By Jonathan O'Keeffe
Published 05/15/2020; Updated 03/21/2024

by Jonathan O’Keeffe » Sat May 15, 2010 11:36 pm

After a washout last weekend, the Saturday Morning Ride was back on track today on a windy but gorgeous spring day, for a great ride with a bit of drama toward the end.

We started with a group of around 15 from the Academy. Let’s see who I can remember – Jonathan B, Pauls D and C, Andrew, Joe, Kevin, a couple Peters, Dave L, Jo Ellen, Max, Brad, and probably one or two more. The wind was blowing strongly out of the northwest, so we decided to take cover in the hills, and to try to head into the wind to take advantage of the tailwind on the return.

With that strategy in mind, we climbed toward Chesterfield, and then took a side route onto North West Road through beautiful, lightly-trafficked terrain leading us to Chesterfield center on Rt. 143. We dropped Dave Lucey early in the climb, but he reappeared at the top, like a bad penny – I’m still not sure how he got there. I think we lost one or two riders heading down Rt. 143 at that point. From there, we headed toward the DAR Forest, passing through the hair-raising, crumbled-pavement dip-and-climb on West Street in Goshen. DAR was beautiful as always, apart from the nasty steep climb in the middle.

We emerged from the forest on Williamsburg Road and waited for ten minutes or so for the stragglers, but it eventually became apparent that they were not to be found. It later turned out that Jonathan B, Paul, and Joe had decided to turn left at some point and climb further toward Ashfield center. Kudos to them, but not a decision that I would have recommended at that point in the ride. The rest of us were looking for descents at that point, not climbs, and since we were sitting at about 1300′, we had lots of options. One group turned right at that point, heading downhill toward Williamsburg, while the rest of us turned left and enjoyed a lovely descent to Rt. 116, and from then further on down to Conway.

Peter, Andrew, Max, and I sped down past the reservoirs, and then up and down North Farms Road, arriving back in Northampton around 1:30 PM. From there, things got ugly. As Peter, Andrew, and I were approaching the traffic light at King St. and Damon Rd., Peter had to do a sudden stop to avoid a car turning left immediately in front of him. I was right behind him, and we both went down in a heap. Fortunately, we managed to escape with scrapes and bruises (Peter’s were a lot worse than mine) and no equipment damaage.

I thought my troubles for the day were over, until, less than a mile from home, I had a guy cut right in front of me in a bike lane, as he was veering right to steer around a car turning left in front of him. I warded off impact by bracing my arm against his SUV. The a**hole then proceeded to pull up alongside of me, shouting threats about how he’s going to sideswipe me and run me off the road. Fortunately, at that point I’m just outside downtown Amherst, which is teeming with police officers due to today’s graduation, and finding a cop wasn’t difficult. Amazingly, the driver was just as belligerent after the cop pulled him over, and I don’t think the day ended well for him.

All in all, an action-packed day on the roads of Western MA. We finished up (at the time of the crash) with about 51 miles @ 17.3 mph.