By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 11/17/2012; Updated 10/28/2021

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:29 pm

We started with a group of nine — myself, Roberto, Tim, Kevin, T, Alex, Roger, Andrew, and a surprise appearance by Mike Y after a long hiatus. Temps were 35°-ish at the start, warming to the mid-forties during the ride, under sunny skies. My goal for the day was Clesson Brook Road, a long climb from Buckland into Hawley that I’ve been eyeing for a while.

We rode to Williamsburg and then climbed up towards Ashfield at a civilized pace, at first, that got more heated toward the top of the climb. Kevin slow-flatted as we approached Ludwig Road, so we had an opportunity to wait and soak in the somewhat-feeble mid-November sunshine while he changed his tube.

Up and over Creamery Road down into Ashfield for a pit stop. Time constraints tore off a few at this point to head back down 116, while Roberto, Tim, Kevin, Alex, and I soldiered on, with a fast cold descent on Rt. 112 before the left-hand turn onto Clesson Brook Rd.

The Clesson Brook climb is awesome, up a narrow river valley that was apparently scoured by Hurricane Irene last year. There are still three or four quick patches of dirt on the lower sections of the climb that haven’t been fully repaired. The climb twists and turns up into Hawley, following the river course almost all the way, for a total of about five miles gaining about 1000′ of elevation. Roberto easily took the KOM on the long climb.

From the top of the climb in Hawley, we followed the course of the upper end of the Hilltowns East Hawley Rd climb for a couple miles, before a cold descent to cross 116 and Rt 9 onto Fairgrounds Rd further south to the bottom of the Chesterfield Gorge. We climbed the Gorge, and then returned to NoHo via East St and Chesterfield Rd, getting back to town at about 2:45 PM with 57 miles @ 16.0 mph with about 5,600′ of climbing.

Forgot to mention — on the way over to Northampton, crossing the river on the bike path bridge, Roberto and I passed Anthony Clark, heading out in the opposite direction on a training ride. I couldn’t quite hear what he yelled at us, but it sounded something like “SIKKKKK WAT!” 🙂 He turned around and rode back and chatted with us as we rode over the bridge. We tried to persuade him to join the SMR, but he was time-limited and couldn’t make it. Hope you had a good ride, Anthony!

Also — I’m out of town next week, but there will definitely be a SMR if the weather cooperates, to help you burn off your tryptophan accumulation. Tim will help coordinate a route and will post here if there are any last-minute changes.

by Roger Stawasz » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:53 pm

Thanks to Jonathan for planning and leading this ride. Being one of those that departed in Ashfield I’m looking forward to trying the whole loop out on my own Monday or Wednesday of this week. The Clesson Brook climb sounds intriguing.

As it was I still ended up with 44.3 miles for the day. From Ashfield Center Mike, T, and I had a spirited return down Rt. 116 to Conway Center where we crossed over to Whately Road and continued on to Webber Road, S. Haydenville Road and, finally, Mountain Road before turning left to connect with North Farms Road and the last climb before splitting up by Bridge Road. One went left, one right, and one straight across to N. Maple.

On a personal note I’m finding the rides challenging in a very positive way. Though I’m closing in on 8,000 miles for the year most of that milage has been solo riding where I’ve been more inclined to ride at a pace that is comfortable for me. The group rides are certainly prompting me to push the comfort envelope a bit.

Weather permitting, looking forward to next weeks ride.