On Memorial Day, I went for a ride on some roads that were in nearby towns, but on which I’d never before been. I started out riding west out of Holyoke, just into Westfield, and then I turned north, off my beaten path, just past Hampton Ponds State Park. This took me up into Southampton, and I rode on a few back roads, one of them called White Loaf Road (I do not know whence that name comes).

One of the roads I was on briefly was Brickyard Road, which had a bit of a dirt portion. Also, I stopped on this road because I noticed large animals in the trees near me. They turned out to be a herd of cows. I could not see a pasture or field nearby – they were just hanging out in the woods.

Some of them took some interest in me, but many ignored me, as cows are wont to do (click on picture to see larger version).

Herd of cows relaxing in the woods, with a barbed wire fence in the foreground.

Just after than I got to Route 10, the main highway through Southampton. I was on it very briefly going north, and then headed west on Fomer Rd., another new one to me.

In this case I headed into the unknown. I knew from looking at maps online what direction the road would go, but not much about how hilly it was or how paved. It turned out to be paved a good way, and it climbed a ways up (as it headed more northwest), then went a bunch downhill as the pavement condition got worse. After a bunch of descent, the road had turned north, and it became gravel. And I don’t mean a nicely packed dirt road – there were some sections like that – but a lot of it was pretty loose gravel. Not a nice surface on which to bicycle. I’m just glad I have hybrid tires (32mm wide) and not narrow road tires, which would do even worse on gravel.

On this road there was more climbing. I had certainly expected some climbing, as the road went close to a ridge that I’ve passed over many times before. By the time this road turned north, it was paralleling the ridge. The road had changed its name to Lyman, and I was in the town of Westhampton.

Oddly, the dirt section seemed to last longer than it had looked on the map, relative to the sections I’d ridden earlier in the trip. It took quite a while to get to the end of the road, at Route 66. I kept getting on short sections that had a firmer surface, only to then encounter more loose gravel. There was at least one downhill section where I had to be really careful not to slide, but it was more uphill than down.

Eventually I did get to 66, and headed east over to Outlook Farm for a quick stop at their store. From there the trip was mostly downhill, as I headed back into Southampton and then to Holyoke on more familiar roads. It was a nice afternoon of biking, with a total distance of 32 miles.

Next: Exploring even closer to home.