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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for rides in the Berkshires (North Adams area)

    I'm heading up to the Berkshires for Memorial Day weekend with my wife. Looking for tips on good rides we can do together (20-30 easy miles) or that I can do by myself (50+ challenging miles). Would like advice on good roads, areas, or online resources! We're staying in North Adams.
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    Mt. Greylock is a great ride. From North Adams go west (rt 2) to Williamstown, and then south (rt 7) to Lanesborough. Climb Greylock from the southern entrance and descend on the north side. It's a 40 mile ride with over 3000 of climbing. All beautifully paved roads. Greylock was repaved two years ago and makes for an awesome ride.

  3. #3
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Well, if you're in north adams, and looking for a challenging ride for both of you, check out the Ashiwillticook rail trail, you could do a loop where you ride up greylock (the north road is steeper, the south road is more gradual and not overly hard) but if you do the loop with the railtrail, it would be around 35-45 miles. The ash. railtrail itself is about 10.8 miles one way and flat (it's a MUP). Depending on your loop you can ride through the berkshire mall rather than go all the way down to pittsfield. Right now the road to the ash rail trail off Rt 8 is closed, which is the southern end of the Ash. railtrail so the alternate route is slightly north of the southern end but you can pick up the rail trail north there too. The Ash rail trail parallels rt 8 and eventually crosses it in Cheshire just north of the cheshire reservoir and by Bedard Bros auto dealership.

    Lots of loops too that you can add if you feel like it too..

    Or you can even throw in a hike to from cheshire up the Cheshire cobbles on the AT. The railtrail crosses the AT in cheshire, just before the AT heads towards Mt Greylock..

    Obviously, if one is not up for a challenging ride, one can simply ride the railtrail out and back for a 22ish mile easy ride.

    Jay

  4. #4
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    If you can get your hands on a copy of the Rubel bicycle map for Western Massachusetts, you can plan lots of good rides. I'm based further east, in the Connecticut River valley, but I've cycled west as far as Savoy and Windsor. Most of the highways in the Berkshires are good for cycling. Route 2 might be too busy for your taste.

    One "lollipop" route would involve riding south on Route on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail to its end in Lanesborough, then follow Route 8 south to Hinsdale. Take Route 143 east to East Windsor Road in Worthington, then turn left. East Windsor Rd becomes Cole St. and then Worthington Rd. When you reach Route 9, turn left, then after about 4 miles turn right on Route 8A. When you reach Route 116 in Savoy, turn left, and follow 116 back to Route 8 and pick up the rail trail for your return. The total would be about 60 miles.

    I haven't done most of this route, except for the stretches on Routes 8A and 9, so take the recommendation with a grain of salt. You'll definitely run across some hills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcrpi1996 View Post
    Mt. Greylock is a great ride. From North Adams go west (rt 2) to Williamstown, and then south (rt 7) to Lanesborough. Climb Greylock from the southern entrance and descend on the north side. It's a 40 mile ride with over 3000 of climbing. All beautifully paved roads. Greylock was repaved two years ago and makes for an awesome ride.
    Thanks. Two follow-up questions:

    1. Which road is the best approach from the south? It looks like perhaps Main Street -> Rockwelll -> Notch?

    2. Any suggestions for super-flat riding for my wife? It looks like Rt 8 or the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail are perhaps the only options?
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  6. #6
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    As far as highways go, Rt 8 is kind of busy south of the ashiwilliticook though OK to ride. The intersection of Rt 8 and Rt 9 in pittsfield is crazy and nice to be avoided.

    Avoid Rt 7/20 south of Pittsfield and north of Lenox, it's 4 lanes with not much a shoulder. Think East St or Barker/Swamp road...

    Rt 7 on the west side of Greylock is fine, pretty much til you get to the green in Pittsfield... But that is south of Rockwell road. It has one small hill on it by Jiminy peak...

    Jay

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    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Sorry to revive this, but I figured better that than start a new thread needlessly...

    We're going up here soon and my wife wanted to get back on her road bike after a long layoff (I'm an active "B" rider). We'll be staying near Beckett - would these flatter routes suggested above be close to that, or are there any more suggestions close to Beckett?

    Also - is the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail worth the trouble for road bikes, or is more of a crowded, slow ride beach cruiser type path? I saw it was pretty short, so I guess we'd need to go back and forth a few times if we stayed on just that trail...
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    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    I've only ridden the Ashuwillticook MUP once, but IIRC it wasn't too crowded. There's one busy cross road, but I think there's a signal there, with a button to request a two-way red for a safe crossing.

    It's pretty scenic. Part of it parallels a trout stream, and there's a reservoir and some marshes. The pavement was in good shape last year.

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    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
    I've only ridden the Ashuwillticook MUP once, but IIRC it wasn't too crowded. There's one busy cross road, but I think there's a signal there, with a button to request a two-way red for a safe crossing.

    It's pretty scenic. Part of it parallels a trout stream, and there's a reservoir and some marshes. The pavement was in good shape last year.
    Thanks, that sounds really nice.

    I'm hoping we can also find a bit of relatively flat highway with generous shoulder to let her spin a bit. doesn't have to be epic; 5-10 mile stretch would be plenty for an out & back.
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  10. #10
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    I'm hoping we can also find a bit of relatively flat highway with generous shoulder to let her spin a bit. doesn't have to be epic; 5-10 mile stretch would be plenty for an out & back.
    Near Becket, that's a tall order. If you start out on Bonny Rigg Hill Road, just south of the junction of Route 20 and Route 8, you'll get a relatively flat stretch (about 500 feet total climbing in 10 miles. If you want flatter, Route 7 south from the center of Great Barrington down to the Connecticut border is quite flat as it follows the Housatonic River valley, but the road has no shoulder to speak of in many places.
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    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
    Near Becket, that's a tall order.
    Ok, thank you - good to know. We'd have the bikes on a car rack so we could drive to a nearby area that's better if necessary.
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  12. #12
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    As the OP I might as well weigh in. I don't honestly remember what I wound up riding, though I do recall tearing a cleat out and rummaging around a bike shop to find a replacement bolt. So I guess my advice is: tighten your cleats before you go to the Berkshires.

    I do remember doing the Ashuwillticook with my wife as a sort of side excursion. It's not particularly long or challenging, so it's not going to be your main ride, but it was *really* pretty and worthwhile. Definitely worth incorporating into a longer ride or doing on the side.
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    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycbianchi View Post
    As the OP I might as well weigh in. I don't honestly remember what I wound up riding, though I do recall tearing a cleat out and rummaging around a bike shop to find a replacement bolt. So I guess my advice is: tighten your cleats before you go to the Berkshires.

    I do remember doing the Ashuwillticook with my wife as a sort of side excursion. It's not particularly long or challenging, so it's not going to be your main ride, but it was *really* pretty and worthwhile. Definitely worth incorporating into a longer ride or doing on the side.
    Thanks, I appreciate that info.

    My wife is normally a pretty decent rider but she hasn't been on her bike much at all for several years, so I tried to sway her to take our beater mtbs with platform peds, to just have a nice quiet vaca pootle, but she seems bent on dusting off the road bike and spandex. Hey, who am I to argue? Having said that I think she could use a quiet calm (and as flattish as possible up there) experience at this point.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    Thanks, I appreciate that info.

    My wife is normally a pretty decent rider but she hasn't been on her bike much at all for several years, so I tried to sway her to take our beater mtbs with platform peds, to just have a nice quiet vaca pootle, but she seems bent on dusting off the road bike and spandex. Hey, who am I to argue? Having said that I think she could use a quiet calm (and as flattish as possible up there) experience at this point.
    Well, like many former railbeds converted into MUPs, there are some "uphill sections", but they're so long and gradual that you'll hardly notice them.

  15. #15
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    Ok, thank you - good to know. We'd have the bikes on a car rack so we could drive to a nearby area that's better if necessary.
    Google Maps' terrain view is useful for planning rides in western Massachusetts!

    If you're willing to drive for about 40 minutes, you can go from Becket to Westfield, which is close enough to the Connecticut River valley for some flat riding. Here's a nice flat ride from Westfield to Northampton; it starts off on a busy but wide highway, then follows side roads to the Manhan rail trail and the Northampton rail trail. There's one hill going out of Westfield, and one on the return trip, but otherwise just some little bumps.
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    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    By the way, most western Massachusetts drivers are used to cyclists and courteous around them. I don't worry when cycling on a road with narrow shoulders, though I do use a rear-view mirror so as not to be surprised when someone passes.
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    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post

    If you're willing to drive for about 40 minutes, you can go from Becket to Westfield, which is close enough to the Connecticut River valley for some flat riding. Here's a nice flat ride from Westfield to Northampton; it starts off on a busy but wide highway, then follows side roads to the Manhan rail trail and the Northampton rail trail. There's one hill going out of Westfield, and one on the return trip, but otherwise just some little bumps.
    That looks perfect, thanks!

    And I appreciate the words about drivers; I wasn't sure what to expect.
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  18. #18
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat View Post
    That looks perfect, thanks!

    And I appreciate the words about drivers; I wasn't sure what to expect.
    If you do the Westfield to Northampton route, you could park at New Horizons Bikes, 55 Franklin St/US 20. They can also give you more advice on riding in the area.
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  19. #19
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
    If you do the Westfield to Northampton route, you could park at New Horizons Bikes, 55 Franklin St/US 20. They can also give you more advice on riding in the area.
    excellent, thanks again - I did see them on the map and was hoping that was an option. This should be just what we needed.
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