Once again this week I stepped up to lead the B ride, as our usual leader, Melissa, was preparing for the Greenfield Triathlon. Several days before the weekend- and even before I was thinking about a route- I was getting messages asking what the route might be. I had a special request by someone (to remain anonymous!) for a “long, hard ride south-west”. Fair enough- I said last week I’d find hills- and also, we don’t ride south-west very often, so it seemed like a great change.
To keep the distance and elevation “reasonable”, I chose to announce a remote start location- in Westfield, working out a route taking us down to Connecticut, riding around the Barkhamsted Reservoir. Some of you may recognize that as the Tokeneke Road Race loop…. we just doing it reverse.
The weather cooperated – it was the high 60’s when I set out, and the day remained mostly sunny, heading up to the mid 80’s. A few riders (me included) opted to add more miles to our day by riding into Westfield. After a little delay, we gathered nine riders in Westfield, including our perpetual guest, Ali, from DC.
From Westfield, it is a climb into Granville- but only eight miles. We chose to do a quick stop at the Granville Country Store to top off our fuels. One con to this route is there are not any guaranteed places to stop for water. The store was hoppin’ with other cyclists – apparently the place to be!
We got underway, but it was not too long before this ride leader caused a delay. A bee (yellow-jacket) ran into my lip. Luckily I am not allergic, and so I rinsed it well and, it hurt like (****), but we pressed on riding as my lower lip grew in size. Once we got into Hartland, we took yet another pause to evaluate myself- as, it is the beginning of the loop- and would be a good place for me to bail out and go home. Instead, Ali and Wendy starting knocking on doors along the road to see if anyone might have an antihistamine. I have to say…this is among many reasons I love my riding friends! I am not sure I’d do that. Anyway, they did find someone who was so nice, and had a dose of antihistamine to help with the swelling and pain. I am grateful to not only the people I ride with, but also neighbors along our route willing to help out.
I decided to push on with the route, ignore my lip, and put the pain into my legs instead. Indeed, this route is painful. Wonderful descents, but, you pay for that with steep, long climbs. Nevertheless, beautiful sights around the state forest and reservoir.
Somewhere on a climb we lost Alex. We did wait, but not long enough. I assumed he went home, as he mentioned he lives in CT and would be turning off. However, at the dam- during our photo op, he rolled in. To our surprise(?) he said he stopped at a library to refill his bottles.
The rest of the ride is best described as “painful & dehydrated”. From the dam it is a slog of a climb up… up… and up to Hartland center again. I started hearing folks saying they have not hurt this much in a long time. Did I do my job then? Perhaps for the hill climbing pain, but the dehydration is no joke. Everyone was generally OK, but, as I wrote above- the route just does not have any place to stop for water. We all were looking for lemonade stands along the way! Even the town buildings had hoses… but the water was shut off inside. Alex wins the hydration race!
We made our way back into Westfield on some very scenic roads- hopefully everyone looked up a bit, despite probably just wanting to end!
When we turned into the Westfield meeting spot around 1:30 PM, I had 55 miles, and 4357′ of elevation.