By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 09/18/2010; Updated 12/05/2022

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:30 pm
Great riding weather this morning, as we rolled from the Academy with a group of 11, including myself, Jonathan B, Andrew, Paul, Dave L, Roberto, Rich, Kevin, Justin, and new faces Eric (on his first group ride ever, even though he has been putting in 300+ miles per week riding solo) and Morgan (on his second group ride). Ivan joined us at the start, but elected to go his own way, since he was looking for a ride that was flat and short (clearly he came out to the wrong ride!).

Seeking something hilly and long, I had plotted a route up into Shelburne and Greenfield to allow us to check out some of the roads we will traverse on the upcoming NCC BikeFest Century (on Sunday, October 3). We rode up the reservoir route to Conway, and then headed further north on the spectacularly beautiful Bardwell Ferry Road, crossing the Deerfield River in a deep gorge on a one-lane wooden bridge, and then climbing the steep slope on the opposite side of the river past Bill Cosby’s digs. Bardwell Ferry Road is even more scenic on the north side of the river, passing through open farmland and a long maple alley. We took Zerah Fiske Road to South Shelburne Road, which briefly turns to dirt, but with a hard-pack surface easily navigable on a road bike.

Crossing Route 2, we climbed steeply on Little Mohawk Road, crossed over to Colrain-Shelburne Road for a brief descent, and then climbed the very steep north side of Peckville Road to the apple and peach orchards at the summit with sweeping views into Vermont and New Hampshire. A brief stint on Route 2 brought us to the hair-raising descent on Old Greenfield Road through several tight turns on sketchy pavement. We warned the group to take it easy on this section, but Jonathan B decided to overcook one of the hairpins, and took a spill at speed on the edge of the road. Remarkably, both he and his bike emerged unscathed, and so we were able to continue on, down Lower Road, through South Deerfield, and returning to Northampton on River Road.

We’ll be returning to many of these roads for the BikeFest Century in a couple weeks, but in the reverse direction – should be a lot of fun. For the group portion of the ride, I clocked about 59 miles @ 17.1 mph, 4,100′ of climbing.