Before I describe this ride, I want to start off by noting that my fundraising goal has already been surpassed! That happened within a little over 2 days, which is certainly a record for my involvement in Will Bike 4 Food. The generosity is great, and I hope even more will be contributed (I’ll match it).

Today’s ride was the first one for the event, and I covered mostly territory that is familiar to me – heading out east to the town of Ware. Here’s a rough map of where I rode – I was on the southern-more path as I went east, and came back west on the northern route (click on photos to enlarge):

Map of loop route from Holyoke to Ware and back

I began by taking a quick ride through Pulaski Park before leaving Holyoke. It’s a park that runs along the Connecticut River, where people can look down on the river. Here’s what the park looks like:

Sidewalks and trees in Pulaski Park, Holyoke

Unfortunately, there are many spots where the view of the river is blocked by trees:

Toward the south end of the park, one can get a view of the beginning of the city’s canal system (water is diverted in here just before the river gets to the dam):

Canal and dam buildings, with a bit of the river visible in the background
Canal seen from above, with buildings behind

After leaving the park, I headed across 2 of the canals, where the normal bridge over one of them is closed for construction, but there’s a little side bridge for cyclists and pedestrians.

Fence around a construction area, with a tall crane visible among the construction equipment
Entrance to temporary walking bridge, signs read "bridge for pedestrians and cyclists only" and "cyclists must dismount before crossing bridge"
View along pedestrian bridge, there are metal beams and fencing on either side, and beams crossing the top of the bridge structure

I headed across the river into South Hadley, and then went a bit south and continued east, heading uphill into the city of Chicopee. I passed through just the northern part of Chicopee, and then was back in South Hadley, and before long entered the town of Granby. I stopped for a quick rest partway through Granby, by this little pond:

Pond with weeds and brush in front of it.  Trees and hills are in the background.

Just after this point, I began my first big climb of the day. It’s a long climb that goes up into the town of Belchertown, and after hitting the peak, the road immediately heads downhill a whole bunch, until it intersects route 21. I turned south on 21 for a very short bit, then went east again, on a road that eventually turned south and took me into the town of Palmer. That road comes to an end and I turned east again, heading into the village of Bondsville (part of Palmer). Here’s what the village center looks like:

Town center with a flower planter at the center of the intersection, and buildings along the main street

Behind me as I looked at that intersection was a church building with a “For Lease” sign:

A large, white church building with 3 sets of red double-doors

From there I continued east, and soon crossed the Ware River. Here’s a view from the bridge, looking south:

view along river, with trees and greenery on either side of the water

Just after that I had to turn north, but the road I was on then started to bear east. I stopped as the road passed Forest Lake:

Lake with weeds in front of it, trees in the background and several clouds in the blue sky
Selfie of Sean, wearing a neck gaiter over nose and mouth, and wearing sunglasses and bike helmet, in front of a lake, trees in background

Just after this I reached route 32, and headed north on it, into the town of Ware. As I’ve seen in the past, Ware is apparently known as “the town that can’t be licked” – they say so on their welcome signs, in fact:

Large green roadside sign reading "Welcome to Ware.  Nationally known as the town that can't be licked."

I rode on some side roads across town, eventually ending up on route 9, and got to Janine’s Frostee near the eastern edge of town. I stopped there for lunch.

Sign on a roof of building, which reads "Janine's Frostee", with a picture of a soft-serve cone.

I got a lobster roll and some sweet potato fries. All their eating area is outdoors, there was not too big a crowd there, and people were good about wearing masks in line, so it was a safe place to eat. After lunch I started heading back toward home. I took route 9 all the way west through town, getting off the highway only to ride through a bit of the Quabbin Reservoir area. Specifically, I rode across Winsor Dam. I have photographed the dam and the reservoir many times before, but here are some more pictures, as it’s just a pretty area:

Grassy slop of a large earthen dam, with a short stone wall running along the top of it.  Some people can be seen at a distance, walking on a path at the bottom of the slope.
Water of Quabbin reservoir, with top surface of dam in foreground, and hills in background, clouds in sky
Water of Quabbin reservoir, with top surface of dam in foreground, and hills in background, clouds in sky

I rode the rest of the way across the dam, then out the west entrance to the Quabbin, getting back onto route 9 in Belchertown. After a little more, I turned onto route 21 and headed up to Belchertown Center, and then continued west on a few different rural roads, passing back through Granby just to the south of the Holyoke Range.

I took a road that I had not traveled before to get to route 116, and on that road (Aldrich), I ran across this little waterfall over a small dam:

Water cascading over a small dam, the lake it drains from is in the background

From there, I went south through South Hadley, and crossed the Connecticut River back into Holyoke on route 202. Total time for the ride was just over 6.5 hours, and the distance was 56.8 miles.

Bicycle odometer reading fifty-six point eight two miles.

That’s it for ride number 1. Tomorrow (Labor Day), I’ll be doing the second big ride of the month. Stay tuned!