By Tim Cary
Published 10/24/2015; Updated 09/15/2021

by Tim_Cary » Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:21 pm

Well, so much for optimism. At least there was no rain (or snow) today! The temperature started at about 38F in Northampton, and never really moved above 40F the whole day. And about that full, warming sun? Not much of it.

Anyway, I was delighted that Charlie made the drive up, and that Don showed up as well. We also had the usual hardy ones- Zinj, Jonathan O’K, Roger and myself.

We headed out of town with Don already cutting the mileage down by having us go over the sidewalk of the Pine St. Bridge. I did not realize that it was only closed to cars…

We headed into Willilamsburg via Audubon & South St, then it was time for the first work of the day- up Petticoat Hill. I chose this because it was a hill. Haha- actually- it is a nice break from Rte 143, and we don’t climb it often. Long, steep, but quiet.

A nice cold descent down the other side of Petticoat Hill, then to keep warm, we headed up to Chesterfield, taking a right on to Sugar Hill Rd. Sugar Hill is where I grew up, but I have never ridden it northbound- usually we come the other way. It climbs easy to start, then there is a sharp descent to get your momentum for a very steep climb to the top, and eventually out to Damon Pond Rd. Good stuff.

From there, we took Wilcutt, which turns to dirt and becomes Loomis- and turning to pavement again- a very nice descent to Rte 9 in Goshen. Roger opted to head back home on Rte 9.

Once out on Rte9, the hammers came out for some reason. First it was the town line, but then Zinj and Jonathan kept the gas on all the way to the Country Creamery- I could not hang on. Apparently the smell of bacon was Jonathan’s jet fuel.

After an almost too long time to warm up with coffee, we all headed up Rte 112, but quickly made the split at Potash Hill Rd, where Jonathan & Charlie spun off for a shorter day. I convinced Don to come with Zinj and I to do at least Trouble St and then head back. However, we lost him somewhere along the way. I am pretty sure he saw us turn on to Trouble St, but maybe it lives up to the name again and was too much. We did wait a while at the end, hope Don got home! Trouble St was one of the main reasons I planned this route. Last there two years ago. It is a great road. Starts as pavement climbing, turns to dirt descent, then climb and another descent. Jonathan described it perfectly in our 2012 trip to Peru.

Zinj and I made our way up Rt 143 west to the ultimate destination. It is a fairly quiet road, and rolls a bit, but still a bit of work to the “center’ of Peru at the top. Peru is the highest town in Western Mass at around 2100 feet. Zinj remarked that we climbed 6000 feet to get to a 2000 foot town- well said! We took a quick break at the top, but did not stay long, as it was the coldest, windswept part of the day so far.

We headed out of Peru through the various state forests, which dumped us on the northern end of the Skyline Trail. The Skyline Trail is a destination I try to get to at least once a season. It is a long descent (or climb) through Middlefield and Chester with one of the best views off in the distance in Western Mass. Lucky for us, we were descending, but there were plenty of little climbs to keep us warm. At this point- it is 12 miles or nice road- but it seemed to be getting “dark” is when I was questioning why I chose this route. Some nice sun with the lights on the leftover foliage would have been nice. But, to be able to do a ride like this in late October with someone as crazy(?) as I am, was great.

We exited the Skyline Trail to Bromley Rd- which is another of my favorites. Bromley is mostly a nice descent, but with a couple of small climbs, and a final fast descent to Huntington at the country store. This descent used to be full of holes, but is newly repaved.

We took a quick stop at the store to fuel up, then headed up County Rd. This is the unavoidable, nasty climb to get home. At this point in the day when we had so much climbing in our legs, it was just rough. I established my worst record for this climb by over a minute.

Finally, we were on the homestretch, taking turns descending down Rte 66 (with the little climb to Outlook in there, of course), into Northampton. I had 71 miles as planned, but it was 3:45 when I turned off downtown- a bit longer than I thought! My total for the day was a whopping 7400 feet of climbing. Very hard day, but certainly scenic. This is what I love about Western Mass- take a day and you can see plenty of new stuff never seen before.

Thanks to all you hardy guys for coming out today, and especially Zinj for going along with my crazy plan on such a cold and grey day.

Sadly, this will probably be the last long ride of this season- with the time change coming up and weather getting colder. So glad to get this in. We will keep riding as conditions and temperatures permit. Keep checking the calendar!


by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:13 pm

Thanks for the great route today, Tim, and thanks for providing a bailout option for the time-constrained and out-of-shape riders like myself. I’m happy to report that Potash Hill Rd in Cummington (right after we split), which used to be dirt, is now nicely paved, and is a terrific climb. Charlie and I had a great but chilly ride home.

A minor note on Peru, it’s the highest town center of all of MA, not just western MA. And for those curious about the name, like I was, Wikipedia says: Originally named for Oliver Partridge, one of the three purchasers of the town (along with Governor Francis Bernard), the name was officially changed to Peru in 1806, on the suggestion of the Rev. John Leland, “because it is like the Peru of South America, a mountain town, and if no gold or silver mines are under her rocks, she favors hard money and begins with a P.”

Not sure I follow that logic, but who am I to argue with the Rev. John Leland.

by Tim_Cary » Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:28 pm

Cool info, thanks Jonathan! And speaking of pavement, I noticed that many of the side roads along the Skyline trail had fresh pavement as well. No idea for how long of if they were just being refreshed, but certainly worth exploring someday, and also nice to see that these small towns are making improvements to their roadways. We all know by now that these tiny hilltowns roads are in so much better shape than down in the bigger towns & cities…

by Charlie Bailey » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:26 am

Our legs were definitely failing us on the way back from even the short route. As Jonathan and I were climbing one of the hills on our way back after the split (was it the Chesterfield wall?) I recall him saying, “aren’t you glad we’re not in Peru?”, and while I would have like to see Peru, all I could muster at the moment was “a-yup”.

Great ride Tim. Thanks for organizing. And I think the time change next weekend doesn’t happen until Saturday *night*, and you never know what the weather will bring. So we might have one more in us this season!