Today was a day full of surprises.
I learned that when I glued a tensioning strap back onto my tent last night I installed it upside down and backwards. Doh. What’s done is done.
The hotel breakfast at the not-so-Grand Hotel was actually quite good. Real china and utensils. Fresh eggs, sausage, taters, coffee and OJ was round one. Round two was shredded wheat and an everything bagel. This made up for my in-room dinner of PB&J on tortillas.
At breakfast I noticed a man and a woman who looked like bicycle tourists. As it turned out they were. Andy and Fiona are from England and riding from Jacksonville FL to Boston. They left the hotel before I did only to be stymied by school traffic.
I left a little after 8 and was happy to get away from Poughkeepsie’s crazy traffic. My brain said I’d be riding brutal hills all day but the day really came in three parts.
First the country roads out of Dutchess County were very pleasant. Plenty of rollers to hill hop, riding down one and using the momentum to climb the next. There were two short steep climbs. As this was in the first 20 miles I decided to walk them, saving my legs for the torture ahead.
The second hill featured a scary, steep downhill, the kind I’d hate to do in less-than-ideal conditions. Lucky me. The road surface was perfect, the curves banked, and the weather ideal. I feathered my brakes during the descent to keep The Mule under 40 mph.
What followed was the second phase of the day. I was fully expecting a brutal hillfest but got lovely flat to rolling countryside. I was hoping to refuel at Mabbettsville but there was no food to be found. After riding east about ten miles, I turned north and picked up the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, a paved gem that gained one degree or so of elevation as I rode.
I left the trail in Amenia and ate lunch at a deli. The garden salad nearly filled me up but I managed to inhale a bologna, turkey, and cheese sandwich too.
I left the deli only to find the temperature had risen about 5 degrees. I stopped at a Cumberland Farms store and bought two liters of cold water. After chugging one of my water bottles, I refilled it with the cold water from one liter, pouring the rest over my head. It felt wonderful.
Back on the trail I stopped to chat with Alan and Fiona who were sitting in the shade eating their tortilla lunch. Birds of a feather.
After a pleasant chat, I carried on for phase three of the day.
I turned east onto US 44 into Connecticut and the dreaded hills of certain doom. What I got were picture pretty New England clapboard houses with This-Old-House landscaping. There were hills but none of the soul sucking variety I was expecting.
The bigger issue was the heat and haze. Temperatures rose into the low 80s which made me glad I had bought two liters of water instead of one. The haze is from fires in Nova Scotia. It’s not a big deal but does put a damper on the scenery.
I was expecting to ride the last 15 miles in grind mode but I made very good time through Lakeville and Salisbury. After Salisbury there was a big climb. It wasn’t walk-worthy but it gave my granny a real test.
After resting at the top, The Mule and I headed down our second steep descent of the day. Once again the pavement was excellent but unlike the earlier downhill this was on a busy two-lane highway. The bike gods were with me; there was no traffic behind me. I took the lane and let fly. The speed limit was 40 but The Mule paid no attention. I was busy checking my mirrors and scanning the road ahead for bumps and potholes. I glanced down and saw 41. Yeah.
I passed through the quaint crossroads town of North Canaan and found myself 2 miles later at the Locust Tree Bed and Breakfast, my home for the night. I am sitting on the porch in the shade letting the breeze lull me to sleep.
Miles today: 64
Tour miles: 517