Seeing Connecticut by Bicycle

You don’t have to be a serious cyclist to enjoy Connecticut by Bicycle, a wonderful book by Frederick John Lamp, Curator of African Art at the Yale University Art Gallery. When Lamp moved to Connecticut a few years ago, one of the first things he did was organize a bike ride with friends. The group gathered at the corner of Chapel and Green, near the entrance to the New Haven Green. To Lamp’s astonishment, there at his feet lay a “plaque commemorating the very first bicycle ride – ever, anywhere.” It was the plaque for Pierre Lallement the French immigrant who invented the bicycle in 1886. To test his invention, Lallement had taken his two- wheeler out for a spin beginning in Ansonia and ending at the New Haven Green.

The book includes maps and advice for the road with a good dose of advocacy and a bit of cyclist’s lament. What most sets it apart from other cycling books however, is that it is a serious appreciation of the Connecticut landscape. Lamp carried a little Coolpix in his back pocket during all his rides, and with this camera and his very talented eye, he took stunning photos of our state. And yes, Northeastern Connecticut, so often ignored in guidebooks, is nicely included.

Lamp brings us past old mills, quaint villages, rusting farm machinery, barns with silos, steepled churches, gravestones, and houses. He shows us forests, fields, rivers and lakes. “The emphasis,” he writes, “is on sightseeing…I recommend looking at things on the way, which means turning your head as your ride and stopping to see some of the wonderful sights.”

You could of course follow his routes in a car. You wouldn’t see as much, but you would get a nice taste. Meanwhile, leaf through this book as I did, and take a mental ride around the state with Lamp as your guide. You will be glad you did. Posted by Suzy

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