Saturday, June 13, 2015

27-Mile Ride in the Hilltowns

In an effort to stay off my aching Achilles for a bit, I've jumped back on the bike and started riding for fitness (and enjoyment) again. Since we moved to Williamsburg nearly two years ago, I've mostly focused on running. At first this was because I was training for my first ultra when we moved, and then because the ultra bug had bit me and my running was going well. Then it was due to the need to be out on trails to research Trail Running Western Massachusetts. But I was pretty heavily into triathlons a few years back, and I like the full-body fitness that comes with the swim/bike/run combo. I've been aware that there's some pretty sweet biking to be had just out the back door, and now I'm finally savoring it.

Today I left home near the center of Williamsburg and climbed steadily up North Road for about 7 miles. It was sunny and 80 degrees out, but the humidity had dropped and there was a nice breeze so it actually felt quite comfortable. The crest is at Ludwig Rd, which leads left into DAR State Forest and other adventures. I continued straight and descended past Chapel Falls, then climbed a bit more on the other side. Then there's a steep mile drop down towards the lower end of Ashfield. 

Turning right on Rte. 116, the road got a bit rough in places, and at one point it's closed down to one lane for some major construction just above the South River, but in general the ride is fun as you gradually descend the curves toward Conway. 

Just past the covered bridge, I turned right and crossed the river, then climbed Academy Hill on Hill View Rd. As I descended the other side, a bee or wasp flew into my open jersey and stung me. Ouch! Fortunately, the pain quickly subsided as I attacked the last significant climb of the day up Field Hill on Whately Road. Along the recently-paved rolling section between there and the Northampton Reservoirs I tucked down into the aerobars and cruised as much as my not-quite-bike-fit muscles allowed. It got a bit warm as I traversed the open flats approaching Haydenville, and my energy flagged as I made the final gentle climb up Rte. 9 back into Williamsburg, but in general I fared well and it was an all-around very satisfying workout. I know that the Northampton Cycling Club does regular rides more or less along this route, and I'd have to recommend it to anyone else looking for a good hilltown ride on the west side of the valley. 

the route

elevation chart

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