By Tim Cary
Published 07/29/2023; Updated 07/29/2023

I was thrilled to fill in this week for Melissa to lead the B ride, while her ankle is resting up.  Finding a route this summer has been challenging due to all the heavy rain, resulting in washed out and closed roads in our favorite areas to ride.  When I started thinking about where to ride, every destination had a roadblock (figuratively or literally).  I admit I got a little frustrated, but after consulting with several town reports, and local residents, I came up with a beautiful route to the Patten district of Shelburne.  This is a modified version of a ride I lead early last fall, and for me, the best part is that it is the reverse direction we usually ride to that area.

The weather forecast was also a concern – with heavy thunderstorms predicted, but, the timing of those shifted to later afternoon, so seven B riders gathered at Pulaski Park under clear skies and very humid conditions.  We also got to chat with the small group of C riders, as well as Roger S., whom just finished his solo ride.

The B and C routes were similar heading out of town, but we started separately.  Turns out the C group ended up ahead of us at Jackson St!  Who knew taking State St, instead of Elm is faster?  Or maybe those C riders are just faster!

So, when a B ride starts out flat, and a familiar course (River Rd, the WNR)…. all that energy folks have…it turns into an A paced ride for a bit.  It really is fun and different to ride nearly half the route flat (ish)- but we worked hard with strong riders in the group pushing (and pulling!) us.  As the pace tamed, one rider noted that on one side of the road we have squash and corn, the other had potatoes.  It is really cool to ride though diverse farmland.

The north section of River Rd (north of 116) was closed to traffic, though no barriers were in place.  I started to wonder why, but eventually near the far north end, some of the low places had big washouts, and looks like an entire culvert collapsed.  It is amazing what eight inches of rain in a short time can do.

Our refuel stop at a Harper’s Store just outside of Greenfield was adequate and quick.  Some riders were wondering if this route was actually designed by me… because you know, Tim, where are the hills?  Just wait!

The climbing did begin.  One of my favorites – Brook Rd.  This is a fairly quiet road that connects Greenfield with Colrain, and not surprisingly runs along a brook- which between that, tree cover, and increasing clouds, made it feel cooler… a little.  There were a few washouts, and part of a lane closed, but all ridable.

Finally, I got to prove I actually did create this route, as we started the steeper ascents.  We stopped to take a quick group photo at Wheel View Farm. A bit like last year’s,  I am sure the air temperature was cooler then though.

Selfie Try #1… Oops Missed someone.

Selfie Try #2. I am no good at this but got Alex in this time.


I bet these guys could take a better selfie!


From the farm we appreciated the fast, fun and cooling descents down to Rte 2, and then down and over Bardwell’s Ferry.  I am not sure we appreciated the climb back up out of Bardwell’s though.

In the center of Conway, two riders peeled off to take 116 toward Amherst, while we continued on Whatley Rd (basically the ThNR route).  As expected, multiple, major washouts around the state forrest, and a pretty sketchy culvert across the road that had buckled the pavement.

The homestretch included North Farms Rd (because, another hill!), and we had just a few sprinkles come down at that point, but was all over by the time we crested the hill.

Despite the humidity, where it seems lately my jersey weighs more than my bike at the end of the ride, it was a great route and a fun ride, we escaped the big storms.  When I turned off downtown Northampton around 1PM, to head to home, I had 58 miles, and only 3261′ of climbing.  Don’t worry, if I have an opportunity to lead a B ride agin this season, I’ll make more hills! 🙂