East Rock Dreams
Like a single loop of ribbon candy, my favorite hundred feet of road peaks out from the woods as fast as it turns back into the shadows, but that’s not why I like it. For only a moment, this switchback offers a riding experience reminiscent of the French Alps or the Dolomites. The road is just as narrow, steep, and winding as any of the roads in those tiny European towns, but only for the shortest of stints, about a hundred feet. The views aren’t quite as mountainous, but they are mesmerizing still. Long Island, the Sound, Yale, and all of New Haven is sprawled out before your eyes. Adding to the already grandiose sensation is a short rock wall that keeps the road, and you, firmly affixed to the cliff, but certainly wouldn’t prevent toppling over it. Before you can put a name to the tallest buildings in the New Haven skyline, the view is over and you are headed back into the woods.
The approach, to that point, is shady, pretty, and fun. It’s rare to have the road to yourself, there are just as many cyclists as there are drivers and walkers. At the top, at least on nice days, kites, families, and picnics abound. The road circles the summit affording panoramic views in all directions. Sleeping Giant, my childhood Everest, can be seen head to toe in her slumber, to the north. The Soldiers and Sailors tower stands mightily in the center of the park and garners interest from visitors of all ages.
For the most part I live in the present, and enjoy riding bikes for the views in front of me, and the company alongside. I love Connecticut, and find the riding here to be most enjoyable whether on the road or off. When I ride that one section, however, or think about it days later, I drift off to a world where we are being cheered on, the road is covered in chalk, and our legs are chiseled and tanned. It’s only a hundred feet long, but the memories last forever.