I rolled my own six day bikepacking route up the east coast from Annapolis to Waterbury Connecticut instead of taking the the typical East Coast Greenway route that most through cyclists take. There were a number of reasons for this: I was camping and there are not a lot of campground opportunities in the very urban northeast corridor where the greenway runs, my route had two ferry rides to add interest, and I’m not much of a tourist on bikepacking trips, which is part of the allure the east coast greenway as it intentionally meanders through common tourist locations on the east coast. I loved this trip for its challenges, varied terrain, radically different and interesting areas, and unexpected finds.
This route was originally the first half of a trip from Annapolis to Burlington VT that I had planned for May 2022, but as the Spring and Summer schedule unfolded, there was not time to do it (opting instead for the Petite Trans VA trip). I’d been keeping an eye on when I could do this route later in the year and when we decided to sail the Board of Governors Regatta at Lake Quassapaug (“Quassy”) in Waterbury CT, I thought, perfect I’ll ride up there and meet Lisa, we’ll sail, visit family in New England and I’ll get a ride home. Win, win, win! While it is always more fun to have a partner in crime, Charles could not do this trip as he was preparing for his own adventure on the Colorado Trail at the end of the month, so solo it was.
All I had to do was alter day six with a right turn at Brewster NY and another 35 miles to Quassy. In general the daily mileage was 55-65 miles with camping stops for the first four nights and a hotel for night 5 in Westchester County NY north of the city as I could not find any suitable camp spots. I thought about this ride in three pieces separated by the two ferry rides, Delmarva from Stevensville on Kent Island because you can’t ride across the Bay Bridge (more on this later), the NJ coast (more or less), and New York/Connecticut. All in all, 6 days, 5 states and about 400 miles.
The camping spots were state forests/parks which had varying amenities, most importantly an official place to pitch a tent and toilets of some sort. I’m just not ready to bootleg camp like Steve Wallis, an eccentric Canadian who does these amusing stealth camping videos (and has over a million followers!). So with some research and planning I picked Redden State Forest in Delaware and Belleplain, Bass River State Forests and Allaire State Park in New Jersey. All can be booked online, but be aware in New Jersey if you book it online there is a 2 night minimum (which made me throw away $150 since I knew I was only staying one night). However, I asked about this at the parks and they said, just call and book on the phone and they will do it for one night.
I was quite surprised for the end of August that all of these were essentially empty. Redden especially as I only saw one other person and no staff. That’s not surprising as it was “primitive” only (just a camp spot with a porta potty and no potable water). But it was quiet. The New Jersey spots all had flush toilets and showers near the sites (the showers were really appreciated!) and several had basic laundry (remember to bring a few detergent pods!!!). But the spots were all very nice and I quickly settled into a routine of arrive, check in, unpack, set up the tent, clean up/shower, rinse kit, cook some dinner listening to a podcast, get in the tent and read and try not to fall asleep until it gets dark. Fortunately it was cool at night, often starting in the low 80s, but dropping to the high 60s by sunrise. Really nice sleeping weather. It did thunderstorm several nights but I was ready for them and now have a better sense for where to locate the tent and how to deal with packing it up in the morning when wet.
For food, I brought 4 Backpackers Pantry dehydrated meals for dinners, instant oatmeal sprinkled with Bran Buds cereal and Starbucks instant coffee for breakfast. In general that was very sufficient food (quality and quantity) and during the days, I stopped for lunch on the road. I never felt really full, but never felt like I was lacking. A really good mix. I am also not using any Heed or other “performance powders” in my hydration routine riding as they are a PITA to carry and mix. I do bring Hammer Fizz electrolyte tablets to mix into water though and I did end up buying Gatorade at a number of stops as well as drank only full sugar cokes for lunch. The morning routine was similar, wake up, make coffee/breakfast, pack up, and roll. I was most often easily riding away from the campgrounds at 8am.
General Reflections on the Ride
I really enjoyed this ride as it was different than anything else I’ve done and provided some really unexpected finds. About 80% was on road and of the off road sections virtually all of them were paved. The addition of the two ferry trips very much broke the trip into pieces and added both logistical spice and something interesting to break up the routine. The three days in New Jersey felt somewhat like wash, rinse, repeat. While that routine is good because you don’t stress about the end of the day logistics, it does end up all feeling the same and even just a week later, I’m having a hard time keeping those legs straight in my head.
The trip across Delmarva had worried me because I don’t know the roads all that well and was concerned there would be a lot of traffic, but it didn’t turn out that way and it was quite pleasant. About the only negative thing was the sometimes strong agricultural smell (chicken poop). And of course it really annoys me that I couldn’t ride from my front door as you can not ride over the Bay Bridge. Read on for more thoughts on that later. The ferry ride was fun and I had no idea the Lewes-Cape May ferry was such a large operation. It reminded me of the Massachusetts Steamship Authority.
The most amazing find for me was the “Pinelands” or more accurately, the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This area was the real gem of the entire trip. I’ve been many places in New Jersey but they always are clustered on either side of the state, the shore beaches or stuff along the I-95 corridor. But the section between the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway is amazing. It looks and smells very much like Cape Cod, with sandy soil, pine trees, little lakes and river deltas but is significantly flatter. The roads were quiet and scenic and mostly the pine smell reminds me of New England, something near and dear.
One of the ideas I had for riding up the New Jersey coast was the typical afternoon southeast sea breeze which would mostly be a tail wind. As I mention in the day to day recounting, this often paid off in spades at the end of the day when I was tired and had to grunt out some miles on a STROAD or highway. That was the most negative aspect of this route, the traversing from the Pinelands area to the beach roads and back every day which pretty much sucked. I spent some time on US 9 which goes almost the whole north-south length of New Jersey is actually pretty nice to ride on, two lanes with mostly comfortable shoulder. They have done a good job not STROADing the thing out. The afternoons near the beaches were familiar places, having spent time in Surf City on Long Beach Island and other shore beaches, but they were nice parts of the ride and fun to see iconic spots like Ocean City, Wildwood, Asbury Park and Sandy Hook. The ferry ride to NYC was fun as it was the Seastreak high speed ferry (35 knots!) and gave some nice views of the city.
I was really looking forward to riding up through New York City on the amazing bike infrastructure they have. Ever since I read The Power Broker (the history of Robert Moses and his impact on New York infrastructure), I’ve been obsessed with riding my bike around the city to see more of this. However, as I got to NYC, I really just wanted to get on with getting out of the city as it’s just too frenetic to me. That said, the Hudson River Greenway is a bike path you have to experience. It is such a nice piece of bike infrastructure that works equally well as transportation and recreation.
Also, the Hudson River Greenway is the first part of the Empire State Trail which provides an off road route all the way to Albany. Almost. The only stressful part of getting out of the city was due to a lack of easy crossing of the Harlem River. Basically the trail ends at Inwood Hill Park/Dyckman Street and you have to wind through Inwood and Kingsbridge until you get to Van Courtlandt Park where the trail picks up again. I don’t mind city riding generally, but with a heavy bike and not knowing where I’m going, it’s interesting but stressful. To add, it was really hot that day and I was really hungry. The rest of the way north was basically like riding on the B&A trail, nice but uneventful and visually sort of boring.
The other highlight or side trip was to check out the Shared Use Path on the Mario Cuomo Bridge over the Hudson River. I wanted to get some first hand experience and photos of this path because hopefully when the Bay Bridge is rebuilt, it will include such a path and as a cycling advocate, I want to have this at the ready. This kind of path, if the Cuomo Bridge path is any indication, is a really well used and liked linear park in addition to being a really, really useful piece of non-automobile based transportation infrastructure since there are so few Hudson River crossings. It did not disappoint with expansive views and a really nice experience. It is a shame the Maryland failed miserably with the rebuilding of the Nice Bridge over the Potomac by eliminating the shared use path because it cost too much. I mean they are spending a BILLION dollars on that bridge, an extra 65 million for the shared use path is nothing. This is a major failure by the then State Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn who was an unabashed road builder. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. OK, back to the trip…
The last day was the longest day and since I had a hotel room with my support crew – Lisa stayed there with me as she was driving to the destination at Quassy – I was able to ditch all of my bikepacking gear (handlebar bag, frame and seat packs) to make the final push that much easier. I’m really glad I did because there was some significant vertical (not long, but some really steep hills) once I turned right at Brewster into Connecticut. I pretty much jammed it as fast as I could as I was smelling the barn and arrived at Quassy in the early afternoon of day 6 in time for a swim in the lake. That’s the best way to end a long ride.
I was tired and there were some cracks starting to show in the armor (stiff neck, hands and feet mostly) but I didn’t feel completely whooped. These endurance efforts, despite my riding faster than I usually do on bikepacking trips because I didn’t have any companion to keep my effort in check, don’t have the same effect as a crushing group ride; you’re tired at the end of the day, but not “blown”. Even though I could have continued on, it felt good the next day to have a day off: on day 7th day he rested… I’ll have to remember that for the next trip that is longer, like my original plan to continue to Vermont, so I can build in a “zero” day once a week. Or at least a short day.
In some ways I really enjoyed doing this solo. As a person who tends towards the introverted side (I’m really an extroverted introvert), I have no problem with doing stuff alone. Of course it is always nice to have someone to talk too (well, most of the time), have a shared experience with and also to provide a sense of reassurance if something goes sideways, but that’s not a deal breaker. At times in the evening I was mildly lonely and a little bored, but after a really hectic month of sailing (Snipe Women’s Nationals , Oxford Regatta) and biking (Church Creek Time Trial) events, I was seriously looking forward to some “downtime” where all was relatively simple and away from the hustle and bustle. This definitely fit the bill and I’m feeling much more relaxed.
I don’t have any big lessons learned on this trip. I packed exactly the right amount of gear, the extra battery was perfect (but need to charge it more often and I bought a 2-usb AC plug), and maybe a small pack of wipes, but that’s about it. The only thing I didn’t get that I really wanted was a soft serve ice cream on a hot day at the Highlands waiting for the ferry to NYC, but the smoothie in Manhattan was a close second. And my birthday present of a pair of Crocs were THE BOMB! Perfect for this use.
That’s the general overview of the ride for any casual reader. If you’re interested in the day by day, blow by blow of the ride with more pictures, read on! Or if you just want to see more pictures from the route, check out the entire Google Photo Album where you can see the geo stamps on the photos to see where they were taken.
Day By Day
Here’s what I brought on the trip and where I packed it:
|Big Agnes Copper Spur Bikepacking Tent, inflatable QCore mattress, inflatable pillow||Handlebar||Handlebar bag is in a large drybag on a Salsa cradle. I store the mattress and pillow in a plastic bag in case the tent gets backed wet, it won’t get the mattress wet.|
|Jet boil 2 gas stove / small butane canister||Handlebar||Basically only for boiling water. I ran out of gas on day 4. Need a larger container or find replacements on the road (Dick’s Sporting Goods).|
|1 Plastic mug||Handlebar||For coffee.|
|13,000 AHr battery, iPhone and Mini USB cables, AC power brick.||Framebag||I purchased a 2 USB cable power brick on the road.|
|Hand pump, chain lube/rags, multi-tool, 2 extra spokes and zip ties, Stans dart kit (dual)||Framebag||Old ankle socks make good chain cleaning rags, store in plastic bag. Multi tool has all common size hex and screw drivers plus chain tool.|
|sunscreen/bug lotion w/DEET||Framebag||I generally don’t wear sunscreen so that’s why I combined.|
|lightweight rain jacket||Framebag|
|4 cliff bars||Framebag|
|spare derailleur hanger, spare shift cable, tube and tire boot, extra darts||Under down tube||Old peanut butter container in a bottle cage.|
|2 bibs, 1 cycling jersey, 1 base layer, 1 pr cycling socks, 1 marino wool cycling t-shirt, Shimano touring cycling shoes.||Underseat bag||I generally wear bibs/jersey. base layer, socks. Alternate bibs every other day.Still experimenting with the marino wool jersey instead of a cycling jersey, but it flaps too much. The shoes are nice to walk in with recessed cleats.|
|1 wicking t-shirt, 1 lightweight shorts, 1 boxerbriefs||Underseat bag||I might swap the t-shirt for a button down wicking camp shirt.|
|camp towel||Underseat bag||Lightweight, wicking and absorbent.|
|lightweight down sleeping bag||Underseat bag||Good to about 40 degrees.|
|4 backpackers pantry dehydrated meals, 4 packs instant oatmeal, 10 Starbucks instant coffee packs, bag of Bran Buds cereal||Underseat bag||I make coffee with 2 instant packs.|
|Tooth brush, toothpaste, band aids, ibuprofin, neosporin, body wash, detergent pods, roll of quarters||Underseat bag||I keep all this is a ziploc baggie.|
|Crocs||Bungie to underseat pack.||Doesn’t matter if these get wet|
|4 22 oz water bottles||Bottle Cages||2 on frame and 2 in a “triathalon” style carrier mounted to the seatpost. Also keeps the underseat bag from sawaying.|
Day 1- Stevensville to Redden State Forest
On the first day, Lisa drove me to Stevensville and dumped me off for the ride through Kent Island and across the Delmarva peninsula. Unfortunately, I missed most of the Kent Island Cross Island Trail (the boardwalk you see when you are driving on Rt 50). For whatever reason Ride With GPS routed me along MD 18 instead and I never really sanity checked the route, a theme through much of this ride!
The route to Redden zig zagged through eastern shore farms on low trafficed roads, all in all a pretty nice rural ride. As soon as I got off Kent Island, I had about 2 miles on Rt 50, and as luck would have it, I flatted because of crap on the shoulder. I stopped quickly, pulled out the nail and got a dart in the tubeless tire before it completely deflated. In retrospect, I did not do it correctly (the dart material pulled out) but it was small enough that the sealant plugged the hole, although I had to continue to add air over the next few days. I was worried about it the entire ride, but it ended up not being an issue. Love tubeless tires! Because I knew there was no potable water at Redden and I did not time my last stop well, I had to deviate 8 miles round trip out of the way down US 113 to Georgetown MD to a strip mall to get enough water for cooking. So the day ended up being a little longer at 72 miles, 5:01 pedaling time, 6:54 elapsed and only about 900′ vertical. There was a light SE breeze but it was never an uncomfortable headwind, and the last hour or so it sprinkled, but it never rained much, however it did thunderstorm overnight.
Strava Track: https://www.strava.com/activities/7677340966
Day 2 – Redden State Forest to Belleplain State Forest
Day two was a 20-ish mile ride to Lewes Delaware to the Lewes/Cape May ferry. Much of it was on the Georgetown Lewes Trail, an old rail line used to move agricultural products in the early 20th century. In a small world experience, I was chatting with two guys on gravel bikes and turns out of of them (Chris Rambo) knows Spencer Seibert, a former ABRT mate. It was nice having some company for a few miles. I love these encounters.
I got to Lewes pretty early on Monday, got some coffee at a local shop and just hung out on the main street to observe the scene. Interesting that Lewes calls itself a bicycle friendly city. My bike was leaning against the bench and not blocking the sidewalk. Almost no one here. A city guy tells me not to lean my bike against the bench and that’s why they have bike racks. A block away with no bench close…. Basically designed by someone who has never ridden a bike. He said “next year you’ll get a ticket” to which I replied “thanks, that’s a nice reminder not to come back.” I’m not one for in situ snappy comebacks, but the caffeine had just kicked in. I went to the ferry terminal, got my ticket and chatted with a few people on beach cruisers heading to Cape May for the afternoon. The car ferry and terminal are a pretty big operation, much like that of the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. I guess it does save a ton of driving to get to New Jersey. The ferry ride was quite refreshing as the heat of the day increased.
Once off the ferry in Cape May, I dove to the coast and went through the beach town of Wildwood to catch the quintessential sights along the boardwalk. From there I dove back inland on NJ 147 essentially a two lane highway until I got to the west of the Garden State Parkway where I settled into some nice two lane roads through the southern part of the Pinelands (finishing the ride on a highway going away from the shore is theme of this ride) and arrived at Belleplain State Forest around 4pm. I walked around the Belleplain grounds checking out the lake and rest of the campgrounds after dinner to kill some time and stretch my legs. It was a nice evening but also had a wicked thunderstorm overnight and it poured hard for about an hour. Day 2 was the shortest riding day at 57 miles and 3:56 pedaling time, and virtually no vertical gain but one of the longest elapsed times at almost 8 hours due to the ferry ride.
Strava Track: https://www.strava.com/activities/7682670935
Day 3 – Belleplain State Forest to Bass River Sate Forest
Day 3 was back to the coast to go though Ocean City (NJ) and experience that boardwalk. I stopped for an early lunch of Pizza and coke and since the sun was shining and the breeze up, I took my wet tent out and draped it over the boardwalk railing to dry. It only took about 10 minutes, but I did get some “looks”. I also made the decision to take my electric razor so I could shave every day and that goes a long way towards not looking homeless… I felt pretty good so made the spur of the moment decision to go through Atlantic City adding a few extra miles. I haven’t been there since they held the boat show and we drove several times from Cleveland. I know why I haven’t been there since; it’s basically a pit. Two things really annoyed me: One, there are traffic signals at literally EVERY intersection in the city limits. Seriously, not just the main drag, but every side and cross street. They must have a billion dollars tied up in signal infrastructure, and I think they just use them as speed control because there is nowhere near enough volume to warrant signals on the extremely wide streets. It was really annoying to have to stop/start at every one with a 50 lb bike rig. Towards the end I just slowed and blew through them. So stupid, no wonder that city is broke. Two, the only way out of Atlantic City is either on a limited access highway (Atlantic City Expressway) or US 40 a two lane highway. Fortunately, there is a decent shoulder and the SE seabreeze was in full force so I had a nice tail wind on that section. Eventually I got to some really nice two lane roads west of the Garden State Parkway and the rest of the way to Bass River State Forest was a beautiful ride.
As I mentioned in the summary, the most unexpected part of this ride was going through some small towns and being in the heat of the Pinelands”. For the last 20 miles to Bass River State Forest the look and smell is very much like riding on Cape Cod, with sandy soil, pine trees and little lakes. When I got close to the campground I stumbled on the Lower Bank Tavern and decided on a whim to pull in and grab a beer realizing I could easily do the last 6 miles with a beer in me. It’s always a little awkward walking into a local place all sweaty in spandex (especially in rural areas where one does not see that kind of thing often), and this was no exception. You know, everyone at the bar stops talking and stares at you. Definitely some looks but after a few minutes a guy came over and started chatting about bikes. Turns out it was the owner Billy who rides a lot and has raced a bunch. After chatting for a while he took me out to his garage to show me his quiver of bikes (Colnagos for racing, an older Nishiki for randonneuring. a full suspension MTB and a few other random bits). Super nice guy. If you are every in the area, stop in for food and beer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures as I was just enjoying myself. Glad I stopped! If it were just a little closer I would have gone back there for dinner, but I was beat after 70 miles and 4:55 pedaling time, 7:23 elapsed. I rode way faster than I typically do bikepacking, but the tailwind helped. I hate riding on those highways, so rode as fast as possible to get it over with. It took its toll though. Like the evening before, I walked around the grounds to check out Lake Absegami and stretch my legs.
Strava Track: https://www.strava.com/activities/7688694293
Day 4 – Bass River State Forest to Allaire State Park
What was, on paper anyway, a pretty straight forward route north on US 9 to Toms River for the first half of the day went a little sideways after the track went onto the Barnegat Branch Trail. US 9 was quite nice with a big shoulder and I cruised up through the various townships (Stafford, Ocean, Berkeley) until the turn onto the trail that more or less paralleled US 9 to the west. As I said, I never sanity checked the route on RWGPS and I should have. First there was a missing section with some easy single track; not expected but easy enough. Then it went right through a sand mine. I knew something as a little off when I saw a sign “You are now entering an active mine.”, but thought meh, I’ll see what it brings. I thought I was good when I came to a county gate and pressed on. Oooops. I ended up basically in a sand trap with 4″ deep sand. I tried to ride through it, but didn’t make it very far. After checking with Google Maps Satellite View, my choice was a mile through the woods to US 9 or a mile through the sand to where the trail picked back up. I decided to just hike-a-bike through. Fortunately I only had to walk about 10 minutes before I could remount and in that time, I came across a quarry lake with some nice shade to rest. After getting back on the trail, I was basically in Toms River.
I found a construction site that had a hose so I cleaned out my shoes of sand and washed my feet to keep the sand from causing any blisters.
I got to Toms River and went to see a couple of clubs we used to race Snipes at (Pine Beach, Island Heights and Toms River Yacht Clubs) followed by lunch downtown. The rest of the ride north was pretty crappy with STROAD hell and almost 10 miles on NJ 70 (basically a 6 lane highway). It was HOT that afternoon and I decided to forgo the extra miles through the quaint town of Brick opting to stay on NJ 70 and turn on NJ 34 (same type of highway) because I had the seabreeze push. I got off theNJ 34 for the last few miles on the Capital to Coast Trail that went right into Allaire State Park. I did see some signs of commerce so checked whether there were any beer opportunities close. There was one restaurant a few miles away. Put a pin in that.
Once at the campground, I did all the usual stuff and started to boil water. Crap, gas ran out. Thankfully, there was the restaurant (The All New McCanns), so I put my Crocs on and rode the 2.5 miles there. I have double sided Shimano pedals with SPD cleats on one side and flats on the other which makes riding in regular shoes practical and comfortable. They are heavy and I don’t use the flats much but have them for just this sort of situation. I had a couple beers and food and it was well worth it. I chatted with a few people at the bar, charged my phone and rode back just before dark. Crisis averted. Almost. I had to drink “iced coffee” in the morning, aka cold instant coffee, but it got the job done.
Again a little shy of 70 miles. with 5:08 pedaling time and 7:56 elapse. And I thought this was going to be a kick back day before the assault on NYC the next day!
Strava Track – https://www.strava.com/activities/7694496814
Day 5 – Allaire State Park to Tarrytown
Overnight was a beautiful night and it cooled way off after the mild cold front. I had a lot of time to get to the ferry to NYC at Highlands (Sandy Hook) as the only one I could reasonably make was at 12:20p and it was an easy 30 miles. Since I had no gas for boiling water, I ended up having a great egg sandwich on the beach in Belmar. But the ride up the coast was really nice, Spring Lake is definitely where the rich people live. I did ride some more boardwalk in Asbury Park, because, well you kind of have to so you can get the trite photo saying “Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ”. By this time I was already hot and messed up the quote on Facebook. Sigh… In Long Branch, the nice beach avenue turned into STROAD hell. They appear to be all in on high density auto-oriented development. Blech. But, finally got to Sandy Hook and crossed over the Highlands Reach bridge into the small town of Highlands where the ferry terminal is. Sadly, I didn’t have my National Park pass so couldn’t ride into Sandy Hook National Park (I tried to get a camp site there but no dice).
I had almost two hours to kill and rode around Highlands, mostly looking for a soft serve ice cream because it was really hot and I was really hungry. But for some reason that town was absolutely closed down at 11am so I went back to the ferry and hung out in their air conditioning. I’m glad I was there early because there was quite a line by the time it left at 12:30 although it didn’t really matter because there was plenty of room. This ferry is a heavy commuter line for early/late runs and very popular for people doing day trips into the city. I saw a bunch of teen agers with skateboards and BMX bikes!
The ferry is a high speed passenger only catamaran and I had to strap my bike on the bow. Glad there was not a lot of spray! It was about an hour ferry ride stoping in Midtown on the East River first, then my stop at Pier 11. I got off and had an awesome $8 smoothie. Not soft serve ice cream but a close second.
The trail around the tip of Manhattan went right by pier 11, so I jumped on and rolled. The bike infrastructure around NYC is pretty cool and as I said earlier, I was really looking forward to seeing a part of it. Some other time to explore more perhaps, but I was antsy to get rolling out of the city. The terrain went from as urban as it gets to parkland up by the GW Bridge but eventually dumps you out in Inwood just south of the Harlem River. Then it’s a weave through Kingsbridge to Van Courtlandt Park where the trail picks up again. Virtually all of the cycling routes have this detour. It was a little chaotic, hot and I was really hungry so diverted down W 207th street and found some pizza and coke which did the trick. Finally back on the trail, it climbed slow up through Westchester County to Elmsford, where I again had to end the day on a nasty STROAD to the hotel in Tarrytown. Lisa had just arrived and checked in so I made a bee line there after briefly considering hitting the Cuomo Bridge Trail rather than waiting for the next day. I’m glad I went right to the hotel because I was really tired and hungry. I got cleaned up and Lisa and I walked to a local restaurant. While the hotel was comfortable, it did feel weird to sleep in a bed that night. It was not the longest riding day at 67 miles and 5:04 pedaling time, but it was the longest elapse day at just shy of 9 hours.
Strava Track: https://www.strava.com/activities/7700222092
Day 6 – Tarrytown to Quassy
Since I had my team car following for the last day, I ditched all the unnecessary gear (everything except water and a few mechanical tools) so I could do the last 75 mile lean and mean. This would prove a good choice as I got into Connecticut. I got rolling early after eating breakfast at the hotel with Lisa and headed over to the Mario Cuomo Bridge Path. It was maybe 5 miles each way out of the way, but was fairly quick and well worth the diversion. What a great path, wide and smooth with plenty of room for all users. Of course like any shared us path, it’s not a place to do an interval or create a Strava segment, but there was plenty of room. I rode up to the apex and took some pictures of the expansive view north up the Hudson. Having such a path on the Bay Bridge would fantastic so let’s make sure the knuckleheads in the Maryland State Government hear it.
After checking out the bridge, I headed back to the Westchester County Trail (now branded as the Empire State Trail) and did the 35 miles up to Brewster. Pretty uneventful and frankly a little boring as it was either along a NY 100 or in the woods like the B&A but bucolic for sure.
In Brewster I basically took a right and paralleled I-84 through Danbury, Newtown, Sandy Hook and eventually into eastern Waterbury where Quassy is located. I routed on as many small roads as possible and I (again) never sanity checked it. Many of the roads had the word “Hill” in the name, which is as you’d expect, hilly. But at least they were not heavily traveled and really started to have that “New England” look and started to feel like home. Coming into Newtown, there was a huge thunderstorm which I waited out (mostly) under an awning. Quite the cute little town. When it cleared, I continued on to Quassy. In the last few miles there was one hill that was really ouchy at 11% and I’m really glad I did not have my full rig. Might have been a hike-a-bike. I rolled into Quassy after 74 miles and 5:32 pedaling time and 6:38 elapsed. This day had the most vertical gain at 3900′. Not that much by hilly standards, but after 400 miles, it was tiring. A swim in the lake and few beers was just what the doctor ordered.
The rest of the weekend we sailed the Board of Governors regatta (ended up 5th of 21 – tied for first going into the last race but bit the big one). A great weekend and I was really chill sailing given I had just ridden 400 miles (maybe because I rode 400 miles?). After the regatta we continued on to Newport and New Bedford for a few days before retracing steps and heading back to Annapolis. But that’s all a post for another day. Suffice it to say, this was a great way to work an A-B bikepacking trip in with a regatta and family visit!