By Tim Cary
Published 10/19/2013; Updated 09/27/2021

by Tim_Cary » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:48 pm

The fall weather continued to cooperate for us on this Saturday. The temperature was around 50°F under crystal clear blue sunny skies, eventually averaging out in the lower 60’s for much of the day. We had a good group of about 18 at the start- an excellent turnout for this time of year. The group was a diverse mix of B and C pace riders.

I plotted out a route taking us northwest to take advantage of what probably is the last of the fall foliage in the hilltowns for the season.

We rolled out the usual Thursday night route, which meant getting the long & tough, but familiar Ashfield Road climb out of the way first. Instead of going all the way to 116 though, we turned off on Ludwig to climb some more to the top of W. Road, which offered some great views.

After a fuel stop in the center of Ashfield, we made the quick and always fun descent down Rte 112, where right at the bottom, began one of my favorite climbs (though this is only the second time I’ve done it), up Clesson Brook Rd in Buckland. This stretch is about a 5 mile segment that parallels Clesson Brook (of course), with very light traffic, climbs about 1020′, with an average grade of 3.7%, but peaks at 10%. We were treated with fresh pavement- the last time I was there, the road was all chopped up, presumably from hurricane Irene.

From there, with Roberto’s suggestion, we took Watson Rd, which put us at the highest elevation of the ride (1757′), and offered the best fall views of the day.

At the end of Watson, I found a dirt road that started out as pretty much a farm path, and a hairy descent that would have been better for cross bikes, followed by a steep (still dirt, but a bit better) rise up to Grant St.

We followed the Tour of the Hilltowns course up to Rte 116, and turned off onto Cummington Rd, which is another beautiful, rolling stretch bringing us to Rte 9.

After a bit of a climb into the center of Goshen, we stopped for a quick re-fuel, and then were off again to enjoy the so called “express” back to Northampton via the smooth, steady descent down Rte 9 all the way to the center of Northampton.

I had 55 miles and probably around 4300′ of climbing.