By Henry van den Broek
Published 05/09/2024; Updated 05/10/2024

TL;DR: 4 riders: 21.3 miles, 2070ft of climbing, unpaved 21%. steepest grade 9.9% rwgps, strava

The train always leaves on time, hence David, Meg, and I left at 5:30pm for the third episode of the Hill Gravel series. This time with a, for me, remote start in West Deerfield at the banks of the Deerfield River. And it paid off, as within 5 minutes we caught up with the locomotives of the cargo train from North Adams to Greenfield. The train was hooting and we were too! Well at least in my memory.

Soon after we went off track and onto our first gravel section, a rolling climb up Hawks Road. After the brand new asphalt at the bottom of Hawkes, the rutted-out and loose gravel, felt extra rough. If you haven’t gone up this I highly recommend it, it feels like you are being teleported from the Pioneer Valley into a pastoral valley somewhere in the middle of Vermont. We left “Vermont” on a short asphalt climb and hit another section of gravel on Taylor Road. Here as I had hoped Jason catch up to us, a busy day had trouble letting him go, but he made up 10 minutes in no time.

When we hit Greenfield Road we descended into its name-giving town and left Old Albany for our next pass. At the bottom, we came through the hairpin, which I mistakenly had announced as a u-turn, that in turn had confused Meg, who thought we were immediately going back up. My second language part of the brain was not working today, as when we rode up the closed-off Shelburn Falls Road, for some reason I could not think of the words for “Edible Arrangements”. At sweet spot pace, the only words I could utter were Edibles, Editable Bouquets, and Flowers you can eat, much to the misunderstanding of my companions,  At some point, I just gave up, actually, they did before me. Just now Google gave me some suggestions: Fruit Basket and Fruit Arrangements, oh well. I should have just said it in Dutch: “Fruit Mand”. Also, we almost lost David into the canyons along / in -side the road. The only traffic we came across was a golf cart and a food truck.

On Lucy Fiske, we learned that it is “No Mow May” after which we turned back to Greenfield Rd. This time we did take a right on Old Albany road, Jason led the way down for a fun descent along the washed-out gravel, followed by Meg, who earned a Strava cup, then David, and me following David’s lines. It meant we had to skip the powerline stop, but we regrouped at the Clarkdales Apple Orchard, where the blossoming apple trees looked and smelled amazing. With a swift traverse along Lower Road (a paceline attempt was made), we returned from a super fun ride.

I called it a snack-sized D2R2.

Next week’s NCC Hilltown Gravel route will start back in Conway. Sign up with linkmyride, instructions can be found at  https://www.nohobikeclub.org/link-my-ride/