By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 12/15/2012; Updated 10/27/2021

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:09 pm

I was expecting it to be colder this morning, so I layered up, but actually it was only around 32° at the start, with sunny skies, and warmed up to 40°+, which is really pretty much the best you can hope for in mid-December.

Taking advantage of the good weather was a group of seven: Tim, Roberto, Jonathan B, Kevin, Roger, Mike Y, and I. December isn’t the time for climb-fests, so I suggested a relatively tame route up River Road into Deerfield, crossing the Pocumtuck Ridge on Pine Nook Rd. Roberto vetoed this suggestion due to the dirt on Pine Nook, but came up with an alternative using all-paved Hillside Rd which covered roughly the same ground. We all agreed to that, and headed up River Road in a well-organized paceline into an increasing north wind.

We crossed 116 and started the moderate climb up Hillside, and then spent a bit of time running around looking for JB, who had flatted on the lower stages of the climb. It seems that his new tubeless tires haven’t reacted well to the long period of inactivity he has imposed on his bike while he has been sitting around on the couch eating bonbons, or whatever it is he’s been doing while not riding over the last few months.

We descended on the west side of the ridge and then headed south toward South Deerfield. Someone had suggested at some point that we go up Sugarloaf, and like a bunch of sheep, we all said “Sure, great idea”. So up we went. JB made up for his earlier flat by taking a quick lead at the bottom of the climb, but Tim soon surged past him. I grabbed Tim’s wheel and hung on for as long as I could, wondering what happened to Roberto. At about the halfway point, Roberto went by like a locomotive (well, a locomotive running at about 8mph). Tim responded, I could not, and so I spent the rest of the climb watching them battle it out a few hundred yards ahead of me. Roberto opened up a big gap after the switchback, but Tim steadily closed it down as they approached the summit, and Roberto just barely managed to get to the top first.

We enjoyed great views from the summit, with really comfortable conditions in bright sunlight and almost no wind. Headed down the mountain, then south of River Road for a bit before turning right on Christian Lane up into Whately. Tim and Roberto engaged in a few pointless surges on the climb up Haydenville Rd (“pointless” means “I didn’t have the energy to respond”) before we headed back home toward NoHo. Tim launched an early attack on North Farms Road that again I couldn’t respond to. I made up some ground on the flat upper portions but he took the well-earned NoHo town line at the summit.

We rolled back into Northampton with 40 miles at 16.4 mph, 2,100′ of climbing. On our way home, Roberto and I bumped into Anthony Clark on the bike path, at the end of his two-hour recovery ride. This is the second straight ride that we’ve bumped into Anthony on the bike path; super-impressed that a rock-star like him would stop to chat with a couple of noobs like us. Good luck at your upcoming Nats, Anthony — SIIIIIIIIICCCCCCK WAT!

This marks the end of our officially-scheduled Saturday Morning Rides for the year. The next couple weeks are compromised by the approaching holidays and by the approaching weather systems. People might still be riding on the weekends, but the schedules will be less regular, so keep an eye on the calendar and the bulletin boards if you’re interested in a weekend ride.

And don’t forget the New Year’s Day temperature ride, January 1 at 12PM at the Academy. More details coming soon.