Us Northeasterners are mainly known for strolling around Cape Cod in our Bean boots, pastel shorts, and upside-down visors from Vineyard Vines. That's only half true: we like to ride bikes, too. The riding over here isn’t too bad, either. The Northeast provides the perfect trio of cycling opportunities: you can admire the sunrise along the water, creep up 25% incline fire roads in the Appalachian Mountains, or roll through endless farmlands somewhere in between.
The northeastern United States is known for its distinct seasons, but this year things got a little out of hand. Winter leaked into Spring in the form of two snowstorms way into late April. Thankfully, we’ve been getting some "balmy" 45 degree weather lately and can now say, with confidence that "Spring has sprung." I'm excited to hop on the bike and get back to exploring this great region.
One of my favorite rides encompasses all that the Northeast has to offer. Starting by the beach near Stamford, CT and ending a few meters away from the Appalachian Trail in Kent, CT, the route follows the beach, rolling farmlands, and tough mountain climbs. There's no place I would rather be at sunrise than at the beach. My ride begins amongst the calm, quiet waves, where I am accompanied only by the only other cyclists and runners that are also crazy morning people. As I head inland, I gain elevation along with the sun and the hills become sharp and unforgiving. The area is a bit suburban, but the further north I go, the fewer cars there are and eventually it’s just me, a few cows, and some tractors.
If I wasn’t convinced I was in the countryside by the barns and lush farmland, then a clear indicator would have come during my attempt to pay with a debit card at the local cafe. “Cash, labor, or barter, only,” I was told. Hmm… how many croissants can I get in exchange for a sock? ...or I could lead a few group rides for the cafe? A few pastries and red barn houses later, the terrain changes once again. What was once smooth rolling farmlands has become steep mountain climbs only relieved occasional by forest clearings. Luckily, I am soon diverted off the main road by some dirt paths and head down to the Housatonic River to escape the hills.
The smooth dirt roads along the Housatonic River let me recover as the Appalachian Mountains come into view. I eventually cross paths with the Appalachian Trail near Kent; I always hope to run into a Thru-Hiker to chat about their adventures. Finally, the ride ends with a 2 mile climb up North Kent Road, a chunky fire road averaging 11%. The climb is tough, but the clearing at the top and the following decent are beautiful enough to warrant the 20 minutes of grinding. I admire the view, loop through Macedonia State Park, and arrive back in Kent just in time to grab a few beers.
While this is a Point-A to Point-B ride, planning a place to stay or a train ride back towards NYC isn’t too tough. The area around Kent has incredible riding as well, and I often squeeze in a ride the next day before heading back. Overall, this ride is my favorite because I get to enjoy all features the northeast has to offer: calm beaches, rolling farmlands, and a cyclists’ favorite: Mountains.