It's been a while since I posted a good old-fashioned ride report, partly because, after four years of blogging and following blogs, I've begun to realize a sobering fact: Ride reports are boring to all except those who rode. They all look alike; "I struggled here; I flew down that hill; took a picture of such and such perfect view."
I don't care, and the reason I don't care is that yesterday was such a superior day and ride, I just have to tell you about it. Bore-warned is bore-armed.
Temps in the 60s, bone-dry air, and spotless deep-blue sky greeted me as I wheeled out of the garage. All the angst and delay of the morning washed away in about three minutes. I set out immediately for the longest sustained climb in my neighborhood to start the day, which included four miles in which I gained 1,000 feet of altitude. What with a crazy-busy summer and early fall, I am a little out of shape, so I selected this crucible to get the worst of the climbing out of the way. Often, the rest of the ride, no matter how long, is euphoric once I know I'm done with the worst of the suffering.
It worked out just that way. I rode east from Amherst, up and up til I reached Pelham, refusing to unclip til I reached Route 202, the end of the climb. The worst part of this road isn't the grades, it's the absurd condition of the road. Hoiking myself up a steep ramp after 25 minutes of hard labor is bad enough; being battered while doing it only adds insult to injury.
I took a stretching break in the lee of the Pelham Town Hall and Museum.
Back in the saddle. Onward and upward on Shutesbury Road, where I ran across some equine friends taking repast in an idyllic field. The new, low angle of the sun made every familiar sight crisp and new:
It was chilly in the shade, just toasty enough in the sun -- a perfect day for a long ride:
From Shutesbury Center, I continued to Lake Wyola, passing an old-school pumpkin stand along the way:
Hung a left at Wyola and the road turned downhill -- finally -- catching up to and chatting with a local rider out taking advantage, just like me. Lunch at my favorite break place, the front lawn of the Leverett Co-op:
Stuffed myself with a large sandwich I'd toted up that whole climb (because few businesses even in Massachusetts sell wheat-free sandwiches). Planned it right this week -- climb first, then eat, then descend while digesting. I digested my way down to Route 63, then turned north for the Montague Bookmill -- "Books you don't need in a place you can't find" is their inimitable tagline -- which was jammed to overflowing with happy cafe-goers and readers out in the gentle sun:
... and piled high at indoor tables overlooking the splashing, chuckling river below:
A forest of bicycles were leaned against every available surface. I filled my water bottles in one of their unique bathrooms:
Saddled up, took a left on Meadow Street, a new road to me, and this is the point where the Velophoria set in. The first stretch of Meadow is the prettiest little two miles I may have seen in this beautiful valley of ours; my head was swiveling all over the place and I was high as a kite on the rural beauty. I took no pictures, because no pictures would capture the Intimate New England Perfection: the angles of light, the intimation of hills in the distance, the whiff of magic in the air. We locals are aware that the rest of the world comes to where we live in order to experience the very best of autumn.
Meadow Street eventually becomes Falls Road, and it's apparent why, and also apparent why it's a cycling destination for many in the Valley:
Thence, on down the river via side roads, to avoid Route 47 and its mid-day cars. Here, at last, fatigue began to settle on me like a heavy blanket. Food was no longer fueling me, position changes no longer relieved the aches and pains. Eight or nine miles of this is more than enough, though we've all endured our share for much longer. But even discomfort could not dampen my spirits this day. I pulled back into the garage all aglow with good health and good cheer, regretting not having tacked on the extra mile and 250 feet I'd been considering. Ah well -- next time. For today, 41 miles and 2,200 feet.
Get out there, northerners -- fall is brief!