By Tim Cary
Published 06/06/2015; Updated 09/15/2021

by Tim_Cary » Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:00 pm

We had close to 30 people arrive at the Academy for 7:30- an amazing turnout for an early Saturday Morning ride. When I woke up at 5:30 I was a little worried, as a check of the radar showed a pretty significant line of showers to the west- exactly where we headed. It was humid and in the upper 50’s to start, and we did encounter some wet roads, but never any precipitation, and the sun eventually came out near noon.

I came up with the idea that we should go back to the Otis area, which is one of those places just out of reach for a “regular” ride, and is probably not a place many of us get to in general. We rode up there on a super Saturday ride two summers ago ( … php?t=2291) and it was well liked. I mapped out a tentative route that also would have had us exploring the Cobble Mountain Reservoir area as well as Otis Reservoir. From satellite images, all of it looked ridable, but Friday was a nice day, so I decided to verify that by pre-riding. Glad I did that, as some of the route was posted, and also had pavement with craters. Jonathan and I then came up with a re-route, avoiding that area.

The entire group rolled out, and headed west in a nice social pace-line into Westhampton on Rte 66, entering our hill climb territory & the first major climb of the day, to the Huntington town line. After a re-group there, a fun descent down into Rte 112 was the reward. At this point, about half the group split off to head north up 112 for a shorter day, while we continued south to the second major climb of the day….

Russell Stage Rd runs between Rte 20 and Rte 23, and essentially is a back way to get to Blanford. It is about a 4 mile climb averaging 5%, with a 12% spike in there too. Roberto and Jonathan were wheel and wheel, looks like Jonathan won on that segment (nice work, BTW). I was saving for what was ahead that no one else knew about.

We took a well deserved break at the Blanford general store to fuel up, then headed further west into Blanford into some new territory on N. Blanford Rd. “Rollers”, so I say, but beautiful, quiet scenery. Eventually, as promised, we hit some dirt. And now we can start counting the flats. Yes, this was “good dirt”! I think we had a couple here on this 4 mile stretch of dirt, but alas, it was still some nice riding.

Hitting pavement again on Rte 8, we paced-lined it nicely up to the turn taking us up toward Otis Reservoir. This turned out to be a bigger & longer climb than it looked (and also a segment)- Jonathan Zinj, and myself went back and forth trying to nail this one, but Zinj won the final sprint. That was fun.

A turn the south took us through Tolland State forest and gave us the view of the Southwest Bay of Otis Reservoir, a fun, fast climb, and a slightly faster but humpy descent brought us to the last 7 miles or so of dirt for the day. Despite it being “good dirt”, the flats party pretty much heated up along this stretch. The fast descent past the southern most part of the Reservoir pinched a few tubes, as we waited to be eaten by black flies and bears. On the finishing sprint of dirt road, same thing all over again- a couple more…. this was getting to be normal now.

Aha- meet pavement again. We headed east into Granville, where we had our final fuel stop at the Granville Country store (hey, they have good cheese I am told, and Nick had mac & cheese!). After getting all fat and happy, my plan had us taking Old Westfield Rd back, but local Nick, advised us that road is bad, so we continued on Rte 57- which had some awesome descents (with some sketchy pavement), but also some climbs that though small, seemed large at this point. We arrived in Westfield with another (wait for it…) flat!

From Westfield, despite all the complaining and headwind that seemed to just start after we left our last stop), we were on the home stretch- I routed us over the river and out Montgomery Rd into Southampton, to stay off the big roads.

Great day out there (for me anyway), despite all the flats. I wish we could have covered more of the dirt roads I originally mapped out (as I pre-rode them), but the day was long enough. There is also a lesson here that when one rides with a group, he rides harder. My pre-ride with more dirt roads I had no flats. Chasing with a group, two.

As always, great riding with you all. Epic, as promised.

When I got back to Northampton, I had just over 90 miles, averaging at 17 MPH, and 6339′ of climbing.