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Sean's Blog

Through the Woods and over the River

I did not get a whole lot of cycling in during the month of August, partly because I was out of town a bunch.  My next ride of some import was on Labor Day.

I decided to start out by checking on a trail through the woods in the western part of Holyoke.  If you look up West Cherry Street on google maps, you can see that the road has 2 parts that look like actual streets, which are connected by a dotted line.  I had wondered about that line, and thought I could ride it on my bike, as it was likely an old dirt road.

So I headed west and to the end of one portion of the street, and entered the woodland trail.  It may have once been a decent gravel road, but it is a fairly rough hiking trail these days, so I had to get off the bike pretty soon and walk, sometimes lifting the bike over obstacles such as fallen trees.

That was not the most unfortunate part, though.  There were other trails branching off at various points, so I had to guess at which was the correct way to go.  Even having a general idea that I wanted to go northwest, I still ended up going the wrong way.  At some point I knew it was wrong because I’d been in the woods for too long.

I did find portions that were bikeable, so that helped make some time, and eventually when I emerged from the forest, I recognized where I was – on Apremont Highway near Route 202.  I’d ended up at least a mile south of where I’d intended to be, but this was okay, as I next had planned on heading southwest to Westfield anyway.  So, that’s what I did.

I went due west for a while, into the northwest part of Westfield, and stopped off at a farm store to get something to drink.  THe place had its own brand of soda, with one flavor: blueberry birch.  I certainly could not pass that up!  It was really tasty.

From there I went south toward downtown, because I had recently learned that construction was done on a new trail/esplanade by the Westfield River, and work had finished to turn an old railroad bridge into a pedestrian an bike bridge over the river.

Here is the bridge itself, looking from the northern end (click on pics to embiggen):

And side views of the bridge from the esplanade (which runs along the southern bank):

  

The esplanade itself is pretty nice.  Besides a bit of trail, it has several areas to rest and hang out:

Here’s a view of the river:

And here’s the Routes 10/202 bridge, seen from the bike bridge:

That used to be the only place to walk or bike across the river.

Eventually, the esplanade there will connect with the rest of the City’s trail, which currently starts at the south end of downtown and head south toward Connecticut (more info in general on this trail can be found at Friends of the Columbia Greenway).  The portion yet to be built will have to cross downtown over a few bridges above city streets, and rehabbing those will take a lot of resources.

In any case, I took a less arboreal route home, sticking to roads.  Total for the afternoon was 25 miles of riding/hiking with my bike.

 

Posted by seaking on 09-19-2018 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Training Montage – Cycling Where I Can Get It

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been doing training rides to prepare for Will Bike 4 Food.  Because of a few factors, unlike some previous years, I have not been able to do a lot of long rides during the spring and summer this time.  So I’ve tried to make the rides that I have done count – especially trying to get in hill climbing whenever possible.  Here are brief summaries of a couple of rides that I did manage in July that helped me build strength and endurance.

Also, speaking of the fundraising for the Food Bank, donations have now exceeded my goal.  The total is $1049 – thanks to all those who have given.  I’ll still be matching contributions beyond that amount, so any more donations I get will be doubled (up to my $2K limit).

 

July 4: Hot Hills

On Independence Day, I decided to ride up to Chesterfield.  It’s a town whose center is on one of the higher hills in the Pioneer Valley, and so it involves a lot of climbing to get there.  It was not the best day for such a ride, weather-wise, as the temperature got up into the mid-nineties.  Nonetheless, I went and did it.  I rode my usual route from Holyoke to Northampton first, heading straight north on Route 5, and then followed the rail trail out to Leeds.  From there, a few back roads get one started on the climb up to Chesterfield Center, approaching from the southeast.  Because of the heat, I had to stop and rest in the shade several times on the way up.  When I finally did get to the top, I headed for the town general store to get some more water, as I had drunk much of what I’d brought with me.  It turned out that the store was not there anymore – and a local resident told me that the nearest store would be in another town – Williamsburg or Worthington.

Fortunately, there happened to be some activities going on on the town common, including a booth selling hand-made ice cream.  I got some, and asked if they had any water for sale – they didn’t but said that the fire station had been selling bottles of water.  I headed over there, where that sale was technically over, but a firefighter (or maybe the chief) unlocked the station and sold me one of several remaining bottles (which were still cold).

Rejuvenated and rehydrated, I then began the long downhill ride due south, heading into Westhampton.  After all the downhill, there was some level riding, and then a bit more uphill until I got to Outlook Farm, which was my destination for (a late) lunch.  Their grill was closed when I got there, but they had cold sandwiches available, so I was able to eat fine (and enjoy some air conditioning).

From there I went through downtown Easthampton, then via trail back to Route 5 and home to Holyoke.  Total for the day was 50 miles.

 

July 21: Fowl and Food

On this Sunday, I headed up to Greenfield, MA.  I did not take the most direct route up there, or back, so as to give myself a few more hills to ride.  I started by heading across the Connecticut River into South Hadley, and then went up back roads, stopping by McCray’s Dairy farm, as I wanted to check out their store.  At that farm, I discovered they have a pond and several waterfowl (click to view larger versions of photos):

From there, I rode up into Hadley, and stopped off at Flayvors of Cook Farm – our favorite ice cream place.  I was checking the existence of special summer flavors, and ended up getting a cone with peach ice cream.  I then proceeded up Routes 116 and 47 (and some other roads) through Montague Center, and then along the river to the bike trail in the north of Montague.  I took it across the river into Deerfield, rode over to Routes 5/10, and then crossed the Deerfield River into Greenfield.  Another mile or so of riding (and a steep, short hill) put me downtown, where I had lunch at the People’s Pint.  It is a microbrewery, and while I don’t drink beer, I love the place for the sodas they make.  They also encourage cycling.

When I left Greenfield, I went a bit west of town before turning south, and went through some hillier parts of Deerfield and Whately before deciding I’d had almost enough climbing for the day.  I then got back on 5/10 to ride through Hatfield and Northampton, back to Holyoke (there is one hill one has to climb on Route 5 in Holyoke when heading south – it’s not steep, but it is somewhat long).  Total distance for this ride was 68 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-18-2018 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Back to Bike for the Bank

It is happening again!  That is, on September 30 I will be riding for the 5th time in Will Bike 4 Food, the cycling event that benefits the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

The Food Bank is a vital organization in the area, coordinating and distributing donated and purchased food to member agencies who then get it to people in need.  Hunger and food insecurity affect tens of thousands in the region, and the Food Bank ensures that they can access healthy food, not only through direct food assistance, but by helping families apply for SNAP, and connecting them with other needed services.

As in past years, I’ll be riding the 100-mile course, and I aim to decrease my time this year.  I might have done so last year, but the day of the ride was unseasonably hot, which slowed me down.  My goal is to try and finish the 100 miles in 9 hours (which would beat my previous best by 45 minutes).

I’m looking for donations in any amount – every bit helps!  My goal is to raise $1000, but it would be great to get more than that, and this year I’ll pledge to match every dollar that others donate, up to a maximum of $2000.  So, if you all give $1000, I’ll kick in another $1000.  If $1200 gets donated to my ride, I’ll add another $1200, etc.

The fundraising page is at this address: https://www.pledgereg.com/2689/seankinlin

Thanks, and watch the blog for info on rides I’ve been doing to train.

Posted by seaking on 09-10-2018 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

The Hot 100

On September 4, I rode in Will Bike 4 Food once again.  This was my 5th time participating in this fundraiser, and the 4th time I’ve actually done the ride.

I arrived at the event at 6:30am (just as the sun was starting to rise), got checked in, and had some food.  It was very slightly chilly (around 60 degrees), but considerably warmer than the day of last year’s ride.  I got going right at 7:00, and was able to start out in short sleeves, as I got warm enough from pedaling.  The route went north from Hatfield center, up through Whately and Deerfield, following the Connecticut River.  Along the way, a few other 100-mile riders passed me, including one person who was in the Bikefest ride the previous weekend.  He rode with me for a little while and we chatted.

In the north end of Deerfield the route went on the bike trail east to Montague, crossing the river on this bridge (click on pictures to view full size):

Here’s the view that morning, north, then south:
   

I then continued along the trail a couple of miles to downtown Turners Falls.  There I went back across the river into the town of Gill, and started doing some climbing.  Most of the climb was on a side road called “Mountain Road”, which lives up to the name.  That road then has a steep descent, requiring a lot of braking, before it joins back up with the main road.  A few more miles after that, and after curving north, I reached the Northfield Mount Hermon School, where the first water stop was set up, 1/4 of the way through the ride.  The table there was being staffed by some students from the school, and in addition to water, they had various donated food in a cooler, including sandwiches.  I ate an apple, and then put a granola bar and a sandwich in my bike bag to eat later.  The day was starting to get fairly warm, so I took off the long bike pants I was wearing, and put on sunscreen.

From there, the route continued north, with a bit of a jog west, into Northfield.  Just after the jog (which went through corners of Gill and Bernardston), I stopped by this pretty pond on route 142:

From there it was a few miles north to the Vermont border, and then I was riding through the town of Vernon.

I stopped for a rest in Vernon, near a cemetery:

   

I was getting a bit hungry, and ate a granola bar before continuing.  I headed up through the rest of Vernon, almost to the city of Brattleboro before the route turned west, and went on the one dirt road of the ride – Broad Brook Road.

Running along much of the road’s length is what I presume to be Broad Brook:

There was also a small side road that I was glad not to be following, as it looked like it really lives up to its name:

Once the climb was done, the road became paved, and went under I-91 and into Guilford center.  At that point the route started back south.  Shortly before re-entering Massachusetts, there’s a long pond – Weatherhead Hollow Pond – adjacent to the road.  Here’s a picture of its northern end:

I crossed into Leyden, MA, at about the 48-mile mark, and soon I was climbing a steep side road up to Leyden center, at the halfway point of the ride.  There I stopped at the town hall for a break, where I ate the sandwich I had grabbed earlier.  Here’s the town hall itself, as well as the church across the street:

   

A house next to the town hall had this important sign by the road:

As I finished the sandwich, some other WB4F riders emerged from behind town hall, and mentioned that there’s a cafe in the back of the building that was still open, with bathrooms and water and whatnot.  I had seen the cafe sign, and decided to go back there.  Turns out it’s run just on Sundays, and only certain parts of the year, by a few community members in Leyden.  They were happy to let me fill up my water bottles in the kitchen, and I also bought and consumed a blueberry scone.  The people staffing the place were impressed at meeting various people biking 100 miles that day.

After using the bathroom I was on my way again.  The next section of 10 miles or so featured alternating uphill and downhill bits, which went through parts of the towns of Colrain and Shelburne, and then a long downhill section took me into Greenfield, where I headed southward.  By this time it was quite hot outside – the high temperature was an unseasonal 91 Fahrenheit, so it was easy to get really thirsty.  I stopped at the edge of downtown and got a bottle of lemonade at a convenience store.  There had been a good bit of shade in the hilly towns, but I was more in the sun in Greenfield and to the south of there.

Riding south, I entered Deerfield, and rode past the historic preservation section, where there was a water stop just closing up.  They still had cold water to offer, so I accepted a bottle of that (and topped off my bike bottles).  Then a while after that I went through the town center just before passing into Whately.

Halfway down through Whately there was a rest stop by the town offices, as there had been last year.  I got some more cold water there, and ate a piece of watermelon.  After that, the route went more south, a ways into Hatfield, before turning west around mile 75.  I went for another climb (not too steep but a but long) into Williamsburg, then had a little downhill and uphill, followed by some flat riding by the Northampton reservoir, and then went further west (and up the last strenuous climb of the day) toward Williamsburg center.

A couple of miles before the town center was the last water stop of the day, staffed by a local troop of Frontier Girls (troop 210 from Florence, I think).  They also had drinks on ice, as had been the case at previous stops, so I enjoyed more cold water (and also had some crackers).

This was at mile 84, so I just had 16 miles left.  The remaining route took me to Williamsburg center, then went back southeast into Northampton, through Florence center there, and on the Noho rail trail for a bit before heading northeast into Hatfield.  I had hoped to get to the end of the ride at 4:00 or so, but by the time I got there it was 4:45 – the same time I finished last year.  The heat had made it necessary to take more shade and water breaks than I otherwise might have needed, so if it hadn’t been so hot, I possibly could have done better on time.

Nonetheless, it felt good to make it.  As mentioned in one of my live posts, I also hit my fundraising goal during the ride, and that evening, after getting home, I made my matching donation.  Thanks to everyone who gave!

 

Posted by seaking on 10-02-2017 at 11:10 pm
Posted in Biking with 2 Comments

Fest o’ Bikes 17

The weekend before I rode in Will Bike 4 Food, I rode a shorter route in the NCC Bikefest, as I have in several past years.  I again did the “metric century” ride (i.e. 100 kilometers, though this was longer – it was 73 miles, or about 117 km).

The route was slightly different than it was last year.  They had removed the really tough climb that was in the middle previously (at Bardwell’s Ferry), for which I was grateful.  They also made a change this year in that they no longer try to have all the riders on a given route begin at the same time.  There were suggested start times, but once a rider was checked in, the rider could leave whenever ready.  I ended up starting at 8:40, 5 minutes before the suggested time.

The ride headed west for a ways in Northampton, then headed northwest to Williamsburg center.  From there it climbed a long way up into Ashfield.  On the way there is this nice view in Conway (click for larger versions of photos):

   

Once we went through Ashfield center, it was almost all downhill to Shelburne Falls.  The first rest stop was at the Glacial Potholes again.

       

The rest stops on this ride were well stocked with donated baked goods (e.g. little muffins, apple and raspberry bars), as well as the typical packaged energy and granola bars.

From there the ride meandered through the town of Shelburne – a bunch of rural, hilly area.  On one road, there were some goats grazing just off to the side:

The took some interest in me, but I was not as interesting as the tall grass all around them.

There was more hill climbing here, including the steepest climb of the day, before a fast descent into Greenfield.  The second stop was in Greenfield by the entrance to the Franklin County fairgrounds.  Food there was similar to the first stop.

From there we climbed over a hill near downtown Greenfield, then headed into Turners Falls and along the bike path there.  At the end of the path, I stopped to photograph some swans hanging out in the Connecticut River:

   

There was another climb after that point, then the ride headed south through Montague and into Sunderland, where the third and final rest stop was located.  This one had more baked goods, but also a few different kinds of fresh fruit, including peaches.  I was excited to have a peach, as they are very refreshing when one is hot and sweaty (there had been bananas available at the other stops – they’re a staple of cycling events – but I don’t like them, myself).

After that, it was a fairly flat 17 miles through Whately and Hatfield to get back to the event beginning in Northampton.  I got there at 3:15, so my total time for 73 miles was 6 hours, 35 minutes.

Next: a full summary of the big century ride.

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2017 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

I am done!

I just made it back, at 4:45.  I started at 7:00am, so that means I equaled my time from last year.  If not for the heat, perhaps I could have done better.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2017 at 04:09 pm
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Last stop

I’m at the last water stop, in Williamsburg.  It’s 3:30, and I’ve got 16 miles to go.  The stops have been better than last year, as all of them have had beverages on ice.  It’s nice to get cold drinks – especially as it’s 91 degrees today.

Home stretch, here I come.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2017 at 03:09 pm
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Historic

My riding time is not historic – not yet, anyway.  The post title refers to Historic Deerfield, of which I’m on the outskirts.  I’m just about 68 miles in, so 2/3 of the way done. 

I see that I got some more donations, and the total is now $1000!  I’ll be making my matching donation tonight.  

Oh, a note on time – the blog does not seem to accurately display the time that I post an entry.  For the record, it is currently 1:40pm.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2017 at 01:09 pm
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Leyden!

I am at the Leyden town hall in beautiful downtown Leyden.  I got here about 20 minutes ago, then had a sandwich that I got from the first stop.  The second water stop is still quite a ways away, but there’s a cafe here where I was able to fill up my bottles and use the bathroom.

Time to head out again. I’m at 51 miles, so still half the ride to go.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2017 at 11:09 am
Posted in Other with 0 Comments

First stop

I’ve reached the first rest stop, which is earlier in the route than last year.  It’s at the Northfield Mt. Hermon school in Gill, at mile 26.

One quarter down, three to go.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2017 at 09:09 am
Posted in Other with 0 Comments

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