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Raising Ride Recap

Here’s the detailed story of my Will Bike 4 Food ride this past Sunday. I arrived later than I had in past years – getting there with my bike at 6:45 or so instead of 6:30. This was not a problem, though, as they were not offering a big spread of food this year (because of COVID restrictions), so I had eaten breakfast at home. Therefore I had no need to eat when I got there – I just checked in, pinned on the bib they gave me (#18), and prepared to start riding. Here’s the registration, etc. tent (click on pictures to see full-size version):

A few tent canopies on the edge of a grassy school field, with a Food Bank van parked in front of them.  There are some trees and houses in the distance, and the light is low at dawn.

The ride went north from Hatfield center, and as I got into farmland, I could hear birds making a lot of noise in a couple of places. As I continued north, I passed a few other cyclists, and was passed by more. The route went through Whately, and up into Deerfield (on River Rd.). Once I got into Deerfield, there was a bunch of fog. At one point, in the fog off the side of the road, I could see the silhouette of a deer, in a field. Very appropriate. In the same section of road I also saw a flock of wild turkeys.

In the northern part of town, I headed onto the beginning of the rail trail, and went across the Connecticut River into Montague. I couldn’t resist stopping on the bridge to take a picture. This is facing south, downriver:

View of a river in light morning fog, with the sun still low in the sky.  Trees line each side of the water, and there is a bit of metal bridge superstructure visible in the lower left corner.

The trail took me through the northern part of Montague, into the Turners Falls section of town. This is the same trail I rode along, in the opposite direction, just over a week prior. The route followed the trail almost to its eastern end, and then I rode up onto the main road and over the CT River again into the town of Gill. I crossed Route 2 and started climbing Main Road, and then turned onto Mountain Road, which climbs even more. On this climb I got passed by more riders, but was able to get to the top of the hill without stopping.

Just before heading downhill, I did stop briefly to take a picture of a sculpture near someone’s driveway:

A sheet metal and wire sculpture of a horse, with many ferns growing in front of it, and trees behind.

The artist may live in that house – who knows?

From there it was downhill for a while, down to Main Rd. again, and then some more downhill to the town center. I had been heading northeast, but now the road curved north and went up and down a bit. I soon came to the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and the first rest stop, which was staffed by students and a teacher from the school:

Students and cyclists sit and stand around a pair of tables with purple tablecloths.  The tables are under a tree on a grassy area next to a driveway,and there are other trees behind.

I got a granola bar and some candy there, and of course topped off my water. Leaving there I continued north, then headed just a bit west on Route 10, and then north again through the town of Northfield on Route 142. This highway goes up into Vermont, crossing the state line just after mile 31 of the ride.

In Vernon, VT, I went through more rural area, eventually passing through the town center, and with some small, rolling hills. At almost mile 40, the route turned west and climbed up the dirt road Broad Brook Road. It is so named because it runs along Broad Brook, which you can see from many points on the road:

Stream flowing around a curve, with many rocks on the banks, and trees and greenery on both sides.

I kept climbing and the road became paved around the town line of Guilford. Soon after that I came to Route 5, and I did a quick jog onto another road where the second rest stop was located, at the Guilford fire station. The day was warming up at this point, so I was able to remove a layer and go with short sleeves. After that stop, I rode southwest for a bit and then due south. This involved more upward riding than down, and the route entered Massachusetts again around 48 miles. Just a hair before I crossed the state line, I saw what at first I thought was a pair of cats crossing the road, but as I got close I saw they were raccoons. They looked full grown, but acted like they were fairly young. They were kind of meandering across the road, but when I got close they got spooked and quickly ran to the far side and off into tall grass. I barely had time to contemplate taking a picture, but no time to get my phone out.

There was a bit of downhill just after I entered Leyden, MA, but then some more climbing. The route soon turned sharply west and went up a short but steep climb to Leyden center. I stopped to rest for a bit after making that climb. And this was about the 50.5 mile point – I was halfway done.

I’ve photographed it in the past, but I took another picture of this sign that someone has in front of their house, adjacent to the town hall:

A yellow sign reading "cat crossing", with a silhouette of a cat, is on a green metal post next to a telephone pole.  There are grass and trees around, a road surface to the right, and a driveway just beyond the sign post.

After this there was a quick steep downhill run, then a little more climbing, and then a very long downhill run (almost 2 miles of descent, I believe). This took me into the town of Colrain, and was mostly moving westward. Once I reached the bottom, I started heading more south as I climbed again for a while. There was some level riding, then a turn that went due south and more uphill, before some downhill riding as I passed into a bit of the town of Shelburne. The route then went mostly east and down a long, winding hill as it headed into Greenfield, and then went more southward. The route took me onto the Green River path, which is a paved trail in Greenfield, and I rode the entire length of that (about a mile or so). I then went just past downtown Greenfield, and picked up Route 5/10 to head south into Deerfield.

The route went through the Historic Deerfield district, and I got to the third rest stop (around mile 68) at Deerfield Academy – another one staffed by students:

Students and folding chairs by the side of the road, with trees and buildings around.

What was a bit fascinating was that the students had music playing, and every song I heard was from when I had been in high school, or earlier, (i.e. well before they were born).

From there the ride went south, eventually passing through Whately and back into the north part of Hatfield, on mostly flat terrain. There were some other rest stops in Whately, as this piece of road was part of all the different WB4F routes, and I stopped at one of them briefly to get a little more water and a pickle.

Once in Hatfield, and just past mile 75, the route headed west and began to climb again – there was a long climb into west Whately, then a short downhill and more climbing, and then the route went south a bit into Williamsburg, before turning west and climbing again. This was the last major climb of the day, and brought me to the last rest stop, just after mile 84. There were just 2 volunteers at that one, which was by a wildlife sanctuary, and they had a little bubble machine blowing soap bubbles.

After that the route went a bit further west to Williamsburg center (the furthest west point of the ride), and then started southeast, heading into Northampton. There were a few small climbs which were not too bad – at that point my body was mostly unhappy with being on the bike at all. I made my way through the Florence section of Noho, including riding on the Noho bike path for a bit, and then back north on Route 5/10 to the edge of the city, where I turned east into Hatfield and rode the last 2 miles back to the town center. I reached the finish in a little more time than I did 2 years ago, but it was still a decent showing. At least I got to have a nice meal of sweet potato empanadas:

Takeout food tray containing 2 baked empanadas, a ball of black beans and rice, some salad, a lime wedge, and a plastic fork.

Thanks again to everyone who donated to the Food Bank for this year’s effort!

Posted by seaking on 10-02-2021 at 08:10 am
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Finished!

Well, I have made it to the end of the ride. Unfortunately, I did not do better than my 2019 time. My total time was 9 hours and 10 minutes. That is still the second best time I’ve had for a century ride.

Now it’s time to eat. Then head home and get cleaned up. A full post about the ride will be coming in a day or two.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 04:09 pm
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Final stop

I am at the last rest stop, in Williamsburg. It’s 2:52pm, so I think I can still manage to finish with a new record time. Here goes!

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 02:09 pm
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Deerfield rest stop

I have made it to the third stop – pulled in here just before 1:00, with students from Deerfield Academy cheering cyclists in. I have about 33 miles to go.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 01:09 pm
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The halfway point

I’m in Leyden center, at 11:30, the halfway point in the ride, and I think also the highest elevation in the ride. Just before I passed back into Mass, I encountered a couple of young raccoons crossing the road. They scampered off into the brush before I could stop to take a picture. I’ve got a bunch of downhill the next 10 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 11:09 am
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Guilford

I’m in Guilford, VT at the second water stop. I’m making good time, as it’s currently 10:23am. There’s been a lot of northward riding, and now I get to head south.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 10:09 am
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At the first stop

I have reached the first rest stop, in Gill, in just under 2 hours. Getting some water and snacks and then I’ll continue on.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 09:09 am
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Here I go again…

I’m checked in and ready to start my ride. I’ll update again at the first water stop.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 06:09 am
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Up to the Fields and Down to the Falls

As I post this, it is the day before the Will Bike 4 Food ride. My fundraising goal has been met, which is awesome! I’ve made my matching donation and am making sure I’m prepared for tomorrow morning.

Two days ago I went on my final training ride. This time I rode up to Shelburne Falls. I’ve been there many times before, but this time I took the hard way to get there.

I started out riding into the western part of Holyoke, and then headed north, passing through Southampton and Easthampton. The forecast had mentioned some possibility of rain, and in fact it started sprinkling on me as I was riding the line between those 2 towns. Then it began to rain in earnest, and so I took cover under a tree. I had brought a rain outfit with me, but it looked like this would blow over quickly. There was a heavy downpour for about 60 seconds, but then a couple minutes after that it let up completely, and I continued on my way.

I headed through a bit of the western edge of Northampton, and then went further north through Westhampton (completing my tour of the ‘hamptons for the day). In Westhampton, I passed this rooster (click to enlarge pictures):

I then started some serious hill climbing, as I went northwest into the town of Chesterfield. Here’s a stream I passed over shortly after entering Chesterfield:

The climbing had been steepest in Westhampton, and was more gradual in Chesterfield, but it went on for a long time. Finally I got to the town center:

From there I got to go downhill a ways, and then rode northeast into the town of Goshen. I’ve drive through Goshen before, but I think this was my first time cycling in the town. I went a mile or two on a dirt road which had some slight up and down, before getting to Route 9. I went east for a very short distance on 9, and then turned north on route 112. A little up and a little downhill riding brought me into the town of Ashfield, which is still at a pretty high elevation. Here’s a view from the roadside in Ashfield (looking northeast):

From this point, Route 112 goes downhill. A lot. This was the payoff for all the climbing I’d done so far. Much of the downhill was pretty fast until I passed into the town of Buckland, but in Buckland I mostly had at least a somewhat downhill ride as I continued north, so it was easy pedaling. Here is a creek that I passed over in that town:

I reached the northern end of 112, where it runs into Route 2, but just before one would have to get onto 2, there is a side street that goes off to the east and then curves south. I took that street, and it brought me into Shelburne Falls (which is a village center shared between the towns of Buckland and Shelburne). There, I sat on a bench and had lunch by the Deerfield River:

After eating, I took a walk on the Bridge of Flowers. If you have not heard of it before, or read my past blog posts about it, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a walking bridge lined with flowering plants:

Here’s a sampling of the stuff I saw there:

While on the bridge, a monarch was flying around, enjoying the flowers:

I left Buckland heading south on Conway Road, which took me, after some hill climbing, into the town of Conway (where the road changes name to Shelburne Falls Road). I had alternating bits of climbing and level riding, and then got a good-sized downhill bit before coming into Conway center. I took a picture there of the library, because it is interesting looking:

I also thought this house was a neat color:

I then began another climb as I headed south. I passed a sign that was more specific than other ones I’ve seen of the type:

From there, a bunch of climbing brought me to a level ride into the town of Whately, and then some downhill riding followed as I went south and southwest, heading into Willamsburg. I came to Route 9 again in Williamsburg, crossed it, and then soon was able to get on the rail trail that goes through Northampton. I followed the trail all the way to downtown Northampton, and then headed south on Route 5 back to Holyoke. I was out for about 8 hours, and the total distance was 79 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2021 at 06:09 pm
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More Highways than Byways

For my training ride a week ago, I chose a route that would let me get in a lot of miles, but with only a moderate amount of hill climbing. This meant spending a bunch of time on numbered highways.

I first headed north out of Holyoke on Route 5, and went up to Northampton, where I was able to get on a rail trail for a mile or so. I also made a quick stop at our vet’s clinic to pick up some medication for one of the cats. I then continued north on Routes 5/10, and followed that road through the towns of Hatfield and Whately, and into Deerfield. It still seems to be high road construction season, because I ran into road work in Northampton and in Deerfield that had me waiting, along with backed up cars, for clearance to pass on a one-lane road.

Halfway through Deerfield I diverted off 5/10 for a bit more scenic route, heading northwest, and then west along the Deerfield River. Here’s a spot where one can access the river – this view is looking downriver to the east (click on any of the images to see a larger version):

View of river with some greenery and a tree in the foreground, and many trees on the far bank.

This spot is right by the bridge that carries I-91 over the river (and over the road I was on).

Highway bridge seen from low angle, with river passing under it.  There is greenery in the foreground, and some trees and grass visible on the far side.

I rode further west from here until I could cross the river myself, on Upper Road. While on the bridge there, I took this picture looking east (you can see the I-91 bridge in the far distance):

Looking along wide river with trees lining each side.  The sky is overcast.

Just after crossing the river, I turned east for a bit, crossing under 91 again, and then went north on Lower Road, which runs parallel to Upper Road and 91, but is overall at a lower elevation. Even though it is the lower road, it still is high enough to have some nice views. Here is a view to the east:

View through a residential yard of a distant field.  There are some trees and shrubs in front of the field, and many trees and a hill beyond the field.

That road took me up into the city of Greenfield, where I made my way past the Franklin County Fairgrounds, then skirted through neighborhoods to the west of downtown, and headed past the edge of Greenfield Community College, still heading north. Not long after passing the college, I turned east and crossed through the northern part of town (on Silver Street), until I came to Route 2A. I went east on that for a very short distance, and then took the turn off that went downhill a bunch, and crossed the Connecticut River into Turners Falls. Here’s what the CT River looks like where I crossed it:

Looking along river with low water level, and some exposed rocky riverbed.  There is a tree-covered hillside to the left and a brick building on the right, with some trees.

There are a bunch of old mill buildings along the river:

Old brick mill buildings stretch along the bank of a river, with various bushes and brush growing between the water and buildings.  There is a single tall smokestack in the center of the photo.

The river’s water level is somewhat low here, because a bunch of water is diverted into a canal. Just after crossing the river I crossed the canal, and then turned west on the bike path, which runs along the canal. I ended up stopping to eat lunch at a spot where there are a bunch of picnic tables just off the path, and on the bank of the canal:

2 picnic tables are seen on an area strewn with pine needles, next to a waterway.  There are some trees shading the picnic area on the left, and more trees are visible on the far side of the water.  A bicycle leans against one of the tables.

Here is the view up the canal, back the way I had come:

A waterway is seen diagonally across the photo, with grass and weeds on the near side (right), and a number of trees lining the far side (left).  On the near side, a monarch butterfly can be seen flying above the weeds.

I noted later that I managed to capture a flying monarch butterfly in that photo. Here is a close-cropped version:

Monarch butterfly in flight, with water behind it.

After eating I continued west along the bike path until I reached the western edge of town (the town of Montague) and then headed south, eventually passing through the town center and then making my way into Sunderland, where I picked up Route 47. I followed 47 all the way through Sunderland and through much of Hadley, plus a bit of South Hadley (where there is a bunch of up-and-down riding). In South Hadley center, I got onto route 116 where 47 ended, and followed that the rest of the way back to Holyoke.

Total distance on this ride was 72 miles, making it my longest ride of the year up to that point.

Next: my final training ride, which combined distance and hills.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2021 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

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