by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:15 pm
For our fourth Super Saturday Morning Ride of the year, Roberto suggested a couple of climbs, and I pieced together a route to get us there. The day started out looking a little threatening, with a tiny bit of drizzle at the start, which may have scared some folks away. We rolled out with only six riders — myself, Tim, Roberto, Joe, Wendy, and Roger. We rode up to Conway, and then took Bardwells Ferry Road to cross the Deerfield River and climb past Bill Cosby’s house. Joe seemed a little surprised to learn that the Cosby climb was considered a “minor” climb on this ride, and not one of the two big climbs of the day.
We crossed Route 2 and climbed further up Little Mohawk Road into the Patten district, with some rolling hills and a few little steep ones. A screaming descent brought us down into Colrain, where we started the first big climb of the day up Heath Road. This climb starts out relatively tame, but quickly gets steeper, and includes a killer wall about halfway up. Near the top, it turns into a series of stairsteps, with each little kicker making you think that you must be done, only to be followed by a flat stretch and another steep hill after that. All in all, it gains about 1,200′ over six miles through some great scenery — one of the best climbs I’ve ever seen in the Valley. Perhaps the best part is that it begins with the crossing of a bridge that is closed to traffic, so the entire climb is almost totally free of cars.
From the top of the climb in Heath, we descended Route 8A south into Charlemont, and took a pit stop at the general store there before continuing onto the second big climb of the day. This is a stretch of road that many of us have ridden, but from the other direction. We usually see it as the descent on the Hilltowns course on Route 8A, but this was the first time that any of us had ever climbed it. This starts off easily for several miles, before turning steeply uphill in the middle. The steep stuff continues all the way to the top of this nine-mile climb, with a few flatter sections here and there.
From the top of 8A, we cut across to Route 9 on some back roads, including a fairly gnarly dirt-and-gravel stretch on Stage Road. A quick stop at the store in Goshen, and then we bombed down the freshly-paved Route 9 back into Northampton. I ended up with 82 miles at 16.7 mph, with about 7,000 feet of climbing.
Just a reminder that we will be doing one more super-sized ride this summer on the first Saturday in September (September 6), when we’ll ride out to (and climb) Mount Greylock in North Adams.