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Sean's Blog

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
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Several Hills and a Flat

On Labor Day, I drove to Hadley with my bike, parking next to the Mass Central Rail Trail in the town center. I headed east on the trail into Amherst, then went north through the UMass campus, and headed up route 63 into the town of Leverett.

I rode all the way through Leverett on 63, which involves some mild up and down, and passed through corners of Sunderland and Montague, before turning east again and going back into Leverett. I rode across the northern part of the town, passing this stream on the way (click on any image to embiggen):

Stream flowing from upper left to lower right of photo, with flowers and weeds on the close bank, and woods on the opposite bank.
Stream flowing from lower left to upper middle of photo, with flowers and weeds on the close bank, and woods on the opposite bank.  A road surface can be seen on the right edge of the image.

I followed this road (North Leverett Road) all the way into the town of Shutesbury, where it reaches Lake Wyola. I’ve passed by that lake a number of times before. Here’s a view of the water, where it flows out of the lake:

 A lake in the distance, with tree-covered hill and blue sky with clouds beyond it.  In the foreground is a stream flowing out of the lake, toward the camera, with grass and trees on either side.

From here I headed south, which involves a long hill climb. I stopped to rest once, and then after a while made it to the top, which is the town center:

Town common with a US flag on pole, a wayfinding monument, and lists honoring the town's war veterans.

Climbing to the town center from the north is the opposite of what I did on one of my rides last September.

From there, I started going west, which took me downhill a bit, but then I turned south on a different road, and that took me much more downhill, into Pelham. I eventually went on a dirt portion of road, through a conservation area. That involved going a bit more downhill, and then climbing again. At the low point of the dirt section, I crossed this bridge over a pretty stream:

Dirt road heading off of bridge with guardrails.  Road is surrounded by trees.
Dirt road heading off of bridge with guardrails.  Road is surrounded by trees, which shade it almost completely.
Looking down at a stream flowing vigorously around large rocks.  There is greenery on both sides of the water, and a sign can be seen in the upper right saying "No trespassing, public water supply, Town of Amherst".

Once I climbed out of this area, I crossed a major road and was on pavement again. I kept going south (on Gulf Rd), and a bit uphill, but then was rewarded with a very long downhill run that took me into Belchertown. I finally crossed Route 9, and then turned to head southeast a ways. I passed by this small body of water – Arcadia Lake:

Close view of lake, with some greenery in the foreground.  Houses can be seen on the far edge of the water, with green hills beyond, and a cloudy sky.

Not long after passing this, the road climbed up a ways, and then deposited me on Route 9. I rode on that for a very short distance, and then made a couple of turns to end up going west on Bay Road. That goes downhill initially, then is level for a while (with one little rise and fall). While still in Belchertown, I turned off of Bay Rd. and went north to pick up the eastern end of the local section of the Mass Central Trail (known as the Norwottuck section). I took the trail northwest into Amherst, where I passed by the Lawrence Swamp:

Marsh area with lily pads covering much of the water, reeds and other greenery in the foreground, and trees beyond the water.

I continued along the trail through Amherst and back into Hadley, but just a little ways into Hadley the bike started to be sluggish about steering. I realized that the front tire had gone soft. It seemed like it might be a slow leak, so rather than put in a fresh tube I pumped in some air in the hopes of making it back to the car (which was only another 1.5 miles). However, the tire was quickly almost flat again, so clearly the leak was too big. I stopped and changed the tube, and unfortunately the place I stopped was full of mosquitos, so I got bit a bunch in the process. Once I had the new tube installed and inflated, and the wheel back on the bike, it was quick to get back to the car. Total distance for this ride was 50 miles.

Next: some real adventure in Ware.

Posted by seaking on 09-19-2021 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

I Travel to Gorge, Myself

The Friday just before Labor Day, I went on a ride to a town I’d been in once before, as well as some towns I’ve been in several times, but I went on a bunch of roads that were new to me.

I headed west from home to the Ashley Reservoir, and went south along the reservoir’s paths. You can tell we’ve gotten an unusual amount of rain this summer, as the water was flowing over the path in a couple of spots (click on any photo to see a larger version):

Stone dust path with water on either side, and some water on top of the path up ahead

Here’s the view looking back, after I crossed the flooded spots:

Water flooding over a stone dust path

I got to the south end of the reservoir without any other trouble, and exited into the woods. I continued south into West Springfield on the forest path, having to walk my bike in a few spots to go around large puddles. Eventually I came to a crossroads in the Bear Hole nature area, and headed west into Westfield.

I emerged onto paved roads in Westfield and made my way a bit further south, and much more west, crossing the Westfield River on the bike/ped bridge. Going further southwest, I passed over the Little River:

View up a wide river, with trees on either side

I then started heading uphill, toward the town of Granville. On the way up that hill, while still in Westfield, I came across a water treatment plant, which had these interesting old buildings as part of it:

Old concrete buildings, one larger than the other.  The larger has a red roof, and there are trees in the background, with grass in the foreground.

There were also newer looking buildings that probably got more use. The odd thing about this plant is that it seems to belong to the city of Springfield, not Westfield. Not sure how that works.

Not long after this I passed into Granville, and the road leveled off. I passed this big field with a pretty view:

Large grassy field with a barn at the far right.  There's a tree-covered hillside in the background, plus blue sky with clouds.

A little more riding brought me to the town center. I stopped here to eat my lunch on the town common, which is a nicely landscaped park:

Grassy area surrounded by a rock wall on 3 sides, with some larger rocks in the middle.  A road and house are in the background, and there are bushes and trees around the edges.
Grassy area with perennials and a stone retaining wall around the edges, and trees and houses in the background.
Grassy area with a big shrub in the middle, a bench off to the left, and 2 big trees flanking it.  Other trees and buildings are in the background, as well as an American flag.

It was a nice, shady place to take a break, and prettier than many town commons, which are often just huge lawns. I passed this common once before, on a ride I did last year for the Food Bank, but I had not stopped for more than a minute at that time.

From there, I headed east, on Route 57, which also took me downhill quite a ways. Just a little after I passed the town line of Southwick, I turned off the road to visit the Granville Gorge. This is something I had not heard of before, and only learned of its existence when I was looking at Google maps to plan this ride. There is a short dirt road that enters the woods, and comes to a parking/turnaround area. From there, there is a walking path heading down to the gorge area:

Dirt path with large rocks in and next to it.  Trees line the path as it heads downhill.

The river (the name of which I can’t seem to find) was flowing pretty strongly on the day I visited:

River rapids with large rocks, and some trees on the close and far sides.
View looking downstream of fast water flow, with lots of trees and brush around, and rocks on the riverbank.
Looking upstream at rapids, with a number of rocks in the water, and greenery on either side of the water.

I was only at the gorge about 10 minutes, as I wanted to keep moving on my ride. I went a little further east on Route 57, then turned south and rode down into Connecticut, and the town of Granby. I made my way south until I passed neat that town’s center, and then went east into the town of East Granby. There I picked up the New Haven to Northampton rail trail, and started back north. I did not take the trail all the way to Massachusetts, though. I got off the trail at its last road intersection in CT, and headed northeast through the town of Suffield. I eventually got back into Mass at the eastern edge of Southwick, and then immediately turned east and entered the city of Agawam.

I made my way through a rural part of Agawam, where I saw this pond:

Pond seen from a distance, with a few trees and some flooded grass in the foreground, and a lot of trees in the background.

Slowly things got more urban as I went east and north, and I crossed the Westfield River again to enter West Springfield. I then made my way due north back up into Holyoke and home. Total distance for this ride was 59 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-15-2021 at 09:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Up and Over, then Back Up and Back Over

A couple of weeks ago, I did my first training ride for Will Bike 4 Food. I’ve taken a bunch of Fridays off to make sure that I have time for training (and to hedge against bad weather on weekends), and this was on the last Friday in August.

I headed west from home, riding across Holyoke and then across the northern part of Westfield. The road I was on passes just to the north of Barnes Airport, which mostly has small commercial planes flying in and out of it. That airport is also home, however, to an Air National Guard fighter wing. On this day, 2 fighter jets were taking off just as I rode past the place (they flew approximately over my head), and they were ridiculously loud! I had heard fighters fly by in the past, but always at a much higher altitude; I’ve not heard them before when they were that close to the ground.

I got the far west side of Westfield, and began climbing uphill toward the town of Montgomery. Soon after I started heading up, I saw this sign (click to enlarge photos):

Orange road sign that reads "Caution Ice in Road" mounted on a phone pole in a sunny grassy area next to a road.

Given that it is orange, it looks like a temporary, construction-type sign. And yet, it is summer.

Anyway, the climb into Montgomery is long, and I stopped to rest a couple of times. The town center itself only has a couple of public buildings, and otherwise there are just some spread out houses and woods. It is a town of small area and small population.

A little ways past the town center, the road heads steeply downhill for quite a while, into the town of Huntington, and ends near Huntington center, when it runs into route 112. When I got there, I turned north on 112, and rode for a couple of miles. Shortly before I was to leave 112, I stopped to look at the Westfield River, which runs near the road for a bit:

View of river through a few trees, as the water flows around a bend

Shortly after taking that picture, I reached state route 66, ans started heading east on it, which is also uphill. Route 66 climbs over the same ridge that I had already traveled over in going through Montgomery, just at a more northern point. This climb also required some rest stops. One of those, when I was almost done climbing, was by this pond:

Small pond with lily pads on the water.  Reeds and brush can be seen in the foreground, with trees beyond the pond.

Soon I passed into the town of Westhampton and began a nice downhill run. Once that was finished, I turned north and headed through the town center, and then made my way northeast into Leeds (a section of Northampton). I took the bike trail from there southwest to downtown Noho, and then came south on Route 5 back to Holyoke. Total distance on this ride was 46 miles.

This ride was all covering roads I’ve been on before. The next one would cover a bunch of ground that was new to me. Stay tuned!

Posted by seaking on 09-10-2021 at 11:09 pm
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Cycling for Sustenance

September is here, and with it comes the annual Will Bike 4 Food fundraiser for the Food Bank of Western Mass. I’m participating again, and will be doing 100 miles once more, as there will be an organized, in-person event this time. It takes place on Sept. 26, and the route will be the same as was used 2016 through 2019, so I hope to try and finish in less time than before – beating my 9 hour time from 2019.

Last year folks were extremely generous, so I’d love to equal that amount of donations. My goal is to raise $2000 in contributions from others, and I will match every dollar you give. You can contribute online at my fundraising page here, or contact me if you prefer to send a check. Donations of any size are welcome.

I’ve started doing training rides, and I’ll be posting about those, with pictures, here on the blog over the next few weeks, as well as doing some live blogging of the ride itself on the 26th. Looking forward to it!

Posted by seaking on 09-04-2021 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

WB4F Bonus Ride: Around the Quabbin in half a day

Map showing a route around the Quabbin Reservoir - starting in Belchertown, going east to Ware, then north to Petersham, then west to New Salem, and back south to Belchertown.

Last Saturday I went for the bonus ride that I promised to do for Will Bike 4 Food. I did something I’ve only done once before, which is to ride a complete circuit around the Quabbin Reservoir.

I began by driving to Belchertown with my bike, and parking by the Jabish Brook conservation area on Route 202 (the red marker on the map above). I then rode counterclockwise, so I first went south about 2 miles to Route 9, and then headed east toward Ware. Just after starting out southward, I passed a few cyclists who were heading northward – not surprising, as 202 is a popular road for biking (it’s pretty busy, but has a sizable paved shoulder for most of its Belchertown to Orange length). This eastward leg covered a bunch of ground that I rode in my first September ride, but instead of cutting through the Quabbin reservation on Winsor Dam, I stayed on Route 9 the whole way. This means I crossed the Swift River at the Belchertown/Ware line. Here is the river, looking south (click on any picture to view large version):

Looking along calm river with trees on both sides, and a couple of fallen branches or trunks in the water.  Some trees are showing orange color of autumn.

Going this way meant a bit more hill climbing on 9, but it’s not too bad. I got to Ware pretty quickly (in under an hour). I went through downtown, and headed north on Route 32. Shortly before leaving the Ware town limit, I passed this little pond:

Small pond with trees behind it and grass in front.  Sky is blue with some puffy clouds.

Just after that, I passed into Gilbertville, which is a village of the town of Hardwick. Pretty soon Route 32 angled off to the northeast, but I kept going north on Route 32A. This is when I began to do more serious climbing. None of it was very steep, but the road was going upward more often than not as I made my way to Hardwick center. Here’s a marsh that I passed on a level stretch of road:

Marsh or pond with some weeds in the foreground, and a number of trees on the far side of the water, some of them with red autumn leaves.
Marsh or pond with some weeds and grass in the foreground, and a number of trees on the far side of the water, some of them with red autumn leaves.

After some more climbing, I got a nice view across a field:

Corner of a field that corn was harvested from, with grass to the left and past the field, then trees in the far distance and a low hill beyond that.

That field was separated from the road by a low stone wall:

Road surface on left, with a stone wall on the right, and leaf-covered grass between them.  Trees are on both sides of the road farther on.

There was a bit of downhill riding after this, then more uphill to get to the town center. Here’s the Hardwick common and town hall:

Large grassy town common with many fallen leaves.  There are trees on the left side and at the far end.
Grassy town common with paved sidewalk going through the middle.  At the far side of the grass the sidewalk leads to a white building with a cupola on top.  There is a shorter brick building next to the white one, and trees among and behind the buildings.  There are numerous dry, fallen leaves on the grass.

Eventually I started to get a bunch of downhill riding, and during that stretch I entered the town of Petersham. I made good time for a while, but eventually had to climb again for the last few northward miles. On one of those uphill bits, I passed some cyclists who were heading south, and I believe they were the same ones I had seen back on Route 202 – they were also heading around the reservoir, apparently!

Also on the climb in Petersham, I saw some goats:

Five goats - 2 white and 3 black - resting in a pasture, with trees and brush beyond.
A single black goat stands on a rock sticking out of a pasture.  There are many trees and underbrush on the far side of the pasture.

Not long after that, I got close to, but did not go through, Petersham center. Once I reached Route 122 I headed west (really west by northwest). This began with a lot of downhill riding, and then I had some level riding, with a number of bodies of water on either side of the road (and just woods some of the time), as I passed the north end of the Quabbin reservation. Here’s one such marsh on the north side of the road:

Partly dry marsh, with water among muddy areas, and many weeds.  Trees line the far side, and there are quite a few clouds in the sky.

I had a bit of climbing to do on 122, but not much, and it only took about half an hour or so on that road to reach Route 202 in the town of New Salem (the north-south legs of this ride were considerably longer than the east-west ones). Once I turned south on 202, I had some more climbing to do, and I paused just before beginning the climb by this marsh:

Marsh with much tall grass among the watery areas.  There are some trees on the left, and a bare tree i the foreground, with a line of evergreen trees in the distance, and blue, cloudy sky.

I had to climb for about 2.5 miles before things leveled off, and I passed near New Salem center. I then was rewarded with a bunch of downhill riding, before passing into the town of Shutesbury and heading uphill again. This pattern repeated, and I was climbing again, still in Shutesbury, when I stopped to rest and noticed some interesting mushrooms growing by the side of the road. Here’s one of them:

Close-up of a light brown mushroom with a long stem and bulbous head, surrounded by clover, a bit of grass, and some dry leaves.

I climbed out of Shutesbury and into the town of Pelham, and this was the last real climb of the day. Pelham has one of the highest points on 202, and there is a pull-off area at one point, where you can get a glimpse of the Quabbin itself:

Looking downhill over a large meadow, with trees and other hills beyond.  A small bit of water can be seen in the distance, between some hills.  Blue sky above with several clouds.

From here, it was almost all downhill the remaining few miles to where I had parked the car. I got to the car not long after passing back into Belchertown. My distance for the day was 55.39. As this ride was on October 3, and my first one had been on September 6, that means I rode a total of 500 miles in a month’s time!

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-five point three nine.

Thanks again to all who donated and have followed my rides this year!

Posted by seaking on 10-08-2020 at 09:10 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

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

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