This Shamrock is about quality, not bragging rights about how many miles were covered in a day. It's also not about horsepower or performance since most of the roads are posted for dawdling between 25 and 45 mph. This tour is about relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery of rural Connecticut.
For those who have visions of intertwining super-slab highways, tall skyscrapers emblazoned with the neon iconography of insurance companies, and urban sprawl under smog-filled skies, you're in for a surprise. The northwestern portion of Connecticut is every bit as beautiful as my native Vermont.
Litchfield epitomizes those New England colonial villages where the residences built in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have been augmented and replicated in Colonial Revival-styled homes and shops built a hundred years later. This village is one of those rare jewels that preservationists point to with pride and an entire day can easily be spent admiring the sights in town. It's also a motorcycle-friendly town: A traffic officer told me he encourages riders to use any non-parking spot except for those that could block a crosswalk.
It was still early and I had ridden only ten leisurely miles when I first saw Lake Waramaug. From my vantage point on East Shore Road (Route 45) I was able to check out the opposite shore, but it doesn't prepare me for the next segment of my ride. I turn onto East Shore Road and slowly cruise there on a very narrow strip of asphalt that twists and turns along the very edge of the water, snaking between docks and the front stairs of hundreds of small summer camps until reaching the state park. The expanse of pine-covered camping lots each with a picnic table and fire pit, on my left, and the picnic tables scattered under the pines to the very edge of the water on my right appeals to me and I stop to obtain information for a future reservation. It being a Wednesday morning in late September, the park is deserted except for the small flock of Canada geese who've taken possession of the place. Western Connecticut has a number of beautiful state parks that offer overnight camping, but the Lake Waramaug State Park is considered one of the most beautiful.
I'd waited to have breakfast in Kent, a popular stopping point for motorcyclists in this region, because I like the atmosphere in this small village and usually stop awhile when riding through this region. Belgique, a small specialty shop that makes their own Belgian chocolates, is one I'm unfamiliar with so I pull up to the bright yellow carriage house to get acquainted. Since I couldn't deal with another coffee, I had a cup of iced Belgian hot chocolate (even the ice cubes were made using chocolate milk) and then, because I'm an investigative reporter, I "forced" myself to sample two of the shop's incredibly delicious chocolate creations.
A nice side trip, Kent, but now I backtrack a mile and head down South Kent Road to Gaylordsville, where I cross the Housatonic River and continue south on Route 37 to Sherman. These country roads are posted 45 mph, but they're filled with enough curves to make them fun without having to take an aggressive riding posture. South of Sherman there's a Y in the road - Route 37 on the right and Route 39 on the left - and while both lead to New Fairfield, my plans have me making a loop around Pootatuck State Forest and along Candlewood Lake before returning to this point, so I arbitrarily lean right.
Forty minutes later I'm entering the town of New Milford and watching dozens of turkey vultures gracefully riding the air currents above the Housatonic River. The loop through New Fairfield was a short, but pleasant 14-mile cruise and I took my time enjoying the scenery, but now I'm ready for a break. I pass on visiting Moefield Brothers for a homemade ice cream (too much chocolate) and park in the shade along the narrow green next to a Kawasaki Concours.