Monday, September 23, 2013

Cycling Amherst Road and Pelham, MA

I come today to sing the praises of Amherst Road, a byway somewhat neglected by cyclists, perhaps because of its miles-long, steep climb, or the thickness of traffic. The truth of the matter is that, once you get a couple miles up, the traffic slims out, the road grows smoother, and the long, steady grades reward you with timeless New England beauty and history.

I also use this road to tune up my climbing legs, if I've been away from the grades for too long. Fuel up before you go, because the "up" is constant.

To get there, ride through Amherst Center on Main Street, cross South East at the light, and you're going due east on West Pelham -- which quickly turns to Amherst Road once you cross the town line.

Genteel colonial farm houses with stone fences line the road

Perfect pond and shady glades

At the top of the hill, Pelham Historical Society, with lawns for sitting and snacking

Right next door, the old Pelham Town Hall, built in Revolutionary times
Daniel Shays, who led a rebellion of overtaxed farmers against the government, lived in Pelham.

Perhaps Shay's likeness, now hidden in a barn. Note facial expression:
Don't tread on me!

The cemetery behind the Historical Society features featurless
gravestones, eroded by time and hilltop New England weather

A sylvan resting place for tired settlers

She lived to see the Revolution begin -- but not end

A very worthy road, easily combined with others for a nice fall ride. You can turn left on Route 202 (just past the Historical Society) and another quick left onto Shutesbury Road, a rolling delight. From the end of that, you can turn right for Shutesbury Center, or left to fly down the famous Shutesbury S-curves -- a delicious reward for all that climbing.

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Suitcase of Courage said...

LOVE posts & rides like this - especially in the fall.

Velosopher said...

Yeah, SOC, you would have loved the Shays statue hidden away in the barn. History buffs... they're all alike. ;-)

Emmy said...

Nice essay on the back roads of Pelham. I wonder if this area going far back in history allows us to see patterns in a way that encourages us to be better stewards for "conservation", both for history and ecosystems.

It's too bad there's no way to (harmlessly) age those gravestones. It's a mystery waiting to be solved.

Have you tried biking at Bachelor Street on the Range? Near Aldrich Lot, where Laser Pete made those great (if somewhat excessive) mountain biking trails?

That statue was in someone's barn ? Wild!

Velosopher said...

Emmy, welcome to Velophoria! I've done a little trail riding on Earle's Trails on the other side of the Mount Holyoke Range (starting from Bay Road). I haven't tried the trails on the Bachelor side because I don't have a mountain bike. When I ride trails, it's on my traditional road bike with 28 mm tires, or a dirt road touring bike with 35 or 40 mm tires. No fatties, and no suspension and only modest skills means no serious trails for the Velosopher. Hope to see you here again!

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Up Amherst Road is definitely the way to go; the last time I came down it, I found myself cursing the potholes!

Velosopher said...

Brian, I couldn't agree more. Until Pelham and Amherst get their acts together (at which point winter weather will have become the norm in a certain purgatory near you) up is WAY better than down on Amherst Road.