Shelter Island, NY – Newport, RI
Distance: 64 miles (102.8 km)
Elevation Gain: 2,704 feet (824.2 m)
There was a glimmer of hope this morning that we could avoid a hilly Connecticut/Rhode Island ride by going southeast to Montauk, taking a ferry to Block Island, and then another ferry to Newport, RI. But alas, the Montauk–Block Island Ferry doesn't run until Memorial Day, so no wimping out today.
Took off at 8:30 after breakfast pie and coffee, and Matt's meticulous route planning. The bell tolled just as we passed by the meeting house during a quick ride through Shelter Island to catch the ferry back to Greenport.
Still on ferry #1 at 9:10, and aiming to catch the 10:00 ferry to New London, CT, we booked it to Orient Point, covering the 9-mile ride, with 4 minutes to spare!
With 50 arduous miles ahead of us by the time the Cross Sound Ferry reached New London, we made use of ferry-rested legs, biking across the bridge to get to Groton. Enjoyed a scenic boardwalk ride and a paved trail through the woods, which brought us to a dead end, thanks to a draconian gated community. We were grateful the unpaved trail that took us around it was lovely.
By the time we reached Mystic, we decided it'd be smart to get to Westerly, RI—just over the CT border—for lunch. Westerly and Pawcatuck, CT share a business district; we had fun making frequent and necessary border crossings during our lunch break.
Fueled by the lobster roll, crab roll, conch salad, leafy green salad with chicken, and slice of pizza we shared for lunch, plus new air in our tires, we set out for the intimidating hills of Rhode Island.
Chase Hill Road was the first daunting one we hit. A resident driving up to his house beat us to the top, and congratulated us on our victory. He told us about the labyrinthine stone walls that run along the entire road—built by one man, as a sort of therapy.
Continuing on, we made surprisingly good time, considering today's total elevation gain was 2,076 ft, over 65 miles. Yesterday's 45 miles & 231-ft gain was practically a rest day!
We rewarded ourselves with fried clams—New England style, with bellies! Then we biked over to meet our Warmshowers.org host, Sondra. Warm Showers is pretty much Couchsurfing for the cycling community. Sondra offered to give us and our bikes a ride over the two Newport bridges where bikes aren't allowed, and a place to crash tonight. She and her partner Mary are amazing people. We spent this evening chatting about their cycling trips, canoe races, and all of Mary's marathons. She loves to run uphill at the youthful age of 84.