By Tim Cary
Published 06/19/2022; Updated 06/19/2022

TOUR OF THE HILLTOWNS IS HAPPENING NEXT SATURDAY, JUNE 25!!!  This is a major club event that takes six months of planning and cost thousands of dollars, yet is fully run, directed, and managed by volunteers like YOU!  Please, we need help.  Corner marshals. Follow car.  Sign up over hereThere will be no organized club rides next Saturday due to the Tour of the Hilltowns.

Alright, that is my shameless plug as race director.  Now on to a ride report.

You all have so many choices this time of year as to where to ride with charity events being in full swing.  I was pleased to see seven riders arrive in the center of Goshen for a remote SMR to preview the Tour of the Hilltowns course, considering the weather- which was gloomy, cold (50’s F) and strong wind gusts. Kind of like early springtime.  Seems so strange to wear arm warmers and wind breakers in the last few weeks of June!  By the way, Joe L, and our guest George get those bad*** credentials, riding up to Goshen from Northampton and Amherst. I am also giving nearly those same creds to Elissa and Ron, who did also ride up, but did not stay with us the whole ride.

Right off the bat, headed west into the crazy wind up to Windsor on Rte 9, I can’t say it was pleasant.  Even the descents were work.  It was a slow slog 15 miles up to Notchview in Windsor, where the start of the race is.  We lost our engine Ron and Elissa, as they turned off for a shorter day.

We enjoyed a little break heading down 8A, and then onto 116, finally with a tailwind.  But, there are some climbs that slowed us down and kept us working.

Next up is the Rte 8a descent through Hawley into Charlemont.  This has, for many years as I can recall, been chopped up, lateral cracks and just sketchy as you descend on steep, windy corners.  However, sometime the last two years, they have fully repaved it and so such a treat- fast and safe now.

We crossed the bridge over to Charlemont and filled our bottles and stomachs.

All filled up and heavier, we tackled the E. Hawley Climb.  Not much to say here – long, steep, hard.  I was off the back, as usual today.  Everyone else put in a pretty good effort.

Onward the course to one of my favorite ride destinations- Watson Rd and Bear Swamp Rd.  Though a gray day, it still was beautiful.

Fun descents, twists come to an end at Rte 112- a slog (just a little) to Rte 116/Spruce Corner.  “McMike” continued on 112 to head back to Goshen.  With five of us left,  down and up, up to the center or Plainfield.  Of course, back down again- which puts us at the turn on 8a to Hawley.  We proceed.

Finally, instead of looping back and climbing on 8a in Windsor, as the race finishes, I took us off the race course onto River Rd in Savoy.

This is where the ride got interesting.  There was a “bridge closed” sign somewhere…..




Obviously, a major project, this goes over the Westfield River.  With us all being the adventurous type, we carefully navigated around the rocks, sand, and small creek.  We made it through- my feet got a bit wet but that was the worse of it.  This is not the first “bridge out” SMR – some of you may recall last fall, our adventure in Belchertown on East St.  This one seemed a bit easier.

The effort was worth it, as River Rd is a beautiful, quiet descent- made even better with no traffic because of the bridge work.  River Rd puts us into downtown Cummington and back out to Rte 9.  We enjoyed a tailwind again finally, with a few light sprinkles.  That enjoyment was interrupted by me having a flat.  What is it with Rte 9- last ride I had a flat there too!  Ten miles to the end and what a blow to the momentum!  With assistance, we quickly repaired it and were on our way to tackle the last climb of the day to the center of Goshen.

We arrived back in Goshen about 2:45 PM.  I had 80.44 miles, 5912′, 16.1 MPH average pace, and an average temperature of 57 degrees F (!!). Thanks for everyone who came out on this crazy weather day and crazy ride.

The race course is in the best condition it has been in years, 8a in Hawley is fresh pavement.  Chris and I went out after the ride with cold patch and repaired the few major holes.

Good luck to Charlotte and Alex next week in their races!