News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

9 hours and 45 minutes!

The title says it all.  I just finished the ride and checked in.  Thanks everyone for your encouragement!  

I’m going to eat some food now. 

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 04:09 pm
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Almost there…

I’m in Williamsburg center now, nearly at mile 88.  The whole ride is almost 101 miles, so I’ve got 13 miles to go (with not much climbing).  Home stretch, here I come!

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 03:09 pm
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Staying on target

It’s just after 2:00 and I’ve finally reached a second water stop.  I’ve now gone 74 miles, and I’m feeling better than I was at this point in Bikefest last weekend.  Time to tackle the last quarter of this ride!

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 02:09 pm
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Sixty percent

There was a bunch of climbing in the middle of the route, as I headed back into Mass, but I just finished a nice long downhill run.  I’m at mile 61, in Shelburne, and soon I’ll be in Greenfield.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 12:09 pm
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Northern Point

I’m in Vernon, VT at the northernmost part of the route.  I’ve gone about 42 miles.  I was at the first water stop 15 minutes ago, but did not have great cell reception there.  Now I begin heading back south.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 10:09 am
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Making good time

I’m in Turner’s Falls, having stopped for a bathroom break.  I’m about to cross the bridge in the photo into Gill, where I’ll have the first real hill climb of the day.  Distance so far: 19 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 08:09 am
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Ready to go!

The sun is coming up and I’m about to head out on the ride.  It’s chilly, but I’ve worn appropriate layers.  More later as I progress.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2016 at 06:09 am
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Achievement Unlocked!

You did it!  The total of donations made to my ride has exceeded the goal of $1000.  As promised, I’ve made my $1000 contribution, bringing the total to more than $2000!  This is the most I’ve ever raised for the Food Bank.  Thanks to everyone who has donated for your support!

Interestingly, the First Giving page for the event (rather than my personal fundraising page) shows me in the top 5 fundraisers.  I’m guessing I’m not quite going to end up as one of the top people – a lot of riders are likely raising a lot of donations offline and not recording them on the site.  Still, I feel special.   🙂

Stay tuned on Sunday for the ride itself.

Posted by seaking on 09-22-2016 at 09:09 pm
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BikeFest 2016

This past Sunday, the 18th, I rode in the Northampton Cycling Club’s BikeFest.  It’s an annual event I’ve done multiple times before, and serves as a good final preparatory ride before Will Bike 4 Food.  I rode the 75-mile route, which is listed in the main links on the page as a 72-mile route, for some reason (and they call it a “metric century”, which generally means riding 100 kilometers, or 63 miles).

In any case, the route’s length was just over 75 miles, and we started riding just before 9am.  The weather was very slightly rainy at the outset, but that cleared before too long, and I just had to deal with wet roads for much of the day.  There was a fair amount of hill climbing in this route (a little more than 4600 feet worth), mostly contained in the first half of the route.  Starting from Look Park in Northampton, we rode through the town of Williamsburg, then up into Ashfield, which involves a very long, gradual climb.  Fortunately, it’s a climb I’ve done more than once in the past, so I knew what to expect.  The long climbing was rewarded after Ashfield center with a whole bunch of downhill riding into Conway, then down into Buckland to Shelburne Falls.

In Shelburne Falls, the ride had its first rest stop, at the 25-mile point.  The stop was set up by the Deerfield River, and the geologic feature known as the Glacial Potholes.

stop1-pots   potclose

From there, the route actually doubled back for a few miles, heading south into Conway the way we’d come.  It then veered off east into territory I’d never been in – an area known as Bardwell’s Ferry.  It’s a pretty area and I had to do some more hill climbing, then descended to a steel bridge that crossed the Deerfield.  Here’s the view from the bridge, looking both up and downriver, followed by the bridge itself.

bard-deer2  bard-deer1  bardbridge

The unfortunate part was that a steep, and somewhat long, climb happened immediately on the other side of the bridge.  That climb happened to have a dirt and gravel section of road near the top, apparently because of construction (I don’t think it’s always a dirt road there).  Through the Bardwell section, I passed, and was passed by, a number of riders doing the 50-mile route.  We all had to rest at points going up this hill.

There was some nice flat riding, and a little bit of downhill riding after the dirt bit, but soon another hill arrived, which I had climbed before.  This was in the town of Shelburne, still headed east toward Greenfield.  As I started up this next hill, I suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes.  There was a large field of grass by the road, and up in the middle of the field was a piper, playing for the riders (I’d experienced the piping in a previous iteration of the ride, but only at a rest area, not in the middle of the countryside like this).  I had to stop and rest before getting out of sight of the piper, so listened to the rest of the piece before continuing up the hill.  Near the top there was another piper just on the edge of the road.

Once that hill was crested, it was all downhill into Greenfield, so I got there pretty quickly, and arrived at the second rest stop.  This one was at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, and at this point I was about 43 miles into the route.

stop2-fair  frankfairgate  frankfairbldg

At this stop, we 75-milers mixed with people going 50 miles and some of those on the 100-mile trip.  From this point on, I believe the 100-mile route lined up with the 75-mile (so the century riders were further along in their ride).

From here the ride was less hilly.  There was a bit of a hill climb in Greenfield before descending and crossing the Connecticut River into Montague, and then we rode the bike trail into Turner’s Falls, and had a moderate climb out of there to head south.

I was beginning to get sore and tired by this time, so even though the terrain in Montague Center, and then Sunderland, was relatively level, I had to stop and rest a few times.  The third rest area was in the center of Sunderland, at mile 60, and I believe I spent longer there than at either of the previous 2 stops (though still only about 15 minutes or so).

The last 15 miles were almost completely flat, as I passed through Whately and Hatfield, then back into Northampton.  I still had to stop a number of times, mostly to give my legs a rest for a few minutes each time.  I still made good time, arriving back at the start 7 hours and 15 minutes after leaving.  That timing certainly puts me on track for doing the upcoming 100-miles within my time goal.

That century ride for Will Bike 4 Food is coming up in just a few days, and as I’ve done in the past, I plan to try and live blog the ride.  Look for updates in this space throughout the day Sunday.

Posted by seaking on 09-21-2016 at 10:09 pm
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Training Summary

So, in preparation for the Food Bank Ride next weekend, I have gone on a number of training rides over the past couple of months.  Here’s a quick rundown of these rides, with pictures from some of them.  I did not do extensive photo taking, partly because I wanted to keep moving, but also because several of these involved riding in areas I’d photographed before.


July 4 – Huntington and Back:  This was almost totally a route I had followed before, and it was somewhat short.  The total distance I covered was 48 miles, but it was a very hilly 48 miles.  I traveled west out of Holyoke to Southampton, then rode up into Westhampton, and then headed west over a large ridge into Huntington.  I was climbing for almost all of that time.  One interesting highlight of that trip was, as I was resting on the way up the hill between Westhampton and Huntington, a motorcyclist coming the other way and told me about a bear.  At first I thought he was saying that the hill I was about to climb was “a bear”, but as he pulled away, I realized he was warning me that there was a bear by the road.  I was a little nervous about this, so I kept my eyes peeled, but did not see any bear myself.  I made it to Huntington center fine, though found that places I could have eaten lunch were largely closed.  I headed east from there on Route 20 and ended up getting lunch at a liquor store/deli in the town of Russell.  From there, I went on into Westfield, then headed north and east back into Holyoke.


July 17 – Greenfield/Montague loop:  This ride was a total of 75 miles, with some hills, but not a ton.  Pretty much all the hills were in the latter part of the trip.  I rode up to Greenfield from Holyoke on Route 5, which is a relatively flat road, stopping for lunch in Whately at a hot dog stand.  Once I got to Greenfield, I stopped again for house-made sodas at The People’s Pint (because who can resist?).  From there I went through Deerfield to the bike trail that begins there, and headed over to and through Turner’s Falls.  This path is usually good for seeing waterfowl, and in addition to seeing a lot of ducks, I passed a snowy egret in the water.

tf-egret  tf-birds1  tf-birds2

From Turner’s, I rode south through the eastern part of Montague, then through Leverett center, and along the eastern edge of Amherst.  I crossed the Holyoke Range on the not-very-busy Harris Road, and went home through Granby and South Hadley.


July 24 – The Trail to Connecticut:  Once before I had ridden the continuous bike trail from Westfield, MA to Farmington, CT.  In that case, I drove to Westfield with my bike and only rode on the trail.  In this case, I rode down there from home to pick up the trail (which extends further north than it used to).  It’s a fairly easy ride, with very little hill climbing.  But to make up for that, it was long – about 88 miles, which is my longest ride so far this year.  Only a couple of pics, taken from the bridge over which the trail crosses the Farmington River.

farm-riv1   farm-riv2


August 27 – Home from the Berkshires:  There were a few weekends when I was traveling, and so could not go for a ride.  Hence the gap between the last date and this one.  On 8/27, we drove out to Pittsfield, MA to see Elizabeth Warren speak.  The event was a bit disappointing, because, even though we had responded to an e-mail to reserve a place, we ended up in an overflow room at the venue, to watch the talk on video.  As the talk was being streamed on the Internet, this was not very different from being at home and watching it, but at least Warren came into the overflow room to greet us before giving the talk.

In any case, I had brought my bike along, and I then rode home from the event.  From there to home was 52 miles, but it was, again, a very hilly ride.  There was an initial climb when I left Pittsfield that was really difficult, as I had to stop and rest 7 times to make it up the long hill.  It was also fairly hot out, and a few times while climbing that hill I felt queasy.  Fortunately it passed quickly each time I rested.  Once I got over that hill I did not encounter any more queasiness.  I rode on some familiar roads on that afternoon, but at least one other unfamiliar road turned out to involve a long, steep climb as well.  It took me more than 6 hours to make it home.


September 4 – Sturbridge:  Looking for a long ride that would cover a lot of unfamiliar territory, I settled on riding east to Sturbridge, in Central Mass.  I first rode down through Chicopee to the south side of the Mass Pike, and then followed Route 20 through the towns of Wilbraham, Monson, Palmer, and Brimfield before getting to Sturbridge.  In Wilbraham, I saw this horse statue, with the springs from an old carriage behind it.


While I did not take pictures in Brimfield, that town apparently plays host to a gigantic antiques market over Labor Day weekend.  There were many white tents set up for vendors on various properties as I rode through town, including some on the lawns in front of houses.

After having lunch in Sturbridge, I rode north and came through some different towns: Warren, Ware, Belchertown.  I had intended to travel through Ware and into Belchertown on a new route for me, but somehow missed my planned turn off and ended up in downtown Ware.  So I just followed Route 9 to Belchertown center, then Route 202 home from there.  Total distance for this ride was 84 miles, and yes, there were hills.


September 11 – Curious Orange:  I’m not saying there’s anything particularly curious about the town of Orange, just that I was curious to ride there, since I hadn’t before.  This was a fairly long ride, and included a number of good-sized hills that I’d ridden before.  I rode up through Amherst and Leverett, then passed through Shutesbury and Wendell.  It had been raining that morning, and I started out just after the rain stopped, so I rode on a lot of wet pavement.  The sun did not come out until I reached Leverett, and I stopped at the Village Co-op there to rest after some hill climbing, as well as to put on sunscreen.  The co-op has a little playground, as well as a small Buddha shrine.

villcoop   levbuddha

Here are some images taken in Orange.  The first is the town’s public library, the third is a view of the Miller’s River.

orangelib  orangebldg  miller-riv-orng

Coming back uphill into Wendell, I stopped to rest by this swamp, though I did not see any particular wildlife there:

wendswamp1  wendswamp2

I tried leaving Wendell center through a different route than  I had taken north.  It turned out to be a dirt road, and after a mile or so it abruptly stopped, giving way to a horse trail.  I say that’s the type of trail because 2 people on horseback emerged from it while I was there consulting maps on my phone.  I ended up following a side dirt road back to the road I’d taken north.  I did then head to Shutesbury center, which is another long climb, but then I got to ride a long downhill run almost all the way to North Amherst.  From there, my route home was the same as in the morning.


Next post: the NCC Bikefest.

Posted by seaking on 09-18-2016 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

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