Posts Tagged ‘Hatfield Massachusetts’

Mike 11 looks out over Lake Wyola in Shutesbury.

Mike 11 looks out over Lake Wyola in Shutesbury.

Ron was the one to make the case…”I’m bored with the same old roads. Let’s start in Northampton.” Its a little farther than we typically start a road ride from. (Not so with mountain biking though.) Ron’s suggestion reminded me of my own season goal of riding different roads. Sometimes the worst part of a ride is the same 5 miles to and from home, so I was in.

Road riding’s appeal to me is two-fold…or maybe three. Sure its the fitness, but its firstly the freedom—you can disconnect from all of life’s pressures for a time. Secondly, its the ride—when I’m on my bike, I enjoy going places and experiencing them on a bike. New roads (or rarely traveled ones) mean new experiences and I enjoy my views from the saddle.

So here I was arriving in Northampton for a Sunday ride, 17 miles from home.

See July 12, 2015 Ride

Ron and Mike 11 arrived excited for a new ride. I had an idea. Five years earlier my family and I vacationed in Shutesbury next to Lake Wyola. I did some biking up there and know a route to Wendell State Forest. Ron wants to do some mountain biking up there sometime so it would be a great destination…a sort of research for a future ride.

There was some miles between here and there. Hatfield’s flat road is the best, fastest, and most direct way there. After accessing the bike path to route 5, we turned right crossing over the highway and entered Hatfield…it should be called “Flatfield”. Its a solid 10 miles of flat road through Hatfield and Whately. Turning right, we crossed over the Connecticut River onto route 47 in Sunderland then left towards Montague.

Mike 11 knows this area from riding with a Greenfield area group. Ron and I rode here from Holyoke this year but turned around soon after. What we all knew is that the roads up here are just the best. Really.

Franklin County BikewayWe got off route 47 turning down a hill following the Connecticut River to the Franklin County Bikeway. The mostly flat road follows the river. Above us on our right are farm houses, riverside homes and rock cliffs that were carved out by the river centuries ago. We pass a waterfall on our right that leads under the road to the river. Rock ledges try to lure me in for some exploration.

We turn up Old Sunderland Road and climb away from the river. The mild hill reminds us that not all roads are flat around here. We are in our glory enjoying a new road, a new experience. We already know we will be doing this again.

Eventually the road led us back to route 47 and Montague center. We had to backtrack a little to find the road to Lake Wyola. It was unlike Mike 11 to know the way, but he did and I had to apologize for thinking he wasn’t up to it. We turned on the road I knew from five years earlier when I stayed on Lake Wyola.

We had a good average speed getting here but that was about to end. I just remembered, North Leverett road climbs…very gently at first. In fact, it appears to be a downhill…but it isn’t. Its kind of frustrating that way. Then it climbs a little more and just keeps going and going. Its like being hit with a thousand little punches. Eventually it wears you down.

The road itself though was wonderful. We followed the quiet road following old mills, rocky streams, and other back roads to explore. Passing by Rattlesnake Gutter Road, I knew we would be back for that someday. It was quite the experience 20 years ago when I road up it.

We stopped at Lake Wyola for a break and were glad for it. I was ready for a swim at the already busy state beach. Soon though we were off riding to the end of the road. Taking a right we soon turned onto West Street and climbed some more. By the time we got to the end of the road, it was 10 miles of climbing.

And we climbed more towards Wendell State Forest’s entrance! I knew there was a big downhill coming but it couldn’t get here fast enough.

We stopped for water at the ranger station. It was hot out but I was well hydrated. I put some watered down sweet tea in my bottle and that helped. What didn’t help was that I forgot to bring energy bloks. And time was starting to run short. And I had people coming over! “Okay guys, lets get moving.”

We flew down the road from Wendell’s main gate enjoying the views that opened up on our right. I never want to go up this road. Our average speed was improving with the long downhill…not that that really mattered to us. I wished it would get me all the way back but it only got us to the center of Miller’s Falls. We still had to get back to Montague center before I would feel comfortable about getting back in time.

I guess “freedom” when biking only lasts so long. It starts dwindling quickly the closer you get to the time you promised your wife you would be home by.

We started cranking on route 63, trading off the front, drafting and making time back. The hills weren’t bad but I was worried about my energy level. We came upon the intersection where we turned towards Lake Wyola only this time turning right onto route 47 heading back towards Sunderland. The hills weren’t too bad but it felt like an obstacle in my way. There were many miles left to go but most of them would be flat miles. Would my energy level hold? I hoped so because I wasn’t going to stop.

Turning right onto route 116 for the short span over the bridge, we took a right repeating the 10 miles of flat road back into Hatfield. Ron and Mike 11 soon waved goodbye to me. They had all the time they needed. I didn’t blame them. Later I learned though that Ron got a flat in that parking lot delaying them further.

This became the hardest flat 10 miles I had done in a while. The wind was picking up against me, I had nobody to draft, my energy was fading and I could see my speed creeping downward. It seemed a lot easier on the way out.

Arriving home just before 1 pm, I had made it. Aside from my mom, all my other guests would be late.


Or should I say Catch-up. Either way my kids would respond with “mustard”.

Having written about my trip to the Columbia River Gorge, I was a bit sidetracked from my recent rides since my wife and I returned. So, I am going to have to “ketchup” all at once here.

First Tuesday Ride Back—See Ride

It was good to be back with the guys…okay, hell with them, I wanted to be back in Oregon but I was stuck with them.

As we started riding, I was asking which person was going to ride support for the rest of us. I got no takers.

We rode hard that night, having a good average speed. Passed Charlotte, Lenny’s wife at the beginning and didn’t stop once.

Being so long ago, I believe it was four of us…Carl, Ron, Mike and I. Apologies if I got that wrong. I do remember it was a great ride and homecoming for me.

Back on My Own—See Ride

The next day I was on my own. What a downer having to ride by myself.

I would have loved to go another week of riding each day but I would have to settle for two days in a row. I wasn’t very motivated on my own but I did okay anyhow. I enjoyed the cooler weather though.

First Sunday Back—Then to Wales—See Ride

Two Mikes, Ron and I got out for a great ride into Wales. Mike 11 did a lot of the navigating and showed us some great hills. We stopped at our usual store when we are out that way and met an interesting guy named Frank. We know he has my name since when we he saw my “Frank” shirt, he said “you stole my name.” Seemed nice enough, until he started spouting a racial slur along with a little extra dose of hatred. When he went into the store I said “I wonder what he thinks about Jews?” Ron said “let’s get out of here before he comes out.” We did, fast. It’s kind of funny how that jerk’s hatred made us laugh all the way home…plus a few extra rides after that. He will be remembered, as pathetic.

Next Tuesday—See Ride

Back under the South End Bridge again. It’s become our favorite place to start this season. Mike 10 and 11 and I rode this one alone. Total elevation doesn’t give the full picture, but I brought us up many of the hills we typically avoid, especially route 168/Mountain Road. Going up that, I was feeling good. It’s the less steep part at the end of the hill that gets you though. Just when you want the hill to end, it keeps going. Turning onto Phelps Road, we enjoyed a fast ride down the hill then back towards Barry Street. As nights are getting shorter, so do the rides.

I felt real good on the ride that night, a rarity for me. Hope there are more days like that.

Second Sunday Back—Over Hubelin Tower Backwards—See Ride

Mike 10 & B11 and I got together at the bridge—it was becoming our regular starting place. While the start can seem restricting starting in the corner of Agawam, we enjoy the flat start and end while mostly sticking to the western side of the river.

This ride would help us break out of the typical roads we do from this starting place. We ended up following route 159 into Windsor. Mike 11 hadn’t been there before. The downtown has a small town feel.

We veered off the route onto route 178 instead going through a nice upscale, mostly black area. I had two black roommates in college and Norman lived here. It was a nice mixture of cultures and a great place to live. I once brought Mike 10 by the house to see if he still lived there—he didn’t.

We took 178 towards our hill. I took a chance and had us take a right which did bring us to where I had hoped—to the end of Duncaster Road. We then took a left onto route 185. We road over the notch between Hublein Tower and Penwood State Park where we went mountain biking earlier in the year. After we crested the hill, we followed the roads on the other side of the mountain bringing us around Penwood.

It seems many of these rides give Mike 11 an education on some great roads. We ended up doing just over 50 which is exactly where we wanted to be.

Back on the Road With Toni—See Ride

My wife Toni and I finally got to ride together again. We hadn’t had the chance since we returned from the tour in Oregon and I was happy to have her with me. It was Labor Day and we abandoned the kids for a few hours alone on our day off.

I brought her for a ride to Northampton. Starting out from home, we followed my typical route into Holyoke then down route 5. Getting past route 141, it becomes a nice ride along the river. Entering Easthampton, then Northampton, we turned onto the bike path for a nice ride back.

We rode to its end then took my favorite side roads into Rock Valley neighborhood. Turning off the road to Cook Road we soon passed the town line sign for Southampton. My wife exclaimed “I have to be home soon and we’re only in Southampton?” I smirked saying this road is well known to us because while it is not that long, it has two town lines. Soon enough we passed the second one into Holyoke and my wife was feeling better. I gave her the “see I told you so.”

I got her to ride up our group’s nemesis hill Apremont Highway. After she got up it she confessed she thought of stopping but realized she could do it. I knew she could.

Saturday in Lenox—See Ride (not a complete map of our ride)

My wife and I were staying overnight in Lenox at The Cranwell for a wedding. It was another great place to stay. I put the bikes in the back of the van which turned out to be a good thing. It started raining on the way down the pike.

When we got there though, the rain stopped. Checking in, they said the weather would give us a two hour window. Good enough.

We got to our room and were already dressed in our biking clothes. I put the bikes back together, and we were off following a running route (to start off with) that the desk gave us.

It was pretty good and eventually brought us into downtown Lenox. I saw a road off to the left and said “that’s the one”. We turned and followed a wonderful side road mixed with nice houses on one side and huge estates on the other. It was downhill at first then we took a right uphill off the main road and onto Reservoir Road. Seemed like the right thing to do. It got steeper as we went. My wife was fighting me on climbing up it but I persisted. In the end it worked out well despite the closed road up ahead. It was a perfect turn around point. We had to head back anyhow.

We went back into town and followed the running route back. On the way we passed The Mount, Edith Wharton house and estate. Then up one more good hill. Getting back we were 100 feet from finishing our ride when the rain came again, harder this time. I put the bikes away not getting too wet. We got back just in time. The rain would end soon after giving me a chance for a quick swim before the wedding.

The wedding was in a fantastic mansion on the grounds. After the vows, we were on the back porch watching the dark clouds come in bringing along much cooler air. It felt great.

Here comes the storm across The Cranwell.

Maybe my wife thought I wouldn’t post this photo. She would be wrong. Note the turret and mansion in the background. Not a bad road to ride on.


The Next Day

We stayed overnight so I wouldn’t make the Sunday morning ride. My wife felt honored. We took the occasion to have a nice (but expensive) brunch in the Mansion. It was wonderful but the guys started harassing me as we drove home telling me how much of a great ride I was missing. With the cooler temperatures and sunny skies, I knew they were not lying.

Later I got myself out for my own ride. I went mountain biking at Robinson. At first I felt unmotivated. Soon however I got my groove going and had a fantastic ride including finding two deer across my path only 10 feet away. At the end I knew they missed out as well.

Tuesday Ride at Robinson—See Carl’s Garmin

Carl and Mike 10 met me at the parking lot for a Robinson ride. It would be a similar route as from the one I did Sunday.

We started out fast and kept it that way. Mike saw how it would be and we both got into a groove right away. Carl had a harder time with it but it wasn’t fitness that was his problem but just experience. If I have my way this fall and winter, that won’t be a problem forever. He’ll either end of loving our group or hating us. If we could turn Ron around on mountain biking, we can get Carl in the groove as well.

It was a great ride. I don’t say that lightly. We brought lights to keep the ride going into the early evening. Road riding just wouldn’t cut it. Plus, I needed to mix things up in the woods. Robinson isn’t so technical unless you make it fast. We did. I brought us on our usual trails outside the park plus added in the new trail. Later in the ride we ended up following behind a few riders. They seemed good enough but we had “their number” having to slow down so we wouldn’t run them over. It felt good to be the fast riders for a change.

It was good to be back at Robinson. Ron missed a great one.

Sunday Back Again With the Guys—See Ride

What a great view. I was in love with this road.

Friday I had driven out to one of my employer’s facilities in Turners Falls and was soon dreaming up a route for Sunday’s ride.

Mike 10 a& 11, Ron and I were together for this one. Mike 10 would turn back early though. We followed a mostly flat route from Holyoke out into Northampton. Then into Hatfield along River Road. When we got to Deerfield Mike turned around. Mike 11 thought it would be good to continue on River Road. I never had before so I was very “in” for that idea. It was hillier than what we were just on but that’s not saying too much. Anything would be hillier. There were some good challenges though and for this day, I was very up to it. In fact I was feeling great!

Originally I had hoped to ride past Wendell State Forest up a large hill then swing around past Lake Wyola where I stayed a few years before. Mike 11 determined that would keep us out too long. He was right and we’ll just have to plan for that another day.

Coming back, we circled around Old Deerfield, along some nice roads and back to route 5. We missed a turn towards The Whately Inn but found another way there before heading back to route 5. With the wind at our back it was a fast ride back. Ron held back until the last hill and dragged us along with him. He made the difference on that one. We ended up with a solid 57 miles and good average speed.