By Michael Bello
Published 06/11/2023; Updated 06/11/2023

The 14th edition of the Hatfield Lions Club Bike Tour was held on Saturday. There were three route options (27 miles, 35 miles, and 56 miles).

Last year, the NCC had 24 riders, and we helped the Lions Club achieve their highest participation count ever at 50 riders. I was nervous about the 2023 edition. With the air quality issues from the Canadian wildfires and the questionable weather so far this month, the NCC sign ups were low. Yet, over the past few days we not only rallied, but the club exceeded all expectations! Friday night I was communicating with the Lions Club because I feared that they would not have enough food for all of us!

At the close of pre-registration, there were 46 current or former NCC members! A few more registered on site for a total of 50 riders. The Lions Club reported 83 riders in total, far and away their most successful Bike Tour ever. Thank you to all the NCC members for participating, wearing your club kits, and supporting a local charity as it raised money for eye research.



The Lions Club pavilion was hopping with activity Saturday morning. Riders were checking in and our NCC treasurer, Sean, even brought his Speed & Sprocket Mobile Bike Shop van in case anyone needed assistance prior to the ride.

Many of us gathered at 8 AM for a club photo. My friend Steve, a member of the Bikes Fight Cancer team, took the photo for us. He kept having to back up since there were so many of us.



I helped the Lions with the Ride with GPS routes and what do you know, I forgot to load the route on my own bike computer. Fortunately, I had last year’s route, so I was fine. A large group of us departed around 8:10 AM. Tom and Steve took the positions up front and held the group to a conversational pace for the first few miles. Tom was part of the group that rocketed out of the starting blocks last year, so the relaxed start was welcome this year.



At Westbrook Road in Whately, our first climb, sub groups began to form.



By the turn onto Adams Road, I decided to remove my jacket. The chilly morning was over. At the stop sign at the end of Westbrook, Bob and Erin paused for a moment. Today would be Erin’s longest ride to date. She was intent on finishing, no matter how long it took, which she successfully did. I joked that Bob had requested more hills on the route.

As Steve and I navigated Adams Road, the NCC B group, led by Melissa, powered by us. She attempted to tap her brakes to chat briefly, but quickly realized that was a bad idea as Henry vdB was right behind her. Despite this, Melissa rode away with the 3rd fastest Strava time on Adams Road.

As Adams transitioned into O’Neil, I saw the B group ascending the 14% grade with ease.



After Steve and I regrouped at the top of O’Neil Road, we coasted down to Williamsburg and started the climb up to Ashfield. I rode with Donna and Chris for a bit. Being veterans of the BUMPS series, the climb was no issue for them. Don’t forget that the NCC’s Greylock Hill Climb, which is part of the BUMPS series, is September 9th.



I waited for Steve at the junction with Route 116. I was getting worried when a car stopped. I asked if the driver had seen another cyclist. It was a confusing conversation, but right after she disappeared, Steve arrived.

I enjoy riding Route 116 from Ashfield to Conway. We caught up with Paula and she led us into downtown Conway. As we turned onto Bardswell Ferry Road, I expected to encounter some rough pavement and potholes. After all, when I rode the route in May, it caused me to update the event’s GPS files with warnings about the pavement. To my surprise, the potholes had been filled in.

Paul and Eileen from the Lions Club greeted us at the first rest stop. We ended up having an extended conversation.


Photo Courtesy of Henry van den Broek.


Right after we arrived, a train, an extremely long train, passed by the train tracks on the other side of the bridge. I’ve had this experience before and knew that we were in for a good 10 to 15 minute break until the train cleared the tracks. A few more riders appeared during the enforced break and then we were able to depart.


Photo Courtesy of Henry van den Broek.


There is nothing like a climb immediately after a long break. Yet, the views on Zerah Fiske Road were spectacular. It is amazing how the air has cleared over the past few days and we could see for miles.



The second pothole area of concern was on South Shelbourne Road as we approached the hairpin turn. Although not as nice as the road repairs earlier in our adventure, the potholes were filled in.  Upper Road is a pleasure to ride after being repaved a few years back. We flew into the second rest stop and were greeted by Tom and Greg from the Lions Club.

As we prepared to leave the rest stop at the Stillwater Bridge, the sky grew dark and it started to rain. This probably lasted five minutes. The rain actually felt refreshing. By the time we turned onto Hillside Road in South Deerfield, the sun was out and the sky was blue.



After crossing Route 116, we headed down River Road and returned to the Lions Club Pavilion in Hatfield for a well deserved meal of lasagna and potatoes.



On behalf of the NCC, I would like to thank the Lions for hosting another great event. The weather was fantastic and everyone I’ve talked to had a great time.


Photo Courtesy of Henry van den Broek.


Next week is the Bikes Fight Cancer Charity Ride, which will start at Tree House Brewery in South Deerfield. The NCC is sponsoring a rest stop for the ride and many NCC riders are participating. Please consider donating to the NCC team.


Relive ‘2023 Hatfield Lions Club Bike Tour’