420.69th annual Nutmeg Nor’easter – Ultra Romance

420.69th annual Nutmeg Nor’easter

Words by Ultra Romance, photos by Erin @erinmarie.gordon, Jon Weekes @gungywump, Jamie M @jamiemurrett, and “Big Janet”

I’ve lived in the same area of shoreline Connecticut my entire life.  My home is a garage artist’s studio that I just so happen to share with my mom’s gardening tools.  Paris, Milan, Clinton, CT.  As weather permits, I return home about 4 months out of the year; always being sure not to miss the splendor of autumn; the beauty of death as the colors fall, ushering in the grim shadows of wintär.

These are the rambling roads and bucolic landscapes that continue to sculpt and inspire my idea of cycling; the pace, the aesthetic, and the philosophy.  A special off the map, yet blatantly on the map place that I’ve always wanted to share with everyone who thinks of “the nutmeg state” as an opulent suburb of NYC for people who watch horse racing and wear lobster print pastel shorts.  It’s true, St. Martha Stewart lives here… she has a show with Snoop Dogg now… Connecticut::::: where anything is possible if you can just pay the taxes or live with yer parents (lucky me!).

Brief History of Region:

The Connecticut River flows from the Canadian border through the heart of #nutmegcountry in southern Connecticut, making it the largest river ecosystem in New England.  At my home in the lower valley, the river passes through a thinly populated, hilly, wooded region before again widening and discharging into Long Island Sound between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme. Due to the presence of large, shifting sandbars at its mouth, Connecticut is the only major river in the Northeastern United States without a port at its mouth.  The result is the best un trafficked mixed terrain day riding I’ve ever encountered.  This type of fabled quintessential pumpkin spiced Americana has inspired a neo classic bicycle aesthetic that is uniquely Connecticut; hosting the likes of master framebuilders J.P. Weigle and Richard Sachs.  All this within a short radius of my childhood tire pile collection!

Three Octobers ago I had the idea of putting on a “soft times” DIY event for my then 50K (I’ve doubled my portfolio in 3 years, attn: Whole Foods) followership to come and cruise control the fall colors with us (us and we being the Nutmeg Country Wheelers) on our hometown dirt paths.  Only 1 person showed up outside our local group of 5.  This is not an exaggeration, as I am often an exaggerator (ask me about my Uncle Scrooge McDuck tire pile). 1 person!  So it took me a few years to gain the confidence back to try again.  It’s 2017, and gravel grailing is at an all-time high as road events are going the way of 23x700c.  Everyone is now questing for the most anointed GRVL to grind into majik dust to be snorted into a cerebral Instagram filter.  Makes sense to me.  A small-scale Grinduro and L’eroica with a famously quaint #nutmegcountry regional spin was the concept… and I figured those who were GRVL curious 3 years ago, would now be ready to grind softly as long as I locked them in with an official-looking bikereg.com thing.

2 weeks prior to the even on one of our customary gourmet Tuesday pizza rides we brainstormed and guessed how many would show up.  A few numbers were thrown out there, averaging about 15.98920749.  We figured that would be fun and totally manageable, as we were also offering the option to camp at one of our local spots the night after.  We were overwhelmed with feelings of general high school popularity after having to cap and feather the reg at 65 the Thursday before.  This was gonna be a real soft party! Now we just needed that crisp weather, and the leaves to turn yellow.

Nor’easter Day:

 

So it was raining.  75 and tick jungle misting. An unseasonably luke-warm fall had the leaves mostly green still (thank gawd for post processing!).  Still, all 65 showed up to the Clinton town beach for pre-ride coffee and pancakes flipped by yours truly.  Rain. That’s a reason alone to have pre-reg.  Lesson learned.  Who wants to ride in the rain?  Not me!  It ruins my delicate comb-over and is just darn unpleasant.  But if you’ve already paid….welp, then I guess you still ride in the rain!  For the record, I woulda still just stayed in bed.  So introductions were made, pancakes were flipped, coffee was poured, and the ride was off in 3 groups divided by tire size, lead and swept by real-life Nutmeg Country Wheelers! #hotboddrandoboiyz

The route snaked through the quiet forgotten roads of the sparsely but anciently settled (in Euro American colonizer timespans) region of my backyard.  The paths snake out in every direction, rolling through pastures lined with spanning lengths of stacked stone walls, passed clapboard time capsules of a long elapsed Puritanical regime.  Hold your breath as not to let any spirits of the swamp witch inside you whilst passing one of the many Pilgrim Age graveyards, back into a wooded tunnel of GRVL grail through Cockoponset state forest.  Add in a beer and apple pie stop in the middle of Cedar Swamp hosted by Sole Ales, and you have the gist of what you would have experienced had you been there.  All that in the rain.  I still woulda stayed in bed.

The ride was peppered with a 3 “randuro” sectors timed by my close personal friends at Strava.  These were optional, and probably about 20 folks competed.  Kinda lost focus a little, cuz most had toooooo soft of a time, having to cut the course in order to make it to the beer and pie tent.  Totally logical.

After all day in the woods, riders filtered into the town beach to be welcomed with Connecticut style pizza from the back of a fashion pickup truck.  There was also a bike swap that had a ton of sweet stuff priced to move, but I guess everyone dropped their paycheck on all the gourmet pizza and someone selling dry clothes.  The sunset was one to remember that evening, and the Commonwealth of friends, both new and olde, buzzing beneath its pale pink light made me smile enough to need to double up on my botox treatment for the month.  Such is life.

At nightfall, a group of 15 parted ways with the beach and headed out to camp up at the lean to’s of Deer Lake.  It had been raining all day, so we stocked up on dry split wood at the gas station, and waddled our bikes back into the dark woods to continue the age-long supple fork leg debate around a raging fire.  That was fun.

So all and all a success.  The local community really came together and helped make it all possible.  I’m forever thankful for all their hard work and photos included in this set.  I’ve recently been talking to Peter Weigle about combining his French Fender Day and the Nor’easter next year a little later in the foliage calendar at a larger farm venue.  Invision a Grandma Moses painting of Mafac components with a Guy Fieri culinary take.  Maybe even get Martha and Snoop Dogg to cameo if they aren’t too busy.  Welp, I know I could get Guy Fieri at the least.  See ya then!

____

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  • Love this, Poppi!

    • Big Jänet Romance

      many kisses JW

  • looks like fun but in #30 something horrid is happening to mr. crunchbikes neck. send help.

    • I think he pooped his pants.

      • benreed

        On purpose.

      • DR Pepper withdrawals, Poppi only had healthy organic fair on offer. I did not come to the U.S for that.

    • If you cant ride fast, make faces so it looks like you are.

  • dan scheie

    Sorry to have missed these softest of times, hope to meet up next year! The look on Stoke Johnny’s face would have made the whole trip worthwhile!

  • Richard Sachs

    Hey I know those roads!

  • This is great!

  • Chris Andrews

    I wonder if the dood regretted bringing the TT helmet

    • Not a chance (it was clearly for humor.)

    • Speed has no regrets.

  • tb

    There needs to be a follow-up post to this showing the bikes of the Nor’easter.

  • auton0my

    Nice! I’m not that far from these roads, should check it out one day. Though western Mass has some good roads too. Anyone ID the rack in #47?

  • benreed

    Poppi should run an executive retreat where companies send their overworked, stressed out CEOs to #hutmegcountry to unwind.

  • SlowPokePete

    Had such a great time can’t wait for next year! btw I posted a bunch of pics of bikes I saw on Instagram … check out #nutmegnoreaster…

    • Big Jänet Romance

      we are gonna make sure you have solid rubber tires next year Pete!

      • SlowPokePete

        Will make sure of that on my own lol…got WTB Riddler 45s mounted up these days!

  • Nice pizza.

  • Guy in the TT helmet gets it. He just fucking gets it.

  • Troy Howell

    So proud of Big Janet for making this happen and it wouldn’t have been half what it was without the people who showed up. Thanks for sharing the fun Radavist 🌹

    • xo

    • Big Jänet Romance

      oh tøye 🌹🌹🌹

    • dan scheie

      I was like 2 weeks early. Oh well, thanks for showing me the ways of nutmeg!

      • Troy Howell

        Spring’s commin!

  • Curtis McPhee

    This started about 1000 feet from my bedroom. Why the he’ll didnt I ride? Stupid. Next year.

    • slickfast

      Nearly the same boat man. Next time!

  • The bikes and the ride are really cool and all, but THAT PIZZA OVEN.

  • Jorja Creighton

    Quality!

  • Charlie D

    That looks like great fun!

  • Brendan Mahoney

    Now that my back has been featured on The Radavist, I guess I can finally quit my day job.

  • slickfast

    SO BUMMED to miss it, glad it looks like it was goodgood times! Hope to catch it next time.

  • Röbby Sanfranciskö

    Oh man, the bike in #50. 1986 Schwinn Voyageur. Of the ~30 bikes I’ve owned mine is still my favorite!

    • Ben O’Brien

      that’s me! i can tell you that bike is well-loved and has been on many memorable rides and tours, such as D2R2 multiple years and the Green Mountain Gravel Growler route that was on Bikepacking.com. I built some new wheels for it 2 years ago (700c to replace the 27″), added 42mm tires and it feels great.

      • Röbby Sanfranciskö

        Awesome! I found mine for $15 at a thrift store I worked next to. Had a Brooks pro and a (crappy shifting but cool looking) Campy RD from the 70s. Have probably put 60-80k miles on it since 2004. Rode it across the US in ’08 and down the Pacific coast in 2015. The frame is about to get hung up on my wall. I have a new All City Space Horse that’s getting it’s 700c disc hub’d wheels and drivetrain. I wanted to try something new that could fit fatter tires and modern brakes. I’ve probably had to bend the derailleur hanger back about 3 times now ha. The Schwinn will return to the road one day and if there’s ever a fire the frame will be what I grab on the way out of the house.