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WB4F Ride #8: I Take Wrong Turns and End Up in Florida

Map showing route from Lanesborough through Windsor and Savoy to Charlemont, then back via Adams, MA.

For my eighth and final ride this month, I drove out to the Berkshires to do a loop in the Northwestern corner of the state. Above is the map of the route I had planned (click images to embiggen). I parked in the town of Lanesborough, at the southern end of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Here’s the sign at that end, and the parking lot (my car and bike are first on the left there):

Wooden sign with white lettering reading "Ashuwillticook Rail Trail" with large rocks around the sign posts.  There are parked cars and trees behind it.
Pved parking lot with cars and some bikes, and trees on either side.

My goal was to head northeast to the town of Charlemont, which I’ve never been to, and then to come back to the town of Adams, then head south on the trail back to the car.

I began by heading north on Route 8, and was going to be turning off pretty quickly, but I missed the right turn. I rode almost a mile north and realized that I should have passed the turn already. I backtracked, and discovered that what looked like a parking lot entrance was the side road I wanted – Gulf Road (there is a street sign, but it’s at least a dozen feet back from the main road).

I headed east on Gulf, and it soon turned into a dirt road, but a pretty smooth one. It also started to climb, but I did not mind, as the scenery was very nice. Here’s some of the woods I passed through, where there were rocky hillsides on each side:

Looking along a dirt road, with woods on either side, and some patches of sunlight falling on the road.
Wooded hillside with large rocks on the slope, as well as ferns and other undergrowth among many tree trunks.
Wooded hillside with large rocks on the slope, as well as ferns and other undergrowth among many tree trunks.

On this road, I passed into the town of Dalton, which was actually marked with a small sign. I also passed a couple of hikers coming onto the road, which is not too surprising, as the Appalachian Trail crosses this road in Dalton.

I headed downhill on the dirt for a bit, then the road became paved again, and soon headed out of the woods into a residential neighborhood. I saw this little historic house, which I looked up later on (here’s the info on it):

Small house with yellow-painted wood siding.  A wooden sign hanging from a post in front of the place reads "1846 - Fitch Hoose House - The Dalton Historical Commission".  A lawn surrounds the house with a few flowering plants, and there are trees in the background.

From here, I rode a few blocks east, then north, and came out onto Route 9. I followed 9 east into the town of Windsor, and then began to climb. I climbed for a good 3 miles in total, taking about half an hour or so, until the road leveled off in Windsor center. Here are some of the few buildings there:

White painted building with brick chimney, and a sign in front reading "Windsor Town Offices - Public Library"
Looking along road, there are some buildings on the left side, including a church, and a white building with a shiny copper roof.

Just past this stretch of Route 9, I turned north on a side road, which turned out to be another dirt road. I climbed a bit more on this road, and then began to head downhill, but also got pavement for most of the down hill run. However, I soon intersected route 8A, which runs north-south. This was a surprise, as I had expected to be riding parallel to 8A. I consulted the map app on my phone, and found that the original directions I was following (which I’d mapped on my laptop), were taking me on a road that did not seem to exist. So I had to adjust my route, and I went north on 8A, into the town of Savoy. This worked out okay for a bit, as I went a little uphill, but then got some nice downhill riding. Unfortunately, there were some bumps on the downhill, and it happened that my third water bottle, which was in a pocket on the back of my bike rack bag, bounced out twice when I hit some bumps. The first time it just got scraped up a bit, but the second time it hit the ground the cap popped off, and all the water had drained out by the time I recovered it. There went 1/3 of my water supply.

I soon reached Route 116, and headed east for a little bit, passing the point where I thought I’d be getting to 116 on my original route. Here’s a view along 116:

Road surface on the left, with a green field and barn to the right.  There are hills and trees in the distance, and a bunch of clouds in the sky.

I reached my next turn, called Loop Road, and turned left to go further north. This route was as expected for a while – I had to climb some more, then the road turned east, and I took another turn to continue north. Just after that turn, the road forked, and as I remembered from the mapped route, I took the right fork (Hawley Rd.). Just after forking right, I headed downhill a bunch, and then came to a dead end. The road just went into a farm driveway, and there was no place to continue. I looked at a map on the phone again, and sure enough, the dead end was on there, but Google’s directions had claimed the road went through. This was especially frustrating given that I wasted 15 minutes or more climbing back up the hill to the fork.

I got back up there, and took the left fork (Chapel Rd.) intending to follow a different route east that I saw on the phone map app. However, the new road I was going to take (Barnard) had a “No Outlet” sign when I passed it. So, I did not go that way, even though the app claimed it was a through street. I checked the map and decided I should alter my course, as I was behind schedule at this point, after a few delays. If I kept heading north, I would actually intersect the part of my original route that headed back from Charlemont to Adams. So I thought about just turning onto Adams Road to go west, without the loop to Charlemont. However, this might make the whole trip too short, so I also contemplated continuing north up to Route 2, and then heading west. I did ride north and got to Adams road at the point where Chapel Rd. becomes Black Brook Road. I took one look at Adams Road and made my decision, because that road:

  • Was a dirt road
  • Headed uphill
  • Had a surface of loose-looking gravel
  • Had a big sign saying “Not maintained in winter”

So I said a big “Nope!” and continued north. There was a bit of uphill riding on Black Brook Road, and then it started to head downhill, first through some slightly open countryside, but then becoming steeper and going through more of a wooded ravine. Here’s an early part of the downhill (note the fall colors already):

Tree-covered hillside, with a number of yellow and red trees among the green ones, and a large lawn in the foreground.

I stopped at one point on the steeper part where there was a view over the guardrail of Black Brook itself:

Rocky brook seen from side of road above, with trees on the hillside above the far bank.

Here’s the view back up the road from there:

Looking along road going up a hill with trees on either side, and a guardrail on the left.

And here is the view downhill, ahead of me:

Looking along road going downhill with trees on either side, and a guardrail on the right.

At the bottom of the hill, I got to Route 2, and turned to the west. I was still in Savoy, but about to cross another town line:

White sign by the side of the road, with black lettering reading "Entering Florida".  There are a lot of trees around.

Here is what my new route was, now that I’d given up on Charlemont and was heading for North Adams:

Map showing route through Windsor and Savoy, Mass, then heading west to North Adams, south through Adams back to Lanesborough.

As I entered Florida, the road climbed, and it did so for a long time – easily as long a climb as I did on Route 9, and probably longer, though at least it was gradual all the way – on my original route, I would have gone downhill to Charlemont, then come to this point and climbed up Black Brook Rd, which is steeper than Route 2.

And at least the road is very scenic. Here is the scenery when I was just a little ways up:

Rock face to the left of a road, with trees at the top of the rocks.  Some trees can be seen on the right side of the road.
Looking across a road, there is a guardrail, and past that there are tree-covered hills and cloudy sky.
Looking uphill on a road, with land sloping down on the left, and some trees there, and trees and rock on the right of the road, with a hilltop in the background.

After that spot, I saw signs for a construction area ahead, and warnings of a one-lane road. Sure enough, I came to a point where a police officer was holding back some cars while a bunch of traffic came the other way. Once he sent those few cars going west, he told me I could travel in the “construction” lane on the other side of the cones, as the construction equipment and workers were only at the far end of the area. So I continued riding nicely separated from traffic as I climbed some more. I was able to get into the regular lane near the end during a lull in traffic, in order to get past the actual road work. Beyond that, I still had a slight incline to ride up for a while, and then got to what might be the center of town (or near the center):

Large grassy area with a gazebo and some trees on the left side, and a white church with some other buildings in the background, and more trees beyond.

I then had mostly level riding for a while, and had some nice views to the north, looking out over lower ground and other hills:

Looking downhill along the line of electrical wires with woods on either side of the wires' cleared path, including the path going up other hills in the distance.

There were still a few sections of road where I needed to climb, and at what I think was the highest point on Route 2, there was this elk statue:

Bronze statue of a male elk, standing on a rock with a small plaque on the front of the rock.  The statue is surrounded by a low metal fence, with grass and paving stones around.   Behind it is a view of hills in the distance.

This is “The Elk on the Trail“, a World War I monument that was put in place almost a century ago.

There was a bit of downhill after that, and then one final little bit of climbing, as I came to the city line of North Adams, where this sign greeted me:

Tall blue and green sign reading "North Adams", with a stylized image of old industrial buildings by a river and hills.  The sign stands in some grass by the edge of a wooded area.

Just beyond that are signs warning of the impending downhill run:

Road surface on the left with a yellow sign on the left warning of a 7 percent grade for the next 4 miles, and advising trucks to use lower gear.  In the distance there is a green sign above the road reading "Steep Hill - Curves Next Mile - Use Caution".

Just past that green sign warning of the steep hill is this view of the valley below, including downtown North Adams:

View of nearby bushes and trees, with a wooden railing on the left, and beyond that a panorama of city buildings down in a valley, with other hills past that.

That view is right by a small store, where the proprietor was selling stuff from a table on the porch, in front of the entrance, presumably to avoid having people come inside the building. I was hot and thirsty, and had lost some of my water supply back in Savoy, so I bought a cold pineapple soda, as well as a bottle of water.

From here, the road turned briefly north as it sloped down, but only for 1000 feet, and then it had a hairpin turn to go south for another thousand feet, before heading west again. I had to go slowly until I was around the sharp turn, and then I could lay off the brakes and get going fast into town. Incidentally, the tip of that hairpin turn sticks a bit into the town of Clarksburg, so one is in that town for a few dozen feet of road.

In the downtown area, I passed by Mass MoCA, and turned to head south on Route 8. That’s a pretty easy ride, as it’s almost completely level, and there is a nice wide bike lane on the road.

It was not too long before I got into the town of Adams, and in that downtown area I came to the Ashuwillticook trail, just a bit south of its northern end.

Wood sign with carved, white-painted letters reading "Ashuwillticook Rail Trail - Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation".  Around the sign are grass and trees, and some paved trail surface with a wooden fence.

This old station building stands right by the trail:

Old train depot building, painted yellow with a red metal roof.  A high sign in front of the building reads "Adams Station", and there are sidewalks, benches, and small plants around.

Looking south, I was surprised to see signs indicating that the trail was closed:

Looking along paved recreation trail with a green vehicle gate blocking much of the entrance, and orange and white construction signs blocking the small openings that bikes and pedestrians would normally use to enter the path section.  There are trees in the background, and some parked cars to the far right.

I rode south on a street parallel to the trail for a bit, hoping that it would only be a small section that was closed. I saw some other cyclists who were stationary on the trail near a restaurant, and so I asked if they knew how much of the trail was closed and why. The northern section of the trail was apparently being resurfaced, and at that point there was a nice smooth, rideable surface. Though the work was not quite finished, there were no workers present at that time of the day (about 3:30pm), and so many people were using the trail.

I went ahead and rode south on the trail. Here’s a section that is still officially under construction, just a little south of downtown Adams:

Looking along paved trail with rock beds on each side, then further flanked by trees.  Up ahead there is a bridge over the trail for a road.

My legs were getting tired, and I was feeling saddle-sore, but I pushed on south through the rest of Adams, and then through the town of Cheshire, where the trail runs for a long distance at the side of the Cheshire reservoir:

Water in a reservoir lake, with tree-covered hills on the far side, and a single small tree on the right side in the foreground.
Water in a reservoir lake, with tree-covered hills on the far side, and a bit of a small tree visible on the left edge of the foreground.

Eventually I got through Cheshire, and rode a couple more miles through Lanesborough, until I reached the southern end of the trail, and my car. My total time on the modified ride was about 6.25 hours, and the distance I traveled (including wrong turns and backtracks) was 57.75 miles.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-seven point seven five.

This concluded my riding in September, and I ended up going a grand total of 445 miles over my 8 rides. However, I did promise a bonus ride in October, and as my fundraising goal was met, I will be doing that ride soon. Stay tuned for a post about it.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2020 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Ride #7: A Trip to Wales

Map showing route from Holyoke through Palmer and down to Wales, Mass, then west through Monson and Hampden, and back north through Springfield.

This past Thursday, I went on my seventh trip, heading south and east from home to a town I had never been to, and had only barely heard of. That would be Wales (not to be confused with the slightly more well known place in the UK).

I began by heading across the CT River into Chicopee, and going south until I crossed the Chicopee River, then turning east on Route 147. I followed this road across the northeast part of the city of Springfield, and then headed into the town of Wilbraham on Stony Hill Rd/East Boston Rd. That’s a nice, tree-lined road, and at one point the trees almost form a tunnel (click on photos to enlarge):

Looking along road surface, with trees on both sides that lean in and form a canopy over the road.

Just after this point I got onto eastbound US-20. Some more riding brought me to Nine Mile Pond:

Pond with a sign in front reading "Nine Mile Pond", with some weeds at the bottom of the frame, and trees on the far side of the pond.
Pond with weeds and a tree in foregound, and many trees on the far side.

A bit later, I passed by this horse and sleigh:

Horse figure on a lawn in front of a parking lot, with an ivy-covered cart or sleigh hitched up to it.  A part of a building is in the background.

That is displayed in front of this business:

Large sign reading "Country Homes Furniture - Pennsylvania House Collector's Gallery".  The sign is among some small plants and grass, with a parking lot and dark green building in the background.

In most of Wilbraham, there is a small amount of shoulder where one can ride a bike and not be in the traffic lane, but as one gets farther east, near the Monson line, there is an official bike lane for a couple of miles. Here’s a picture of it:

Road surface with bike lane painted on it, stretching off into distance, with some trees on the side of the road a ways away.

This lane might be partly in the town of Monson, as Route 20 skirts the northern border of the town for a while.

The road then headed into the town of Palmer, and through downtown, where they emphasize the railroad history of the place. Here’s a typical sign from the downtown area:

Green sign in front of downtown buildings.  The sign reads "Welcome to Quaboag Hills Region - Town of Palmer Depot Village", and below that has arrows directing viewers to various places in town.

A couple of blocks from that sign is this partial old depot building:

Small building with open area under much of roof, with sign on it reading "Depot Village Station".  Grassy area in front of the building.

That is part of a little park that has a small play train (presumably for kids to climb in):

Small park with grass, brick walkway, benches, raised planters with perennials, and a small red and yellow play train.  Behind all of that are some small trees and a 2-story building.

I continued east from Palmer on 20, and passed through a small spur of Monson before entering the town of Brimfield. In that little bit of Monson, I crossed the Quaboag River. Here’s the view south from the bridge:

Calm river water, with trees on each bank.

The road had been pretty close to level up to this point, with only minor climbing, but there was a long stretch in Brimfield with a gradual climb. Soon after that climb, I came to the point where I turned off south, onto Hollow Road, which took me down into Wales. Here’s the town line sign:

Concrete post reading "Town Line" with painted sign attached that reads "Brimfield" on the left side and "Wales" on the right.  There are ferns and such around the base of the post, and trees behind.

It’s a pretty wooded town – here’s the section of road where that sign appears:

Stretch of road with one lane of dark blacktop, and the other lane lighter in color.  There are trees on each side of the road.

A bit farther south there is a little marsh off the east side of the road:

Small marsh seen past a few trees in the foreground.  There arewoods in the background.

I had to climb some more on this road, until I got near the center of town. In the center, they have this monument I came across when I intersected Route 19:

Stone monument which includes four pillars on a round base, with a planter containing flowers between the columns, a platform on top of the columns, and that is topped off by a glass and iron lamp.  There is some landscaping with red wood chips around the monument, with a road and trees in the background.

Here are some details of the monument:

Close up of top section of stone monument, reading "Gifted by W.B. Howard to the Town of Wales".  There are trees and a house in the background.
Glass and iron lantern on top of monument, with white lettering on the glass reading "Wales, Mass".

I went just a bit further south on 19, then began heading west. I passed this pond just after leaving the town center:

Part of a pond, with brush in the foreground, trees to the left, and more brush and trees on the far side.
Part of a pond, with brush in the foreground, and more brush and trees on the far side.

From there the road went downhill a whole bunch. It was almost all downhill as I headed into Monson, and passed just south of that town’s center. Then I started to climb again as I continued west. I had an initial, slightly steep climb, then some more gradual climbs as the road turned to the southwest. It eventually headed downhill again, as I entered the town of Hampden, before running into another road where I turned west, and headed into Hampden center. Here are some pictures of that area:

Brick building that reads "Hampden Town House" on the front, with a lawn in front of it, and a flagpole with the US flag at half staff.  There are a few large trees around, and a street running by the building.
Stone monument with a statue of a man at the top.  Lettering on the base reads "Argonne".  There are bushes, trees, and grass around the monument.

That monument is apparently to soldiers from the town who served in World War I. Near here there was a town park where I stopped to eat my lunch. I ate in this empty picnic shelter:

Picnic shelter with yellow supporting columns and several picnic tables.

which was right by this playground:

A playground with red and blue monkey bars, a red and yellow slide, and some swings beyond those, plus a few animals on springs.  Trees are in the background, along with a small picnic shelter.

One gets from the parking lot to the picnic/play area on this little bridge over a ditch/creek:

Reddish-brown painted wooden bridge, with asphalt path leading to it, and small trees and bushes on either side.

While I was eating, there was a parent with a small child on the playground, and at one point the parent pointed out something on the edge of the playground, which I could soon see was a frog hopping away from them. It went down into the ditch, apparently into the water. Later, once they had left, I took a look in the shallow water, and found a frog – likely the same one:

A green frog sits in very shallow water, with the top of its head sticking out, facing the camers.  There are some twigs and a dry maple leaf in the water.

I went a bit more to the west, and then headed north by northwest to leave Hampden. I passed through a corner of the town of East Longmeadow, and then into the southeast part of Springfield. I made my way north through the city, eventually getting back into Chicopee. I crossed the Chicopee River in the same spot as I had in the morning, though with a better view of the dam there:

Looking upriver at a short but wide dam as water pours over it.  There are a couple of islands of brush in the foreground, and in the distance the river is lined on both sides with trees.

From here my path was the reverse of the way I started out. I got home having ridden 59.88 miles, bringing the September total to roughly 387.

Odometer reading mileage of fifty-nine point eight eight.

Coming next: the final ride of the month!

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2020 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Ride #6: Up and Up in Franklin County

Map showing route from Hatfield north up into Leyden, then over east to Gill, and back south.

I did my sixth ride on Sunday the 20th, and this was another “drive someplace and then bike from there” occasion. I drove to the town of Hatfield, and parked near the Lions’ Club pavilion (behind the public library and a school), which is the location of Will Bike 4 Food in normal years. I headed a bit north on Main St., and then made my way northwest, which took me past the Food Bank itself. Here is their building and sign (click on photos to see larger versions):

Blue building with parking lot in front of it, one tree in foreground with grass and a set of signs for different businesses.
White wooden sign with text reading "The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts" and "Feeding our community since 1982", as well as the Food Bank's logo.  The sign has shrubs and trees behind it, as well as a bit of parking lot.

In the north part of town, I crossed over Routes 5 and 10, as well as I-91, and then headed due north into Whately. I passed through Whately center on the way north, and then through some open countryside. Here’s a view from a low hill near the town center:

View of a large field of grass, with a barn toward the left side, and a line of trees in the distance.

Some mild up and down riding brought me eventually into a plain where the road turned eastward, and I crossed the town line into Deerfield. Here’s the town line sign – rusty, as a lot of such signs seem to be:

Rusty metal sign reading "Whately" on the left and "Deerfield" on the right.  Blue sjy and trees on hills are visible behind.

It also looks like the letters on both sides were reapplied at some point, in a different size than the previous version. Here’s the view of the plain and nearby hills to the west of the sign:

Grassy plain with trees and hills in background, and a signpost in the foreground reading "Town Line", "Whately", and "Deerfield".

I soon turned north again, and crossed over Route 116. I went north on Stillwater Road, which brought me to Upper Road, where I crossed the Deerfield River on this bridge:

Bridge with concrete surface and metal railings, with lots of trees on the far end.

Here are views of the river on both sides:

River seen past metal bridge railing, with trees on banks of river and hill in distance.
Looking downriver, with trees lining both banks, and a highway bridge in the distance.

That second photo looks downriver to the east, and if you look closely you can just make out a bridge in the distance, which is where Interstate 91 crosses the river.

Once I was over the river, Upper Road began to climb (it is called “Upper” because there is a parallel road called “Lower Road” which does not climb as much). Fortunately it’s mostly gradual, and the climbing is spread out with some level stretches. After getting to the top, the road entered the city of Greenfield, where I skirted around the interchange between 91 and Route 2, and continued north. This included getting on the short recreation trail which follows the Green River. At the north end of that trail, there is a little bridge taking the trail over the river. Here’s the bridge itself:

Trail bridge with wooden deck and greenish metal railings, with trees all around.

Here’s the river below the bridge – it’s pretty shallow:

View downward of shallow, clear river water.  The river bottom is sandy, and there are rocks and some underbrush on the banks.

After getting off the trail, I went further north on Leyden Road. In the north of Greenfield, that road had some gentle hills, and here’s the view from one of them:

Green grassy field next to a road, with trees on the far side of the field.  Electric wires pass overhead, along the roadside.

Not long after that, I passed into the town of Leyden, and then the road started climbing for real. Most of the uphill riding I did on this trip was in Leyden. Unfortunately, there were no spectacular views available on the Leyden hills – I was always too far from an edge and there were houses and trees between me and any good place to lookout. Here, though, is a view looking back the way I’d come, at the road descending:

Looking along a road that heads downhill somewhat, with a low building off to the left, and trees to the right and in background.

The building to the left is the Leyden town offices, though this is not the actual town center.

The last of the climbing, which was also the steepest climbing of the day, came soon after that, when I had turned east, on Frizzle Hill Rd. I had to stop and rest three times getting up that last hill. Once over the summit, I began my big descent, heading further east as well as south into the town of Bernardston, on a road called Eden Trail. On a more gradual portion of the road, I stopped to photograph this pond, which I believe is called Eden Pond:

Small pond surrounded by grass and trees, with tree-covered hill in the background, and a wooden fence with metal gate in the foreground.

Once I got to the bottom, I headed east to Routes 5/10, where one finds rooster statues:

Red statue of a rooster, on a lawn near a roadside.  There are some trees in the background.

These are located at the headquarters of Kringle Candle, and that red rooster is the logo of the restaurant there:

White building with flowers and other landscaping in front of it, as well as a red rooster statue.  A sign in the foreground (by the roadside) reads "The Farm Table at Kringle Candle", and has a red rooster logo.
Two-story white house with a red rooster statue on the lawn in front of it.

I went just a bit north of there, and then headed further east, then south, and got onto a dirt road for a bit, passing into the town of Gill as I hit dirt. It was only half a mile or so of dirt road, and it was in good shape – no loose gravel or sand to give me a hard time, and no potholes to speak of. Mostly the road was paved as I headed to Gill center, where I got onto Main Road, and headed southwest. I went uphill for a little while, then downhill a bunch down to Route 2. I crossed 2 and immediately rode across the Connecticut River into Turners Falls (which is part of the town of Montague). I got on the Canalside Trail there, and followed it southwest. Here’s a view of the canal:

Water in canal, seen through a metal fence, with some grass on the near side, and trees on the far side.

I noticed a log or pole in the water that had a cormorant resting on it:

Bird sitting on a wood post sticking out of the water.  Grass is visible on the other side of the water.

Further downstream, the canal widens out. Here’s a view at that section, looking back the way I came:

Water of canal on left, with some trees on far side.  Paved trail is visible on the right, running along the canal.

I followed the trail all the way to its western end, which is on the other side of the CT River, in Deerfield. Here is the bridge over the river as I approached:

Looking along paved trail toward rusty-frame metal bridge (with wooden deck), and trees on either side of the trail.

Here’s the view downriver (south) and then upriver (north):

Looking along river, with some sandbars visible, and trees on both banks.
Looking along river, with trees on both banks and a bit of sandy shoreline.

Once on the Deerfield side, I headed straight south on River Road. After a few miles, I crossed Route 116 into Whately, and continued south. The road eventually brought me to and through Hatfield, and back to where I had parked. Just before getting back to the car, I stopped to take a picture of this large birthday cake for the town:

Large outdoor sculpture of a birthday cake, decorated in red, white, and blue, with a sign at the top reading "Hatfield 350 years".

This year Hatfield is having its 350th anniversary.

I got back to the car after about 6 hours and 15 minutes, having gone just over 60 miles. This brought my total for the month to about 327.

Odometer showing a mileage reading of sixty point two eight.

Posted by seaking on 09-23-2020 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Ride #5: I Ride to Gorge

Map of route from Holyoke through Northampton to Chesterfield, down into Huntington, then through Westhampton and Southampton to Holyoke

A couple of days ago I did my fifth ride. This was another one that began and ended at my house. I started out with an easy ride north on Route 5 to Northampton, where I got on the rail trail that parallels 5 (and which is next to active railroad tracks). This is a piece of trail that has existed for 11 years – I was there for the ribbon cutting in 2009 and blogged about it here.

Here’s the bridge that carries the trail over Main St. (click on pictures to see full size version):

Looking along paved trail, just ahead there are wood fences on either side and the rusty-red frame of a bridge in the distance

Just a little further along is the other bridge on this trail, which passes over North St.:

Looking along paved trail, there are wood fences on either side and the rusty-red frame of a bridge in the distance.  Railroad tracks can be seen to the right.

On the trails in Northampton there were several signs like this one:

Yellow sign planted in grass next to pavement.  Black text on the sign reads "Mandatory mask zone at all times".

Fortunately, I was all set, as I was wearing my neck gaiter over my mouth and nose whenever riding in an area where I might pass near people.

When I got near the northern part of this trail, I headed northwest on the original Noho bike path, which took me all the way to Look Park. I went through the park onto the trail section in Leeds (a village of Northampton), which also opened in 2009. Here’s a wayfinding sign at the main road crossing in Leeds:

Sign on a metal stand, which gives direction and distances to points the trail goes to.

Just after that crossing, there is an exit ramp from what used to be the end of the trail:

Paved trail heading away into the woods, with an exit ramp off to the right side.

However, the trail now goes further northwest, a little ways into the town of Williamsburg. On the way, there is a bridge over Beaver Brook, from which there is a nice view of the Mill River:

Looking down at small river, with trees and greenery all around.

And there is a marking of the town line on the trail shortly after that bridge:

White paint on pavement which reads "Williamsburg" on one side of a line, and then upside-down lettering on the other side of the line, reading "Northampton".

Near its end, the trail gets narrow, and then has a sharp curve before it lets out onto River Road:

Narrow paved trail stretching a short distance away, with a wooden railing on the left side.  Ahead is a dirt berm, and trees beyond that.

Once off the trail, I made my way on a couple of side streets to Route 9, and then doubled back a bit to the southeast on 9 to Bread Euphoria – a great bakery and restaurant, where I picked up some lunch to go (I got the Burgy Cheese Steak).

Bakery building - with sign on it saying "Bread Euphoria".  There is a gravel parking area in front, and trees behind the building.

I then followed Route 9 northwest all the way to and through Williamsburg Center, and then turned onto Route 143 to go due west. This is where my climbing for the day began. As 143 heads up into the town of Chesterfield, it initially climbs for about 1.5 miles. During the climb, I ran across this sign:

Sign hanging from a wooden post that reads "Wanted: peace, love, understanding, and wood chips".  There is greenery all around.

I also looked up at one point in the climb and saw a hawk sitting on a telephone wire just ahead of me. However, it flew off into the woods before I could think about stopping and getting out my phone to take a picture.

After that 1.5 miles, there is some level riding for a bit, and a small amount of downhill riding. Just after that downhill there’s this marsh off the side of the road:

Small marsh area, with grasses and brush around.

As I stopped to look at this, some birds flew out of the water and away from me. I could not identify what species they were. I continued on, and did some more climbing to get up to Chesterfield center. Here are some of the buildings there:

Tall white church building
Small white library building, with trees in front of it, and a sign nearby reading "Chesterfield center national historic district".

I also saw the second instance on 143 of this highway name:

Roadside sign reading "General Lafayette trail"

And just as I was leaving the town center, and about to head downhill, I got to the Chesterfield General Store:

Building painted dark blue, with tables and chairs outdoors for dining - there are yellow umbrellas over the tables.  In front of the place is a dirt parking lot, and there are trees behind.

I bought a bottle of blood orange lemonade here, and sat outside to eat my lunch. Afterward, I continued west, on the long, fast downhill part of 143. When I say fast, I mean that my bike got up to a speed of 42.5 miles per hour at one point (and I used my brakes on parts of the hill). It was pretty exhilarating.

Right after reaching the bottom, I turned left (south) onto Ireland St., and shortly came to my main destination for the day: the Chesterfield Gorge. This is a pretty natural feature of the Westfield River, maintained by a nonprofit known as the Trustees of Reservations. Here’s one of the introductory signs, and some views of the gorge itself:

Large signboard with signs about the Chesterfield Gorge on the Westfield River, East Branch.  Woods can be seen behind the board.
Water flowing over rocks at the bottom of a rocky gorge, with a bit of greenery at the edges of the gorge walls.
Water flowing at bottom of rocky gorge, with trees above gorge walls.
Looking downriver in gorge, with trees above gorge walls on either side.
Looking slightly upriver in rocky gorge, with trees above gorge walls, and a bit of railing visible in the foreground.

One can walk further downriver, outside of the official gorge reservation, where there is a town fishing area. It’s not a gorge at that point, but you can walk out on the rocks in the river, so I did. Here’s a view looking back upriver (north) toward the gorge:

Looking upriver, with a lot of rocks in the water, and trees on either side.
Looking downriver, with a lot of rocks in the water, and trees on either side.

After standing in the middle of the river, I walked back up to the gorge parking lot, where my bike was chained up. I headed out, and went further south on Ireland St., which immediately starts climbing after the gorge. The climbing is not too long, but the first few bits of it are reasonably steep, so I had to stop and rest once on the way to the top. At the top of the hill, there’s a plateau for a little while, and there are some farms and an orchard there. Here’s a cow pasture up there (with cows in the distance):

Large pasture with cows grazing in the distance, and trees beyond them.

Shortly, I got to go downhill for the rest of this street, until I came to Route 112 in the town of Worthington. There’s a little village center at that intersection, called South Worthington:

Red building on the upper right of photo, with a sign on it reading "South Worthington".  A small river flows past in the lower left, and otherwise there are trees and brush around.

That waterway is called the Little River.

From here I headed south on 112, quickly passing into the town of Huntington. At one point I noticed some orange construction barrels up ahead, and they turned out to be marking a rockslide on the edge of the road:

A wall of rocks with muddy spot where several rocks a.  Trees above the rocks.
Pile of large rocks on the edge of the road, with orange barrels marking the hazard to warn traffic.

Most of the riding on 112 in this direction is downhill, so I was making pretty good time. I stopped at a scenic outlook to this picture, showing the Knightville Dam in the distance:

River valley full of greenery, with a large stone dam at the far end.  Some hills can be seen on the other side of the valley, and there's a bit of guardrail in the foreground.

Not long after this, I came to the intersection of 112 and state Route 66 (the western end of 66). I turned onto 66 to head east and began to climb. This climb is not very steep, but it is long. I stopped to rest a couple of times. There was one place I stopped because it contained something I did not remember from previous times I’d traveled this road – there is a bench and water spigot, which I can only think must have been put there for cyclists, as there’s nothing else around:

Wooden bench near a water spigot on a rusty base, in a grassy area with bushes and trees behind.

Looking to the right of this (downhill), you can see that it’s just a grassy area by the side of the road:

Grassy area on left, with road surface on right.

I was not tempted to use the area, as the spigot seemed to be leaky, and its base was rusted, so that there was a pool of rusty water around the base.

I kept climbing, and eventually got to the top of the ridge, just before crossing the town line into Westhampton. I went downhill for a couple of miles, before going a bit upward to Outlook Farm, where I’ve stopped a number of times in the past. I did not stop there on this trip, but turned south there, and rode further downhill into the town of Southampton. I made my way to the town center, which looks like this:

Brick town hall building, with large lawn in front of it, and a gazebo to the right side.
Road in the forground, with a stone marker and flagpole on grass on the other side of the road.  Trees and a couple of houses can be seen beyond a side street.

I went a bit east of this point, then further south, and then headed east over a small hill I had not traveled before (on White Loaf Road – not sure how it got that name). This took me back to the Holyoke city line, and I headed over one last hill to get home. The distance for this trip was 58.66, which brings my September total to 266.66.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-eight point six six.

Posted by seaking on 09-20-2020 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Ride #4: Canal and Locks in Windsor Locks

Map showing route south from Holyoke, through Springfield, into Enfield, Connecticut, and back north through Windsor Locks, CT, Agawam, MA, etc.

For my fourth ride, I headed south into Connecticut. I had initially been planning a route that was wider east to west than what is seen on the map above (click on image to embiggen), but then I spied a recreation trail on the map that I had not previously been aware of. It’s in Windsor Locks, CT, and I made my route narrower so that it could be longer north to south, to pick up the southern end of the trail.

I started my ride by heading across the Conn. River from Holyoke into Chicopee, then followed route 116 down into Springfield. I turned west off that road at the first opportunity in Springfield, and the street I was on curved south near the river, as I approached that city’s bike trail. Here’s a view of the river from that street, looking north (the bridge is I-91):

River toward left of photo, with grass and a concrete wall in foreground, there is a bridge crossing the river in the distance, plus blue sky with small clouds

Here is the view south (downriver) from the same spot:

River toward right of photo, with grass in foreground, trees on the far bank, plus blue sky with small clouds

Soon after that I got on the trail just south of its northern end. Here’s the view south along the rail, and the river seen from the trail:

Paved trail running off into distance, with grass on either side, trees on right, and some houses and cars on a street to the left
View down a grassy bank of river, with a couple of trees on near side, and lots of trees on far bank

I headed south through Springfield on the trail, and at one point passed a snake that was crossing the trail. I turned around to try and take a picture, but it was pretty quick, and it was into the grass on the other side before I could get my phone ready.

As one gets near downtown, the trail goes up onto a bridge that carries it over some railroad tracks. Here’s that bridge, as one is heading upward, and when at the top:

Looking along bike and pedestrian bridge with a concrete deck and metal frame with chainlink walls
Looking along bike and pedestrian bridge with a concrete deck and metal frame with chainlink walls

While I was at the high point of the bridge, a freight train came along, heading east over the river and then under me.

Looking down through chainlink fence at a train coming off of a bridge, toward the camera
Looking down through chainlink fence at a train coming off of a bridge, passing under the camera
Looking down through chainlink fence at a train heading away from the camera

I continued along the trail until I got to the last point where I could exit (if one goes all the way to the southern end, one has to turn around and come back). I took a few side streets down to Forest Park, and then rode through much of the park, with a quick stop by this pond, where there were ducks:

Big pond with clear water close by, that reflects clouds in the sky, and algae farther away.  THere are trees surrounding the water.
Many ducks floating in water

Near the pond were some smaller bits of water that were full of plants. I’m not sure if these are a type of water lily, but the flowers and leaves are pretty large and interesting:

Large amount of aquatic plants with big green leaves, and some have pink flowers
Large amount of aquatic plants with big green leaves, and some have pink flowers

I exited the park on the western side, onto Route 5, and started to head south, but turned off on a different street, then headed south into the town of Longmeadow on a route that’s less busy than 5. The street I was on eventually became route 192, and headed into Enfield, CT.

I made my way south through Enfield, also working westward. There were some rural areas, but also a lot of residential streets that I rode on, and fortunately many of those roads had wide shoulders or actual bike lanes. I eventually got to CT Route 140 in the town of South Windsor, and I took that road west across the CT River. Here’s a view of the river from the 140 bridge, looking north:

View of river with trees on either side, and reflections of clouds in water.

On the other side, I arrived at the south end of the Windsor Locks Canal Trail. Here’s the trail near that end) looking north:

Paved tral heading into distance, with trees around it

The canal itself is over to the left:

Canal with trees and brush on near and far banks, and a good deal of algae on the water.

I headed north, not seeing other people for a little bit, but then I started to encounter people walking, and a few other cyclists. The path was next to the canal the whole time, and over to the right were a lot of trees, through which one occasionally could see the river:

Area of grass and brush, with the base of an electrical tower on the left side, and in the distance several trees and a bit of water.

At one point, maybe halfway along the trail’s length, it went over a little bridge, and the canal itself did so as well, so that water from other sources could flow out to the river:

Looking along bike trail bridge with wood and metal deck, and chain link fence on either side.
Canal passing through concrete aqueduct.
Water flowing out to river with trees and grass around.

As I headed north, the river got closer to the path, and there were more points where one could look out at the river, like this:

View of river water over some bushes, with trees on either side, and more trees on far bank.

Eventually, I came to the northern end of the canal, where it begins with water flowing in from the river. At this point, the trail turns left to cross the source of the canal and continue along the riverside, but there is a platform at the turn with a nice view of the river:

Looking upriver, with some sandbars visible, and a bridge crossing the river.

The bridge seen there is Route 190. People seem to be find of putting padlocks on the fence at this place:

Here is a view looking south along the canal:

Looking along canal with algae on surface and trees lining each side.  Clouds in sky.

The trail goes a short distance more, into a small park with a parking lot for people to access the trail. I followed the trail under Route 190, where it heads west and stops at Route 159. I then took that road north, heading through the town of Suffield, and back toward Massachusetts. I entered Mass in the town of Agawam, and was welcomed there by this sign at Six Flags New England:

Sign on pedestrian bridge over road that reads "Welcome to Agawam Massachusetts"

I continued on this road almost all the way through town, and then went on a couple of other streets to end up in the city of West Springfield. I made my way north and east there, until I was back at Route 5, but then got on the city’s short riverside trail. I went to its north end, and then rode along 5 the rest of the way into Holyoke. I got home about 5 hours after I started, and did a total distance of 50.64 miles. Total for the month is now about 208 miles.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty point six four

Posted by seaking on 09-14-2020 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Ride #3: Northeastern Hill Towns

Map of route going from Hadley up into Franklin County towns and back

I did my third ride for Will Bike 4 Food on Friday the 11th, and this was another one where I drove somewhere with my bike and then did the ride from there. I drove up to Hadley, and parked out behind the Mountain Farms plaza, where there is an access point for the Mass Central Rail Trail (Norwattuck section). Here’s the area where one gets onto the trail (click on any photo to see a larger version):

Paved trail piece connecting to main trail at right angle, with grassy area around it  There are some benches, bike racks, and a bike repair station.

As you approach the trail, this set of signs directs you:

4 brown signs on a post, with white text indicating the distance and direction to several places, such as the Connecticut River, downtown Northampton, and the Fort River.

I took a left turn onto the trail, heading east, and I very soon passed through “Rangeview”, which is simply an area adjacent to South Maple St, where one can see the Holyoke Range to the south. It was overcast and somewhat chilly, but I was not too bothered, despite being in shorts and short sleeves – I knew I would get warmer from the cycling.

I followed the trail until I was just a bit into the town of Amherst, and then headed north on the trail spur known as Swift Way. This took me to the UMass campus, and I made my way through there, stopping briefly to look at the duck pond:

Large pond on the campus of the university of massachusetts.  Buildings and trees can be seen around it.

Just to the west of that is the W. E. B. DuBois Library:

Tall red brick library building on the university of massachusetts campus

I headed north and east from campus, through the north part of Amherst, which is fairly wooded. Here’s a nice little waterway I passed, which I believe is called Dolittle Brook:

Creek with vegetation on either side, seen from up on a bridge.

Just after crossing the brook, I passed into the town of Leverett. The road did some climbing in North Amherst, but it began to climb more in earnest in Leverett. The road was lined with trees for the most part, but here’s a spot where there was a break in the trees for electric lines:

Hilly area with lost of brush and trees, and electric lines on towers heading over a hill in the distance.

I also noted at one point that somebody who lives (or lived) in Leverett is a fan of The Prisoner:

Street sign reading "Number Six Road", with trees in background

The road climbed almost continuously as I neared the next town line (Shutesbury), and kept climbing into the town. There were a couple of brief points where it was more level, but one is essentially climbing until reaching the town center. In Shutesbury center is this wayfinding sign:

White, wooden 4-sided sign column, giving distances to different towns and areas in black text.  It stands in a field of grass and a road passes nearby, with trees in distance.

And here is the town hall:

Shutesbury town hall building, painted a light-blue color, there is a large banner on the building reading "Black Lives Matter"

From there I headed north (toward Wendell). I got a bunch of nice downhill riding on this road, until I got to Lake Wyola state park. There is a beach there, though it was a slightly chilly day, so only a few people were there. Here are the lake and the picnic area in the park:

Low row of hedges in front of a sandy beach, with lake beyond that.  There is a lifeguard tower on the beach, but no lifeguard on duty.  Blue sky with a few clouds above.
Low row of hedges in front of a sandy beach, with lake beyond that.  Blue sky with a few clouds above, and tree-covered hill in the distance.
Grassy area withe a few picnic tables and charcoal grills.  Lots of trees in the background.

I continued north from the lake, with the road occasionally moving east, up into the town of Wendell. There was some more hill climbing, but not as much as what I did in Leverett and Shutesbury. On the way up to Wendell, I noticed this sign on a phone pole:

Wooden sign mounted on a telephone pole, with the words "I Love You" painted on the sign in white.  Trees behind pole.

It was not in front of a house, so I have no idea who put it there, or how long it has been up. Once I got up the hill in Wendell, I passed a house that had this figure displayed by the road:

A very weathered, stuffed figure looking like Santa Claus, wearing a medical face mask, seated in grass and surrounded by a ring of stones.

I expect the mask was put on in reflection of the COVID pandemic, but was the display already there beforehand, without the mask? And if so, what could it mean?

In any case, I shortly reached the town center. Wendell has a reasonably long common – here is what it looks like from the north end, looking south:

Long field of grass on town common.  There is a large rock in the foreground, and trees line each side of the common.

From here, I went slightly further north, and then turned west to head toward Millers Falls. Right after I turned, I stopped to look at this marsh:

Large marsh, with fairly deep looking water, and trees in the distance.

While I was stopped there, someone passing in a pickup truck pulled up next to me, and said “Beautiful, isn’t it?” I agreed, and the driver mentioned that there are otters in the marsh. It turns out the driver lives across the road from the marsh, and sometimes sees otters in the driveway. I unfortunately did not see any otters that day.

On this road (Farley Road), I got to go downhill a lot. It was almost all downhill heading into Millers Falls (which is a village center of the town of Montague), though there were a couple of small uphill portions. Here’s the view looking back from one of those uphill bits:

Looking downhill with a road on the right, grass and brush on the left, and some electric wire towers stretching into the distance, heading over a tree-covered hill (through a gap in the trees on the hill).

Once I got into Millers Falls, I went north and crossed the Millers River. Here’s a view upriver from the bridge:

Looking down on wide, shallow river, with trees on either side, and at a distance there is a train bridge crossing the river.

Once I was on the other side of the bridge I was in the town of Erving. I rode a bit west on Route 2, and then took a side fork, which allowed me to cross back over the Millers River near its mouth, on a bike and pedestrian bridge (part of the Franklin County Bikeway). It’s a favorite spot of mine, mainly because of this view, which is looking downriver at the mouth of the Millers, as it empties into the Connecticut River, and beyond that the French King Bridge, which carries Route 2 over the Connecticut:

Water of river with trees on either side, and high bridge seen in distance

Here’s the little bridge that I was on:

Looking along small bridge with wooden decking and railings, and metal frame above.  Trees seen on the far side.

I headed south from here, and uphill for a short distance. Once I got a little ways into Montague, I went west on a road that I had not followed before. It turned out to be a dirt road, which went through a state wildlife management area. The road itself was not hilly at all, which was nice, but it did have lots of ruts that had puddles in them, so I had to avoid those. There were also a few sections of road that were sandy, and so my traction was not great (and my steering was a bit affected). It was mostly wooded, but at one point toward the western side of the area there was a big parking area, and some clearings stretching north and south:

Dirt parking area, with traffic gate blocking a path, some trees and brush beyond that, plus an electric wire tower.

Here’s the road itself, looking west from this parking area:

Dirt road stretching into the distance, with trees on either side.

The road became paved shortly before it ended, and I turned south onto a more main road (Turners Falls Road), then went a bit more west, and headed south on a series of roads that follow the Conn. River. I made my way through the rest of Montague, and then through the town of Sunderland, getting onto Route 47. I followed 47 all the way into Hadley, and back to the MCRT. I then took the trail east back to where the car was parked, finishing the ride in about 5.5 hours. My total distance was 52.44 miles, bringing the total for the month to about 157.5.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-two point four four.

Next ride goes to another state – stay tuned.

Posted by seaking on 09-13-2020 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

WB4F Ride #2: Up into the Berkshires

Map showing route from Westfield out west to Otis, south to Tolland, east to Granville, south to Granby Connecticut, and back north to Westfield.

For my second ride of the fundraiser, I planned to ride out west into Berkshire County, then come back on a more southerly route, including a dip into Connecticut, as seen on the map above (click on images to see larger version). This ride did not begin from my house – instead I drove with my bike to Westfield, MA, and parked by the bike trail there (in a little lot at the Shaker Farms country club).

I began the ride by heading north on the trail, and I got off before the northern end, so that I could check out a new mural I had read about. The trail is elevated to the north of the Little River, and it has a few bridges over roads and at least one tunnel – in this case there is a bit of trail that passes through a tunnel under the main trail, connecting 2 residential streets. These murals painted in the tunnel were recently completed:

Mural depicting steel-fram bridges over the Westfield River
Mural panel depicting cyclists on a recreation trail, one of them waving to the viewer
Mural panel depicting waving cyclist and a house covered in ivy
Mural depicting harvesting of crops from farm field
Tunnel under bike path, with a mural to the left of the entrance, depicting health care workers wearing masks
Mural depicting one person helping another up, next to a lage red heart that is glowing and radiating color
Mural depicting large red heart that is radiating color, with an adult facing it, and a child on the adult's shoulders.  Their hands are raised in the air.
Mural depicting large flowers of different types
Mural on ceiling of tunnel, depicting fighter jets in flight

The mural images depict several aspects of the City of Westfield. That first one shows the bridges that carry routes 10 and 202 over the Westfield River, the health care workers are likely in honor of staff at Noble Hospital and Western Mass. Hospital, and the fighter jets refer to the National Guard air wing that is stationed at Barnes Airport, as examples.

From there I left the trail and headed westward, passing the campus of Westfield State University, and making my way to US 20. On 20, I passed the town line into Russel, and then came to this high overpass:

Road passing under a metal frame bridge, which is well above the road surface, with trees on either side of the road

That’s the Mass Pike (aka the Massachusetts Turnpike, aka Interstate 90). That is actually a fairly long bridge that carries the Pike over Route 20, the Westfield River, and some railroad tracks. Here’s a view along the bridge (which clearly seemed to be under construction), looking east:

View from below of a bridge understructure, looking along the bridge to the far side

I continued west on 20 for a bit, and then turned onto Route 23, where I began to climb. Then I climbed some more, and more yet. This was the most prolonged climbing of the day – the first mile on 23 is constant climbing, and then the next 3 miles after that has a bit of level riding, but is mostly uphill.

Just after that first mile, the road crosses over the Mass Pike:

Freeway below, seen from an overpass, looking through chain-link fence.  Trees line the expressway.

Just after that crossing, I noticed a cow by the side of the road, though not a real cow:

A cow statue on a lawn, next to a sign for "Cream of the Crop Farm".  Smaller signs below the main one advertise Raw milk, grass-fed beef, and other products.  A farm building is in the background.

On the climb, I passed into the town of Blandford, and eventually got to Blandford center. At that point I’d been on route 23 for about 4 miles, almost all of which was uphill. As I contined west I got some nice downhil riding, interspersed with some more uphill stretches. I stopped off by this nice scene just before one uphill bit:

Pond stretching off into the distance, with weeds and tall grass in foreground

That body of water is called Blair Pond. Soon after this I entered the town of Otis, and soon got near the town center. This is when I left 23, and began to ride around the Otis Reservoir and Tolland State Forest. Here’s a view of the water on the north end of the reservoir:

Road surface in foreground, and body of water beyond tha, with some boats in water, and trees on the far bank

I passed along the north side, then headed south on the western side of the reservoir. I was not close to the water the whole time, but I did come to a spot where the road went right along a bit of the water. There was a shady area with large rocks to sit on, so I stopped off there to eat lunch (which I had brought with me from home). Here’s the view from my lunch spot:

Body of water with trees on the far side, and blue sky above

After eating, I continued south, heading away from the water. The route started with a quick climb, but then descended a bunch. Unfortunately, after the descent, the road I was on changed to a dirt road, and had a number of up and down parts. This is what it looked like for quite a while, heading south, then heading east along the south side of the reservoir:

Looking along a dirt road passing through a forest.

I did get one more glimpse of the water from that road. This view is looking north:

Body of water with some grass in foreground, and some logs in the shallow part of the water.  Trees can be seen on distant shore.

I was looking forward to reaching the end of this road at a more main (north-south) road, which I assumed would be paved. It turns out I was wrong, that next road (called Schoolhouse Road) was also dirt and gravel. At least it had less climbing than the previous roads – even a small, gradual climb is a pain on a dirt road, given the lesser traction, and I had to apply the brakes a bunch on the downhill portions, for fear of losing control of the bike.

I did finally reach pavement again when I got to Route 57, near Tolland center (somewhere on the dirt roads I entered the town of Tolland). At this point it was considerably later in the afternoon that I’d expected, so I decided I needed to revise my route, and take the shortest path back to the car. I followed Route 57 east as previously planned, which had some nice downhill stretches, but also a few climbs that were tough after all the climbing I’d already done. I passed into the town of Granville, and came through the West Granville historic district. Here are some historic buildings, and the small white shapes on the front lawn of the church appeared to be chickens of some kind:

White church and another old, white building with grass and parking lot in front of them, and some trees nearby.

Not long after this point, the road started to be all downhill. I stopped off briefly in Granville center, and took pictures of the library and the town common:

Beige library building with dark brown accents, framed by grass and trees
Town common featuring large field of grass, several trees, and a walking path.  A wooden sign reads "Welcome to Granville"

After this I continued east and downhill into the town of Southwick. The road leveled off and had a bit of up and down, before eventually bringing me back to the trail I had started on. I headed north on the trail, back into Westfield and to the car. I finished about the time I had originally expected to get back from the longer, 59-mile ride. Instead, I ended up going a bit over 48 miles. Here is the route that I actually rode:

Map of loop route going through Westfield, Russell, Blandford, Otis, Tolland, Granville, and Southwick, Massachusetts

So, this ride did not end up surpassing 50 miles, but at least I averaged more than 50 miles between the first two, so my total at this point is 105 miles for the month.

Odometer showing mileage of forty-eight point three seven.

Posted by seaking on 09-09-2020 at 07:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

WB4F Ride #1: I Ride to Ware?

Before I describe this ride, I want to start off by noting that my fundraising goal has already been surpassed! That happened within a little over 2 days, which is certainly a record for my involvement in Will Bike 4 Food. The generosity is great, and I hope even more will be contributed (I’ll match it).

Today’s ride was the first one for the event, and I covered mostly territory that is familiar to me – heading out east to the town of Ware. Here’s a rough map of where I rode – I was on the southern-more path as I went east, and came back west on the northern route (click on photos to enlarge):

Map of loop route from Holyoke to Ware and back

I began by taking a quick ride through Pulaski Park before leaving Holyoke. It’s a park that runs along the Connecticut River, where people can look down on the river. Here’s what the park looks like:

Sidewalks and trees in Pulaski Park, Holyoke

Unfortunately, there are many spots where the view of the river is blocked by trees:

Toward the south end of the park, one can get a view of the beginning of the city’s canal system (water is diverted in here just before the river gets to the dam):

Canal and dam buildings, with a bit of the river visible in the background
Canal seen from above, with buildings behind

After leaving the park, I headed across 2 of the canals, where the normal bridge over one of them is closed for construction, but there’s a little side bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

Fence around a construction area, with a tall crane visible among the construction equipment
Entrance to temporary walking bridge, signs read "bridge for pedestrians and cyclists only" and "cyclists must dismount before crossing bridge"
View along pedestrian bridge, there are metal beams and fencing on either side, and beams crossing the top of the bridge structure

I headed across the river into South Hadley, and then went a bit south and continued east, heading uphill into the city of Chicopee. I passed through just the northern part of Chicopee, and then was back in South Hadley, and before long entered the town of Granby. I stopped for a quick rest partway through Granby, by this little pond:

Pond with weeds and brush in front of it.  Trees and hills are in the background.

Just after this point, I began my first big climb of the day. It’s a long climb that goes up into the town of Belchertown, and after hitting the peak, the road immediately heads downhill a whole bunch, until it intersects route 21. I turned south on 21 for a very short bit, then went east again, on a road that eventually turned south and took me into the town of Palmer. That road comes to an end and I turned east again, heading into the village of Bondsville (part of Palmer). Here’s what the village center looks like:

Town center with a flower planter at the center of the intersection, and buildings along the main street

Behind me as I looked at that intersection was a church building with a “For Lease” sign:

A large, white church building with 3 sets of red double-doors

From there I continued east, and soon crossed the Ware River. Here’s a view from the bridge, looking south:

view along river, with trees and greenery on either side of the water

Just after that I had to turn north, but the road I was on then started to bear east. I stopped as the road passed Forest Lake:

Lake with weeds in front of it, trees in the background and several clouds in the blue sky
Selfie of Sean, wearing a neck gaiter over nose and mouth, and wearing sunglasses and bike helmet, in front of a lake, trees in background

Just after this I reached route 32, and headed north on it, into the town of Ware. As I’ve seen in the past, Ware is apparently known as “the town that can’t be licked” – they say so on their welcome signs, in fact:

Large green roadside sign reading "Welcome to Ware.  Nationally known as the town that can't be licked."

I rode on some side roads across town, eventually ending up on route 9, and got to Janine’s Frostee near the eastern edge of town. I stopped there for lunch.

Sign on a roof of building, which reads "Janine's Frostee", with a picture of a soft-serve cone.

I got a lobster roll and some sweet potato fries. All their eating area is outdoors, there was not too big a crowd there, and people were good about wearing masks in line, so it was a safe place to eat. After lunch I started heading back toward home. I took route 9 all the way west through town, getting off the highway only to ride through a bit of the Quabbin Reservoir area. Specifically, I rode across Winsor Dam. I have photographed the dam and the reservoir many times before, but here are some more pictures, as it’s just a pretty area:

Grassy slop of a large earthen dam, with a short stone wall running along the top of it.  Some people can be seen at a distance, walking on a path at the bottom of the slope.
Water of Quabbin reservoir, with top surface of dam in foreground, and hills in background, clouds in sky
Water of Quabbin reservoir, with top surface of dam in foreground, and hills in background, clouds in sky

I rode the rest of the way across the dam, then out the west entrance to the Quabbin, getting back onto route 9 in Belchertown. After a little more, I turned onto route 21 and headed up to Belchertown Center, and then continued west on a few different rural roads, passing back through Granby just to the south of the Holyoke Range.

I took a road that I had not traveled before to get to route 116, and on that road (Aldrich), I ran across this little waterfall over a small dam:

Water cascading over a small dam, the lake it drains from is in the background

From there, I went south through South Hadley, and crossed the Connecticut River back into Holyoke on route 202. Total time for the ride was just over 6.5 hours, and the distance was 56.8 miles.

Bicycle odometer reading fifty-six point eight two miles.

That’s it for ride number 1. Tomorrow (Labor Day), I’ll be doing the second big ride of the month. Stay tuned!

Posted by seaking on 09-06-2020 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

Riding for Real in a Virtual Event

It is September, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is once again holding its Will Bike 4 Food fundraiser. The COVID-19 pandemic makes it a problem to hold a group event, but it also has increased many people’s financial difficulty, and food insecurity. The Food Bank has reported serving 16% more people from March through June of 2020 than in the same months in previous years.

In order to avoid an unsafe environment, the event this year is happening separately; all riders will ride on their own, whenever during the month of September they want to. Riders get to set their own goals for how far to ride and where to do so. While I initially just thought about coming up with my own 100-mile course to ride in a day, I ended up deciding to do something different. With many places shut down, there is a lack of facilities for rest stops. So what seems like it will work better is a larger number of shorter rides. In past years, including training rides and such, I’ve typically ridden a total of 300 to 350 miles during September. So, my goal for this year is to put in a total of at least 400 miles between now and 9/30. Mainly, I expect this to take the form of 8 rides, each of which will be at least 50 miles.

My goal for fundraising is $1000, and I plan to match contributions that people make, regardless of whether that goal is met (I know many people may be unable to donate as much this year as in the past). However, if people do donate a total of $1000 by the end of September, I will go for a bonus long ride in early October. In other words, I will literally go the distance for you if you meet my goal.

To contribute, you can give online at this year’s fundraising page by clicking here. Thanks so much for the past support, and for whatever you can give this time.

I’ll post recaps of all the rides here on the blog, complete with pictures and such. Looking forward to it!

Posted by seaking on 09-02-2020 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments