About a dozen riders arrived at the start under gray skies, muggy conditions, and with the temperature in the mid 70’s. I planned out a route that is more miles than typical, but less elevation. In the valley that sometimes is necessary to get us to beautiful riding areas we don’t get to as a group often. My pick this week was a steep climb in between Lyden and Bernadston…Frizzell Hill. The neat thing about this route is that it can be ridden in either direction and be enjoyed just as equally. The main choice (in my opinion) is either a long, gentle grade, or a steep, short one. A secondary consideration is fast pace line or social route to there.
I chose to route us out of town on the social path- up North Farms and out to the Whatley Inn. Some folks hammered the little hills early on, others took it easy. We proceeded fairly quickly through the beautiful farm country in Whatley and Deerfield, then enjoyed the newly paved Lower Rd. into Greenfield.
We paused for water/coffee/snacks at Dunkin’/Convenience store, and about half the group decided to make it a shorter day and return home from there. With 45 something more miles to go, the rest of us headed out toward Colrain Rd and eventually rode over the beautiful Green River Bridge. The beauty is soon forgotten if you are climbing up Lyden/Greenfield Rd as we did. This is a nice climb though with wide shoulders and a little bit of a break in the middle.
Eventually we made it to the main event, up Fizzell Hill Rd. This climb essentially has three 15%-ish (average) walls. And you can’t really see each one until you are done with the one you are on. It only runs about 1.2 miles. Painful but beautiful- the views are amazing. We even had a kind neighbor working in her garden remind us “that hill just keeps going and going”. Thanks, right?
The reward was sweet, a gentle descent down the Eden Trail into Bernadston with spectacular views off to the East into Northfield. At the bottom we took a poll, unfortunately people were pressed for time so we decided not to detour over to the bake shop for pastries. Instead we continued on weaving our way through more farm land and even a nice dirt section of road- which was welcome by most of the group- if not for anything else by riding time in the shade.
As we were heading down toward Turners Falls, unfortunately there was a solo crash. We were all strung out on a small descent and as we approached a regroup point at the end of the road, one rider was missing. Two of us turned back to check it out and we came upon a motorist stopped whom flagged us down. She had witnessed a bike go off the road but was not sure exactly where. So we started calling out and eventually found our rider in a ditch. All protocols were followed per our established procedures. EMS was called, other riders in the group assisted with keeping calm & still, and calling home, assessing concussion, etc. It appears the front tire blew out. We were in touch with the rider’s family and aside from a concussion and being sore for a while- thankfully everything looks good. Helmets save lives. This incident once again highlights the importance of keeping track of our fellow riders and working together. And we are so thankful for the driver of the vehicle that saw the crash- otherwise we would have had a lot larger area to search and may not have even thought to look in a ditch as there was no sign of a bike or person visible from the road.
After the scene was clear we proceeded down to Turners Falls for a final hydration. Turns out this is where the C group had done the same earlier. I decided to change the route back home, knowing we are already pressed for time, the wind was gusting out of the south, and we were tired! The plan had been to check out the canals and then use the bike path over to the rail yard and then the north section of River Road. But with so many open spots and more little risers, it seemed like a better idea to head over to the BookMill instead and take the Wednesday Night route home.
But nothing is every easy. Just about everywhere it was a huge effort, especially on the south section of River Road… like the wind tunnel of death. Everyone worked very hard to distribute the pain- great teamwork to get us back into town.
As I turned off for home from downtown at around 2:30, I had 71.7 miles, 3153 feet.