Overview – Answers to all your questions
We look forward to hosting you and a few hundred of our friends to the fourth edition of the Natchaug Epic on Sunday, March 26, 2023. Below are some important updates regarding Saturday events and the route links.
We are excited to announce several key partnerships to support our event:
- Best Buddies Connecticut
- Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program
- The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
- The Last Green Valley
- The Wyndham Land Trust
We must remind all entrants that this is a daunting bicycle ride on the most formidable roads of Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner”. Expect to be challenged physically, logistically, mechanically and spiritually.
Below are some event elements to help one properly prepare for “The Quiet Hell.”
Registration & Waitlists
The Epic and Express events for men are sold out. Given the total capacity of the event, all waitlist riders have been moved to the start list and confirmed. There are openings in the women’s categories and the men’s Explorer categories. The online registration deadline is Friday, 5 p.m. There are no transfers allowed. There are no refunds. NO EXCEPTIONS.
To adequately prepare numbers and chips to provide an accurate timing and scoring experience, organizers will NOT offer day-of registration.
NO day-of registration will be available.
Lodging: The Comfort Inn and Suites in Dayville (Killingly) is our official lodging partner. They can be reached at 860-779-3200. The hotel is located at 16 Tracy Road, just off Interstate 395. This is a clean and affordable hotel.
There will be limited on-site camping at the Thompson Speedway on Saturday at 10 a.m. Please register on the BikeReg page. There are 20 spots available. Portable toilets will be in position and the Raceway Restaurant is open Saturday until 11 p.m. ADD LINK.
Bike Shops: Organizers have partnered with two fine Connecticut bike shops close to the course. Both will host Saturday events and offer mechanical support at separate rest stops along the course.
- Putnam Cyclery, 58 Pomfret Street, Putnam, CT, 06260, 860-928-0011
- Pedal Power Willimantic,1171 Main Street, Willimantic, CT, 06226, 860-347-3776
Start Line Technical Support: Organizers have also contracted with two brilliant mechanics who will be positioned at the start venue to provide last-minute service, parts and accessories. Both will also be riding with tools and supplies to assist with mechanical issues. Those include:
- The Alternate Route of Exeter, NH
- Speed and Sprocket of Northampton, MA
There will be several reasons to visit the Quiet Corner on Saturday. These include:
- RECON RIDE, Putnam Cyclery, 11 a.m. Limited to 100 riders, this will be a 32-mile review of the Express Route at a show-and-go pace with veteran riders providing guidance. The route will include six of the unpaved sectors featured in Sunday’s Epic, two of which will be used for timing purposes Sunday. Beginners are welcome and a bailout option allows riders to avoid the dreaded Wakefield Pond Road (aka Le Cuisinart) sector. Pre-ride coffee and pastries will be served along with some post-ride libations. Event merchandise will also be available. Note: all proceeds benefit the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program. To register, click here: https://www.bikereg.com/natchaug-recon.
- BIKES GONE WILD PRESENTATION, Pedal Power-Willimantic, 4 p.m. Free. Those interested in bike packing and adventure cycling, will not want to miss this presentation. Two amazing riders will recall tales of over-the-edge adventures. Chris Brits will describe his completion of the world’s toughest cycling event, the Silk Road Mountain Race, a self-supported adventure across Kyrgyzstan. Chris will have his tricked-out Specialized on display and fantastic photos of the ride, most of which was above 9,000 feet of elevation. Perri Mertens, who completed The Real Ride in 2017, will talk of her 5,000-mile, mostly unpaved cross-country trek to raise funds and awareness for innovative educational facilities. The event will be moderated by Ron Manizza, of the Bicycle Talk podcast and radio show on WHUS-FM. Space is limited. Please register here: Bikes Gone Wild Presentation
- CHRIS STOVALL BROWN, The Stomping Ground, 132 Main Street, Putnam, 8 p.m. Free Admission. Wanna dance? Chris Stovall Brown has spent the better part of his life on stages around the world in over 25 countries and three continents. He has performed with many blues and soul greats at many varied venues including opening the original House Of Blues with James Cotton, headlining the King Biscuit Festival in Arkansas.
- JARED FISKE, Sawdust Coffee and Dessert Bar, 91 Main Street, Putnam, 5:30 p.m. Free Admission. Wanna rest the legs but enjoy some music? Local singer and songwriter, Jared Fiske will be performing an acoustic set at this downtown Putnam cafe and lounge. This is a comfortable venue with a down-tempo vibe, perfect for a pre-ride prep.
7:00: Epic Registration Opens
8:00: Explorer Registration Opens
9:00: Epic Men Start
9:05: Epic Women Start
9:15: Express Registration Opens
10:00: Explorer Men Start
10:05: Explorer Women Start
10:30: Registration Closes
11:00: Express Start (Including Juniors)
12:30 pm: Rest Stop 1 (Pomfret) Closes
2:00: Food Services Begins at Raceway Restaurant
2:30: Rest Stop 2 (Eastford) Closes
3:30: Rest Stop 3 (Woodstock) Closes
4:00: Awards Ceremony
5:00: Course Closes
6:00: Event Ends
Parking is free and readily available at the Thompson Speedway. Be advised there will be one-way traffic during the day with the entrance at the main gate and the exit through the restaurant lot. Upon entering the venue, please follow the directions of the flaggers. Natchaug Epic staff and volunteers will be in orange vests.
GRAVEL FONDO FORMAT: The Epic has five timed segments. The Explorer has four. The Express has two. The timed segments will be shown on the digital route files. Each rider will also be given a top-tube sticker that denotes the approximate start location of each timed segment. There will be course signage to give a rider roughly a 100 meter advance notice of the segment start, the segment start and the segment finish of each timed segment. Each rider’s cumulative times will be tabulated to determine their overall finish ranking. The final timed segment for all categories ends at the finish line.To be eligible for awards, riders must complete their respective course by 3 p.m.
- EPIC MEN OPEN
- EPIC WOMEN OPEN
- EPIC MEN 45 PLUS
- EPIC WOMEN 45 PLUS
- EPIC MEN 55 PLUS
- EPIC WOMEN 55 PLUS
- EXPLORER MEN OPEN
- EXPLORER WOMEN OPEN
- EXPLORER MEN 45 PLUS
- EXPLORER WOMEN 45 PLUS
- EXPLORER MEN 55 PLUS
- EXPLORER WOMEN 55 PLUS
- JUNIOR EXPRESS BOYS
- JUNIOR EXPRESS GIRLS
CHIP TIMING: Timing and scoring will be managed by MainSport. Each rider will receive a number plate affixed with a timing chip/strip. This is both for the purposes of scoring and also for keeping track of a riders progression through the segments and to the finish. PLEASE DO NOT FOLD, TRIM, ROLL, SPINDLE OR MANIPULATE THE NUMBER PLATE. The timing chip must be kept vertical. The number plate will be adhered with twisty ties to your handlebars, with the number facing forward. Keep the number plate. No return required.
START PROTOCOL: Each category will have a designated start time. As this is a Fondo Format, riders are not timed from start to finish. For safety reasons, riders may start as much as 15 minutes after their start time. For example, if your category is scheduled to start at 9:00, you have until 9:15 to depart. Sweep mechanics on bicycles roll off at the rear of the main field. SAG vehicles roll 15 minutes after each posted start time.
NAVIGATIONAL PROTOCOL: As this is a gravel event, riders are expected to be able to navigate independently. Organizers strongly recommend having a mounted and functioning GPS device with the route loaded, before ride day. Carrying a fully charged Smartphone with the route is also recommended. Route arrows will be on the ground. Some signage will be posted at key intersections. Given potential for impact by weather, vandalism and/or mechanical failure, organizers discourage riders from dependance on signage. Finally, each rider’s commemorative bandana also doubles as a course map. Cue sheets will not be provided at the event. If you wish to reference a cue sheet while riding, please make sure you print your cue sheet at home before the day of the event. Organizers also suggest using a Smartphone camera to capture an image.
ROUTES: The event offers three routes. A rider’s number plate, top tube sticker and bandana will be colored according to the route for which they are registered. Below are the descriptions and links.
The Epic: The color to follow is PINK.
This is an 82-mile loop with 20 unpaved sectors, 5 timed segments, and 3 rest stops. Here is the route link: Natchaug Epic Route. OF NOTE, THE ROUTE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE BULL HILL OVERLOOK BUT WE SUGGEST THE BRIEF DETOUR FOR THE PHOTO OP.
The Explorer: The color to follow is GREEN.
This is a 64-mile loop with 14 unpaved sectors, 4 timed segments, and 3 rest stops. Here is the route link: Natchaug Explorer Route. Note: due to a kerfuffle, the green and blue number plates got switched in production. Your top tube sticker, bandana and route arrows will be GREEN.
The Express: The color to follow is BLUE.
This is a 32-mile loop with 6 unpaved sectors, 2 timed segments (with only the juniors scored), and one rest stop. Here is the route link: Natchaug Express Route. Note: due to a kerfuffle, the green and blue number plates got switched in production. Your top tube sticker, bandana and route arrows will be BLUE.
SUPPORTERS ROUTE: Organizers have created this Natchaug Supporters Route to facilitate friends and family who may wish to cheer on riders at select locations, while also checking out the cafes of Downtown Putnam, breweries, distilleries, wineries and farm stands of the Quiet Corner. (There is even a dog park!) Outdoor attractions such as the Natchaug Forest, Bull Hill and the West Thompson Lake may be popular.
COURSE PROTOCOL: All rides are conducted on open roads with traffic. There are no course closures or intersection controls. Riders are to follow the rules of the road, and ride in a courteous manner, as far right as feasible. The Epic and Explorer categories will have a lead motorcycle, serving only in an advisory capacity. There will be course flaggers only positioned for the first six miles on the course, serving only in an advisory capacity.
MECHANICAL SERVICE: Riders are expected to have an appropriate and properly maintained bicycle for this event. Mechanics will be available for support at the start and at rest stops.There will be two rolling mechanics in the Epic category and another in the Explorer category. Those mechanics will have basic supplies and tools, along with radios.
MEDICAL SUPPORT: In the event of an emergency, call 911. There is cell service throughout the course. For minor injuries and/or ailments, each event Jeep and all three rest stops have first aid kits.
SAG SERVICE: There will be three Jeeps equipped with Thule racks driving in support of the ride. Each driver will be in radio contact with other staff members. A rider requiring support while on a trail is asked to advance, if possible, to a road intersection to receive service. Reversing direction could put a rider outside of the support envelope.
REST STOPS: The Epic and Explorer routes will share the same three rest stops. Rest Stop 1 is along the Air Line Trail in Pomfret. Rest Stop 2 is the General Nathaniel Lyon monument in Eastford. Rest Stop 3 is at the Woodstock Orchards in Woodstock. Each rest stop will have toilets, water, nutrition and first aid. The Express route will feature a rest stop at Putnam Cyclery in Putnam.
RAIN BAG SERVICE: Organizers recognize an early spring event can present dynamic weather conditions. Riders for only the Epic and Explorer categories will be offered a clear drawstring bag (while supplies last) in which they may pack some dry clothing and/or supplies to leave with organizers at designated drop. The drop off deadline is 9:30 a.m. Please label the bag with a last name, first initial, and mobile phone number. Those bags will be transported only to Rest Stop 2 in Eastford. Riders may also shed clothing at Rest Stop 2, using and marking bags (while supplies last) provided by the organizers and returned to the finish venue. If you dropped a Rain Bag at registration and it was transported to Rest Stop 2, you need to reuse this bag.
MEAL: The Raceway Restaurant will be open. Event food service begins at 2 p.m. Riders receive a meal ticket and drink ticket, which will be in your packet pick up envelope. The restaurant also will be open with a full menu and bar service.
ADDITIONAL TICKETS: Additional tickets for meals and/or beer may be purchased at registration for both riders and friends and family. Food tickets are available for $25; beer tickets are $6. See merchandise coordinator at registration table for tickets.
RESULTS AND AWARDS CEREMONY: Results will be updated throughout the day with final results set at 3:15 p.m. The post-ride ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. Awards will be at 4:00 p.m.