After a week of rain cancellations I was probably not alone itching and planning to get out- looking at the weather apps for Saturday calling for “15% chance of rain and partly cloudy”. Or something like that.
I woke up at 6 AM and the radar had a cell or two to the northeast of Northampton, so I decided to ride as planned- as it seemed to be moving along. I set out from Easthampton at 8:20 or so with just a few drops of rain here and there. I did not bring my rain gear. Well, as I approached the Northampton city line, the bike path got wetter and wetter, and a steady rain. I had thoughts of turning back. Feet soaked, back soaked- it did not matter anymore. I got to Pulaski Park and looked at the radar knowing several people were headed over anyway…. seemed to be moving out of the area. So much for AccuWeather! It continued to sprinkle and rain off and on until we got to about half way in the ride.
I was pleased (and maybe surprised) that just over a dozen hearty souls showed up to take on my route. Even a guest from Florida! So we headed out to the east side of the river, keeping a wonderfully social pace (thank you everyone) for the first 10 miles. We had one flat on the way, and then another to give us a rest just before our first major climb of the day up Gulf. Quick rest then nice rewarding descent on Packardville Rd.
The Buffam climb had everyone strung out as expected, but it is such a nice climb. We regrouped at the bottom and headed up and over toward Lake Wyola. Again a rewarding descent, then another steady climb to the Wendell Country Store for refueling.
After we all filled up with beverages (and pastries?) of choice- it was on to my favorite part of the route…. the Mormon Hollow / Farley descent into Montague. This stretch has epic scenery to the North / Route 2 / Berkshires as you enjoy a fun rolling of pavement.
As we descended into the village of Millers Falls things got interesting. It is always a balance being a ride leader keeping track of the front (where do they go) and the back (making sure we have all riders with us). As we entered a complicated intersection, I shouted to the front where to go, but also needed to make sure those in the back also knew where to go… so I stopped and made sure. Meanwhile the group was out of sight with another turn coming up. I had no idea if the group knew to turn on Green Pond Rd or to continue down Rte 63.
Time is everything I guess, I am a “glass half full” guy so I had hoped some of the riders had the route on their computers and did turn, so I pedaled down Green Pond Rd for a bit to where it starts to roll hills- and saw nobody. I had to assume that they missed the turn and went down 63… so I went back and did that. No bikes in sight. So I stopped at the next turn on the route and made a phone call. Soon we were all back together. A few had to head back due to time constraints, and we missed getting to see the bridge of names. Maybe next time.
The rest of the ride was not easy- as you know my rides- we did Cave Hill Rd and then back down into Leverett and Amherst with just five of us. Always good to keep it real. I had 69.6 miles, 4206′, 17 MPH at around 2PM when I got back into Northampton. As always, it was great to see everyone- new and regulars. Great riding with you all.