By Chris Stratton
Published 02/19/2023; Updated 02/19/2023

Though formal club rides won’t typically resume until April, five NCC members took advantage of a slightly warmer Sunday afternoon to get together for a 40 mile variation on the traditional backroads route to Westfield.

The day started and remained a touch colder than predicted, and we were just two starting out from Pulaski Park at noon.  We made good time in the initial run out Burt’s Pit and Ryan Roads and ended up a few minutes early to our planned meeting with three more riders coming down West Farms Road

After joining up our ride of five continued south along Glendale and onto Pomeroy Meadow, then getting on the traditional route paralleling route 10 partway up the hillside on the aptly named High Street.

Although this route is quieter than the direct way to Westfield via East Mountain Road, it is hillier and at the turn from Russellville to Wyben one of our number opted to skip over to the return route for a shorter day.

The rest of us continued on, at first almost level then up and down some hills until we crossed the Mass Pike and turned left to follow the north side of the railroad tracks into town.  The seasons have not been kind to the surface of Pochassic Road so we spent some time dodging potholes, but minimal traffic made that easy.

The formal route merely orbits the Pochassic Street rotary and immediately heads for home, but it seems silly to ride to Westfield and not see it, so we descended and crossed under the tracks to check out the state of the rail trail extension.

Unfortunately little had changed since a few weeks back – the first segment of elevated path south of the river is open but quickly dead-ends at a fence where the much delayed lifting, rehabilitation, and trail conversion of the rail bridge over Elm Street is still incomplete.   Whenever that’s finally done there will be a route from just north of the river to the current trailhead at Stop and Shop – and then nonstop south to Farmington, CT and after a gap New Haven.   But for the moment, any venture south still requires riding relatively reasonable surface roads through the center of Westfield.

Our return ride was relatively uneventful, with the lack of foliage making it often easy to see the old rail line (and someday trail) off in the woods on one side of the road or the other.  But at some point I missed a turn east onto Valley Road and sent us about 3/4 mile north before we realized our mistake.  We opted to continue on, and crossed route 10 just south of Sheldons within sight of where the eventual Southampton trail segment will, but then had to go a bit out of our way on Moosebrook before rejoining the intended route back.

Ultimately we parted ways at the Park Street Rotary – one to pick up the trail into Easthampton, the remaining three north on roads.