Started with a lot of steady climbing, including the legendary 4.5 mile climb up Shutesbury Road from North Amherst, where I discovered a lovely bridge and brook on a tiny side road.
This is what you miss when you're doing 30 or 40 mph, my typical speed on this hill -- going down (gravity is my performance enhancing drug). Shutesbury Road is often called the S-Curves by cognoscenti, and descending it is more fun than downhill skiing. The local
On to Lake Wyola and a left down North Leverett Road. Then, a twist: A turn up East Chestnut Hill Road in Leverett, where I've never ridden before, mainly because the map says, "There be nasty grades there," some up to 15%. Yes, they were redonculusly steep, but the rewards equaled the effort. It was picture-book perfect up there, tiny ancient farmhouses tucked into near-vertical hillsides, the woods thick all around, riding slowly through swirls of tiny golden leaves drifting to the ground. Then, sudden mountain meadow vistas, with nothing but brilliantly-dressed peaks intimately looming. This, friends, was a highly concentrated dose of what I go out on rides looking for.
From there, it was all descending (at first, down white-knuckle grades), eating lunch, and plowing on home.
Occasionally, I get antsy to see distant, picturesque places. I've been living in New England for 15 years as of this month, and sometimes the initial wonder is missing. But while slow-pedaling through the wonderland up East Chestnut Hill this afternoon, there was no place on earth I'd rather have been.