Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mountain Biking on the Air Line Trail

My friend Peter Waite and I drove to East Hampton and we mountain biked the Air Line Trail for 2-3 hrs. I was previously a competent mountain biker. I never competed in a mountain bike race but I completed the mountain bike leg in several multi-sport team events. In the past I made some very technical mountain bike rides but the Air Line Trail ride was not, by any means, technical. Yet, while recovering from a TBI, a bike ride like the Air Line Trail was very challenging. I’ll put it into perspective; things that athletically challenge me today would have been a “walk-in-the-park” in my former life. None-the-less, I'm pleased. It's wild rediscovering my old/former life.

Peter snapped some photos. Here they are:

I found a very complete brochure about the Air Line Trail on GOOGLE;

The Air Line Trail is the site of the former Air Line Railroad, built to connect Boston with New York City in the shortest route possible - as if by a “line” drawn through the “air” via the city of New Haven. The Air Line Railroad was a controversial project because of such obstacles as the Connecticut River and countless ridges, along with its exclusion of the capitol city of Hartford.

Nevertheless, by 1873, this railroad was functioning from New Haven to Willimantic. At these points, the Air Line was able to link with other rail lines to connect New York and Boston in the shortest way then possible. The freight and passenger trains utilizing the Air Line became quite numerous. By 1877, Colchester center was linked to the Air Line at Turnerville (now Amston) via the Colchester Railroad. As the weight of freight trains increased over the years, the Air Line’s weight restricting viaducts, numerous curves, and high grades eventually led to its decline.

The Air Line Rail Trail is located in eastern Connecticut, and stretches more than 50 miles from near the Connecticut River to the Massachusetts border. It is divided into two sections. The South Section starts in East Hampton and ends in Willimantic, with the Colchester Spur branching into the center of the town of Colchester. The North Section continues from Willimantic to Thompson, and connects with the Massachusetts Southern New England Trunk Line trail. Portions of the trail are still undeveloped, but under the management of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the local municipalities that the trail passes through, the trail is an important link with the past and preserves open space for the future.

The trail is highlighted by panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Two dramatic viaducts tower 150 feet above the rivers that iron trestle bridges once crossed. New footbridges cross high over the Blackledge and Jeremy Rivers, allowing hikers and bikers to marvel at the expansive views of the scenery below. Scenic views of the Goodwin State Forest and Conservation Center, Beaver Brook State Park, the Hampton reservoir, the Salmon River State Forest, and Grayville Falls Park make the Air Line Rail Trail one of the best greenways in Connecticut.

The surface is stone dust in East Hampton, Colchester, and Hebron. The trail is appropriate for walking, horseback riding, biking, cross country skiing, and mountain biking.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My first (post-TBI) road bike climb up a big nearby hill

On 5/12/2009, I road-biked with my friend Peter Waite. We first went to the CT river ferry, then along the river to where it ends in a cul-de-sac. Then I made my first (post-TBI) road bike climb up Old Maids Lane hill. I carried my digital camera in my fanny-pouch for the bike ride. Here are the photos (thanks to Peter Waite); turning from River road onto Old Maids lane just before the hill climb,

a panoramic view from the top of Old Maids Lane as I began the hill climb,

and a close-up as I approached the top of the hill climb. One can just make out the CT river in the background,

then I triumphantly posed at Naubug school at the top of Old Maids Lane,

and I descended the hill quickly.

There you have it - officially recorded. We returned to the ferry, crossed Rt17, and we pedaled to the very top of our condo hill

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Celebrating a SERIOUS Accomplishment with Al

I joined my good friend Al as he completed a streak of 700 consecutive weeks running at least 3 days a week, AND at least 10 miles a week. On this particular day, 4/23/2009, I merely rode my mountain bike while Al ran along the same roads. He began his streak in October of 1995. 700 weeks may not seem like a remarkable feat, but one must put that accomplishment in perspective. Seven hundred consecutive weeks exceeds 13 years. While 10 miles per week doesn't seem exceptional, there are countless reasons to end such a streak, such as weather, injury, vacation, business trips, etc. Seven hundred consecutive weeks is simply astounding. I also joined Al to celebrate his 100, 500, and 600 week milestones.

Al and I holding his handmade “700” banner
I cherish and value Al as a friend. Al has been my camping buddy since our UConn days. Al has sacrificed his own conditioning to be a part of my recovery. Al credits me with introducing him to many competitive individual sports, such as triathlon. When we were living in Italy, Lynn came to join me at the hospital after my serious accident and Lynn called Al to inform him about my condition. Al dissolved his sorrows while completing a run at Hammonasett State Park, near his home.

Friday, May 8, 2009


On April 19 I was listening to National Public Radio and I was surprised when NPR reported that 4/20/2009 would be both the 20-year anniversary of the Central Park Jogger incident and the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

I have read the book I Am the Central Park Jogger and the author, Trisha Meili, is an inspiration to me. Trisha will soon be the guest speaker at the Gaylord hospital new wing opening celebration. I hope to have the chance to meet Trisha. I regularly volunteer my time at Gaylord hospital.