Soap Stone Road

First some housekeeping: You may notice that the BRENTACOL gradient maps have been spruced up a bit. new font, new color scheme, and wider sections so that it’s easier to tell which sections the gradient numbers apply to. The maps are only updated if I do it manually, so some of the old style will probably be around for a while until i get them all changed over. I’m also working on re-designing the site’s overall theme, but that will take a bit longer. I may just incorporate it all into the blog layout, and make the BRENTACOL pages custom wordpress pages or something.

We’re in CT for the 4th of July weekend, so I planned a ride for this morning. There are many great options around Manchester, so I have a tendency to get stuck in ruts and just do the same thing every time. I either get in the car and drive north to ride at Mount Tom, or south to do repeats on West Peak in Meridan. The main draw for going to Meridan is that I usually get to stock up on German sausages at Noack’s on the way back–but they’re closed on Sundays, so that made that option much less appealing today. And if I opt to ride from Manchester, there are also good options, but Hatch Hill is such an excellent climb that I rarely do anything different than this one. But today I felt like changing things up and riding a bit longer, so I planned a ride going up to Ellington area and back home via Hatch Hill, 50 miles in all.

Browsing Ride With GPS I found a few large hills in the area and tried to plan my ride to get as many of those as possible. The first one I noticed was a short little dead-end road going up to a rather imposing looking peak. The road was called Soap Stone Road and it looked suspiciously like something that would either be dirt or completely impassible. Satellite view was not helpful, because the tree cover was such that the road was never visible. Thankfully, google street view showed that the road was indeed paved, and in fact looked rather nice. But to get to it, I routed over Parker Road, which was already in my database, but which I had never tried.


As the gradient map indicates, it’s a pretty tough hill. And unexpectedly, the last 100 meters or so is pretty messy dirt. I wasn’t sure whether to turn around, but pressed on, and aside from a rocky section, made it through to the other side without incident. Once over the other side, I went north a short way and turned into Soapstone State Park.


The road to the top is very nice, a little under a mile and steep but not ridiculous. It’s one of those climbs that looks harder than it feels, and that translates to: you feel pretty fast going up, even though the hill itself isn’t that difficult. There’s a gate at the top, with a short bit of road that goes up to the radio tower. But since you have to dismount, and it’s very short and you’re not even rewarded with a particularly nice view, I don’t think that last section is really worth doing. Possibly the best part of the climb is that the descent is easy and fast. Maybe it’s just me, but wide-open descents like Mount Lemmon or the Kanc freak me out. But I can cruise on something like this. I think this hill would be a great place for repeats for that reason.

And then I kept trying to talk myself out of doing Hatch Hill and taking a short cut back, but I didn’t listen. Not having my low gears today, it was a slog.

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