John S, Mike S, Tom and Jen, and Me- July 5th Sunday Club Ride:
Well we have waited all spring and early summer for this type of day. The day broke crystal clear with low humidity and perfect temperatures in the 70s. We were originally going to pick up Brian in Ellington and head across the river for a 60 to 70 miler. When the 5 of us arrived at Nerac, John informed us that Brian wasn’t riding so we were free to go wherever we desired on a beautiful day. We decided to head north and see where our bikes would take us. We started out on our usual route up Village Hill and out to Stafford lake where we picked up 19 north to Wales MA. Many of you know that section of Route 19 with it’s smooth new pavement and endless gradient….up! If you look at the profile on the Map My Ride link below you get an idea of how uphill it is. We kept a hot pace to MA with everyone pulling strong and steady. We stopped to take some food in and figure out where o go next. Jen suggested taking Monson road over towards Monson and Tom thought that was the road Dave H took them on last week. This road was one of the most fun roads I’ve ever ridden. It was truly rolling where you could keep a fast pace by pushing the small hills and enjoying the speed on the down hills and flats. Jen took advantage of her knowledge of the road by sprinting one of the bigger hills and leaving us all in the dust. We ended on a nice decent to Rt 32 in Monson where we stopped to discuss our next move. There was talk of heading south to Stafford and home but I have done a route from that point to Hampden Ma on my motorcycle and remembered it as a beautiful ride. I suggested the route (thus it’s my fault) and everyone was in. I told them about the climb but on a motorcycle it seemed a little more benign. Once you go under the railroad tracks and start up Lower Hampden Road, it’s a steady climb for a long way with a steep pitch at the summit. At the steepest part I was still feeling good, although everyone had sprinted ahead like it was no big deal, when it turned to dirt due to road construction. The others were waiting at the top and it was smiles all around for the awesome climb (I think). The decent was a bit tricky on the steep, dirt, downhill with a hairpin turn part way down. But once we got rolling again on pavement the ride and scenery were the best. The scenic vistas at the top of the climbs were worth the price of sweat and calories burned. We rolled through the center of Hampden to Somers Rd that would take us south to CT. We were only 33 miles in at this point but it was a tough 33 miles and everyone agreed it was time for bagels and coffee. Our Sunday coffee stops have become tradition (or legend) and part of the relaxed Sunday ride experience that we all come to enjoy. We happened into a great little bagel shop that had a few tables and chairs for outside dining and the others “twisted” my arm to stop.
When we rolled out of the stop I think all of our legs were a little stiff but it was a 13 mile spin down the CT river valley to where we turned left onto Middle Butcher Rd. The reality if riding out of Tolland is that you have to climb to get out of town, and climb to get back. We started our climb and I was toast. John, Tom, and Jen amazed me as they flew up hills like we just started. In the center of Rockville Jen suggested we go Mile Hill as the least of the climbing evils back to Tolland, I agreed until John wanted to end on Reed Rd and Tolland Stage. I pushed for Gehring back to Anderson and home and thankfully won. We ended up with around 56 miles but it seemed longer. It was a very challenging route and I would highly recommend it. It will definitely be on my list for a fall ride.