Since the Saybrook Seaside Shuffle on April 26, things got especially busy at work and it was all I could do to keep up some semblance of training (I started training for a 10k now, natch) and riding some when I could. But the 2014 legislative session adjourned midnight May 7th and, after a few light days of riding/running/sleeping, I was ready for a Long Ride.
The forecast for the following Monday, May 12 looked Spectacular and I decided to use some hard-earned comp time to take the day off. I put my plans out on the internets to see if anybody could join me, and Rich and Jay texted that they could.
We'd planned on meeting at the Baldwin Bridge and heading over to Blackpoint, but when I got to the bridge, nobody was there. I thought they might be at the other (east) end, and they weren't there either. I waited a bit longer and when they didn't show, I texted them my regrets and continued on my own.
I'd only gotten about 1/4 mile further when my phone started dinging with texts. Jay had been waiting for me at the VFW lot on the west end of the bridge. We had literally been waiting for each other about 50 yards apart for about 10 minutes, a row of cedar trees obscuring our our seeing each other(!)
As we were laughing about this, we see another cyclist come barreling toward us - Rich, who had miscalculated his time and totally missed my text. He'd figured he'd either try to chase us down or intercept us, but as it turned out, we were all together and able to head out as a group.
I'd planned on our first coffee stop to be at a little place on Crescent Beach in Niantic, but as we got there we discovered it was probably still a little too early in the season. It was closed. Fortunately, Rich Had A Plan and ended up introducing me to a NEW coffee shop, one that will quickly become a favorite: Cafe Sol in Niantic.
We had a really great time chatting over espresso and biscotti, all Euro-like, but - being only about a 1/3rd of the way through the ride - needed to get back on the road. Click on the "Blackpoint" link above for an even-more-leisurely ride where I took more photos of this beautiful loop.
We continued up the east shore of the Niantic River to Rt. 1 and then north up the Grassy Hill Road climb in Old Lyme. Given our long-ish coffee stop, we rode this section of the ride fairly "briskly" to make up some time, but by the time we got to Hamburg, the scenery was Just Too Pretty to blow past.
We continued to the next stop - Ashlawn Farm Coffee - but when we got there, we realized it was closed. We still stopped though because it's such a beautiful location.
Despite a little bit o'hammerin', Jay and Rich needed to split off and get to some other appointments. But we were able to jet down 156 to the Bridge (as we Always Must Do whenever leaving Ashlawn) and the guys continued over the bridge as I decided to stop for a much-needed breakfast at another favorite stop - Koffee Works.
Sitting there with a (relatively) healthy applewood bacon & egg panini and iced coffee, having just finished such a beautiful ride with good friends, I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the Post-Session Season.