New Spring Classic: Mystic/Watch Hill/Mystic

So, it turns out that Salty War is a great guy, in fact, and not an axe murderer.

There is goodness in the world*, and a large chunk of it resides in Ottowa, apparently.

I’d mentioned to Warren in a chat a month or so back that he was welcome to crash at our place on the weekend before Boston, and we’d head up to see Jeff run. This was, of course, before either of us had realized it was Easter Weekend. But, after wrangling our respective better halves, it was decided that Warren’d head down Sunday morning, and head back up after the race.

So, a bit after 2, a sensible vehicle drives up, a tall, thin, runner-lookin’ guy steps out, and I drop the rake and say “Warren?” Sure enough.

We talked for a bit, let him take care of what ailed him following his wee jaunt in the car, and I talked him into a quick ride – a mere 20 or 30 miles before supper. He was game – eager, in fact, and broke out his snazzy yellow bike, pulled on the “Around the Bay” shirt (Which I was surprised to see that Jon hadn’t autographed), and we were off.

For the first leg of the ride, we were accompanied by Jake, who raced us down the street to “Dog Barking Road” (’cause there are like dogs that like bark on it) and back.

Then, the plunge down the woefully rutted road that leads from the neighborhood to Old Mystic. “Watch out for the bumps” I say, as I turn down the hill. “I wondered at first why you took the really wide line” says Warren at the bottom of the hill, pulling his seatpost out of his nether-bits.

M/WH/M’s first and largest climb, the Category 2 Pequot Trail, comes at about 1.5 miles into the classic, just after the trip through the industrial heart of town. As we started up the climb, Warren kept holding my wheel. As I looked back, his face was impassive, legs churning, as we danced up the hill. At the top, I pointed out the sweet stone shell of a house, the one I’m buying when I hit the lottery, and then tucked in for the screaming descent.

At the first stop sign, I turn around and ask Warren how the pace is. “Fine” he says, impassively, leading me to confess that there’s not a whole lot more I could put into it. “OK,” he says.

The rollers on Rt 234 into Pauckatuck are amazing, as always – a series of half to three quarters of a mile climbs, followed by matching descents. We turn onto Route 1, briefly, to start going to Watch Hill.

I confess that I’ve never actually ridden all the way out to Watch Hill – usually, given the time for a long ride, I head up north into the hills. For shorter rides, I usually just head to Stonington and back – not a lot of climbing (sometimes I throw in Pequot Trail Hill). Warren’s cool with that – we’ll just go ’till we’re about 15 miles from the house, then turn around. We chat a bit on some side roads off of Rt 1A, along the river separating Connecticut from Rhode Island. Mention Susan and David’s family summer places just up the coast from where we are.

In the end, we hit about mile 16 as we crest a hill and look through someone’s yard at the Atlantic. I’m not quite sure how far we are to the parking lot for Watch Hill, so we take a break, talk triathlon, and suck down some water. Warren acts a little worn out to make me feel better.

On the way back, we take Route 1 south out of Pauckatuck, towards Stonington. And, I realize that what’s usually a decent offshore/westerly breeze, the breeze that should be pushing us back to Mystic, is an onshore, easterly breeze, straight in our faces. Again, we manage.

We take the turn into Stonington Borough, ’cause I’m pretty sure there’s some cobblestones still on the street, and a classic’s not a classic without cobblestones. We ride out to the point, past the pair of cannon that held off a British Frigate during the War of 1812, and chat for a bit at the point. I’ve got a great picture of Warren, but haven’t pulled it off the camera yet. He’s got one of me, too, that cracked him up somewhat fierce. I’ll let him tell that bit.

Finally saw some other bikers at the point – there was the rude guy on the Giant road bike, playing the Ugly American, convinced that Ottowa was somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. There was the smokin’ chick on the vintage Trek mountain bike, asking for an allen wrench (and actually calling it that – is there anything hotter than a woman who knows tools?) and looking for singletrack.

And then we were headed back towards home.

On the climb out of Stonington on RT 1, Warren pretended to drop his chain so he could climb at his screamin’ pace and not have to wait for me. I didn’t notice until I was over the hill, but by the time I turned around, he came screaming over the top, looking like Salvodelli coming over the Finestre, ready to scream down into Mystic.

We chatted through town. Then I asked – “OK, 5 miles and not so much up and down, or 4 miles and a killer hill back to the house?” Warren opts to tackle Cow Hill, and take the shorter route.

One final crushing climb under our belts, and we roll back into Casa Jank, just in time for Easter Ham.


Can’t ask for much more than that – perfect weather, great riding companion, and good eats to top it off. It’s going to be tough to beat the ride for 2006.

*I mention this, not because it’s a great surprise, but because it bears out something that a friend of mine linked to today:

But I also reject my neighbor’s representation that what neighborhoods are about is not bothering anyone. I fear that this definition is what has resulted in the culture of deep alienation we live within.

So what can we do? Nothing but spread a little bit of goodness ourselves.

Rest of the weekend wrapup

Friday – great run to the Gazebo on the Navy Base and back – 5.2 miles.
Saturday – Another 6.4 miles over the hill, heading home from the Y.
Monday – Despite thinking better of it, I headed to the Gazebo during lunch – 5.2 miles. Felt every mile of the 35+ on the bike on Sunday.
Tuesday – blew off running.
Today – Swam 1500 meters. Used new watch/HRM with lap timer. Realized what I knew – that I’m a pretty consistent 55 second lap swimmer. Felt awful. Going to bed early.