Cold Weather Cycling
Summer will be over in about a week and you can already feel the change in the air. Red and yellow leaves are just starting to dot the trees and you can feel the cool, crisp air of the early morning as you put your kids on the school bus.
Fall is a great time to get out your Cyclo-cross bike and ride one of the many gravel or dirt roads deep in the woods and fields of NW Connecticut. A trip north from West Cornwall to Falls Village/ Canaan along River Road is well worth the effort. Fishermen still dot the Housatonic as you ride by some of the prime fishing holes in the area. You might spot an eagle or two along the way as they scan the river from on high in search of fish. It is about 6.5 miles from West Cornwall to Falls Village on River Rd., Lime Rock Station Rd., and Warren Turnpike and is a combination of paved road and hard packed dirt and gravel with some small hills. Parking, food and shops are available at both ends of this route.
Another great spot for a Cyclo-cross bike is from Kent to Bulls Bridge. Take a right off of Rt. 7 onto Lane Street, at the southerly end of the village will take you to Elizabeth Street and the Rt. 341. You make a right onto Rt.341 and cross over to the west side of the River. The Kent School Campus straddles both sides of Rt. 341. Just past the Campus, make a left onto Schaghticoke Road. This road starts out as paved and turns into hard packed dirt. It is passable on a road bike. You will be passing through the Schaghticoke Indian Reservation. For the last few hundred yards before you make the left onto Bulls Bridge Road, you will be riding along the Appalachian Trail! This whole stretch of road offers great views of the River; there is even a spot where a waterfall comes right down almost onto the Road.
Kent is also home to The Bicycle Tour Company which is a premier adventure travel company and cycling center, as featured in Connecticut Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and Cycling. Their website explains: “Our trips are the fruit of over twenty-five years of experience in the cycling industry. While traveling the globe as a bicycle tour leader and as a cycling professional with the Motorola and Saturn racing teams, I have met extraordinary people, who have become Bicycle Tour Company staff members. Joining our leaders are cultural guides who provide BTC trippers with unique historical perspectives and insider tours of our destinations.”
The HouBike Trail links existing river roads next to or near the Housatonic to produce a continuous 45-mile multi-use biking and hiking route from Mass/CT border (Bartholomew’s Cobble in Ashley Falls, MA) to the center of New Milford. The route includes approximately 35 miles of existing publicly maintained paved and dirt roads directly adjacent to the Housatonic. The additional 10 miles is on roads that are not adjacent to the Housatonic. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Housatonic River Valley. The route runs along the river for approximately 45 miles through scenic areas of Salisbury, Canaan (Falls Village), Cornwall, and Kent, and New Milford. The route will be across the River from North Canaan and will pass through parts of Sharon. The HouBike website offers PDF maps of 10 sections of the trail and also has maps of loop trails from both Sharon and Kent.
The HouBike Trail is part of the larger Western New England Greenway which is a multi-segment, multi-state bike route in progress that will link NYC and Montreal. The corridor being pursued largely follows Route 7 through the very western portions of CT, MA AND VT.It would link with the East Coast Greenway at the Merritt Parkway near Norwalk, CT. at the Southern terminus, and with the Quebec’s Route Verte at the Northern terminus (Canadian border).
The Interlaken Inn at 74 Interlaken Road in Lakeville is a great place to start your fall bike rides from. They have a page of bike rides on their website which includes rides in Lakeville, Salisbury and Cornwall and even a 135 mile ride used in the annual Tour of CT race. After a long ride you can come back to nice dinner at Morgan’s Restaurant, located at the Interlaken and a variety of lodging options.
Serious cyclists will continue training outside in the cold months or move to their indoor trainers to be ready for this tough ride through our gorgeous hills and valleys. The Tour of the Litchfield Hills returned for its thirteenth year on Sunday August 7, 2016! The Tour offers non-competitive 12,30, 55, 75, and 100 mile bike rides through the scenic Litchfield Hills of Connecticut for riders of all ability levels. This ride is a major cycling event through our towns each year and has raised over 1 million dollars over the last 12 years for the Cancer Care Fund of the Litchfield Hills. Train throughout the winter and mark your calendars for this annual tour, which is set to repeat next summer.
Those of us to choose to stay on our bikes in the colder months must be prepared for the cold, damp, windy weather that Fall brings to New England. Many riders overdress in colder weather and can build up body heat and start sweating while pedaling uphill and then end up wet and shivering on the downhills. Wear a base layer of Merino wool or any synthetic wicking fiber (such as polyester or nylon/spandex) to help you stay dry. Cotton soaks up sweat and holds it next to your skin, so avoid that. Experienced cold weather cyclists wear just enough clothing that they are slightly cold when they start their ride but warm up quickly from exertion. Full finger gloves, full length pants or bibs and shoe covers block the wind and keep you comfortable. Helmet liners or covers are a necessity when the cold winds start to blow. So, stay warm and get out there on our roads and trails and enjoy a different kind of cycling.