Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amherst Cross-country Skiing and a Winterized Salsa Vaya

I've been off work for a week or so, and as you may have heard, it's been a friggin' winter wonderland here in New England this past few days. I have indeed taken good advantage of this delightful combination of circumstances.

We got our first real snow in a year on Thursday night. Not much -- a few inches -- but it was enough to merit digging out the cross-country skis and head to our local hilly golf course. It was technically a weekday morning, and there were delightfully few others around. I parked on the shoulder, clicked in, and off I went. Once I climbed to the top of the hill, I discovered an extensive network of wooded trails off the back of the course, and amassed one-and-a-half hours poking around back there. Not bad for the season kick-off.

Friday, I spent part of the afternoon at my LBS -- Hampshire Bicycle Exchange -- chatting away with the good-natured staff and taking advantage of the off-season lull to commandeer some of their professional-grade tools. (Oh, joy!) I finally properly (re-)installed on the Vaya the fenders and rack I'd bought from them a couple weeks ago. Consequently, yesterday found me tooling around downtown Hadley on said bicycle, sporting my stylish new black Ortlieb pannier and running every errand I could think of to extend the ride. (Pix and reviews of all gear to come, in the new year.)

During a what-the-heck addition of a back road with a good view of the Holyokes, the next snow started dumping, and I made for home. 

I'm rediscovering the joys of winter riding, both through commuting to my new one-day-a-week private practice office, and going everywhere by bike this vacation. It's been the healthiest, happiest vacation I can remember.

That snow yesterday turned into three or four more inches overnight (oh, the joy of hearing the plows going by all night!) and I headed back to the golf course this morning to find out where those trails really led. Miles of woodsy tracks led me on and on, though I was out of food and the needle was on E. Postcardy tableaus of snow-laden pine branches against bright cobalt skies, and very few fellow travellers, once I really got out there. Two good hours of exploration and exertion, followed by an exemplary guten-free, apr├ęs-ski grilled sandwich and hot java at Cushman Market, clomping around in my ski boots. 

Thence, homeward, fully sated.

How often I've said it, and yet I keep discovering it: The Pioneer Valley is an outdoor paradise. Get out there!


New England Bicyclist said...

The pioneer valley is a great place, if you can find work there. I've been lucky to ride out of the valley and in the hills a llot, despite the two hour drive from where I live, which is something of a cycling paradise IMO.

Velosopher said...

Thanks for stopping by, NEB, glad you find the Valley enticing enough to journey out here! I rode out of the Boston area myself for over a year, just before moving out here.

New England Bicyclist said...

I grew up in the valley and didn't leave until I was nearly thirty. And I've been back a lot since, with and without my bike. It's always worth it to check out the valley.