A Seat With a View
Wilton on Two Wheels
If you really want someone to fall in love with Wilton, take them on a bike ride. Nothing compares to traveling back roads here and in neighboring towns by bicycle. The scenery in this area is right up there with our national parks, as you can travel from ridge lines at an elevation of 600 feet to the ocean, all within a 31-mile loop.
A surprising number of residents—from doctors, contractors, teachers, stay-at-home moms to corporate executives—brave the often winding, hilly, and narrow local roads by bike to appreciate the natural beauty, architecture, and points of interest. Many are in training for endurance events; others ride for the sheer Zen experience, the sanctuary of the road.
While cycling is a four-season sport for the die-hard enthusiasts, the warm weather months enable riders to set out earlier in the morning and ride later in the evening, when fewer cars are on the road. Even on weekdays, serious road cyclists will be catching the first light, often riding two or more in a pace line for speed and efficiency. Sunday mornings are typically the least busy in terms of vehicular traffic. That’s when Wilton resident and veteran Ironman triathlete Rick Davis, owner of R.J. Davis Inc., an excavation and landscaping company, likes to ride. A four-season cyclist, he takes shorter rides alone after work and builds up to a six-hour 100-mile ride with a couple training companions on weekends. “Cycling keeps me young,” Davis explains. He cautions when heading out early, riders need to “be aware of wildlife like deer, fox, snapping turtles, and squirrels because they can knock you off your bike.”
After cycling in Europe over ten years ago, Meg Fuentes and her husband Chris fell in love with the sport. “It’s an awesome form of exercise, and it’s a lot easier on the knees than running,” she says. Meg works part-time at the Wilton Library and sits on the board of the Wilton Playshop, but with three sons in or graduated from college, she and Chris now have more time for cycling. “It’s a great way to see the countryside,” she explains. While beginning riders might find the local topography daunting, the Fuentes view the hills as “a welcome challenge.” When riding with friends who don’t enjoy inclines, Meg and Chris will often start on Cheesespring Road, continue onto Valley Road and into Silvermine, then circle around the golf course and up Belden Hill. This 12-mile loop usually takes them 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
Road cycling requires concentration and the ability to co-exist with cars. It’s a good idea to map your route, and then travel it by car so you can familiarize yourself with the road conditions. Note the location of rough patches and potholes, and where there are no shoulders. Meg advises riders to use arm signals to indicate turns. She also suggests that cyclists with thinner tires be aware of sand and dirt on the road.
While riding solo offers the freedom to ride at will, cycling with a group provides a measure of safety in the event of a flat tire, broken chain or other problem. This is a good reason to join a local bike club; most provide scheduled group rides at different pace levels based on ability. These clubs also offer clinics on bike maintenance, climbing, cycling, and leadership techniques, and opportunities to ride in fund raising events. Plus they are a great way to meet people who share the same interest.
Ready to start riding, but need to purchase a bike? Spend some time with a bike shop fit specialist to make sure you get the right bike for your build and the kind of roads you’ll be traveling on. Purchase the proper cycling attire, choosing loud, bright clothing; there’s a reason cyclists look like candy bars. Invest in a flashing tail light and odometer, and always carry fluids, a cell phone, an ID bracelet, and some cash.
And as you pass by beautiful open meadows, woodlands and gurgling streams, you may remind yourself why you live in Wilton.