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

Sean's Blog

Finished!

Well, I have made it to the end of the ride. Unfortunately, I did not do better than my 2019 time. My total time was 9 hours and 10 minutes. That is still the second best time I’ve had for a century ride.

Now it’s time to eat. Then head home and get cleaned up. A full post about the ride will be coming in a day or two.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 04:09 pm
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Final stop

I am at the last rest stop, in Williamsburg. It’s 2:52pm, so I think I can still manage to finish with a new record time. Here goes!

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 02:09 pm
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Deerfield rest stop

I have made it to the third stop – pulled in here just before 1:00, with students from Deerfield Academy cheering cyclists in. I have about 33 miles to go.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 01:09 pm
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The halfway point

I’m in Leyden center, at 11:30, the halfway point in the ride, and I think also the highest elevation in the ride. Just before I passed back into Mass, I encountered a couple of young raccoons crossing the road. They scampered off into the brush before I could stop to take a picture. I’ve got a bunch of downhill the next 10 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 11:09 am
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Guilford

I’m in Guilford, VT at the second water stop. I’m making good time, as it’s currently 10:23am. There’s been a lot of northward riding, and now I get to head south.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 10:09 am
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At the first stop

I have reached the first rest stop, in Gill, in just under 2 hours. Getting some water and snacks and then I’ll continue on.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 09:09 am
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Here I go again…

I’m checked in and ready to start my ride. I’ll update again at the first water stop.

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2021 at 06:09 am
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Up to the Fields and Down to the Falls

As I post this, it is the day before the Will Bike 4 Food ride. My fundraising goal has been met, which is awesome! I’ve made my matching donation and am making sure I’m prepared for tomorrow morning.

Two days ago I went on my final training ride. This time I rode up to Shelburne Falls. I’ve been there many times before, but this time I took the hard way to get there.

I started out riding into the western part of Holyoke, and then headed north, passing through Southampton and Easthampton. The forecast had mentioned some possibility of rain, and in fact it started sprinkling on me as I was riding the line between those 2 towns. Then it began to rain in earnest, and so I took cover under a tree. I had brought a rain outfit with me, but it looked like this would blow over quickly. There was a heavy downpour for about 60 seconds, but then a couple minutes after that it let up completely, and I continued on my way.

I headed through a bit of the western edge of Northampton, and then went further north through Westhampton (completing my tour of the ‘hamptons for the day). In Westhampton, I passed this rooster (click to enlarge pictures):

I then started some serious hill climbing, as I went northwest into the town of Chesterfield. Here’s a stream I passed over shortly after entering Chesterfield:

The climbing had been steepest in Westhampton, and was more gradual in Chesterfield, but it went on for a long time. Finally I got to the town center:

From there I got to go downhill a ways, and then rode northeast into the town of Goshen. I’ve drive through Goshen before, but I think this was my first time cycling in the town. I went a mile or two on a dirt road which had some slight up and down, before getting to Route 9. I went east for a very short distance on 9, and then turned north on route 112. A little up and a little downhill riding brought me into the town of Ashfield, which is still at a pretty high elevation. Here’s a view from the roadside in Ashfield (looking northeast):

From this point, Route 112 goes downhill. A lot. This was the payoff for all the climbing I’d done so far. Much of the downhill was pretty fast until I passed into the town of Buckland, but in Buckland I mostly had at least a somewhat downhill ride as I continued north, so it was easy pedaling. Here is a creek that I passed over in that town:

I reached the northern end of 112, where it runs into Route 2, but just before one would have to get onto 2, there is a side street that goes off to the east and then curves south. I took that street, and it brought me into Shelburne Falls (which is a village center shared between the towns of Buckland and Shelburne). There, I sat on a bench and had lunch by the Deerfield River:

After eating, I took a walk on the Bridge of Flowers. If you have not heard of it before, or read my past blog posts about it, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a walking bridge lined with flowering plants:

Here’s a sampling of the stuff I saw there:

While on the bridge, a monarch was flying around, enjoying the flowers:

I left Buckland heading south on Conway Road, which took me, after some hill climbing, into the town of Conway (where the road changes name to Shelburne Falls Road). I had alternating bits of climbing and level riding, and then got a good-sized downhill bit before coming into Conway center. I took a picture there of the library, because it is interesting looking:

I also thought this house was a neat color:

I then began another climb as I headed south. I passed a sign that was more specific than other ones I’ve seen of the type:

From there, a bunch of climbing brought me to a level ride into the town of Whately, and then some downhill riding followed as I went south and southwest, heading into Willamsburg. I came to Route 9 again in Williamsburg, crossed it, and then soon was able to get on the rail trail that goes through Northampton. I followed the trail all the way to downtown Northampton, and then headed south on Route 5 back to Holyoke. I was out for about 8 hours, and the total distance was 79 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2021 at 06:09 pm
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More Highways than Byways

For my training ride a week ago, I chose a route that would let me get in a lot of miles, but with only a moderate amount of hill climbing. This meant spending a bunch of time on numbered highways.

I first headed north out of Holyoke on Route 5, and went up to Northampton, where I was able to get on a rail trail for a mile or so. I also made a quick stop at our vet’s clinic to pick up some medication for one of the cats. I then continued north on Routes 5/10, and followed that road through the towns of Hatfield and Whately, and into Deerfield. It still seems to be high road construction season, because I ran into road work in Northampton and in Deerfield that had me waiting, along with backed up cars, for clearance to pass on a one-lane road.

Halfway through Deerfield I diverted off 5/10 for a bit more scenic route, heading northwest, and then west along the Deerfield River. Here’s a spot where one can access the river – this view is looking downriver to the east (click on any of the images to see a larger version):

View of river with some greenery and a tree in the foreground, and many trees on the far bank.

This spot is right by the bridge that carries I-91 over the river (and over the road I was on).

Highway bridge seen from low angle, with river passing under it.  There is greenery in the foreground, and some trees and grass visible on the far side.

I rode further west from here until I could cross the river myself, on Upper Road. While on the bridge there, I took this picture looking east (you can see the I-91 bridge in the far distance):

Looking along wide river with trees lining each side.  The sky is overcast.

Just after crossing the river, I turned east for a bit, crossing under 91 again, and then went north on Lower Road, which runs parallel to Upper Road and 91, but is overall at a lower elevation. Even though it is the lower road, it still is high enough to have some nice views. Here is a view to the east:

View through a residential yard of a distant field.  There are some trees and shrubs in front of the field, and many trees and a hill beyond the field.

That road took me up into the city of Greenfield, where I made my way past the Franklin County Fairgrounds, then skirted through neighborhoods to the west of downtown, and headed past the edge of Greenfield Community College, still heading north. Not long after passing the college, I turned east and crossed through the northern part of town (on Silver Street), until I came to Route 2A. I went east on that for a very short distance, and then took the turn off that went downhill a bunch, and crossed the Connecticut River into Turners Falls. Here’s what the CT River looks like where I crossed it:

Looking along river with low water level, and some exposed rocky riverbed.  There is a tree-covered hillside to the left and a brick building on the right, with some trees.

There are a bunch of old mill buildings along the river:

Old brick mill buildings stretch along the bank of a river, with various bushes and brush growing between the water and buildings.  There is a single tall smokestack in the center of the photo.

The river’s water level is somewhat low here, because a bunch of water is diverted into a canal. Just after crossing the river I crossed the canal, and then turned west on the bike path, which runs along the canal. I ended up stopping to eat lunch at a spot where there are a bunch of picnic tables just off the path, and on the bank of the canal:

2 picnic tables are seen on an area strewn with pine needles, next to a waterway.  There are some trees shading the picnic area on the left, and more trees are visible on the far side of the water.  A bicycle leans against one of the tables.

Here is the view up the canal, back the way I had come:

A waterway is seen diagonally across the photo, with grass and weeds on the near side (right), and a number of trees lining the far side (left).  On the near side, a monarch butterfly can be seen flying above the weeds.

I noted later that I managed to capture a flying monarch butterfly in that photo. Here is a close-cropped version:

Monarch butterfly in flight, with water behind it.

After eating I continued west along the bike path until I reached the western edge of town (the town of Montague) and then headed south, eventually passing through the town center and then making my way into Sunderland, where I picked up Route 47. I followed 47 all the way through Sunderland and through much of Hadley, plus a bit of South Hadley (where there is a bunch of up-and-down riding). In South Hadley center, I got onto route 116 where 47 ended, and followed that the rest of the way back to Holyoke.

Total distance on this ride was 72 miles, making it my longest ride of the year up to that point.

Next: my final training ride, which combined distance and hills.

Posted by seaking on 09-24-2021 at 11:09 pm
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Old Roads, and Roads-No-Longer

The Friday before last I went on a ride out to the town of Ware, and took a bit different route than I’ve used other times. I started by riding east through South Hadley, Granby, and Belchertown on roads I’d used in the past, until I passed Route 21 in Belchertown. Just past it, I turned north on North Washington Street, and followed that up to a road that appeared on maps, but was not labeled. Here’s what the unlabeled road looks like ( the one that appears to divide in two as it heads northeast):

Map of an unlabeled road running between N Washington St and Route 181

That road did not turn out to be much of a road, and was not directly accessible from N. Washington. Just before the point where it starts on the map, and just past some railroad tracks, I came to a dirt bike trail that crossed the road. It turns out that turning right onto that trail leads shortly to a fork, and the left fork takes you onto the “road”, which is little more than a dirt path (the official bike trail heads to the southeast, and happens to be part of the future Mass Central Rail Trail). Here’s what the bike trail looks like just after getting onto it (click on images to enlarge):

Dirt trail through woods with rocks in it.  Trees are all around.

And here is the view back towards the road crossing:

Looking along dirt trail where it crosses a paved road at a crosswalk.  The trail enters thick woods on the other side of the road.

I took the left fork to head northeast, and here is what the initial part of the old road looked like:

Dirt path on the left of photo, curving off to the left, with a ditch to the right, and trees and underbrush past the ditch.

There was a creek to the right, though you can’t see the water in this photo. It was pretty easy to ride the path/road, and after a while I came to the part where it splits. There is an old bridge there, which I did not want to try crossing:

Old, weathered wooden bridge over a creek with lots of trees, shrubs, and ferns on either side of the water.

From that point there are 2 paths, one on each side of the creek. Here’s a more direct view of the creek itself, and the path on the far side:

Looking down bank into creek, with a dirt path visible on the far side, running parallel to the water.  There is a tree in the center of the photo, growing right on the edge of the water.  Other trees fill the background.

A little while after this I got close to Route 181, and the clear path seemed to divert into a farm driveway. Not wanting to trespass, I kept going straight, which had me riding through a lot of weeds, some of which were poison ivy. Fortunately, I did not brush any of that with my skin.

I emerged onto 181 and headed south a ways to Cold Spring Road, and then took that east. I had to go uphill a little, but then went downhill quite a bit to the Swift River, which forms the town line with Ware. Here’s the river seen from the bridge (looking south):

Looking over the top of a bridge guardrail at calm river water, with a person kayaking in the distance.  Many trees line the sides of the river.

I kept heading east, climbing the hill into Ware. I made my way somewhat north as I went east, and had some downhill riding, followed by more uphill, until I came out on Route 9. I then went east and downhill into downtown Ware, and rode through to the far side of town, where I stopped off at Janine’s Frostee for lunch (I had a lobstah roll).

After lunch, I went to ride south on a road that was new to me – one that had been suggested when I mapped my route. On maps it is labeled as “Prendville Road”, and comes off of Route 9 at an acute angle before turning south. However, the road does not have any street sign marking it. I found it after a couple of passes, and double-checking the map, as it looks like it could be a driveway. It goes uphill, and so I started riding up.

The road became dirt/gravel after a few dozen yards – here is what it looks like there, as it climbs up just behind some houses:

Narrow gravel road heading uphill, with trees and bushes on either side.

I’m not super fond of climbing dirt roads, but this seemed like it might not be too bad. However, the “road” condition got worse as I went. There started to be more rocks, which were bigger and looser as I climbed. After a while it got too difficult to ride, and I had to walk with the bike. Here’s some typical sections of the thing-that-once-was-a-road:

Very rocky dirt road, curving to the right, with brush and trees off to the left.
Road made mostly of loose rocks stretches uphill into the woods.  Long grass and brush are on both sides, as well as electrical poles on one side.

It took quite a while to climb up this, basically hiking while pushing a bike. There were some nice views, at least:

View of long cleared area between trees, where electrical wires pass down a grassy hill and up another

Eventually I got to a point where the road became less rocky, and leveled out. I was then able to ride much of the time, but had to walk the bike around large puddles several times. I then came to a point where the road was flooded by a pond:

body of water, with dirt road emerging from the water in the distance.  Lots of forest and some boulders around, as well as a line of electrical poles.

I had walked up onto some high ground to the left of the road to take that picture. Here’s the view looking back at the portion of road I had been on:

Dirt road in medium distance, which goes under water.  Trees and brush are all around, with some electric poles and boulders.

The high area I was on did not appear to offer a path past the flooded area, so I went further uphill to the left (east) with my bike, and found a path that led me south through the woods, where I was able to cross a small stream that fed the pond, and then I turned back west and went a bit downhill to rejoin the road.

Just after getting back on the road, I noticed an old town line sign in among the trees. It was very rusty, but you could just make out the words “Town Line”:

Rusty old signs on a post in the woods.  Some graffiti painted on the signs.

The names themselves are no longer legible, but I know that this is the line between Ware and Warren. So, I continued south into Warren.

There were a number more large puddles that I had to walk the bike around, so I still was not making great time. Here’s a typical one:

Dirt road with a large puddle covering its width.  Trees and bushes line both sides.

However, I did finally come to an area where the road became paved, and there were houses lining it. This was also when the road began to go downhill, so I had a nice, easy ride into the Warren town center, where I intersected Route 67. I had originally intended to go further south, into the town of Brimfield, but I had lost so much time climbing out of Ware that I turned west at this point to head home.

Route 67 took me into the West Warren area, where there is a little lookout point by the Quaboag River:

View of old mill buildings in the distance, with a green hill beyond.  In front of that is a river and railroad tracks, with brush in the foreground.
View of railroad tracks and river, with a bridge going over both, and trees beyond.

Here are some of the stores in West Warren:

Parking lot in foreground, with road intersection beyond that, folloed by red brick building holding stores, and some houses.

From here I kept going west, getting off 67 in Palmer, and making way slightly north as I went west, passing through Ludlow, and then up into Granby, and back home from there the same way I had come. Total distance for this ride/hike was 62 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-23-2021 at 12:09 am
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