By Tim Cary
Published 12/22/2012; Updated 10/27/2021

by Tim_Cary » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:58 pm


The morning started with bright sunshine at home with the temperature hovering around 28°F as I was preparing to kit up, but by 9:30 clouds rolled in and made me start to wonder why I posted the ride…

Four dedicated riders showed up- Clayton (on his fixed gear/winter bike), Kevin, Greg C. (up from Tennessee, vising family), and myself.

My plan for the day was to take us up to Ashfield via Williamsburg, and then even further up to Shelburne Falls (only 52 miles, but lots of climbing). However we decided to start it out flat (and take Clayton’s advice that this time of year is not the time to kill your legs.) With that (and a toasty 32°) we headed over to River Rd. in Hatfield and pedaled along with some great conversation into S. Deerfield.

I decided that I still wanted to climb (no surprise, right?), so Clayton peeled off toward Amherst while Greg and Kevin (the great sports that they are for sticking with me), and myself headed to climb up 116- something I have not done yet- (usually we are coming down it).

While slogging up 116, it wasn’t long before we started to see snowbanks on the side of the road and driveways. I guess I should not be surprised, but it is yet another cold reminder of what we were doing! There were also a few ice washouts, but overall the roads were in good shape.

Greg led us up to Ashfield center where we eagerly stopped for some fuel and warmth. I had 29° on my GPS at the store (you can see the temperature trend on the route below- it seems like it was much colder than a 4° difference in the valley.). We spent la bit longer than usual here- inside the store with hot beverages. There was a brief period of steady snow showers and gusty winds- perfect timing to be indoors. Several customers gave us kudos for being out on a day like this- that always reaffirms something- I am not sure what -(are we crazy, or just tough?).

Having put off the unavoidable descent back down the mountain long enough, we decided to take 116 all the way back down to S. Deerfield instead of the more scenic way (Whatley Rd, out of Conway), due to the availability of warming stations (a.k.a. convenience stores) and the possibility of sandy or icy back roads. Once the quick descent from Ashfield was out of the way, (yeah, we were cold, did I need to say that?) the small climb out of Conway corners got us back up to normal operating temperatures. We enjoyed a rare absence of automobiles on the final 5 miles or so descending down into S. Deerfield.

Back on the flatland it seemed so much warmer, and the sun had finally poked through, which always helps. We decided to take 47 back home, and Greg promptly took the town line over the Sunderland bridge. Not to be outdone, I tired to grab the Sunderland/Hadley one, but the moment I looked back for Kevin, Greg hit the pedals hard and won it…. apparently a classic move.

Back in Northampton, I had about 56 miles with around 2200 feet of climbing. Greg split off to his car, while Kevin and I headed home. On the way home Kevin thought a puddle was actually thawed out- wishful thinking (no, he did not ride into it, but got darn close).

Another great day, great ride, and great company.

Check back next weekend again- if “decent” conditions hold, I may post a ride again. And don’t forget about the New Year’s day ride.