the first other alumalith other than my own is officially built up and electronically shifting in and over the glacially tortured boulders of the lower CT valley. electronic shifting with rim brakes is something I’ve seen both Peter Weigle and Brian Chapman do — but this is there first “mountain bike” that I know of. pretty funny if you ask me.
Joe lives over in the Madison CT area, close to where I grew up and cut my teeth (and big chainrings) on the rubbly boulders and log strewn trails. He recently moved to the area from NYC over the pandemic, and has gone buck wild discovering all of the world class terrain right out his door in the heart of the Nutmeg Triangle.
this past weekend he took Lars, Troy and I on one of his local crawls — 30 miles of connecting classic NE single tracks with 10 miles of country roads to bring us back south. the elevation on the west side of the river is not nearly as severely steep as it is on the west side, but the punchy rock gardens and other technical problem solves more than make up for it. these trails are 99 percent ridable, albeit at about 5 MPH.
to the sound of skeet shots from the nearby Madison gun club, we climbed north on the New England trail. some really nice stuff that treated us to views of nearby rocky and rooty hills seen through the barren winter forest understory.
We made our way over to the hammonasset river for lunch and a vibe check. Troy and Lars were needing to get back the fast way down Summer Hill rd, but we all decided to have a PB&J and puff together before splitting off.
from here Joe and I continued through Chatfield hollow heading South to Dear Lake on a particularly technical section. Joe was able to clear it for the first time with his dropper all the way dropped and described his legs as jello at the bottom. we were cooked, but still had more crawling to go. not toooo much though.
we pedaled our way on the country pavement back to where we started in down town Madison. a stop at some new (to me) raw food smoothie place for well to do yoga moms (when in Madison) had us recharging immediately. what a great ride!
I had not ridden this many miles on the New England trail since high school when I worked at a bike shop in downtown Madison. the trail as I remember was a lot less coherent then.
in 1997, eager for a teenage adventure, a coworker named Bryn whom I really looked up to had an idea to ride up summer hill from Madison and ride all the way back down to the shore on the new England trail —- the same expanse we pedaled up on this ride. — it was summer time, so we combined it with an ocean (Long Island Sound) swim to Tuxis island at the end. don’t know what we expected on this small coastal island — but what we found was seagull poop. ill take a smoothie over seagull poop most days.
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