By Tim Cary
Published 06/03/2023; Updated 06/03/2023

After several weeks of epic late spring/early summer weather, Saturday suddenly showed up as if it was April.  I was excited and looking forward to leading my first SMR of the year, but the weather forecast dampened that feeling most of the week.  At a little after 8 this morning, it was a near steady light rain in Easthampton, and did not want to get fully soaked at 55 degrees even before getting to Northampton.  So I called a 30 minute delay.  The C ride started on time, so now we know which group are the real hardy ones 🙂

It is a busy weekend with with graduations and other events, but four riders, including myself, set out from Pulaski Park on one of my favorite routes- east of the river for a change.  At this moment, nothing was falling from the sky, but it certainly was grey and gloomy.

We headed over the river via the bike path which allowed some social time before having to tackle the first of many hills up Rocky Hill.  It was great to catch up with folks I have not ridden with since last fall.  Our route took us by J&J Farm on Meadow St, which had a devastating fire last evening, caused by lightening.  It was sad to see, but according to the news, nobody and none of the animals were injured.

After the turn onto Leverett Rd, traffic calmed down and it was nice to enjoy the peace.  Speaking of Peace, one of the first big climbs, was up Cave Hill Rd, which brought us past the Peace Pagota.  We then enjoyed the descent back down the hill, and then over the Rte 63 in a lovely pace line.

The next feature was The Bridge of Names.  I always love to show people this gem, since it is so hidden away.  This is a little pedestrian bridge, built in 1970, that connects the two sides of the Lake Pleasant village.  The names of people are on each post, that donated to help build it.  It was badly damaged in 2020 by a storm, and funds were raised to fix it, and it is beautiful.

I elected the other Tim on the ride to take our selfie, since he has the longest arms.  That is indeed, Lake Pleasant in the background, which serves as a water supply for the village and surrounding communities.  Here, we could hear the eerie sound of the wind coming across… something I have never heard here before.


Next up, was, well… up!  The majority of climbing for the day was up into and through the Wendell State Forrest via Mormon Hollow Rd.  The views off to the NorthWest make this effort worth it.  Also, since I am so out of shape, the slower pace allowed me to take notice of some features in the woods (thanks to Benny too for pointing out).  Mormon Hollow is apparently known for epic rock climbing, but there is some pretty interesting history.  We saw round concrete foundations out in the woods.  I can’t easily find what they may be, but, from some searching, I can point out that “a couple of dozen Mormons converted after the arrival of two itinerant preachers in the late 1850s held worship sessions in private homes. ”  So that section likely was a little village.  Cool stuff.

We took our refuel stop at the Wendell Country store, but stopping meant getting COLD….. at 51 degrees up there, it really chilled getting going again… and down hill of course. I was glad I had my windbreaker with me, but, my fingers were starting to freeze!  But that is not all!  As we descended down to Lake Wyola….. it started sleeting!  Yes…. SLEET in June!  That was not pleasant.  Luckily it was short lived.  We warmed up again easily climbing into Shutesbury (warming easily, not climbing easily).

At the center of Shutesbury we waved to Melissa in the town hall, as she was attending the annual town meeting (may have been over by the time we passed through!)- but in spirit, we missed her.

We headed down the Pelham Hill climb route (Buffam), which was a nice rest, but then back to climbing up Amherst Rd, and Packardville.

Finally a fast descent down Gulf Rd, and eventually out to Bay Rd, where we worked together into the wind in a nice pace line to the bike path across the river.  As folks peeled off to home, I had logged 64 miles on the route, 4226′, and 15.5 MPH average.

There are no official club rides next weekend.  We encourage you to sign up and ride the Hatfield Lions Club Bike Tour, which NCC is a major sponsor, and you should find many of your fellow members riding.