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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

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