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Sean's Blog

A Little Better

As I live blogged, the Food Bank ride on September 30 began with thick fog.  As I drove to the starting point, I couldn’t see all that far in front of the car.

Here’s another shot of how things looked at the event (click on pictures to enlarge):

After getting checked in, I got some breakfast (lots of carbs), and I got going a few minutes before 7:00am.

Visibility was not too big a problem on the bike at first.  However, the fog did start to condense on my glasses, so that posed a bit of a challenge for a while.

The route was the same as the previous 2 years – starting from Hatfield center, I headed north through Whately and Deerfield, following the Connecticut River.  At the north end of Deerfield, the ride turned onto a bike path and crossed the river into Montague.  By this time another rider was traveling alongside me, and we chatted about the route and other cycling events.  As we crossed the river, we had our first glimpse of sun, and the fog mostly lifted after that.

We followed the trail to Turners Falls, and then got on the road and crossed the river again into the town of Gill, to begin the climb up Mountain Road.  It’s a somewhat long climb, with a few steep parts, which is followed by a steep descent that features sharp curves.  As I did the past 2 times, I laid on the brakes a lot for the curves.

Back on the main road (named Main Road), we went through Gill center, and a couple miles later came to the first rest stop at the Northfield Mount Hermon School.  Students from the school were staffing the tables of food and water.

I had some food and refilled my water bottles, and rested a few minutes before continuing.  The route went north a few more miles through Northfield, MA, and then just after mile 31 I crossed into Vernon, VT.  The ride went straight north for another 8 miles along route 142, and the scenery was quite nice at points, but I didn’t want to stop for pictures much, as I was trying to make good time.  I did take one picture before heading away from the CT River – this is technically a little inlet from the river, I believe, and is in the north part of Vernon, near Brattleboro:

I rode west (and uphill) from there on the pretty Broad Brook Road (of which I took pictures the last 2 years), and into the town of Guilford.  In Guilford center was the second rest stop of the day – a new one for this year – at the town’s volunteer fire station:


Here I grabbed a peanut butter sandwich, and only upon biting into it did I realize it was a fluffernutter (the bag was labeled “PB & F”).  I remarked on this, and one of the people staffing the stop said “Yeah, how long has it been since you had one of those?”  I answered that, actually, it had only been a week or so, as we eat them somewhat regularly at home.

The morning had been chilly, and so I’d been wearing a hoodie with the hood up.  Only at this stop, around 10:30am, did I take the hoodie off.  I still remained in a long sleeve top and long leggings the rest of the day, as the high only got into the mid-sixties.

From there, the ride went a bit west and mostly south through Guilford, and back into Massachusetts around mile 48.  In the town of Leyden, MA, I deviated a bit from the prescribed route, and took a dirt road that involves a climb, but it’s a more gradual climb that the paved route into the town center that was the official way to go.  I think this allowed me to get to Leyden Center (at 50.5 miles) a little fresher.

The town hall there:

The next several miles involved some nice downhill segments with more climbing, which started to wear me out a bit.  The long downhill heading toward Greenfield was slowed a bit by the fact that the road was closed, so cyclists had to go around, and in some cases over, construction barriers.  The road itself was not torn up (I’m not sure why it’s closed to cars), but there were a lot of leaves and some sticks on the road, so I couldn’t charge downhill at too fast a speed.

Eventually I entered Greenfield at mile 62 and got onto another bike path, following the Green River south.  This is a fairly short path, so soon I was back on roads and skirting the city’s downtown.  I picked up routes 5/10 and headed back into Deerfield, then off onto a side road through the town’s historic district.  The third rest stop was located here, by Deerfield Academy, and was run by a large group of boisterous students, who applauded and cheered each rider who arrived.

At this point I was about 2/3 of the way done.  After just a few more miles, I headed into Whately, and there came more concentrated rest stops.  There were 3 total in Whately and north Hatfield, largely because this section of road contained the intersections of different routes (the 50, 25, and 10-mile routes all passed along parts of that road).  I stopped at the middle one of the 3 to get a little more water and get off the bike for a few more minutes (I was getting pretty saddle sore at this point).

Once I was back in Hatfield the route headed off west again, and I just had about 24 miles to go, but was starting to slow down.  There were some small hills to climb going toward Williamsburg, and they took me a while to climb – my legs muscles were pretty sore and I did not have a lot of power to climb.  I had to stop for quick rests a few times before I got to the last rest stop, which I reached a little after 3:00pm.  There was some nice downhill riding immediately after this stop, heading into Williamsburg center, but then there were some more climbing bits heading from there to Northampton.

I managed the rest of the ride through Noho and back to Hatfield without having to take any rest breaks, but it was still slow, painful going.  I did finish in less time than last year, though, by about 17 minutes.  Total time was 9 hours and 28 minutes, covering 101 miles.  One thing I’m curious about is how fast I could do 100 miles if it were fairly flat.  Maybe that’s something I’ll try to do next year – we’ll see.

As far as the fundraising, this has been the best year yet – people donated a total of $1530 dollars to the Food Bank as part of my ride, and I have donated the same amount myself.  So glad that so much support has been given – thanks to everyone for stepping up, and if there’s anyone who still wants to give, you can do so through October 31 – just click here to give.


Posted by seaking on 10-13-2018 at 11:10 pm
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Foggy Top

I’m at the start of the ride, and it is quite foggy. Fortunately, I have lights. This should clear off before too long.

Posted by seaking on 09-30-2018 at 06:09 am
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Fruitless, but Useful Nonetheless

Last Saturday, I rode in Bikefest, which is put on by the Northampton Cycling Club.  As it happens the weekend before Will Bike 4 Food, it’s the perfect final training ride.  I did the metric century ride, and as in previous years, it was somewhat longer than 100 km (this year it was 69.2 miles, or about 111 km).

I did a little extra riding, as I parked a mile or so from the park where the event took place, and biked in to the check in area.  Here’s the picnic pavilion for check in and such, seen as I and other cyclists were lining up for the ride to begin. (click pictures to see larger versions)

There were a bunch of riders around, but most of them were outside the frame at that moment.

The route was almost identical to last year’s Bikefest.  From Look Park, we rode into Leeds on the bike trail, then headed west and north to Williamsburg center.  From there we continued north, including a long, slow climb up through a bit of the town of Conway, and into Ashfield.

The ride turned off to the west shortly after reaching Ashfield, and climbed a bit more, and then we got a nice long downhill section, which was followed by some more climbing to the town center.  Just before reaching Ashfield center, I saw these horses grazing by the side of the road, and so stopped for a picture:

Continuing on, the ride got quicker, as it’s mostly downhill heading northeast from Ashfield center to Shelburne Falls, where the first rest stop was.

Here’s the rest stop, which was located at the famous glacial potholes:



That stop was located about 26 miles into the route, so more than a third of the way through.

The next section of the ride was reasonably short, as we headed east through the town of Shelburne and into Greenfield.  The route had been shortened a bit here, as there was a point where, in past years, we’d gone south for a mile or so, then doubled back on a different road.  This time, we went more directly, but had to ride for a ways on a dirt road to do so.  Fortunately, it was a well-packed surface, with almost no loose gravel, so it was easy to ride on.  That portion was followed by one of the tougher climbs of the day – not as long as the earlier one, but steeper.  The reward for that climbing was a long downhill into Greenfield.  Even with my being slow in climbing, it only took me 45 minutes or so to get to the second rest area from the first, an 11 mile stretch.

That second stop was in Greenfield, at the entrance to the Franklin County fairgrounds:

I began to notice something odd – while there were plenty of different kinds of snacks, energy bars, and the like, neither of the first 2 stops had any fresh fruit, which I remembered them having in the past.  The closest thing was fig bars, which I did have.

Soon after leaving that stop, there was a point where the ride crosses the Green River on a pedestrian/bike bridge.  That bridge was mostly blocked by a whole bunch of tree branches and leaves lying on it, and there was a municipal worker nearby with a chainsaw who had apparently been trimming trees there.  I asked if the bridge was okay to cross, and the reply was that “other people have been carrying their bikes across”.  So, I walked past the branches while holding the bike, then resumed riding at the other end of the bridge.

We went up over a hill, then down, and crossed the Connecticut River into Montague.  The route went onto the river/canalside trail there, into Turners Falls.  Once the trail ended, the last real climb of the day occurred, with an initial short and steep bit, and then a more gradual part as we headed southward.

The ride went through Montague center (past the Bookmill), and then followed a route near the CT river to head down into Sunderland.  Shortly after entering Sunderland, there was a nice river view from the road:


Soon after that, the route got to Sunderland center, and the final rest stop.  This stop did not have any fruit, either, and in the past it had the most (last year or the year before they had lots of apples and peaches there).

From there the ride had 16 or 17 miles to go, almost completely flat, as we passed through Whately and Hatfield, then back into Northampton.  The last bit of the route went back to Look Park on the bike trail, and I ended up finishing in a little over 6 hours (we’d begun around 8:50am and I hit the end a few minutes before 3:00pm).  It was a bit of an improvement on my time over the last couple of times I did this ride, with one particular difference being that I did the entire long Williamsburg to Ashfield climb without stopping to rest.  I seem to have some good strength and endurance going, which will be needed for Will Bike 4 Food.

After I ate at the post-ride meal, I biked back to where the car was parked, for a total of about 72 miles for the day.


Posted by seaking on 09-29-2018 at 10:09 pm
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Snaking out and Back

On Sept. 15, I had time to go for a longer training ride, and I chose to head out east to Gilbertville (part of the town of Hardwick).  Instead of riding on route 202, which is the way I went in the past, I took various side roads that roughly parallel that highway.  Some of them were roads that I had not been on before, and one thing I discovered is that the route I took involved more hill climbing to get to Belchertown center, compared with 202 (followed by some downhill, of course).

Sometime soon after I crossed the Belchertown line, I came upon a snake enjoying what warmth the pavement had.

I was worried that it was far enough into the road that it might get run over by a car, so I moved close enough to it that it slithered off into the grass.  Satisfied that it was safer, I continued.

From the center of Belchertown, I went east on Route 9, but soon diverted off into the Quabbin Reservoir reservation.  It was a beautiful day at that point, and so I could not resist taking some pictures of the water from Winsor Dam:


Here I’m looking along the dam:

I rode across there and then up the hill that goes to an observation tower.  I didn’t go all the way to the tower this time, as I’ve been in it many times before, and wanted to make time.  It’s a long uphill anyway, but then one is rewarded with a lot of down hill before exiting to 9 again.

There are a couple more hills that I climbed in the town of Ware, before I came out on Route 32 and headed north into Gilbertville.  I stopped off for lunch at a bakery/cafe that had been recommended to us – Rose32.  Had a very nice sandwich and a strawberry ginger ale to drink, and then got a box of various pastries to take home.

I retraced my route back to Belchertown, but then headed west on Bay Road, followed by going north on Warren Wright Rd. to pick up the Mass Central Rail Trail (Norwottuck section).  I wanted to make sure to get a significant enough number of miles in, so didn’t want to head home the way I came (taking the trail was less direct).  I rode the trail all the way to Northampton, and then turned south and followed Route 5 back to Holyoke.

My total distance was 70 miles, and despite some of it being bumpy, the pastries survived the trip.

Next post: Bikefest 2018.

Posted by seaking on 09-28-2018 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking, Wildlife with 0 Comments

New Route on Old Roads

A couple of weeks ago I went for a ride on a Saturday afternoon, looking once again to explore some places I had not gone, even though they are relatively close to home.

I first rode up to Northampton to run an errand.  Then I headed back south as far as the Connecticut River oxbow, and went southwest on the Manhan trail in Easthampton.

My intention was to head up into the Mt. Tom Reservation, but not via the ways one can drive in.  I’d noticed quite a while back that maps show a road going in to the place from East St. in Easthampton, but I’d seen from inside the park that that route is gated off.  I wanted to see if it was a road one could take a bike up.  The road begins as an actual residential street, as it turns out – it’s called Reservation Road.  It goes uphill somewhat, and then the houses end and there’s a gate across the pavement.  Once one passes the gate, there is not a whole lot of pavement, and at some points there is only dirt and gravel.  Overall, it is more of a hiking path than a road these days.  It’s wide enough for a motor vehicle, but you’d need serious tires and 4-wheel drive to get through.  Meanwhile, on a bicycle, I was able to ride up most of it, but toward the top it got too steep, so I ended up walking my bike the last eighth of a mile or so to the top gate.

At that point, I was able to ride out the east side of the reservation, which is a nice route – all downhill and smooth pavement.  That took me out to Route 5, where I headed south.  As I headed uphill into the Holyoke Highlands, I turned off again, on the Mountain Park Access Road.  This road crosses over I-91, then stops outside the gates of Mountain Park, which was once an amusement park but is now an outdoor concert space.

There are a couple of side roads there that skirt Mountain Park, and which are blocked to car traffic.  One of them goes north, and heads partway up the side of Mount Tom.  I had been that way once in the past, but had not taken the other road to the south, which is what I did this time.  I rode downhill, then around a curve to the west and through a bit of woods to the Whiting Street Reservoir.  There is a gravel road that runs around the reservoir, which apparently is officially a cross-country track, used by local school teams.

On the east side of the reservoir, one has to climb up an embankment to see the water.  Here are some views of that (click on photos to see larger versions):


And here is a pumping station or something (a water works structure of some kind, anyway):

I rode counter-clockwise around the reservoir, but did not complete a full circuit.  When I got down to the south end of the water, I rode out of the area to exit onto Route 141, which I then followed east back to Route 5 and then home.

Total distance for this ride was 25 miles, but the next couple were longer ones.  Stay tuned.

Posted by seaking on 09-25-2018 at 10:09 pm
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Through the Woods and over the River

I did not get a whole lot of cycling in during the month of August, partly because I was out of town a bunch.  My next ride of some import was on Labor Day.

I decided to start out by checking on a trail through the woods in the western part of Holyoke.  If you look up West Cherry Street on google maps, you can see that the road has 2 parts that look like actual streets, which are connected by a dotted line.  I had wondered about that line, and thought I could ride it on my bike, as it was likely an old dirt road.

So I headed west and to the end of one portion of the street, and entered the woodland trail.  It may have once been a decent gravel road, but it is a fairly rough hiking trail these days, so I had to get off the bike pretty soon and walk, sometimes lifting the bike over obstacles such as fallen trees.

That was not the most unfortunate part, though.  There were other trails branching off at various points, so I had to guess at which was the correct way to go.  Even having a general idea that I wanted to go northwest, I still ended up going the wrong way.  At some point I knew it was wrong because I’d been in the woods for too long.

I did find portions that were bikeable, so that helped make some time, and eventually when I emerged from the forest, I recognized where I was – on Apremont Highway near Route 202.  I’d ended up at least a mile south of where I’d intended to be, but this was okay, as I next had planned on heading southwest to Westfield anyway.  So, that’s what I did.

I went due west for a while, into the northwest part of Westfield, and stopped off at a farm store to get something to drink.  THe place had its own brand of soda, with one flavor: blueberry birch.  I certainly could not pass that up!  It was really tasty.

From there I went south toward downtown, because I had recently learned that construction was done on a new trail/esplanade by the Westfield River, and work had finished to turn an old railroad bridge into a pedestrian an bike bridge over the river.

Here is the bridge itself, looking from the northern end (click on pics to embiggen):

And side views of the bridge from the esplanade (which runs along the southern bank):


The esplanade itself is pretty nice.  Besides a bit of trail, it has several areas to rest and hang out:

Here’s a view of the river:

And here’s the Routes 10/202 bridge, seen from the bike bridge:

That used to be the only place to walk or bike across the river.

Eventually, the esplanade there will connect with the rest of the City’s trail, which currently starts at the south end of downtown and head south toward Connecticut (more info in general on this trail can be found at Friends of the Columbia Greenway).  The portion yet to be built will have to cross downtown over a few bridges above city streets, and rehabbing those will take a lot of resources.

In any case, I took a less arboreal route home, sticking to roads.  Total for the afternoon was 25 miles of riding/hiking with my bike.


Posted by seaking on 09-19-2018 at 09:09 pm
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Training Montage – Cycling Where I Can Get It

As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been doing training rides to prepare for Will Bike 4 Food.  Because of a few factors, unlike some previous years, I have not been able to do a lot of long rides during the spring and summer this time.  So I’ve tried to make the rides that I have done count – especially trying to get in hill climbing whenever possible.  Here are brief summaries of a couple of rides that I did manage in July that helped me build strength and endurance.

Also, speaking of the fundraising for the Food Bank, donations have now exceeded my goal.  The total is $1049 – thanks to all those who have given.  I’ll still be matching contributions beyond that amount, so any more donations I get will be doubled (up to my $2K limit).


July 4: Hot Hills

On Independence Day, I decided to ride up to Chesterfield.  It’s a town whose center is on one of the higher hills in the Pioneer Valley, and so it involves a lot of climbing to get there.  It was not the best day for such a ride, weather-wise, as the temperature got up into the mid-nineties.  Nonetheless, I went and did it.  I rode my usual route from Holyoke to Northampton first, heading straight north on Route 5, and then followed the rail trail out to Leeds.  From there, a few back roads get one started on the climb up to Chesterfield Center, approaching from the southeast.  Because of the heat, I had to stop and rest in the shade several times on the way up.  When I finally did get to the top, I headed for the town general store to get some more water, as I had drunk much of what I’d brought with me.  It turned out that the store was not there anymore – and a local resident told me that the nearest store would be in another town – Williamsburg or Worthington.

Fortunately, there happened to be some activities going on on the town common, including a booth selling hand-made ice cream.  I got some, and asked if they had any water for sale – they didn’t but said that the fire station had been selling bottles of water.  I headed over there, where that sale was technically over, but a firefighter (or maybe the chief) unlocked the station and sold me one of several remaining bottles (which were still cold).

Rejuvenated and rehydrated, I then began the long downhill ride due south, heading into Westhampton.  After all the downhill, there was some level riding, and then a bit more uphill until I got to Outlook Farm, which was my destination for (a late) lunch.  Their grill was closed when I got there, but they had cold sandwiches available, so I was able to eat fine (and enjoy some air conditioning).

From there I went through downtown Easthampton, then via trail back to Route 5 and home to Holyoke.  Total for the day was 50 miles.


July 21: Fowl and Food

On this Sunday, I headed up to Greenfield, MA.  I did not take the most direct route up there, or back, so as to give myself a few more hills to ride.  I started by heading across the Connecticut River into South Hadley, and then went up back roads, stopping by McCray’s Dairy farm, as I wanted to check out their store.  At that farm, I discovered they have a pond and several waterfowl (click to view larger versions of photos):

From there, I rode up into Hadley, and stopped off at Flayvors of Cook Farm – our favorite ice cream place.  I was checking the existence of special summer flavors, and ended up getting a cone with peach ice cream.  I then proceeded up Routes 116 and 47 (and some other roads) through Montague Center, and then along the river to the bike trail in the north of Montague.  I took it across the river into Deerfield, rode over to Routes 5/10, and then crossed the Deerfield River into Greenfield.  Another mile or so of riding (and a steep, short hill) put me downtown, where I had lunch at the People’s Pint.  It is a microbrewery, and while I don’t drink beer, I love the place for the sodas they make.  They also encourage cycling.

When I left Greenfield, I went a bit west of town before turning south, and went through some hillier parts of Deerfield and Whately before deciding I’d had almost enough climbing for the day.  I then got back on 5/10 to ride through Hatfield and Northampton, back to Holyoke (there is one hill one has to climb on Route 5 in Holyoke when heading south – it’s not steep, but it is somewhat long).  Total distance for this ride was 68 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-18-2018 at 11:09 pm
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Back to Bike for the Bank

It is happening again!  That is, on September 30 I will be riding for the 5th time in Will Bike 4 Food, the cycling event that benefits the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

The Food Bank is a vital organization in the area, coordinating and distributing donated and purchased food to member agencies who then get it to people in need.  Hunger and food insecurity affect tens of thousands in the region, and the Food Bank ensures that they can access healthy food, not only through direct food assistance, but by helping families apply for SNAP, and connecting them with other needed services.

As in past years, I’ll be riding the 100-mile course, and I aim to decrease my time this year.  I might have done so last year, but the day of the ride was unseasonably hot, which slowed me down.  My goal is to try and finish the 100 miles in 9 hours (which would beat my previous best by 45 minutes).

I’m looking for donations in any amount – every bit helps!  My goal is to raise $1000, but it would be great to get more than that, and this year I’ll pledge to match every dollar that others donate, up to a maximum of $2000.  So, if you all give $1000, I’ll kick in another $1000.  If $1200 gets donated to my ride, I’ll add another $1200, etc.

The fundraising page is at this address:

Thanks, and watch the blog for info on rides I’ve been doing to train.

Posted by seaking on 09-10-2018 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

The Hot 100

On September 4, I rode in Will Bike 4 Food once again.  This was my 5th time participating in this fundraiser, and the 4th time I’ve actually done the ride.

I arrived at the event at 6:30am (just as the sun was starting to rise), got checked in, and had some food.  It was very slightly chilly (around 60 degrees), but considerably warmer than the day of last year’s ride.  I got going right at 7:00, and was able to start out in short sleeves, as I got warm enough from pedaling.  The route went north from Hatfield center, up through Whately and Deerfield, following the Connecticut River.  Along the way, a few other 100-mile riders passed me, including one person who was in the Bikefest ride the previous weekend.  He rode with me for a little while and we chatted.

In the north end of Deerfield the route went on the bike trail east to Montague, crossing the river on this bridge (click on pictures to view full size):

Here’s the view that morning, north, then south:

I then continued along the trail a couple of miles to downtown Turners Falls.  There I went back across the river into the town of Gill, and started doing some climbing.  Most of the climb was on a side road called “Mountain Road”, which lives up to the name.  That road then has a steep descent, requiring a lot of braking, before it joins back up with the main road.  A few more miles after that, and after curving north, I reached the Northfield Mount Hermon School, where the first water stop was set up, 1/4 of the way through the ride.  The table there was being staffed by some students from the school, and in addition to water, they had various donated food in a cooler, including sandwiches.  I ate an apple, and then put a granola bar and a sandwich in my bike bag to eat later.  The day was starting to get fairly warm, so I took off the long bike pants I was wearing, and put on sunscreen.

From there, the route continued north, with a bit of a jog west, into Northfield.  Just after the jog (which went through corners of Gill and Bernardston), I stopped by this pretty pond on route 142:

From there it was a few miles north to the Vermont border, and then I was riding through the town of Vernon.

I stopped for a rest in Vernon, near a cemetery:


I was getting a bit hungry, and ate a granola bar before continuing.  I headed up through the rest of Vernon, almost to the city of Brattleboro before the route turned west, and went on the one dirt road of the ride – Broad Brook Road.

Running along much of the road’s length is what I presume to be Broad Brook:

There was also a small side road that I was glad not to be following, as it looked like it really lives up to its name:

Once the climb was done, the road became paved, and went under I-91 and into Guilford center.  At that point the route started back south.  Shortly before re-entering Massachusetts, there’s a long pond – Weatherhead Hollow Pond – adjacent to the road.  Here’s a picture of its northern end:

I crossed into Leyden, MA, at about the 48-mile mark, and soon I was climbing a steep side road up to Leyden center, at the halfway point of the ride.  There I stopped at the town hall for a break, where I ate the sandwich I had grabbed earlier.  Here’s the town hall itself, as well as the church across the street:


A house next to the town hall had this important sign by the road:

As I finished the sandwich, some other WB4F riders emerged from behind town hall, and mentioned that there’s a cafe in the back of the building that was still open, with bathrooms and water and whatnot.  I had seen the cafe sign, and decided to go back there.  Turns out it’s run just on Sundays, and only certain parts of the year, by a few community members in Leyden.  They were happy to let me fill up my water bottles in the kitchen, and I also bought and consumed a blueberry scone.  The people staffing the place were impressed at meeting various people biking 100 miles that day.

After using the bathroom I was on my way again.  The next section of 10 miles or so featured alternating uphill and downhill bits, which went through parts of the towns of Colrain and Shelburne, and then a long downhill section took me into Greenfield, where I headed southward.  By this time it was quite hot outside – the high temperature was an unseasonal 91 Fahrenheit, so it was easy to get really thirsty.  I stopped at the edge of downtown and got a bottle of lemonade at a convenience store.  There had been a good bit of shade in the hilly towns, but I was more in the sun in Greenfield and to the south of there.

Riding south, I entered Deerfield, and rode past the historic preservation section, where there was a water stop just closing up.  They still had cold water to offer, so I accepted a bottle of that (and topped off my bike bottles).  Then a while after that I went through the town center just before passing into Whately.

Halfway down through Whately there was a rest stop by the town offices, as there had been last year.  I got some more cold water there, and ate a piece of watermelon.  After that, the route went more south, a ways into Hatfield, before turning west around mile 75.  I went for another climb (not too steep but a but long) into Williamsburg, then had a little downhill and uphill, followed by some flat riding by the Northampton reservoir, and then went further west (and up the last strenuous climb of the day) toward Williamsburg center.

A couple of miles before the town center was the last water stop of the day, staffed by a local troop of Frontier Girls (troop 210 from Florence, I think).  They also had drinks on ice, as had been the case at previous stops, so I enjoyed more cold water (and also had some crackers).

This was at mile 84, so I just had 16 miles left.  The remaining route took me to Williamsburg center, then went back southeast into Northampton, through Florence center there, and on the Noho rail trail for a bit before heading northeast into Hatfield.  I had hoped to get to the end of the ride at 4:00 or so, but by the time I got there it was 4:45 – the same time I finished last year.  The heat had made it necessary to take more shade and water breaks than I otherwise might have needed, so if it hadn’t been so hot, I possibly could have done better on time.

Nonetheless, it felt good to make it.  As mentioned in one of my live posts, I also hit my fundraising goal during the ride, and that evening, after getting home, I made my matching donation.  Thanks to everyone who gave!


Posted by seaking on 10-02-2017 at 11:10 pm
Posted in Biking with 2 Comments

Fest o’ Bikes 17

The weekend before I rode in Will Bike 4 Food, I rode a shorter route in the NCC Bikefest, as I have in several past years.  I again did the “metric century” ride (i.e. 100 kilometers, though this was longer – it was 73 miles, or about 117 km).

The route was slightly different than it was last year.  They had removed the really tough climb that was in the middle previously (at Bardwell’s Ferry), for which I was grateful.  They also made a change this year in that they no longer try to have all the riders on a given route begin at the same time.  There were suggested start times, but once a rider was checked in, the rider could leave whenever ready.  I ended up starting at 8:40, 5 minutes before the suggested time.

The ride headed west for a ways in Northampton, then headed northwest to Williamsburg center.  From there it climbed a long way up into Ashfield.  On the way there is this nice view in Conway (click for larger versions of photos):


Once we went through Ashfield center, it was almost all downhill to Shelburne Falls.  The first rest stop was at the Glacial Potholes again.


The rest stops on this ride were well stocked with donated baked goods (e.g. little muffins, apple and raspberry bars), as well as the typical packaged energy and granola bars.

From there the ride meandered through the town of Shelburne – a bunch of rural, hilly area.  On one road, there were some goats grazing just off to the side:

The took some interest in me, but I was not as interesting as the tall grass all around them.

There was more hill climbing here, including the steepest climb of the day, before a fast descent into Greenfield.  The second stop was in Greenfield by the entrance to the Franklin County fairgrounds.  Food there was similar to the first stop.

From there we climbed over a hill near downtown Greenfield, then headed into Turners Falls and along the bike path there.  At the end of the path, I stopped to photograph some swans hanging out in the Connecticut River:


There was another climb after that point, then the ride headed south through Montague and into Sunderland, where the third and final rest stop was located.  This one had more baked goods, but also a few different kinds of fresh fruit, including peaches.  I was excited to have a peach, as they are very refreshing when one is hot and sweaty (there had been bananas available at the other stops – they’re a staple of cycling events – but I don’t like them, myself).

After that, it was a fairly flat 17 miles through Whately and Hatfield to get back to the event beginning in Northampton.  I got there at 3:15, so my total time for 73 miles was 6 hours, 35 minutes.

Next: a full summary of the big century ride.

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2017 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

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