By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 10/30/2010; Updated 12/05/2022

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:27 pm
We tested both our climbing and our descending skills today on some familiar and unfamiliar roads. A small group of five set out from the Academy at 10:00 AM – Don, Paul, Amy, Morgan, and I. The wind was out of the southwest, so we were looking to head in that direction initially. The best thing we could come up with was Route 66, heading mostly west and a little bit south up into the hills of Westhampton. Paul and I pushed the pace on the climb, while Don and Amy hung back, chatting and exchanging recipes (according to Morgan). Morgan eventually heard enough recipes, and surged ahead to close the gap, almost catching Paul and I near the top.

Don flatted at the summit, and we chilled out in the brisk wind while he performed a pair of tire repairs. Then we headed down our first big descent of the day, a steep three miles down the western portion of Rt. 66 to join Rt. 112. The road is wide and smooth and steep, with some nice S-curves, and it’s a real blast to descend. This was my first time down this hill, and I hung back a bit, feathering the brakes occasionally, while Don, Amy, and Paul bombed down like maniacs ahead of me.

We turned right at the bottom, heading north on Rt. 112, retracing familiar terrain from the Great River Ride a few weeks ago. We followed the GRR route for about 12 miles, climbing most of the way, enjoying some great scenery along 112, Ireland St, and Old Post Road.

In Worthington Center, we picked up Rt. 143 and enjoyed another long fast descent down to the Chesterfield Gorge, with Don, Paul, and Amy again leading the charge at high speed. Rt. 143 bottoms out at the Westfield River crossing and then immediately hits a long steep wall, climbing for over two miles into Chesterfield center. Paul led the way, with me fading away behind him, and Morgan again making a late break to close the gap and join the lead group.

We turned off 143 in Chesterfield onto South Road and then Northwest Road, picking up Chesterfield Road right before the steepest part of its descent down to Northampton. On the final big descent of the day, the same pattern held, with Don, Paul, and Amy blasting down the hill in the lead. I hit 51.3 mph on this segment, which I think is a lifetime high.

We rolled back into Northampton about 2pm, finishing with a total of 48 miles at 15.9 mph and 4,600 feet of climbing.