By Michael Bello
Published 09/25/2023; Updated 09/25/2023

On Sunday, September 24th, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts held its thirteenth annual Will Bike 4 Food ride. Through this event, the Food Bank hopes to raise $250,000 (1 million meals) for our Western Massachusetts neighbors.

The Northampton Cycling Club formed a team in early August and started raising funds. A special thanks to my fellow team members Ron Albertson, Jaime Davila, Conan Deady, Andrea Freeman, Sima Mansouri, and Tim Silva. We were a small but mighty group that raised over $2,500. Thank you to all our donors.

We also had numerous club members helping other teams for the Food Bank, including William Levine, who raised over $5,300!

Donations can still be made to the Food Bank. Please consider donating to the cause.

Donate to Will Bike 4 Food

I spend a good portion of the past week watching the weather for Sunday. There was great weather for the Hatfield Lions Club Annual Bike Tour in June, but I got absolutely soaked at the BIke’s Fight Cancer ride. I was not looking forward to another wet ride.

On Saturday evening, a few team members reported that they were being called out of town unexpectedly. Conan said he was concerned about the weather. I replied that “I’m optimistic about the weather tomorrow. I’ve seen two sources say the rain will hold off in the morning. I’m still digging out rain gear just in case!” Positive thinking was all that I could do.

Since I live a mile from the starting point in Hatfield, I rode over from my house just as the sun was rising. It was brisk! I spent the day in a jacket, neoprene gloves, and shoe covers. Upon arriving, I checking in and received a bib number of 009.



After chatting with NCC Treasurer Sean, who was on mechanical duty for the event through his Speed & Sprocket mobile bike shop, I lined up for the start. Conan informed me on the start line that my email guilted him into riding; I felt guilty, but only for a second. A few riders took off early, so there were only about ten of us at the start line for the 100-mile ride. The other rides (50 miles, 25 miles, and 10 miles) had over 300 pre-registered participants.

On River Road, a pace line formed with five riders. My plan was to ride at an endurance pace for as much of the ride as possible. Not surprisingly, the group got away from me as the rolling hills on River Road in Deerfield commenced.



I turned onto Mccelland Farm Road/Canalside Trail and rejoined the three riders. As we rode into Greenfield, Alaine, aka bib number 007, and I struck up a conversation. We rode the rest of the ride together.

On the Canalside Trail, riders 013 and 014, a father-son combo, were riding in front of us. A squirrel darted out and rider 014 swerved to somehow avoid it. He narrowly avoided what many NCC members refer to as “pulling a Melissa.”

After crossing the Gill-Montague Bridge, we started up the Main Road. Instead of continuing straight, we turned onto the aptly named Mountain Road.



The descent was fun and a bit twisty, and of course, we came out onto Main Road. Around mile 25, we had our first rest stop at Northfield Mount Herman. A number of students staffed the rest stop and even cheered us on as we arrived and departed. I foolishly tried to ride in regular short fingered gloves instead of the neoprene gloves. That experiment lasted about a mile.

We crossed into Vermont around mile 31. Four of us stopped for a photo at the state sign.



Around mile 38, the route turned left onto Broad Brook Road, which was a surprise dirt stretch of about 1.5 miles. On the route map, this was listed as unpaved, but I did not think this was legitimate. To my surprise, it was. It was a nice road that ended on a little bridge that revealed we were riding in a sort of gorge.



Turning onto Route 5, I realized we were in Guilford. At registration, they said the rest stop was behind the Guilford Country Store. I turned into the parking lot. Alaine was confused as to where I was going, but followed anyway. We learned later that several riders missed the rest stop.



At the Massachusetts border, two people were welcoming us back to the Commonwealth and thanking us for riding the event.



On the left turn onto Zimmerman Hill Road, I mis-shifted and got stuck in the large chain ring. The hill was very steep. I stopped, got myself back in the little chain ring, coasted down to the base of the hill, and started the climb again. It was just easier than trying to start directly on the incline. It was long climb. At this point, endurance pacing was out the window.



At the top of the climb was the Leyden Town Hall. The light rain started around this time.



Alaine and I caught up to rider 006. Perhaps it was my exhaustion, but we had rider, 6, 7, and 9. Where was rider 8? There is a joke in there somewhere.



There were a lot of cows on today’s route. Two cows were so close to the road that I could see their name tags. One was named Sofia.



To my surprise, across from the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area, there is a “secret” bike path. Judging by the frost heaves, it has been there for a while, but I never knew it existed. Portions of it parallel I91.



We got on Route 5 in Greenfield/Deerfield in route to the third rest stop at Deerfield Academy. I’m not a huge fan on this stretch, so I pushed the pace more than I needed to. The rest stop was staffed by the Deerfield Academy Boy’s Soccer team.



We continued on and headed up Mill Village Road. At the intersection with Route 5, a police officer halted traffic for us and we proceeded into South Deerfield. We passed a few 25 mile riders and I heard one of them refer to Alaine, 007, as James Bond.

We sped past the rest stop at the beginning of Long Plain Road, but stopped to refill bottles at the rest stop around mile 75. At this point, the mist turned into heavy rain. At mile 78, I continued back to Hatfield, while Alaine started the final loop up to Williamsburg.



I was absolutely soaked as I rode by my street and back to the Lions Club Pavilion. After checking back in, I saw a few Williston Northampton students who had completed the ride. Since I graduated from Williston, I feel obligated to point this out since I already mentioned Northfield Mount Herman and Deerfield Academy.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I decided to head home. It is really cold sitting in wet bib shorts eating a hamburger in 50 degree weather.



In total, I rode 85 miles with 4,413 feet of climbing.

Congrats to the Food Bank for hosting a great event. It was fantastic to see all the riders, especially the kids riding the 10 mile route.


Relive ‘Will Bike 4 Food’