By Charlie Bailey
Published 06/11/2021; Updated 06/11/2021

Our second TNR of the season saw nearly a dozen riders leave downtown Northampton on a hot (but not too hot!) Thursday evening. We rolled out with the inaugural Thursday Gravel Group (the TGG??) led by Juan Hernandez and split from them at the High School as we headed towards Spring Street. Among the group were “the Henry’s” who I had not yet met in person, having spent may hours with them on NCC Zwift rides this past year. Embarrassingly, I didn’t even recognize “Dutch Henry” with his helmet and sunglasses on, but mended that relationship during the ride. As is typical, the ride was very casual all the way to Williamsburg when we picked up the pace as we started to ascend towards Ashfield. Melissa was with us on her second group ride… ever, and managed to post a pretty awesome time up the hill, nabbing a 4th place overall for the official NCC Thursday QOM.

We regrouped as usual in Ashfield, quickly downed some fluids and snacks, and proceeded to really hurtle down towards Conway. With the new pavement (from 2019), and the impressive group that had assembled, we flew to Conway at nearly 30 MPH. There were many top ten trophies in the group, and Melissa nabbed the QOM – seriously impressive!

As is typical, the town lines punctuated our return to Northampton. As we approached the first one, I was pretty toasted already and chose to sit back and watch the shenanigans. I saw Ben J. drop back from the front, slotting into about the 6th or 7th spot and thought, “he’s going to take this one”. He was on Donal’s wheel, and when Donal went, Ben followed. There were probably 7 riders contending, and Ben came around at just the right time and took the sprint. Later on, he would tell me that he didn’t know that the town line was there and was just operating on instinct – instinct indeed! That was impressive Ben! About 200 yards later, Ben dropped his chain and a call for everyone to sit up was relayed forward. Apparently everyone got the memo but Jonathan who, sensing weakness from Ben, chose to attack. The group responded and began the chase. Even more impressive, Ben (and Sam who kindly stopped with Ben to help him bridge back), got right on it and had rejoined the group chase in just a few minutes. We were moving at a good clip, and Ben and Sam must have been pushing 28-30 to bridge the gap. What happened after that is a bit of a blur since I would have needed binoculars to see what happened at the next town line. Word has it that Jonathan didn’t fend off the attackers. We regrouped after the second town line and continued on to the third which appears right before the descent on West Farms road. Again, I was far off the back during that move and could only imagine what was going on and who nipped who.

The descent on West Farms was quick, and my little groupetto was able to bridge up to the main group for a final cool down as we approached Northampton.

This was one of the finest Thursday rides I have done in a while. They’re not always this intense or quick, but always enjoyable. I was especially impressed by the quick, but cautious and safe riding exhibited by all.