My first time on three of the dirt roads, and were they fun! Well, all but Rattlesnake Gutter Road, a local legend I had to try to believe. The first quarter mile or so was more vertical than anything I've ever ridden on a bike -- and on a washed-out, loose-rock road. It was devilish -- straining along at 5 mph, standing on the pedals, tires slipping, going slow enough for the mosquitoes to swarm me. To escape the bugs, I went so anaerobic I had to get off the bike and walk up the 17% pitch, swatting all the way. Oh, joy!
I will bathe in DEET before my next gravel ride.
No regrets, though -- just the opposite. You see things you won't see any other way when you ride the "unimproved" roads. Observe:
|Classic New England small-town burying grounds|
|Cue ominous music...|
|Cliff walls along the eponymous gutter|
|As a reward for the brutal climb, a gorgeous little falls at the top|
|Still Life with Banana|
|Leverett Co-op's sundial sign, and stained glass windows|
|Cranberry Pond, Mt. Toby looming behind|
I'd never even known the pond, cemetery, falls, or rock formations existed, though they are all just off of roads I ride all the time. The beauty of dirt is that you get off the beaten tarmac.