By Tim Cary
Published 12/27/2014; Updated 09/15/2021

by Tim_Cary » Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:45 pm

I woke up to 25°F and frost everywhere, but, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping. With a balmy high of 45°F and mostly sunny skies forecasted, we were a go to ride our last SMR of the year in style.

I arrived at the Academy, along with seven others, at the start with it being about 35°F. My very enthusiastic plan was to keep us warm for the morning hours with plenty of climbing up to Buckland, the target being a steep climb near Clesson Brook (but not Clesson Brook Rd) that rewards with a spectacular view.

And so we headed out the Thursday night route with a rapid pace out of the gate. I suspect everyone has lots of extra energy either from all the holiday treats, or just not being out on the bike much.

The haul up Ashfield road certainly warmed us up, with Chris taking the early and long pull, but eventually we all separated and climbed at our own pace. Luckily we were not going all the way up, and turned left onto Ludwig, where we took a quick break.

Of course, the climbing was not over. Ludwig climbs to West, climbing again up to the nice view to the east. After a slighty hairy descent due to sand, it was time to (guess what?) climb again up Creamery Rd!

Regrouping at the intersection of 112, Chris, Mark & Mark decided to head home via the center of Ashfield and 116, while the rest of us descended down Ashfield Mountain on 112 to the Buckland town line.

We could have just taken 112 and started heading home via Shelburne Falls. But, where is the fun in that! Instead, I detoured us up Clesson Brook Rd a bit, then off to Shepard Rd. This is a loop that I learned about when designing the new Tour of the Hilltowns race course. A 1.5 mile, steep climb (10% in spots), up Lone Tree Hill. I have been up this several times on the bike, and today it hurt. It was also quite difficult due to all the sand on the road and the rear wheel slipping. But, when at the top, the view was worth it- and you can see why it is called Lone Tree Hill.. wide open views to the south and east.

A careful descent (still just as steep!), brought us down to the center of Buckland, and we headed into Shelburne Falls for a refuel and rest stop.

The route home was typical- Shelburne Falls Rd, Whatley Rd, Mountain St, and not to forget the last little reminder that I planned the route- N. Farms!

Arriving back downtown with Wendy, Mike Y, T, and Matt , I had 56 miles, 3699 feet of climbing and a duration of 3:58.