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  1. #1
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    Relocation to Northampton, MA

    I've finally made the trek from CT to MA, and find myself in Northampton, with a new bike to build and no idea about trails, shops or community. Anyone have any ideas about what's up around here? At 11am I'm about to head off to a informal bike workshop run by the local coop, seems promising!
    Life Goal: keep riding.
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  2. #2
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    My only bike experience in Northampton was about 5 years ago and I remember being very impressed by the forward thinking of the locals and the seemingly endless abundance of bike-paths and just how bike-centric the city was. We stayed at a Rails to Trails former station-house (B&B) and were amazed to hear about the way the bike-paths are all ploughed during snow-season as the bike-paths are used year round (kids cycling to school and garbage pick-up is done using the bike-paths). The way motorists give way to cyclists in the main centre of town has to be seen to be believed! The city seemed to us like bike-heaven! (Well, this was 5 years ago, things might have changed, but 5 years ago, they seemed to have got it correct!). I'll see if I can find the names of the contacts we had for the Rails to Trails. If you're moving to Northampton, then I'm certain many readers here will be jealous! Good luck!
    HTH -
    - Wil

    Later: The name of the B&B is "Sugar Maple Trail Side Inn" and here's their link! The chap who runs it used to work for the Rail Roads and is a mine of information for RR history and Rails to trails etc. and he & his wife are avid cyclists.
    Last edited by Wil Davis; 01-26-13 at 08:41 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Four year "Deerfield Boy," class of '83. Didn't cycle back then, but I was up there last summer for this and stopped in Northampton for breakfast at that popular diner/restaurant across from the old train station:

    http://www.franklinlandtrust.org/randonnee.html

    Great event if you don't mind dirt and lots and lots and lots of hills unless you do the Green River Tour route.

    Here is one trail:

    http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/nwrt.htm

  4. #4
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Welcome to the area! I live across the river in Hadley. I keep intending to put up a page on my website with local bike resources, but I haven't done it yet. Here are some suggestions:

    The Norwottuck Rail Trail runs from Northampton to Warren Wright Road in Belchertown. It can be crowded on weekends and summer evenings but it's a good car-free alternative to Route 9. It is bumpy in parts, where tree roots have pushed up the pavement. The Northampton Bike Path runs west to Look Park, and there's now a branch that heads from downtown to Easthampton and the Manhan Rail Trail. For other trails in western MA, check out MassBike's trails page.

    For bike shops, I like Northampton Bicycle, Valley Bike & Ski Werks in Hadley, the Hampshire Bicycle Exchange in Amherst, and Flye Cycles in Sunderland. I don't have a beef with any of the others, though.

    The area is great for riding. A lot of roads are low traffic and drivers tend to be courteous. Feel free to search my rides at RideWithGPS and (older) MapMyRide. The most recent edition of Nancy Jane's book on Bicycle Touring in the Pioneer Valley is somewhat out of date due to suburban development but still useful.

    If you like organized rides, there are several in the area besides D2R2 (already mentioned): the Sunderland Clover Century, Katelynn's Ride, the Berkshire Brevets series (including a spring 100K populaire and the Great River Ride in the fall), the Connecticut Valley Century, Will Bike 4 Food (benefits the Food Bank of Western MA), BikeFest & Tour of the Valley (organized by the Northampton Cycling Club), and probably one or two others that I'm forgetting. Many of the centuries have shorter options; the Sunderland one consists of 4 25-mile loops, with the same starting point, so after each loop you can decide whether to continue.

    Feel free to PM me if you'd like further suggestions. I check Bike Forums intermittently, so PM (or email to ogilvie@pobox.com) is the best way to get a response.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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  6. #6
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    I've visited N' hampton a bunch of times in the past few years and always bring my bike. Absolutely beautiful quiet forested roads! Enjoy!
    My bike touring blog: http://chipbiking.wordpress.com

  7. #7
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    hey , just down the road from you in westfield, ma. there is also a long rail trail here called the columbia greenway. it goes south into connecticut down to the avon/farmington area. it's got to be 40-50 miles each way. i also like northampton bike, hampshire bike exchange in amherst, and highland hardware and bike in holyoke (rob's a good guy).

  8. #8
    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    If you go west, there is the ashwillticoot (sp?) railtrail in Cheshire to Adams as well as Mt Greylock itself for a hill challenge...

    Jay

  9. #9
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    I visit the area every year for riding with a group called http://www.ridenoho.com. The riding in that area of Mass is spectacular. The bike shop up there that they recommend is Joe's Garage in Haydenville off of Rt. 9.

  10. #10
    Senior Member HillRiderEast's Avatar
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    http://www.bikes-unlimited.com/

    A short ride north of NoHo...Greenfield Ma.

  11. #11
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    It's a really good area with every kind of biking you could want. East of the river is fairly flat through farmland. West of the river gets hillier and enters the eastern slope of the Berkshires. A great route up to VT is to take 116 from South Deerfield to Conway, then a back road to Shelburne Falls, then 112 straight up to Jacksonville, VT. Catch rt. 100 from there and you're on your way!

  12. #12
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for all the responses. I am about 2 weeks away from finishing up one of my bikes so that I can get out there...the bike paths in and around Northampton seem to be really prime. I've only been to Hampshire Bicycle Exchange and Laughing Dog, both of which were awesome. I'm planning on hanging on to them as the LBS's of choice.
    Life Goal: keep riding.
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  13. #13
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by professorbob View Post
    It's a really good area with every kind of biking you could want. East of the river is fairly flat through farmland. West of the river gets hillier and enters the eastern slope of the Berkshires. A great route up to VT is to take 116 from South Deerfield to Conway, then a back road to Shelburne Falls, then 112 straight up to Jacksonville, VT. Catch rt. 100 from there and you're on your way!
    Amen to that--116 can have a lot of traffic on weekends, but the shoulders are wide and drivers around here are pretty attentive. From Northampton, though, I'd take the bike path to Maple Street in Florence, then take that north to North Farms Road, Mountain Road, Webber Road, and Conway Road. Or take the bike path past Look Park to Leeds, then River Road and High Street through Williamsburg. Much less traffic and very picturesque.

    As someone who lives east of the river, I'll add that it's flat in Hadley and Sunderland, but go further east and you get into the Pelham Hills. Pelham, Shutesbury, Leverett, and Wendell have some lovely climbing.

    Quote Originally Posted by PJCB View Post
    Thanks guys for all the responses. I am about 2 weeks away from finishing up one of my bikes so that I can get out there...the bike paths in and around Northampton seem to be really prime. I've only been to Hampshire Bicycle Exchange and Laughing Dog, both of which were awesome. I'm planning on hanging on to them as the LBS's of choice.
    You're welcome! If you want to get a good tour of the area, here's a brief description, with a link to a map, of one of my favorite rides.
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  14. #14
    Senior Member PJCB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
    Amen to that--116 can have a lot of traffic on weekends, but the shoulders are wide and drivers around here are pretty attentive. From Northampton, though, I'd take the bike path to Maple Street in Florence, then take that north to North Farms Road, Mountain Road, Webber Road, and Conway Road. Or take the bike path past Look Park to Leeds, then River Road and High Street through Williamsburg. Much less traffic and very picturesque.

    As someone who lives east of the river, I'll add that it's flat in Hadley and Sunderland, but go further east and you get into the Pelham Hills. Pelham, Shutesbury, Leverett, and Wendell have some lovely climbing.



    You're welcome! If you want to get a good tour of the area, here's a brief description, with a link to a map, of one of my favorite rides.
    I really appreciate it! I'm thinking that one of the next weekends I'm going to take a ride around and get situated, I will definitely check out your route.
    Life Goal: keep riding.
    I prefer emails over PMs: p.j.c.brackett@gmail.com

  15. #15
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    Get a copy of the Rubels Bike Maps for Western MA

  16. #16
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    PJCB, I don't thnk anyone mentioned that there is a lot of good mountain biking in the area also. Bachelor St. is where a lot of people go, I've never ridden those trails, but guys I know say it's good. There's Mt. Tom, Ashley/Mclane/Bear hole reservoirs in Holyoke which also connect to trails behind Holyoke Comunity College. If you want to head into Agawam, there is Robinson State Park, which is fun. Those are only a few places close to Noho, there's a lot more.

  17. #17
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    I didn't read through all the responses, but I heard a rumor that the Norwottuck Rail Trail is going to be torn up and resurfaced this summer. Can anyone confirm this?

  18. #18
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    Get a copy of the Rubels Bike Maps for Western MA
    Unfortunately, the Rubel Western Mass. map is out of print, with no reprint scheduled. But if you do find one, snap it up, even though the services listed on it are laughably out of date. (I.e., don't count on that bike shop or ice cream stand still being there - I speak from bitter disappointment about the ice cream.)
    Public accountability: my Beeminder weight loss graph.

  19. #19
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by professorbob View Post
    I didn't read through all the responses, but I heard a rumor that the Norwottuck Rail Trail is going to be torn up and resurfaced this summer. Can anyone confirm this?
    That was the plan as of last summer, according to the Springfield Republican. MassDOT has further information on the project, scheduled to begin "Summer 2013." If you need to get from one end to the other on bike, I would suggest this alternate route, which (mostly) avoids the busiest roads, like Route 9 and Bay Road. (When I moved here in 1997, Bay Road was often fairly empty, but traffic has picked up lately.)
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  20. #20
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    Looking forward to meeting you all. I'm moving to Springfield in a few weeks, and have been trying to figure out where to ride other than to work.
    I can be emailed at my user name at google's mail.

  21. #21
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Welcome to the area! I'm traveling to see family at present, but if you'd like recommendations, send me a PM in a couple of weeks, or email ogilvie@pobox.com. And we have many great organized rides in the area too, if you like that kind of thing.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamChevre View Post
    Looking forward to meeting you all. I'm moving to Springfield in a few weeks, and have been trying to figure out where to ride other than to work.
    Hi, welcome to the area. I'm in the springfield area and would be glad to help also.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Wow! I've been to Northampton twice on business and never would have guessed all this great cycling existed there!
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    Wow! I've been to Northampton twice on business and never would have guessed all this great cycling existed there!
    Yeah, there's all kinds of good riding (road, mountain, dirt road, rail trail). If we could get rid of winter, it'd be perfect.

  25. #25
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    I planning a tour from Northampton, or Amherst, when my wife picks up our son at UMASS and drops me off. Riding to Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod. Any route suggestions appreciated and a place to camp 50-65 miles out (I was thinking of a private CG in Sutton,MA area or G.Washington forest in NW RI). 1st full week of May - might be chilly!

    I have the Rubble bike maps - I called then about their plans for CT, but it appears they lost their cartographer. Those maps are awesome, and I wish they were up to date with more NewEngland state added.

    Related note - RI publishes a bike map for the state and there is a new one for Newport RI and area.

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