The hills I refer to in the title are merely new to me, not newly built. I expect they’ve been there for millenia. However, my last training ride for Will Bike 4 Food was a different organized event: Bikefest, put on by the Northampton Cycling Club. I’ve participated in it many times in the past, and it generally makes for good training. However, after a few years of making only slight tweaks to their routes, they made bigger changes this year.
Bikefest took place on September 21, and I had signed up for the route known both as the Metric Century (a term that refers to riding 100 kilometers) and as the 70-mile course. Both of these were misnomers, as the actual length of it was 68.8 miles.
The unfortunate thing about that day’s ride is that I forgot to grab my phone before leaving the house, so I had no way to take pictures. Thus, this post will be imageless. However, it was a great ride, and I enjoyed the scenery – which was plentiful. In particular, the ride went over two hills that I had passed near, but never climbed before, as well as one hill that I had only been on once previously.
The ride started and ended, as it always does, in Northampton’s Look Park. In addition to the route going different places, it also went in a different direction – we followed the loop counterclockwise instead of clockwise. The ride went east on the Noho bike trail for a bit, then headed north into Hatfield, then further east, until it followed the river road through the rest of Hatfield and all of Whately. We then crossed over the CT River into Sunderland on Route 116, and turned north on Route 47.
The course only followed 47 for a couple of miles, and then we forked off to the left to stay close to the river. One gets a few nice views of the river from this road, which I have photographed in the past. Eventually the road curves east and takes one near Montague Center. It was here that the first rest stop was located, and I stopped for a brief bit.
Of note: when I’d been riding in Hatfield, I had seen a stray potato by the edge of the road. In Montague, shortly before getting to the rest stop, I saw a head of cabbage by the side of the road. I wondered if it would be a day of random vegetable sightings, but those turned out to be the only two.
The route then went north and somewhat west again, heading off toward Greenfield. This piece of road was one I’d ridden back in July, which involved the short bike bridge over railroad tracks. We took this road all the way to its end in the NW corner of Montague, and then headed east a bit, getting onto the bike path that took us into Turner’s Falls. At this point the route crossed the CT River again, into Gill, but then we immediately took a left onto Route 2, and headed into Greenfield. In Greenfield we turned again to go north through a small industrial park on Adams Road, which involves some climbing. This is a hill I’d climbed in 2013 as part of WB4F, and it was more challenging then, coming after more than 60 miles of riding. In this case, after less than 30, it was not so bad.
The road came to a peak, and then went downhill a bunch, and then riders turned west to head to Routes 5/10, which we then took just a bit south. We turned west again, and headed a ways west on Barton Road, then zig-zagging onto some other roads, and ended up heading south on Green River Road (still in Greenfield). Close to the end of this road, we turned sharply to head north by northwest on Smead Hill Road. This began the big climb of the day. The road passed through a corner of the town of Shelburne, and then into Colrain. It was a reasonably steep climb, which kept on going, such that I needed to stop and rest twice (a few other cyclists passed me on the way up this hill). When I got to the top, the road went under and along some power lines, and past a couple of farms. There was an amazing view to be had at points. There was a little up and down as I went along, and the road was dirt and gravel for a portion. It was still dirt as I started to descend, but fortunately it quickly became paved again before I had too much momentum.
I went downhill a bunch for a couple of miles as I headed west and then south, back into Shelburne. There was then another climb, this time short, but steep, to reach the second rest stop. This was located at Apex Orchards, which I had heard of, but never been to. They also have a great view from the top of their hill.
The route then descended, heading south, to Route 2, and then further south to the Bardwell’s Ferry crossing of the Deerfield River (into the Town of Conway). There is a steep descent, including a hairpin turn, to get to this bridge, so it has to be done with a lot of braking. On the Conway side of the bridge, one then climbs for a while again, going mostly west, before getting some more descent (I’d ridden this road once before, in the 2017 Bikefest, but in the opposite direction).
The route then took us south through Conway Center, and down into Whately, and then Williamsburg. This was all familiar to me, and was not very difficult riding, though I was getting sore and tired. In the Haydenville section of Williamsburg there was a third rest stop, but I did not stop there, as it was only a few miles from the end (that stop was of more use to riders on the 100-mile course, who would still have had 20 miles or more to go at that point).
From Haydenville, we got on the bike trail’s western end, and took that back into Look Park. I had started the ride at about 8:50am, and I finished a few minutes before 3:00pm. So 69 miles in about 6 hours and 10 minutes.
Next: the full WB4F summary.