By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 03/09/2013; Updated 10/27/2021

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:48 pm

At noon on Friday we were expecting to cancel this ride due to the snow that fell throughout the day on Friday, and yet we ended up with a terrific ride on the warmest day of the year so far. In addition to the usual suspects, the heavy snowfall in the central MA area sent a pack of Worcester-area riders heading west in search of clear roads. We were happy to welcome Mike F, along with Katja, Dale, David C, Marty, AJ, and Steve Z, all of whom drove a two-hour round-trip to ride with us, along with locals including Tim, Roberto, David G, Kevin, Chris O, another Chris, Ron, Joe, Clayton, and one or two others whose names escape me. It was a very large group for an early-season SMR — we started with 18 riders.

Temperatures were below freezing early, but warmed up pretty quickly, so things were comfortable by the time we started, especially given the abundant sunshine. The temps would reach the mid-50’s by the end of the ride.

Knowing there was more snow cover up in the hills, we opted for a route sticking to the lower elevations along the river, basically a Wednesday night route modified to start off through Whately and South Deerfield instead of just heading up River Road. A couple flats near the start slowed us down, but we were soon punching up North Farms Road, with AJ displaying impressive climbing as the first over the top. It was interesting to see the dramatic difference in snow cover along Haydenville Road at just a couple hundred feet of elevation higher than the valley floor.

The Whately and Deerfield town lines generated spirited chases, with Roberto, AJ, Tim and Kevin in close contention. I think Roberto took both but I’m not sure. We rolled up to 116 and then through South Deerfield to cross the river into Sunderland, following the WNR route the rest of the way. As usual, the pace picked up on Rt. 47 southbound, particularly after the sprint for the Hadley town line (I think AJ took this). Clayton’s killer pulls gradually broke the group apart into one lead group of a half-dozen or so, with several smaller chase groups trying to maintain contact behind.

Roads were clear the entire way, with a couple of wet patches here and there from the melting snow, but nothing really hazardous at all. The Worcester folks were amazed at the contrast with the situation just forty miles east, where some of them saw two feet or more of snow yesterday.

The whole route was about 44 miles. Mike and I split off on Cemetery Rd; at that point I had 42.1 miles at 18.9 mph, 2,000′ of climbing. A gorgeous day, good company, and lots of new faces made for a terrific ride.