By Aaron Walker
Published 06/13/2021; Updated 05/21/2022

After a delayed start due to weather, the conditions could not have been nicer. Five of us – 3 members of the old guard, including yours truly, Rob S., and Don F., and 2 new riders, Julius and Felix – left the Academy at a few minutes after 10. New member Paula joined us en route in Hatfield or Whately, I think, and then Don peeled off in Deerfield. The reconstituted group of five enjoyed a conversational ride up River Road until joining the bike path in Turner’s Falls. We stopped to pay our respects to 2nd Street Bakery, which seems to have succumbed sometime during the past year, and then we made our way back on familiar roads in Montague, Sunderland, and Hadley. Total mileage on my device was just over 49 miles in 3 hours even.

Rob and Paula left us at various points on the return leg, as their homes are somewhere in the vast hinterlands east and north of UMass. The remaining three of us were paced most of the last 12 miles by one of the new members who at the beginning of the ride had expressed concern about the pace and distance. Those concerns were, shall we say, unfounded. When I looked down at my heart rate monitor during this stretch and saw 182, a whole different set of concerns manifested. It turns out I was only at 100%+ of my age-based heart rate max for about 15 minutes, so I’m sure there was nothing to worry about. And as you can see I’ve put it out my mind entirely. I may, however, reconsider my policy on 35 mile leadouts…