Weekend (Pandemic) Adventures

During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis, I’ve gotten even more exercise than normal. Movement is always healthy and I’ve found with no travel, no outside meetings, and more “at home” time that I’m craving more adventure.

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I’ve had long days at work, but I’ve been commuting at least one way nearly every day of the week. This has done wonders to boost my activity level. I typically vary my route to get a distance between 10.5 and 15 miles. I can always go longer, but depending on my direction I can get to work in an hour and I can get home in less than 70 minutes.

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It isn’t just my cycling that has been boosted by the pandemic. I’ve been running more, which was part of the original 2020 plan. All of the races have been cancelled, so far, but I’ve kept up my running and used my fitness to tackle some FKT’s. Last week we did the Natchaug Trail E2E, and two weeks before that we did the Nipmuck Trail E2E.

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Those trails are rugged singletrack for most of the way, and they have a fair amount of hills to contend with. Today, I took on a different challenge. Two weeks ago, Debbie established a new loop route that started in Bolton Notch. I connected the East Coast Greenway with the Cheney Rail Trail, and the Hop River Trail. This loop is now possible because of the expansion of the ECG (Charter Oak Greenway) paved path from Manchester to Bolton Notch, and because of the improvements on the Cheney Rail Trail in Manchester. The Hop River State Park Trail is the oldest section and it goes from Manchester, through Vernon, to Bolton. Of course, it extends through Andover, Columbia, and to Willimantic where it connects with the Air Line Trail.

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The ECG section is paved, the Cheney is gravel, and the Hop is gravel. This loop requires two road sections. The first (when going clockwise) is between the ECG and the Cheney where you have to take Prospect Street to Hartford Road and then to Elm Street. From there you cut through the mills to access the Cheney Rail Trail after crossing Forest Street. The second road section is between the Cheney and the Hop. The route we established has you cut through Farr’s parking lot on Main Street. From there you cross North Main Street and follow North School Street as it bends around past Union Pond. You cross Oakland Street and take Sheldon Street into the Manchester industrial park. You take Sheldon until you get to Colonial Road where the Hop starts.

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Once you get on the Hop, it’s all gravel and slightly uphill through Vernon until you get back to Bolton. This section is a leg burner and today I had to rally to hold my pace. I faltered a bit, but hung on to finish with a decent time of 1:57:38 for the 16.5 mile loop. When Debbie did this two weeks ago, my plan was to join her, and I did until we reached Camp Meeting Road on the ECG, but I wasn’t feeling it that day and pulled the plug. I ran home from there. The next morning, Shepard and I did the route on our gravel/cross bikes and loved it. I think this route will become a standard.

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This week’s running was made more fun because of the Shenipsit Striders Normally, today would be the Soapstone Mountain Trail Races. It would have been the 35th year, but with the pandemic, the race was cancelled in 2020. So far, all of the Striders’ 2020 events have been cancelled, but that hasn’t kept us from “getting after it.” The Striders Board of Directors under the leadership of Emma Palmacci has done a fantastic job at creating commuting by using the power of social media.

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This weekend, we did the Outside Alone Virtual Charity Run, and it has been a hit. There are four distance options and some people are doing combinations or all of them.

Distance Options:

  • The Burglar 6k
  • Ya Filthy Animal 5M
  • Christmas in May 25k
  • The Macaulay Marathon
  • (or the Wet Bandits Challenge – all 4 in the 3 days!)

I sort of did my own version of this. I did the Burglar on Thursday morning, the Filthy Animal on Friday morning, “most” of the May 25K with Debbie yesterday morning/the “rest” of the 25K with Debbie and the kids yesterday afternoon, and most of the marathon today. After running to the Notch, doing the loop, and running home (about 20 miles in total), I was done. I thought I about banging out another six miles, but rather than hit the wall at 20, I figured I should stop at 20. I’ve had a few niggles and there is no reason to make them worse.

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One of my hopes during this pandemic is that more people will discover the benefits of movement, especially in nature. Judging by the number of trail users that I see, I think this is happening. I’ve chosen to get out early in the morning (like today) to avoid the crowds, but I know that mid-day, the trails are very popular. Despite the pain and suffering, a lot of good will come out of this pandemic, and the return to exercise (including cycling and running) is one of them.

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1 Response to “Weekend (Pandemic) Adventures”


  1. 1 Marc Woodard 20 May 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Mirrorathlete, just posted your article, Weekend (Pandemic) Adventure on their sponsored Ageless MirrorAthlete” group page. We also included one of your images from the article. If you don’t want us to use the image, we can replace it with something else… let us know. Great article. We are now following and like you. If you’d like to return an in-kind “LIKE” we always appreciate it. Also consider becoming a member of the group to share more of your blog articles. Anything Fit Healthy Lifestyle and Activities are stories we’re always looking for… Learn more about MirrorAthlete at our commercial home page and FB site: http://www.mirrorathlete.com Cheers!


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