We started with the largest group I’ve seen since mid-September, about a dozen folks including Paul, Clayton, Amy, Dawn, Roberto, Chris, Kevin S, Martha, Frank, and Dave L. I explained my Connecticut plan, and the group gamely decided to give it a try.
We headed out in the reverse direction (clockwise) on the loop posted above, starting with the sharp little climb on Mt. Tom on Reservation Road. Clayton piqued my curiosity by reminding me of the long, steeper climb to the summit – it would be fun to give that a try one of these days.
We cut over to 141, and then turned west on Southampton Road to County Road, passing Kevin’s house. County Road was smooth and flat and straight for a long stretch, but the road surface deteriorated quickly after passing under the Mass Pike. Soon we were constantly dodging huge craters, and it was only a matter of time before someone flatted or worse. Paul obliged with a flat, and we decided at that point that the crappy pavement and busy roads made it untenable to push further south to the state line.
Clayton improvised a route westward via Rt. 20 toward Westfield, and pushed the pace hard with an epic pull up the lower stages of Jacob’s Ladder. We took a brief detour off Rt. 20 to follow the Westfield River through the somewhat-spooky little hamlet of Woronoco, with a couple of creepy-looking abandoned mill buildings and great views of the river.
We circled Montgomery Mountain, eventually hooked up with Rt. 112, and then found ourselves at the bottom of the long climb up Rt. 66 back toward Northampton, which hurt a lot. From there it was all downhill to NoHo, and Roberto and I limped back to Amherst on the bike path. The group wrapped up with 53 miles @ 17.7, 3,200′ of climbing.
Lessons learned for the day: (1) there are good reasons why we tend to travel north and west on our rides, and (2) don’t take a big group out on unfamiliar roads.
It was great to see such a big group out for a ride in the middle of November. We’ll be out on Saturday mornings until the snow flies, and perhaps beyond, so get out your cold-weather gear and join us.