By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 09/03/2011; Updated 12/20/2021

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:23 pm
Large group of 15+ at the start this morning – can’t remember everyone who was there, but notable were a couple first-time SMR riders – Jennifer from Oregon, who just moved into the area this week to attend UMass, and Kevin Mepham, who has been tearing it up this year on the tri circuit, but had never done a group ride before (!). Aaron and Bob were there for the C-ride as well, and decided to roll with the rest of the group to start out.

We tossed around a couple routes in the hills to the north and west, but uncertainty about the road conditions there led us eastward across the river, where Irene took a lesser toll. The Norwottuck Rail Trail bridge is still (nominally) closed (although some people have been crossing it), so we rolled across the bridge on Rt. 9 and took a quick right on Bay Road. Aaron ejected a water bottle, leading to a bit of a split and chase along Rt. 47 approaching Skinner.

With the river still swollen and angry-looking on our right-hand side, we observed the clearly-visible high-water line along the riverbanks and extending close to the road in many areas, marked as a pale grey silt-covered shading on the vegetation that had been underwater last weekend. We also took special note of the signpost just before Skinner marking the high-water levels from the 1938 hurricane (well above our heads).

On to Pearl St, 116 N briefly, and then Batchelor Street for a pretty fast paceline which fragmented the group a bit. Up and over Harris Mountain Road, Bay Rd, Warren Wright, and then up the big shady climb on Gulf Road. Fun descent on brand-new pavement toward Amherst Road. From there, David likes to take us across the sketchy dirt shortcut descent on Meetinghouse Rd, which we successfully navigated, although we had to wait at the end for a few riders who (probably wisely) elected the paved, longer route.

Through this section we also saw Zak P. (who was on his own ride) several times, passing us, zooming ahead, circling back, and generally running circles around the rest of us. He’s training for the Greylock climb next Saturday, and from the way his form looked today, he should be in pretty good shape.

Buffam Rd to Shutesbury; a few riders split off to descend the S-curves, while a group of seven – Kevin S, Mike, Jonathan B, Paul, Roberto, David, and I – headed further north to descend toward Lake Wyola (the fresh pavement in the sharpest bend of this descent is awesome!) and pit-stop at the North Leverett Co-op. QOTD: Roberto’s explanation for his repeated attacks: “I kept waiting for you guys…”.

From the co-op we headed north past the Bookmill and across the bike path bridge in Montague to continue south along the Deerfield TT course, where Mike took a series of huge pulls to bring us to the bridge.

We crossed the river in Sunderland, took another pit stop, and headed down Rt. 47. I split off along the way, leaving the rest of the group to head back to NoHo. When I split off, I had 61 miles at 18.0 mph, 4,100′ of climbing. From what I’ve seen posted on Strava, Mike headed back to Northampton, while Paul tacked on an extra 35 miles or so on the way back home to Florence.

Kudos today to Jonathan Brody, who has been riding very strong the past few weeks. I kept trying to drop him on the climbs, and then kept turning around to see him right on my wheel. By the end of the ride he was leading me up the hills, and taking big hard pulls on the flats – nice work, Jonathan.