This past Saturday I went for my final training ride.  This time my goal was to head up to Brattleboro, Vermont.

I got a reasonably early start and headed north into Amherst and through the UMass campus.  From there I went up the familiar route 63 just into Montague, and then diverted through Montague center.  Just a but past there, I turned off at a right fork and followed a couple of different roads that make up the Franklin County Bikeway (the Northfield spur mentioned in the text at that site).  These roads (one of which was gravel) took me through more rural parts of Montague, roughly halfway between the villages of Turners Falls and Millers Falls.  Eventually the road I was using, though paved, got very narrow, and then said that only utility company vehicles were allowed on it.  Soon, I came to this bridge:

I had been sort of wondering if I was still allowed to bike here, but there was this sign marking the bikeway:

This bridge crosses the Millers River, and here’s the view upriver to the east:

But much prettier was the view to the west, where the Millers empties into the Connecticut River a short distance away:

That high span is State Route 2 crossing the water.

Once I was across my little bridge, I came out to the side of a road, took a left, and that road then curved north and went under Route 2, following the bank of the Connecticut.  I had a few nice views of the river:

Next to that inlet above was a park:

Just after this point, the road became dirt again.  It was also clearly the route cars took to the park, as before passing the park I had not seen a car for 20 minutes or more.  After passing the park 3 cars went by me in a 5-minute period.

Before too long, the road headed away from the river and into some farmland.  In addition to farm fields, I also came across this huge area of grass that was mowed very short – it looked like a lawn, only huge:

There was no obvious house associated with it (all the houses on that part of the road were on the other side).  I can’t imagine keeping up with mowing such an area, or to what end one would do it, unless they’re planning on turning it into a golf course or something.

Moving on, the road turned east and took me back to route 63, which I then followed into Northfield center.  At this point I started seeing a lot more other cyclists, mostly going the opposite direction that I was heading.

Here’s a shot of what seems to be the main intersection in Northfield:

Continuing north, I got to the border with New Hampshire, which was interestingly marked by a traditional Massachusetts style town sign:

That sign is right next to the only drive-in theater anywhere in our area:

Just after taking these pictures, I was about to start moving again, when I saw this tiny turtle (or tortoise?) that had just crossed the road:

It was only 2 inches long.

After that the road had a few ups and downs, and I was seeing groups of cyclists heading south.  There may have been some kind of organized bike event that day, but I’m not sure.

I soon arrived in the center of the town of Hinsdale, NH, and crossed the Ashuelot River.  Here are views up and down that river, respectively:

And the town center itself, with some classic New England buildings:

From here I kept going North getting into a more commercial strip of road, which featured a Wal-Mart, a seemingly closed dog racing track, and at least 3 large fireworks stores (they’re legal in NH – not in MA).

The road got closer to the Connecticut River again, which up here forms the border between NH and VT.  At last, it turned and headed over the river in two jumps, as the river seems to be divided around an island.  Here’s the first bridge, seen after I went over it:

And the second bridge, as I was about to cross it into downtown Brattleboro:

Once I had crossed the road part of the bridge, I came back onto the sidewalk part to take a picture of the river itself:

I also turned the camera toward the NH side, where there’s a high ridge:

As you enter the downtown, there’s a small waterway spilling from under the streets, and around some buildings toward the river:

Here’s a somewhat blurry shot of the main street (I took a few pictures along there, none of which came out very well, for some reason):

I found a place to lock up my bike (against a railing – there are surprisingly few bike racks to be found), and went looking for a place to eat.  I saw this sign:

but could not locate the corresponding cafe.  I think it may have been under renovation, as there was an empty storefront nearby in the same building:

I walked through a short alley to a parking lot and some stores behind the main drag.  There I saw this book mural:

It appears that many of the spines have titles of famous books altered to have local relevance:

It was lucky that I had walked this way, because I came upon this restaurant:

I had no idea previously that there was a middle eastern place of any kind in Brattleboro, much less a Lebanese place (I’m a big fan of Lebanese food).  So, I stopped in and had a combo plate.  Very good felafel and hummus.

After lunch I wandered back to the bike and took a few more pictures of downtown:

The sign on that glass facade says “River Garden”, and if you pass through the little building, there’s a terrace that looks out on the river, and has trees and such growing just below:

Collecting the bike again, I rode south out of town, following along the Vermont side of the river.  There were a few places where the water jutted inland a bit, like this:

Right by this spot, there was a lumber company site with lots of logs piled up, and the logs were being sprayed with water:

Why you would want to keep logs wet I don’t know.

I continued south as the road (route 142) took me away from the river.  As I approached the Mass border, I turned off the highway to ride close to what’s known as Satan’s Kingdom Wildlife Management area (there really isn’t a good link for that).  This ended up dumping me on a bit more gravel road – really more of a gravel trail – and the roads ceased to look like they did on the online maps.  I ended up being unaware of when I crossed into MA, and I got back to route 142 (it has the same number in both states) sooner than I had expected.

Undaunted, I went further south through the town of Gill, passing through the center of town (which I didn’t photograph), and then across the river into Turners Falls.

I went down the bike path in Turners, crossing the Connecticut again into Deerfield, and then I followed the River Road there further south.  I emerged onto Route 116, and, while I had originally thought of heading for Northampton at this point, I instead went for a slightly shorter ride and went across the river into Sunderland, then straight south to Hadley and home.

My total ride time, including the hour I spent in Brattleboro, was 8.5 hours.  Total distance: 88 miles.

Coming up this weekend: the big ride itself!