Day 13 Putnam, CT to Hartford 70 miles 2,640 feet
It was another crisp clear morning and after leaving my hotel I was quickly riding alongside the Quinebaug River before crossing over it on the World War Memorial Bridge. Just off to my right I watched the convergence of 3 massive waterfalls displaying the energy used to power the early mills. I entered the town of Pomfret, apparently named for one of my favorite side dishes, where I rode through rolling terrain with massive farms. The two principal crops were corn and manure. A bit farther down the road, commercial farms gave way to large, centuries old estates. The grand houses and their surrounding stone walls were beginning to show signs of neglect. One notable exception was a massive, think Vanderbilt size, house that had been turned into the New New England Laborers’ Training Academy. All of the estates were surrounded by acres of verdant grass. The only time I have seen so much green grass in one place in California is on the sod farms along the coastal plains of Oxnard and Camarillo.
I crossed over the famous Boston Post Road and turned onto the Airline State Park Trail which I would ride for over 20 miles. The trail surface was mostly dirt but interspersed with sand, rock, mud, large puddles, and tree litter. Several miles were so studded with rocks than many in my group opted for a paved detour. A full suspension mountain bike would have been better for this section but if you concentrated, a road bike was fine, albeit a bit bone jarring at times. My bigger concern was protecting my front wheel from the multitude of stray branches that had fallen off trees and littered the path. When I was 13, I caught a branch in my front wheel and went over my handlebars for the second time in one summer. Needless to say, I had no desire to repeat that misadventure. The views from the trail were definitelty worth the extra care needed to ride the trail instead of the road.
I exited the trail and was greeted by emissaries of the East Coast Greenway Alliance who ushered me on a 2 mile detour to Bill O’Neill’s cottage on the shore of Columbia Lake. Bill and his ECG buddies wanted to meet us over lunch to talk about the ECG and our inaugural commercial ride of the ECG. They were gracious hosts and provided us with lunch and the use of their home and lake. Joe and Cindy, our Timberline guides, hopped into the lake from a rope hung off of a lakeside tree. Quite by accident Bill solved a question that has been troubling me for dozens of years. In Jimmy Buffet’s song, One Particular Harbor, he makes reference to a harbor near Scituate, which I always assumed was in the Caribbean but have never been able to locate. It turns out that That Particular Harbor is actually much closer to home, in Scituate, Massachusetts.
After chatting for an hour and filling my belly, I headed back to the route and hopped (pun intended) onto the Hop River State Park Trail, another unpaved trail that ran for about 10 miles through dense forest and granite canyons that had been cut by hand to build the railroad. I had a chance to ride over one of the new additions to the trail, a covered bridge that links the eastern and western portions of the trail.
I exited the trail and turned onto the paved Charter Oak Greenway that ran on both sides of I-384 for about 10 miles before city streets took me to the Founders Bridge Walkway and the Lincoln Sculpture Walk, of course I posed with Abe.
A few more turns on city streets led me to Bushnell Park, which I rode across to reach my hotel. I rode over 30 miles of unpaved dirt and mud so my shoes and bike were totally caked in mud.
Jimmy Buffet’s “One Particular Harbor” link
Four states down, 11 more to go.
Miles 717 Feet Climbed 30,105
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
For more details on my route, see my Strava link