Bikepacking – Misquamicut Route

Instead of being conservative for our first-ever touring trip, we went all-in with a very aggressive route.  We wanted to do something fun, and our first thought was a day on the beach – so we decided to ride to/from Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, RI.  To break up the ride and allow ourselves as much time at the beach as possible on Saturday, we reserved a campsite at Wilderness Lake Campground in Willington, CT for Friday night.  The original plan was to leave Hartland around 2pm, but we were late – partly due to work that day, but also because it took us much longer than anticipated to pack everything (and worrying that we were forgetting something).  Once we were finally ready to leave the house at 4pm, we weighed our bikes… mine was roughly 83lbs and Rachel’s was 70lbs… next time we’ll distribute the weight more fairly (good for Rachel, bad for me).Route map 2.1Day 1: West Hartland, CT to Willington, CT (~55 miles)
4pm-9:30pm, 30 min rest – 5 hrs riding

Day 2: Willington, CT to Charlestown, RI (~65 miles)
8:30am-2:30pm, 1 hr rest – 5 hrs riding

Day 3: Charlestown, RI to Simsbury, CT (~80 miles)
8am-6pm, 2 hr rest – 8 hrs riding

Total Ride: ~200 miles, 18 hours riding

IMG_1863The ride from Hartland to Wilderness Lake Camground was a great route.  The first half was a route I often do from my parents house to the airport, and from there we wrote up a cue sheet to get from the airport to the campsite.  It started raining when we were by the airport, but luckily never got heavy.  The two hours we lost at the start though, set us back so that the last hour and a half (mostly uphill) was in the dark.  Luckily, both of us have good head and tail-lights.  After about an hour, though, Rachel’s light died and she had to resort to a headlamp.  We finally arrived at the campsite at 9:30pm and had just enough energy left to make pasta for dinner.IMG_1865This was our first time setting up the new tent (Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3) outside of my parent’s living room.  So far, we think it was a great choice.  Super lightweight, very spacious for 2 people, easy to set up, and a decent sized vestibule :-).IMG_1871The original plan was to be on the road around 6am on Saturday so that we could get to the beach around noon.  As we lay down in the tent Friday night at 11:30pm, though, we couldn’t bring ourselves to set an alarm for before 6:30am.  We finally set off from the campsite at 8:30am Saturday morning.IMG_1877Rachel won this town line fair and square on our route to RI!IMG_1887 Finally made it to the beach at 2:30pm!  Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy and somewhat mild, but we were happy to be there regardless.  We went for a short swim, relaxed, had some lunch and read our books until we had to start pedaling again – this time for dinner and to get to Burlingame, where we spent Saturday night.IMG_1893Ominous looking clouds near the beach as we left.IMG_1906After dinner, though, the clouds cleared up for a beautiful night!IMG_1908Arrived at Burlingame State Park in the daylight 🙂IMG_1913 (small)Good morning, let’s hurry to pack up and go biking again, this time for 80 miles!IMG_1914(S)Our picnic table as we broke down the tent and started preparing for breakfast.IMG_1915(S)…oatmeal!!IMG_1917(S)Sporting my new Oregon biking shirt, so that everyone would believe us when we told them we had just set off from the beach and were going to Oregon!IMG_1933(S)It was great when we were able to get off the busy roads – this section was from the Airline State Park Trail – Colchester Spur.IMG_1942(S)Our long lunch stop for the 3rd leg of the trip was spent at a picnic table near an ice cream shop in Hebron, CT.  We were happy for the umbrella, and the girl at the ice cream shop was kind enough to let Rachel charge her phone in there, as well as fill up all 6 of our water bottles.  To say thank you, we bought ice cream.IMG_1948(S) We struggled with directions through Hartford…IMG_1951(S)We arrived at the “evacuation point” safely, and still as friends.  My mom was generous enough to meet us in Simsbury so that we wouldn’t get home too late, since both of us needed to be up early to drive to work (4am and 5:30am).  Overall, it was a great trip and we both felt very accomplished to have made it as far as we did (~200mi in 3 days), but we were also both happy to be done.  We attributed needing to be picked up to the fact that we were ~2hrs late throughout the whole trip.  We were never able to make up that time after starting late on Friday.  Next time we will be better prepared though, and will make it all the way home under our own power (although I’m certain both of us could have managed the strength to pedal the last ~20mi to get home if we were okay with getting there so late).IMG_1952(S)Hopefully this dog is okay, and made it home safely also.  He was hobbling down the road in East Hartland on our way home :-/

Elevation profileWe climbed a cumulative of ~10,000′ for the entire trip!

Lessons learned:

  • Plan for 10mph average and allow time for rest stops; be conservative about time management so that there isn’t a rushed feeling between destinations
  • If Google maps (bicycle feature) is used for directions, check the map rather than just following their cue sheet – they can do funny diverts which don’t make much sense and just complicate the route, or give you street names rather than route numbers which can be difficult to follow at times
  • Don’t forget headlight charger
  • Start early in the morning to avoid traffic and to take advantage of mild temperatures
  • Panniers make you wider than you would be without them
  • Have backup plan if phone and/or gps dies (maps)
  • Go for the “Kiddie” size ice cream rather than “Small” when stopping in the middle of a ride
  • Be nice to each other
  • If you’re going to crash into the person in front of you, make sure to fall off the side of the road rather than into the road




One thought on “Bikepacking – Misquamicut Route”

  1. Nice writeup! I especially like the lessons learned, “Panniers make you wider than you would be without them”.

    Overall, I think the trip was more fun than stress, and I think we’ll keep getting better at these rides 😉

Leave a Reply