Day 3 of our Connecticut-Rhode Island adventure was closing the gap between Day 1 and Day 2 — biking from the campground close to the Rhode Island line to Putnam, Connecticut, along the East Coast Greenway route.
This was more road than trail, and a good lesson that you don’t have to bike on the route you’d drive. We’d scoped out part what I assumed would be the route, just in case we couldn’t leave the car at the campsite. But that park-and-ride by the I-395 ramp, for example? Not on the bike route. We had a much calmer road around the back of town instead. Bonus: it put us much closer to the Victorian and Village Bakery — a shop that hires the developmentally disabled (unfortunately we ended up bailing on that idea because of road construction).
The day’s route began with going under a bridge for the Moosup Valley Trail. This is the section that heads to the Rhode Island line and will one day connect to the five-star Washington Secondary Trail … so not the way we were going. We wouldn’t pick up the trail for several more miles, for a short paved stretch in Moosup. A welcome respite from traffic! Construction (a rebuilding?) of another 5 miles of trail should start next year — great news, and given the woods and water views we saw, it should be beautiful. And, yes, easier riding for those who prefer to avoid hills. I hope the town will add wayfinding signs to steer us toward more area businesses.
Oh yes we had some climbs … or screaming descents, depending on your direction. In Moosup, I’m glad we took East Shepard Hill Road up and Shepard Hill Road down!
Pro tip: it’s easy to miss the southern end of the paved Quinebaug Trail when you are in Killingly/Danielson. You will head down Robert Avenue into a small neighbordhood. The path goes from the cul de sac and suddenly you are on a sandy stretch heading into what looks to be a quarry. The path you want is on the left, almost immediately as the space opens up, behind where that car is here:
We also got a little turned around at the northern end of the trail, going through the heart of Danielson (several food options here), and caught this little bridge only one way:
Overall, this was our best look at eastern Connecticut, and in an election year like this one, campaign signs are already out and you get a good sense of its political leanings. (OK, the casual approach to masks at the pizza place the night before told us a lot too.) We didn’t bike past many eds and meds employers that are usually an area’s biggest source of jobs. Instead we saw the Frito-Lay factory in Dayville and the nearby Staples distribution warehouse as well as the half-demolished remains of an aerospace factory in Moosup. It’s obvious that this area doesn’t have the wealth of western Connecticut.
So I hope residents will support both the Moosup Valley Trail and the expansion of the Quinebaug River Trail that could one day connect to the Moosup (construction money available for the first of at least three segments). This trail ends near Putnam and its small cluster of downtown restaurants (plus a bike shop!). You could see this town had been turning itself around. We were told it started with antique shops and moved on to restaurants. It was lively over a weekday lunch, despite COVID. This was our turn-around point.
So, no, we didn’t actually go to the very spot where we turned around on Day 1 (that would have been another 3.4 miles), but I am OK with not riding “every damn inch.” I’ll come back when the Air Line Trail gets this far.
We did see a few bridges over the the Quinebaug that could be possibilities for that connection into Putnam. Oh, won’t that be amazing — practically car-free from East Hartford to just outside Providence? You’d take kids on that adventure without worrying about much beyond where is the next ice cream stop!
Of course, it’s kind of odd to see a truck go across a bike and pedestrian bridge. And no idea why this other pedestrian bridge across the river was blocked off.
I know.. there’s always the question of where to spend the night if you are on a longer bike trip. When this ride was supposed to be a hotel-to-hotel ride (aka credit-card touring) from Providence to NYC, we had planned to stay at the Comfort Suites right on the route, next to Frito-Lay and near an I-395 ramp. The bad: no restaurant for at least a mile. Four miles to Putnam, where there are lots of food choices. There are two other area hotels we didn’t pass by, also by I-395 ramps, one a few miles further south and the other in Putnam.
As I’ve mentioned, we camped. Here’s the campground’s pet: a fenced-in African spur thigh tortoise named Sully. Adults can weigh 100 pounds.
All told, a 47-mile day and around 150 miles over three days.
I have now ridden the East Coast Greenway from the endpoint in Maine to Bolton Notch State Park in Connecticut and from Newark, N.J., to Key West. (No shortage of posts about those rides in this blog.)
My goal for 2021: my remaining gap between Bolton Notch and NYC, and (yes!) I can go one way by train (with a loop from Hartford to Bolton Notch).