by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:58 pm
Mike Foley has done a dozen or more Saturday rides with the NCC this summer and fall, driving almost three hours round-trip from his home in Paxton to ride with us. A bunch of us decided to return the favor this morning by dropping in on his regular Sunday-morning group ride in Paxton to ride with him.
I let him know ahead of time that I would be there, and then headed out a bit early to park at the ride start in Paxton center and get my gear set up. I rode over to his house just outside of town, met his wife and dog, and then we warmed up by taking a quick lap up Mt. Asnebumskit Road. This is a nice little 200+ foot climb that is literally right outside his front door, with great views from the summit. Mike works out during the week by doing hill repeats here, but I was only up for a single climb, given that we had a 40+ mile ride in front of us.
We rode over to the start, where Mike was a bit confused to see Don and Jeff waiting in the parking lot. His confusion escalated as first Chris and then Roberto rolled up. He was happy to see us and enthusiastic about showing off some of his local scenery to us rubes from out of town. In addition to the NCC crew, there were eight or nine local riders there, so we rolled off with a group of around 15 – not bad for a December morning with temperatures around 32°.
The group has a mostly-regular route for its Sunday rides, heading north and west on Rt. 122 towards Barre, and then bending southward on Rt. 32 into Hardwick. The outbound leg is mostly downhill, but we battled a pretty stiff wind from the west most of the way. It was interesting to see lots of still-visible damage from the Halloween snowstorm, with many branches still lining the roadside and presenting occasional hazards to cycling.
At the halfway point, the traditional stop is at Rose 32, an awesome little bakery and cafe on Rt. 32 in Gilbertville. We fueled up and warmed up there, and then headed out to retrace our steps on the return leg. The pace was conversational for the first half of the return, aided by a sweet tailwind, but picked up considerably in the second half, which features several long rolling climbs that broke the group up quite a bit. Mike led the lead group with a hard charge up the final climb back into Paxton, and I finished up with about 48 miles at 17.9 mph, 2,400′ of climbing (the rest of the group was somewhere north of 18 mph, but my initial ascent of Asnebumskit brought my average down — or at least that’s my excuse).
It was a lot of fun riding some new roads and seeing some new faces — some of the local riders there are really strong, and several seemed interested in making the trek out to Northampton to check out some NCC rides.
by Mike_Foley » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:10 pm
Thank you so much for surprising me this Sunday! That was like a surprise birthday party and Christmas morning all rolled into one day! Absolutely nothing better for me than a group ride with so many of my friends to a rural coffeeshop for a coffee and pastry!
But more than thanking you for Sunday … I want to thank you all for every single Saturday Morning Ride these past few years. True, its an hour drive for me … but frankly, I would drive twice that distance. From my pre-ride coffee at Northampton Coffee, to the sights and sounds of the bustling downtown, to the spectacular road cycling — scenery, terrain, long uphills, twisty descents, dirt roads, and with great riders and a fantastic group ride mojo that is like no other.
I ride a lot … and with a lot of people and clubs: Gearworks, Charles River Wheelmen, Northshore Cyclists, Seven Hills Wheelmen, Team Bicycle Alley, Competitive Edge. All good clubs …and all good people. But none better than NCC … On Saturday morning …I could ride a bunch of different places …but I always choose NoHo. You really have something special going on …. from the kids programs, the centuries, the triathalon team, elite riders, cx race, road race, greylock climb, the group rides (I could go on and on)…. just absolutely fantastic cycling and fantastic people. I love it. Wish I could participate more than I do.
So … thanks again for Sunday ..that was fun… but moreso …thanks for every single Saturday these past few years. When I drive out … I know for certain its gonna be a great group, with great riders, on great roads …. I’m not going to get lost or dropped in the middle of nowhere ….and I am guaranteed a great cycling day.
Its starting to get cool …not sure how many more Saturday rides I will do … but if you don’t see me …it doesn’t mean I have lost interest. I am retooling my legs and my fitness for spring! I really just want to enjoy every minute on the road next year … challenge for the townlines and KOMs, have a coffee and muffin at a country store in the middle of nowhere, and just enjoy the day with you all.
And Jonathon … I should mention … nice KOM on Long Pond Hill! And on my own turf! That just stings! It’s not going to be easy for me to have to live with that on Strava until at least next year!