Bloomin’ Metric Century Ride
This morning at 3:45 a.m. the alarm went off. I budged and Iggy the cat did not want to move so he cooed and squeaked until I was out from the covers. Last night I left my gear and my bike by the front door so I wouldn’t have to do anything except eat breakfast and drink some coffee before heading out. It sounds, ahem, easy enough to scoot out the door to do something you love, no matter what the hour, but last night when I went to bed at midnight my mind was telling me it would be okay to blow off the ride today. I could sleep, cook a nice dinner, bake some focaccia bread and rest up for the week ahead. Instead of sleeping in, I got my arse out of bed, jumped on the number four train to Grand Central Terminal and then boarded the Metro North Railroad to Norwalk, CT.
Train departed at 5:35 a.m. About five cyclists and a group of persons just returning home from the clubs, boarded the train and settled in for the hour and a half ride to Norwalk. If you’re interested in learning more about Norwalk, check out the Norwalk Historical Society website.
My bike is cozy – resting up before the big day.
The ride organizers made special arrangements with the Metro North Railroad to allow more bicyclists on the morning train. We did not have to pay the usual bicycle fee. Bonus!
We arrived! And it’s moist!
The forecast called for a cloudy day in the high 50′s. It was drizzling and chilly when we arrived at the station. The small group of riders biked to the ride start where we dropped our bags off, picked up our cue sheets and headed east along the waterfront. I have come to appreciate well-made athletic apparel; without it I would have been soaked, cold and come away with a sore behind. Too much information? Maybe, but if you’ve been on a bike long enough, you’ll understand.
The Bloomin’ Metric Century was one of three ride distances offered. Riders could do the 25 mile ride or the 75 kilometer ride. One of the things I really like about organized rides? No one times your ride. It isn’t competitive at all. Kids ride bikes, families ride, persons of all ages, shapes and sizes ride. A handful of riders rode really, really nice bikes, the ones that cost in excess of $10,000 kind of nice. Other riders pedaled along on bikes that cost less than a couple hundred dollars. I like the variety and I love my bicycle. It is designed to handle rough surfaces well and the geometry keeps me in a more comfortable riding position than many road bicycles.
If you want to really do something special for yourself, I suggest you go to a bike store to have your bike fitted for you. When I moved to New York, my bike was dismantled and shipped in a box. I had the local store put it together and it wasn’t until I was in the saddle for long rides that I noticed aches and pains that hadn’t been there when I rode in California. My wrists and elbows hurt, my palms throbbed, and my lower back ached after every ride. Something was not right. I did some online research and found a great bicycle store in Manhattan called Bicycle Habitat. A couple of their staff members are specifically trained to fit Specialized bikes so I spent about $125.00 and my summer riding is now going to be out of this world. What a difference! No pain or discomfort today – at all and this was my longest ride of the season.
Course Map cautions, ”The upper portion of this map is very hilly”. Uh oh.
This 34th Annual Bloomin’ Metric ride was put on by the Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club. There are three beautiful routes to choose from, where you can ride 25 miles, 75 kilometers (47.6 miles) or 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) along scenic roads of Fairfield County Connecticut. I searched the Internet for a Course map from previous years and found a 2009 map on May My Run. It’ll give you a good idea of the kind of elevation change we did. The course was rolling, curvy, tree-lined in many parts and we passed by some estates (aka not mere houses).
I really like to visit old cemeteries because sometimes it’s possible to learn how people lived by knowing how they passed on. If I have time, I’ll be sure to come back to this one.
Rest Stop One: Toth Park at mile 18.
Mechanics on the left, food on the back tables and the loos on the right. The only thing missing on this cool spring day? Hot coffee please! Tea? Cocoa?
Quick pit stop in a beautiful part of this ride that followed the Saugatuck Trail. The trail weaves through the fern covered woods, past a beautiful body of water.
Second Rest Stop, Weston, CT. A welcome sight and break from pedaling.
One of many beautiful houses along the route. Next time I will stop and take pictures of the absolutely gorgeous homes. I have only seen U.S. estates like these in magazines!
Toward the end of the ride, we passed horses, cows, goats and sheep. I didn’t ride with a group so much of the day was spent chasing people, watching people whiz by me or passing slower riders. At one point I wondered if I had gone off course because no one was around. It was so still. When I looked to my right, I heard the soft shoe of a beautiful deer. She was beautiful and I thank my lucky stars she let me see her.
Goats and sheep chillin’ at a farm about 10 miles from the finish.
This Sheep that Baaaah-ed at me and would not leave me alone. It may have had something to do with my less than graceful entrance. Riders pulled over to the right to look at the animals and I thought it was a great idea. Problem is, I stopped without removing my cleats from the pedals. Ever so slowly I listed to the right and fell to the ground in an undignified manner. Tipping over in slo-mo in front of an audience is not my idea of a good time. To make matters worse, I couldn’t get up. The scrape on my knee is a sad reminder that I left some of my pride back there. Good thing I don’t take myself too seriously!
Here’s a shot of one of many islands off the shore of Calf Pasture Park, Norwalk, CT.
The rest of the bicycle ride was well supported by clear signs and local police. I only saw a couple of scrapes and thankfully, no one appeared to have been seriously injured. The ride organizers had sandwiches and cold drinks ready for us when we finished. Then it was time to head home!
Shot of a neighboring train (conductor) as we traveled back to Harlem and onto Grand Central Terminal.
I biked from Grand Central to Penn Station to catch an A express train.
Back in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Snapped this photo on the way to lunch. Really cool graffiti.
If you’re in the area next year, be sure to check out the Bloomin’ Metric Century ride. It was lots of fun and I’m going to sleep hard tonight!