By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 12/24/2011; Updated 11/25/2021

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:02 pm
Seven of us set out this morning on the coldest Saturday ride of the year — it was 27° when I left home. That didn’t deter our core cold-weather team of Joe, Mike Y, Ron, and Chris, joined by Tom, and with a special guest appearance by the master of the Masters cyclocross scene this season, David Goodwin, putting the final touches on his form before he heads off to Nationals and Worlds next week.

We left an hour early to get people home earlier for the holiday, and I planned a shorter and mostly-flat route to assist with this as well. We headed north on back roads through Hatfield and Whately, dodging a few icy puddles and enduring a stretch of badly washboarded broken pavement on Straits Road. We did spot Santa in a hot-air balloon in someone’s yard along this stretch, though, so the whole present-delivery thing looks like it’s ready to go for tonight.

We rolled on through South Deerfield and Old Deerfield, and then crossed over 5/10 onto Pine Nook Road, a climb that I’ve been scouting for a few weeks. I was pretty sure it connected through to River Road, with a dirt section near the top, but wasn’t sure how bad the road conditions might be. It turned out to be a great climb, paved almost all the way to the top, climbing several very steep pitches past the Eaglebrook School and into the woods of the Pocumtuck Ridge. It does turn to dirt for a flat stretch at the top and the descent down to River Road, but like most of the dirt roads we’ve seen in the past few weeks, the dirt was smooth and clean and fast, and didn’t present much of an obstacle (I think David was disappointed at not being able to hone his cross handling skills).

Heading south on River Road, we finally picked up the benefit of a tailwind from the brisk north wind we had been battling all day, and sped down and across Rt. 116, following River Road through Whately and Hatfield, led by super-strong pulls by Ron and Tom. We arrived back in NoHo around 11:15 AM, chilly, but thrilled to still be riding this late in December. At the point we broke up, I had 37.4 miles @ 18.1 mph, with 1,400′ of climbing.

I think this is going to put an end to our great run of fall and early-winter Saturday Morning Rides. [edit: Or maybe not; Chris has volunteered below to host a Belchertown-based New Year’s Eve SMR next weekend]. Next Saturday some folks will be at the below-the-radar cross race up in Northfield, and I’ll be resting my legs for the traditional New Year’s Day ride on Sunday. Thanks to all the have been coming out to these rides, through the cold weather and the rest of the year. We’ll probably get the series started again in early-to-mid-March, so watch the calendar page for details.

Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season, and ride lots in the new year!


by Chris deHahn » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:27 pm
I wound up with 4:39, 74mi, 173 TSS. Thanks again for another great ride Jonathan. That climb was short but stiff. The cold took a lot out of me today.

If anyone is interested in doing the Saturday ride next week, I’ll be willing to lead something out my way if you like.