but we never see traffic there. Today we had a car going up and one coming down so that we couldn’t weave at all at the steepest part. We all made it through and Mike was a trooper to not only do his first 40 miler but throw Girl Scout in towards the end. From there we headed down Buff Cap and up 74 back to Tolland. This was one of those perfect day and perfect rides that you live all week for. I can’t wait for the next one.