Unfortunately over the past few weeks life (well work) has gotten in the way of me doing a lot of things I want to do (like sleeping and keeping up with my blog). While life may deprive me of a little sleep, I will not allow it to deprive me of training and in effort to get Shaun to get his long rides in, we’ve signed up for a series of organized rides over the next month. Our first organized ride was this past Saturday, September 10 — the Graveyard Grind Metric Century. The ride benefited the Woodstock Educational Foundation and I had never had the opportunity to ride in north east Connecticut before. 

Shaun and I headed out of the house around 6 a.m. and drove abut 60 minutes to the town of South Woodstock in northeast corner of Connecticut (the Quiet Corner).  Once we were off of the highway, we both noticed how very hilly the area was (perhaps I should have recognized that the name of the ride had the word “Grind” in it).  I would later learn (from the very nice lady at the fist rest station) that north east Connecticut is part of the eastern New England uplift and fairly hilly.

Metric Century Route

Thompson Dam.  You can see how
high the water is from Irene and Lee

We checked it at Woodstock Elementary School and proceeded to assemble the bikes and pump tires (or rather Shaun assembled bikes and pumped tires and I whined about how sleepy I was and how hilly the route looked).  We headed off just before 8 a.m. and were immediately greeted with climbing.  I’m a bad cold biker.  If my legs haven’t warmed up, I’m absolutely miserable and with cold legs and a good sprinkling of hills, I was miserable for the first 5 miles.  While I was moody, the scenery and weather were perfect.  The ride wound through gorgeous little towns and beautiful farmland. 

Rest stop at the Thompson Dam.

Within 10 miles of the start you were able to see historic cemeteries, white spired churches, colonial meeting houses (including the very cool Abington Meeting House), cows, more cows, horses, chickens and lots of little woodland critters.  While there may have been hills, the views were very much worth the climbing. After about an hour or so of riding, I had warmed up enough to have some pep in the legs and started a pattern of riding Shaun on the flats and then working the hills (and waiting for him at the top).  While the pace was slow, I was good about keeping my heart rate under control (as pretty as the ride was, it was still a training ride). 

Flag cows.  The ride was about showing off historic
cemeteries, but I was more fascinated with cows.

The first rest stop came at mile 30 and was located at the home of one of the Woodstock Educational Foundation volunteers.  The kids were all dressed up in Halloween costumes and all the volunteers were super helpful — it was really cute.  After re-filling the water bottles we headed out for the second 30 miles, which were much flatter than the first 30.  I was even able to impress Shaun with my ability to re-catch my chain after it slipped off the crank without dismounting, maybe some day I’ll even be able to change my own tires. 

Udderly fantastic meats!
 The highlight of the second half was the Thompson Dam and the extremely steep climb back into Woodstock from Pomfret.  I really wished I still had my 12-27 during that climb.  When we returned to Woodstock Elementary School, the nice people from the Woodstock Educational Foundation had a huge spread — cookies, cupcakes, brownies, breads and barbequed beef sandwiches.  Nice (if only I ate any of the above mentioned foods, but I did get to enjoy my Endurox).  Overall the ride was really well done.  The route was challenging and gorgeous, there were a lot of volunteers and the aid stations were well manned and well stocked.  Here’s the write up of the event in the Woodstock Cafe.  The only suggestion I would have for 2012 would be to mark the turns on the course earlier.  Every turn was really well marked but a lot of times the marking was right at the actual turn.  It would help if the turns were marked both at the actual turn and 100 or yards before the turn.  Hopefully the schedule works out and I’ll be back to ride in 2012. 
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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

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