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

Sean's Blog

Done…

I have finished the ride – got to the end at 4:25, which means my time was nearly 9.5 hours. Not the 9 hours I’d hoped, but at least I shaved 15 to 20 minutes off my time from last year.

Going to eat now. Expect a write up of the whole ride in a few days.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 04:09 pm
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Getting There…Slowly

I’m at the last rest stop, in Williamsburg. I’m at mile 86, so I could still finish on time for my goal (it’s 3:03 now), but we’ll see. My legs are sore and weak, and the last few hills have been tough.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 03:09 pm
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Don’t See Any Deer nor a Field

I’m at the third rest stop, in Historic Deerfield. I misremembered how far this one was – it’s at 67 miles.

Just had some fruit, and now will continue on. Current time is 1:07pm.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 01:09 pm
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The Halfway Point

I am now in Leyden center, at the 50 mile mark. There’s no rest stop here, but I’ve stopped for a minute to catch my breath after coming up some hills. It is now 11:25am, so I’m on track to do this in 9 hours.

More climbing ahead.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 11:09 am
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North Stop

I’m at the second rest stop, at about the 41 mile mark. This is a new stop this year, in Guilford, Vermont, and is much appreciated, as we don’t get another one until mile 70 or so.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 10:09 am
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Quarter of the way

I’m at the first rest stop, in Northfield. I made good time, getting here in just under 2 hours.

Note: the WordPress app puts weird time stamps on posts. I posted my previous entry a few minutes before 7:00, and it is currently 9:03.

On toward Vermont!

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 09:09 am
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Foggy Top

I’m at the start of the ride, and it is quite foggy. Fortunately, I have lights. This should clear off before too long.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 06:09 am
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Fruitless, but Useful Nonetheless

Last Saturday, I rode in Bikefest, which is put on by the Northampton Cycling Club.  As it happens the weekend before Will Bike 4 Food, it’s the perfect final training ride.  I did the metric century ride, and as in previous years, it was somewhat longer than 100 km (this year it was 69.2 miles, or about 111 km).

I did a little extra riding, as I parked a mile or so from the park where the event took place, and biked in to the check in area.  Here’s the picnic pavilion for check in and such, seen as I and other cyclists were lining up for the ride to begin. (click pictures to see larger versions)

There were a bunch of riders around, but most of them were outside the frame at that moment.

The route was almost identical to last year’s Bikefest.  From Look Park, we rode into Leeds on the bike trail, then headed west and north to Williamsburg center.  From there we continued north, including a long, slow climb up through a bit of the town of Conway, and into Ashfield.

The ride turned off to the west shortly after reaching Ashfield, and climbed a bit more, and then we got a nice long downhill section, which was followed by some more climbing to the town center.  Just before reaching Ashfield center, I saw these horses grazing by the side of the road, and so stopped for a picture:

Continuing on, the ride got quicker, as it’s mostly downhill heading northeast from Ashfield center to Shelburne Falls, where the first rest stop was.

Here’s the rest stop, which was located at the famous glacial potholes:

  

   

That stop was located about 26 miles into the route, so more than a third of the way through.

The next section of the ride was reasonably short, as we headed east through the town of Shelburne and into Greenfield.  The route had been shortened a bit here, as there was a point where, in past years, we’d gone south for a mile or so, then doubled back on a different road.  This time, we went more directly, but had to ride for a ways on a dirt road to do so.  Fortunately, it was a well-packed surface, with almost no loose gravel, so it was easy to ride on.  That portion was followed by one of the tougher climbs of the day – not as long as the earlier one, but steeper.  The reward for that climbing was a long downhill into Greenfield.  Even with my being slow in climbing, it only took me 45 minutes or so to get to the second rest area from the first, an 11 mile stretch.

That second stop was in Greenfield, at the entrance to the Franklin County fairgrounds:

I began to notice something odd – while there were plenty of different kinds of snacks, energy bars, and the like, neither of the first 2 stops had any fresh fruit, which I remembered them having in the past.  The closest thing was fig bars, which I did have.

Soon after leaving that stop, there was a point where the ride crosses the Green River on a pedestrian/bike bridge.  That bridge was mostly blocked by a whole bunch of tree branches and leaves lying on it, and there was a municipal worker nearby with a chainsaw who had apparently been trimming trees there.  I asked if the bridge was okay to cross, and the reply was that “other people have been carrying their bikes across”.  So, I walked past the branches while holding the bike, then resumed riding at the other end of the bridge.

We went up over a hill, then down, and crossed the Connecticut River into Montague.  The route went onto the river/canalside trail there, into Turners Falls.  Once the trail ended, the last real climb of the day occurred, with an initial short and steep bit, and then a more gradual part as we headed southward.

The ride went through Montague center (past the Bookmill), and then followed a route near the CT river to head down into Sunderland.  Shortly after entering Sunderland, there was a nice river view from the road:

   

Soon after that, the route got to Sunderland center, and the final rest stop.  This stop did not have any fruit, either, and in the past it had the most (last year or the year before they had lots of apples and peaches there).

From there the ride had 16 or 17 miles to go, almost completely flat, as we passed through Whately and Hatfield, then back into Northampton.  The last bit of the route went back to Look Park on the bike trail, and I ended up finishing in a little over 6 hours (we’d begun around 8:50am and I hit the end a few minutes before 3:00pm).  It was a bit of an improvement on my time over the last couple of times I did this ride, with one particular difference being that I did the entire long Williamsburg to Ashfield climb without stopping to rest.  I seem to have some good strength and endurance going, which will be needed for Will Bike 4 Food.

After I ate at the post-ride meal, I biked back to where the car was parked, for a total of about 72 miles for the day.

 

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2018 at 10:09 pm
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Snaking out and Back

On Sept. 15, I had time to go for a longer training ride, and I chose to head out east to Gilbertville (part of the town of Hardwick).  Instead of riding on route 202, which is the way I went in the past, I took various side roads that roughly parallel that highway.  Some of them were roads that I had not been on before, and one thing I discovered is that the route I took involved more hill climbing to get to Belchertown center, compared with 202 (followed by some downhill, of course).

Sometime soon after I crossed the Belchertown line, I came upon a snake enjoying what warmth the pavement had.

I was worried that it was far enough into the road that it might get run over by a car, so I moved close enough to it that it slithered off into the grass.  Satisfied that it was safer, I continued.

From the center of Belchertown, I went east on Route 9, but soon diverted off into the Quabbin Reservoir reservation.  It was a beautiful day at that point, and so I could not resist taking some pictures of the water from Winsor Dam:

    

Here I’m looking along the dam:

I rode across there and then up the hill that goes to an observation tower.  I didn’t go all the way to the tower this time, as I’ve been in it many times before, and wanted to make time.  It’s a long uphill anyway, but then one is rewarded with a lot of down hill before exiting to 9 again.

There are a couple more hills that I climbed in the town of Ware, before I came out on Route 32 and headed north into Gilbertville.  I stopped off for lunch at a bakery/cafe that had been recommended to us – Rose32.  Had a very nice sandwich and a strawberry ginger ale to drink, and then got a box of various pastries to take home.

I retraced my route back to Belchertown, but then headed west on Bay Road, followed by going north on Warren Wright Rd. to pick up the Mass Central Rail Trail (Norwottuck section).  I wanted to make sure to get a significant enough number of miles in, so didn’t want to head home the way I came (taking the trail was less direct).  I rode the trail all the way to Northampton, and then turned south and followed Route 5 back to Holyoke.

My total distance was 70 miles, and despite some of it being bumpy, the pastries survived the trip.

Next post: Bikefest 2018.

Posted by seaking on 09-28-2018 at 11:09 pm
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New Route on Old Roads

A couple of weeks ago I went for a ride on a Saturday afternoon, looking once again to explore some places I had not gone, even though they are relatively close to home.

I first rode up to Northampton to run an errand.  Then I headed back south as far as the Connecticut River oxbow, and went southwest on the Manhan trail in Easthampton.

My intention was to head up into the Mt. Tom Reservation, but not via the ways one can drive in.  I’d noticed quite a while back that maps show a road going in to the place from East St. in Easthampton, but I’d seen from inside the park that that route is gated off.  I wanted to see if it was a road one could take a bike up.  The road begins as an actual residential street, as it turns out – it’s called Reservation Road.  It goes uphill somewhat, and then the houses end and there’s a gate across the pavement.  Once one passes the gate, there is not a whole lot of pavement, and at some points there is only dirt and gravel.  Overall, it is more of a hiking path than a road these days.  It’s wide enough for a motor vehicle, but you’d need serious tires and 4-wheel drive to get through.  Meanwhile, on a bicycle, I was able to ride up most of it, but toward the top it got too steep, so I ended up walking my bike the last eighth of a mile or so to the top gate.

At that point, I was able to ride out the east side of the reservation, which is a nice route – all downhill and smooth pavement.  That took me out to Route 5, where I headed south.  As I headed uphill into the Holyoke Highlands, I turned off again, on the Mountain Park Access Road.  This road crosses over I-91, then stops outside the gates of Mountain Park, which was once an amusement park but is now an outdoor concert space.

There are a couple of side roads there that skirt Mountain Park, and which are blocked to car traffic.  One of them goes north, and heads partway up the side of Mount Tom.  I had been that way once in the past, but had not taken the other road to the south, which is what I did this time.  I rode downhill, then around a curve to the west and through a bit of woods to the Whiting Street Reservoir.  There is a gravel road that runs around the reservoir, which apparently is officially a cross-country track, used by local school teams.

On the east side of the reservoir, one has to climb up an embankment to see the water.  Here are some views of that (click on photos to see larger versions):

   

And here is a pumping station or something (a water works structure of some kind, anyway):

I rode counter-clockwise around the reservoir, but did not complete a full circuit.  When I got down to the south end of the water, I rode out of the area to exit onto Route 141, which I then followed east back to Route 5 and then home.

Total distance for this ride was 25 miles, but the next couple were longer ones.  Stay tuned.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2018 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

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