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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

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