By Tim Cary
Published 10/15/2016; Updated 09/15/2021

by Tim_Cary »

I may have said it many times before, but it still is worth saying- it is truly amazing what places we can get to, the scenery, the quiet and calm- all within a 4 hour Saturday ride. We are so lucky to live where we do.

Anyway…

I chose Peru as the destination this week because, I like to get us up there on the bike once a year. As previously mentioned, it is the highest town (don’t confuse that with the highest land mass) in Massachusetts. Aside from that, there is nothing much else to Peru. However, the foliage this year is fabulous, so I mapped out a route that promised miles and miles of views of vivid colors. I think this is my third time up there, and by far the warmest and most pleasant. I have memories of snow flurries and freezing fog the last two trips. I made an effort this year to plot out a route scenic, but more direct and less climbing. Last year was full of amazing new roads and climbs, but a bit too much for most people.

As mid-October can be, it was rather chilly (but sunny) to begin the day. I had 35° F when I left my house, which always means the whole deal of choosing what to wear- hoping the foretasted temperature profile holds. When I arrived at Pulaski Park, I was pleased that 8 others showed up, including two guests. At the start we had: Zinj, Roberto, Clayton, Chris D., Will, Wendy, Cameron (I think I got his name right- a young MTB racer from Utah), Schuyler (from upstate NY), and myself.

We headed out the Thursday Night route, but not for too long. The trade-off to keeping the mileage down to where we want to go is that you need to climb…. soon. I was not long before we were chugging up the Chesterfield wall. Clayton sent Cameron off to crush it- and we found him waiting at the top, though most everyone except me were not too far behind. Knowing what we had ahead of us, I took it very, very easy.

Once in Chesterfield, we continued up to the center of town via East and South St, where we met up with David Lucey- who started way ahead of us- great to meet up with him. At the center of town, he headed back down toward Williamsburg, but we enjoyed the screaming descent west, down the other Chesterfield Wall, on Rte 143 heading into Worthington. Rte 143 gradually climbs into Worthington Corners- affording beautiful views all around. We stopped here at the little country store for some refreshments.

After filling our bellies with liquids and home baked goods, Clayton and Cameron peeled off toward Rte 112 & home, as they had time constraints. The rest of us Continued west on Rte 143. From Worthingon Corners to Peru center, it is only 8 miles, but it is 600 ft of gradual, but tough climbing. However, we were greeted with many stretches fresh pavement, making it slightly less painful. I recall last year that many portions in this section had lateral cracks, and the shoulders were non exsistant or not ridable. Nobody contested the Peru townline….

At the top- Peru Center- as advertised- nothing special. Two photos for proof. One without me, and one with. If you look closley, behind us is further west- Hinsdale and Florida wind farms.

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After the photo op and a snack, we headed out of Peru toward the Skyline Trail. If you never have biked the Skyline Trail- you need to. It should be on your bucket list- no matter what your ability. I can’t find any decent Internet reference to it, but it is a 15 or so mile rural road that runs from Huntington through Chester, Middlefield, & Peru. The views on either side- no matter if you are descending or climbing it- are some of the best in Western Massachusetts. Open farm fields look to Pittsfield, Otis, or Chesterfield & Worthington & Kinghtville- 100’s of acres of wildlife preservation areas and state forests. Lucky for us, we were descending- although there are still some kicking short climbs in there!

After the final screaming descent to Huntington, we made our second stop at the Huntington Country Store. Always a problem getting back home from that area, is that there is a big rock in the way that we must climb. There are options- all of them painful. We did procrastinate a bit- enjoying the warm sun (it had warmed up to around 60° F now). We decided to just suck it up and take the hardest way home- up County Rd- which has a wonderful 12% in there.

With that out of the way, it was pretty much (but not all) down Rte 66 to Northampton. This descent is always fun and screaming. But before that, we had a little competition for the Westhampton Town line. I thought it was Chris and I battling it out- totally missed Zinj way over on the right- he took that by surprise and won!

After the steepest descent- when it “flattened” a bit, Chris decided to try to drain out any energy we had left- he surged ahead- out solo for a while- I could not pull the group to him, but eventually everyone else did catch. A nice way to keep us working hard. Ouch.

Once downtown, we all spit off different ways. It was about 2:30 and I had 63 miles and 6158′ for the loop with an average speed of 17.3 MPH. I had a blast- it was a fairly difficult route, but had lots of features- hope you all enjoyed it. You all are great company.