Posts Tagged ‘South Hadley Massachusetts’

It was a cold March and April was getting much better. I usually like road rides to be a bit warmer. Usually I would hit the woods instead. But it was April 12 and I was done with waiting. So I packed on 3 layers and headed out into the cool, sunny morning.

See April 12, 2015 Ride

I got only 4 miles away before I found myself overheating. I pulled over and took off the middle layer happily and stashed it along the side of the road. I was coming back this way eventually. There are not many good ways to bike into West Springfield.

Turning away from Holyoke Community College, I crossed route 5 following the road towards the Connecticut River. Rolling down from the top of a hill I followed the road down, down, down crossing intersections as I rolled along through traffic. I showed my daughter many years ago (in the car) how if you time it just right, the lights will turn green in front of you one after the other. Every time we drive through here she watches for it.

Its just as easy to do it on a bike, maybe easier. I just had to time the first light and the rest fell into place.

I crossed the Connecticut River into South Hadley, circled around the busy rotary and exited onto more rural roads. I passed McCray’s Farm knowing it was too early to have their fresh ice cream. I followed the road and saw the Connecticut River again at Brunelle’s Marina where the road abruptly turns back away again.

At the center of South Hadley I turned left onto route 116 not sure where I was heading. The day had warmed up quicker than I thought it would. My friends had all abandoned me today and I was making it up as I went along. So far this was a typical route here but I didn’t want to follow the road up through the notch but along a more circular route.

After entering Granby I turned onto Amherst Road then Batchelor Street intending to circle around Mt. Holyoke Range State Park. At Batchelor Street sits some of the best trails in the Northeast. Many have been made specifically for mountain biking, others intersect trails at the state park. The trails are some of the most fun, and most challenging with their twists and turns up hills, down and around. Its a special treat to ride there and grueling at the same time.


I had ridden through here before and vaguely remembered the way. I wasn’t afraid of getting lost, but enjoyed the surprises along each turn. Ron and the others know these roads better than I do.

I made some choices that seemed right and ended up at Bay Road. This I knew. I was definitely on the right course. I was getting some good miles in finally albeit much later in the early season than I wanted. The sun was shining, Spring was finally finding its footing, and at 25 miles out, I was only half way through my ride.

I was hoping to run into Bay Road knowing it would complete the circle around the Holyoke Range.

I was hoping to run into Bay Road knowing it would complete the circle around the Holyoke Range.

Bay Road took me to Atkins Farm downhill from the Notch road I just circled. I followed the flat road and enjoyed the faster pace into Hadley. I entered the resurfaced Norwotuck Rail Trail (the old surface was infused with minute particles of glass—great idea!) and followed it to the refurbished train bridge back over the Connecticut River.

It was a simple route back down route 5 along the other side of the river. I collected my stashed layer and finished my ride gloating via text to the others of the first great ride of the season.

They were not impressed.

The refurbished Norwottuck train bridge is an elegant, and safe way to cross back over the Connecticut River.

The refurbished Norwottuck train bridge is an elegant, and safe way to cross back over the Connecticut River.



A very brief synopsis…it was late August as we left from Holyoke crossing into South Hadley. The views over the bridge of the Connecticut River are awesome. Going around the route 202 rotary, we get away from 202 and follow the river to Granby. These are some of my favorite roads. Unfortunately, I don’t know them as well as I’d like. Relying on Mike 10, Mike 11, and Ron, we put together a very good route as we circle around the mountains of the Holyoke Range.

On the other side of the range, the roads get flat. We cross route 9 and go from Hadley, to Amherst passing close to the UMASS campus. We push up the small but intimidating Mt. Warner and stop in Sunderland for an ice cream sandwich before turning around into the wind.

See August 24 Ride.


Ron, Scott and I waiting like trolls under a bridge.

Ron, Scott and I waiting like trolls under a bridge.

Ron, Scott and I started off on a promising Sunday morning ride. It was April 13 and I was hoping the “iffy” weather recently was going to cut us a break. The weathermen had promised a better day eventually.

We started out hoping for the best. A little rain wouldn’t deter me. Crossing the bridge from Holyoke to South Hadley, it was starting to become more than a little rain. Ron advised for us to take a quick right after the bridge and head underneath it along a road that follows the river. Stopping underneath we checked the radar and saw nothing but rain coming.

How can scientists predict global warming in the coming century (not) but not predict how bad the morning would be tomorrow?

After waiting 20 minutes, we gave up and headed back over the bridge. I had such grand plans though…

Not one to give up, Scott and I decided to take it to the woods. Heading home, we decided to regroup at Robinson and salvage our Sunday. After about an hour, we met in the parking lot, the day was already starting to change for the better. By the time the ride was halfway over, the sun would come out.

See April 13, 2014 Robinson ride

I made sure we started out hard and fast. I wanted a road ride and with the smooth, twisty trails, I made sure to keep the ride moving fast. By the end Scott would exclaim how he typically didn’t ride in here this fast. We covered almost 12 miles in under 2 hours. Keeping the pace fast, I wanted to mimic a hard paced road ride. Our worst obstacles were roots and the occasional stream. Tight turns and whoop-de-doos fought to slow us down.

Scott crosses a particularly troublesome stream.

Scott crosses a particularly troublesome stream.

For us, we had turned defeat into victory. What had started out as a bad luck/weather Sunday had turned around. I would save my planned ride for another day. I was happy to take what I could get lately. Spring had started poorly and I was happy to salvage the ride.

2 days later Spring abruptly  comes to a halt.

2 days later Spring abruptly comes to a halt.

Friday Ride—My whole ride took place in my backyard.

See Ride.

Two Fridays ago (I’m still catching up here) I went to my newly-created trails in the “paper street” woods behind my house. I was intent on using it for it’s intended purpose—blowing off steam.

I was home that day with the kids and we had taken a nice walk (more to come on that). It was fairly early still and I wanted to ride my bike. Feeling stuck at home, the kids deserved a break after our walk. I wanted more so I pulled my mountain bike out of the garage and went for a ride on my trail.

The trail is very limited by the triangular area of woods behind my house. It’s a paper street which means it’s a street that only exists on paper…and probably always will. My longtime desire was to build a small network of trails where I could go out to play. With the many cut-throughs, I am able to switch back and forth, up and back, on the trails. There is a slight rise and the trails are rather soft so the riding isn’t as easy as one may think. With my Garmin, I was able to track my progress and quickly racked up a full mile.

I was nice and sweaty again and brought my bike back to the garage. Next I got out my garden tools and spent the rest of the afternoon creating another cut-through between trails as well as making another roundabout trail.

I imagine most of my yard work this season will be back there where nobody will see it.

Friday Walk—Skinner Mountain

Skinner Walk

Joe’s been asking me to go for a walk up to the Summit House at the top of the mountain. He had done it only once before and wanted to return. The other kids weren’t as eager but were resigned to the walk. I keep asking if they want to have their friends join us but they refuse to even ask.

More fun for us I guess.

We parked on the dirt road taking the long trail up to the top. The trail is a mixture of rocks and dirt paths and I find the variety interesting. The trail starts out steep immediately. It was extremely humid this day, especially compared to recent weather, but very cloudy and windy. I went out with long pants and found the humidity difficult to take. Luckily we had the high winds to cool us down.

Joe led us up most of the way. I find his energy and strength amazing. He was eager to get us to the top. On the way down though he was just as eager to get back to the car. “Are we almost there?” “Getting there Joe,” I said hoping that would put him off from asking again soon. Carl told him we could have driven up (or walked up) on the road and he asked why we couldn’t do that.

Near the bottom, Joe and I spotted a snake. He claimed to be scared but if he was like my dad, he would have run straight home—15 miles away.

When we got back to the car, I brought the kids to Tailgate Picnic in South Hadley for lunch. A treat always makes the walks more acceptable. It was very good, but an expensive walk.

The water may seem kind of green but it was very clean with many fish and offered a great cushion for those big jumps off the rocks.

I was on my way Saturday to the Becket Quarry with my kids when I got a call from an unknown Agawam phone number. Answering with a less than modest cell signal, the caller said it was Carl. He had ridden with us mountain biking once before (See Encountering Carl) and finally found my business card he had lost.

Before we lost the signal seemingly for good, we made plans for him to join us Sunday. Then off I went with the kids to jump off some rocks.

Sunday we met at the Elks again. Carl joined the four of us. It was good to have five to ride. With the heat of the day rising quickly we decided to avoid the mountains and instead head for South Hadley and Amherst. You can’t go wrong with the roads out there. You just have to get through Holyoke first.

It’s not that bad though. Following the road down Beech Street, we followed a series of stop lights down the hill and over the route 202 bridge. Around the rotary and onto Lathrop Street, we were following the river to the center of South Hadley and route 116. Carl was unfamiliar with the route and was enjoying the lesson.

I had a rough idea for the ride but everyone else but me got us there. We took a detour off route 116 meeting up with some riders. Making our way to Batchelor Street past the parking lot, Mike 10 saw a friend that has yet to join us for a ride. Carl got a chance to see where the mountain bike rides start.

From there it was a lot of other great roads. Then we hit Moody Bridge Road. Getting away from traffic, we also got away from pavement. We kept going anyway. We also ran into a series of washboard. It started getting very irritating…or exciting? I guess it depends how comfy the bike seat was. The other end of the road was paved before hitting Bay Road again. In the end it was a very cool road. Just not that good for the bike.

We found our way to the bike path and over the train bridge. Crossing the bridge, I showed Ron where the rope swing was on the Connecticut River.

We followed the path across the road where Mike 11 seemed to antagonize one of the local alternative lifestyle settlers. Luckily she rode off because none of us would have backed him up. It would have been his own cage fight.

Until I saw this photo on my computer I didn’t know that Mike 11 was telling me “I’m number one.” Front row: Mike 11 and Carl. Back row: Mike 10 and Ron.

It would be a meandering ride from here. The day was hot, the will was weak. We showed Carl where the bike path ends in Easthampton and ended the ride with the traditional Apremont Highway. I started out well but it tired me out. As I told Carl, it’s our nemesis hill—it’s always there waiting.

Getting back, it was a damp ride home in the car. Carl seems intent on joining us again. He could be the next MFR. Would that make us the MF”c”R?