Day 3, while rolling down the beautiful Simsbury bike path, we discussed the possibilities for the following day. I steadfastly reserved my right to a rest day even if it didn’t feel like we were in shambles. My argument was that rest days should be done preventatively and not curatively. Gen was less than eager to spend a rest day somewhere in the middle of Connecticut sitting at a Starbucks, and tried to convince me waiting until Ridgefield would be the better plan.
It was just as important for me, in terms of our partnership as a team, that my wish for a rest day be taken seriously, so I made sure that she would be willing to let me have it, if that’s what I felt would be best for my body. Thankfully, she was willing to compromise and told me while she would prefer to have rest days in Ridgefield, that she wouldn’t push us to pedal if I wasn’t willing.
We agreed that we would take advantage of the early morning start and do our best to get some easy biking done on the Simsbury bike path and decide how we wanted our day to progress from there. We stopped for breakfast in Avon at the Avon Country Deli where we met a delightful couple: Patty and Larry, who were out for a morning ride.
Patty and Larry have been actively serving the community by running the Simsbury Free Bike Community Organization - a not for profit which provides free community bicycles to be used by the public.
We told them about our plans and the direction we were headed that day, and they jumped in with a suggestion to follow the Connecticut Greenway bike path--a path that runs all the way from Maine to Florida. It goes straight down to New Haven, which was further south than we intended, but would promise some easier riding for the first half of our day.
With maps and directions in hand, we took their suggestion and set out along the Greenway. After a little more than 15 miles of well marked and easy terrain, we split off from the Greenway to head west towards Waterbury. Here the Garmin started getting angry and trying to put us on roads of dubious quality and bike friendliness. We also encountered our first big climb of the day, going from 200 feet to 700 feet in a little over a mile with a sustained 7+% grade peaking at 9%. At the top we stopped for Gatorade at a local grocer, and considered what that hill meant in comparison to the future difficulties of the day.
We agreed there was no chance we would be staying in Waterbury for the remainder of the day and set out to find lunch and continue down the road.
While biking through downtown Waterbury around 2:30 we spied a food truck (Los Garcia) selling tacos and other fusion Mexican cuisine and stopped, eager to replenish the calories that we were struggling to keep in surplus.
It is a regular occurrence for my eyes to have a larger appetite than my belly and the food truck was no exception:
Chips and Guacamole (which turned out to be 3 whole avocados worth)
2 Al Pastor Tacos
Mexican Street Corn
The food was fantastic, and the guacamole especially was some of the best that I have had from any restaurant, and it was great to watch him mix it on the spot in a giant mortar and pestle.
Filled to the absolute brim with food, we asked the guys at Los Garcia to join us for a picture before hitting the road. Feeling very encouraged by our good progress so far we hopped back on our bikes.
We didn’t actively decide we were going to make it to Ridgefield but the energy was there, we still had considerable daylight left and only 36 miles to go. I think both of us were probably afraid to mention it to the other out of fear. My fear that Gen would hold me to a commitment of doing the whole thing; and Gen’s fear that mentioning going all the way would give me time to consider if I actually wanted to do that. So without discussion, we knocked out the next 20 or so miles.
We made our way through hilly terrain and continued through Middlebury and Southbury and eventually Newtown. The roads we were on ran mostly parallel to I-84 which we crossed over and under several times.
We also hung along the Housatonic river in Newtown - Sandy Hook which proved to make life easier. At a small café we stopped for a quick muffin and refilled water and used the restroom and then explicitly discussed and decided that if we made it within 10 miles of Ridgefield that we would keep going no matter what.
I lamented that the end of the day would likely be the most challenging due to the hills we would encounter coming up from Sandy Hook’s 130’ of elevation to Ridgefield’s 700’.
More hills eventually led us to Bethel, where we contemplated our options in terms of routing around Cain’s Hill and taking an easier route into Ridgefield. We realized the only real alternatives were added mileage and substantial climbing or biking down Route 7-- which has, in the last decade, gone from a busy road to nearly an interstate.
We decided to stick to our original route and were about to set off. As we readied ourselves to continue, I leaned without remembering that I was clipped into my pedals and threw myself bodily into the street, like a total ass.
The sore muscles were now accompanied by a bloody knee and elbow.
Through Redding we approached the dreaded Cain’s Hill.
At a grade of over 13%, it proved too much to pedal two bikes weighing 68 pounds and 80+ pounds respectively up this treacherous road. We dismounted and pushed our way as cars passed closely on the narrow winding stretch.
With the final objective out of the way, we biked the last 3 and a half miles to my parents' house in Ridgefield where, upon turning into the driveway, we were greeted by boisterous cheering. My parents had followed the SPOT tracker and had been aware of our imminent arrival even though we had given them no warning that we would be making it home that day.
We went out for celebratory burgers and milkshakes
I had Gaviscon because I had had heartburn since Newtown... Gen hypothesized due to Gatorade’s inclusion of Red Dye 40, which was the only thing that changed between the days that I felt good and bad.
Now I am sitting here ready to pass out from a very long day and enjoy two days of relaxation while we wait for Amazon to deliver packages, my sister to visit, and our legs to recover.