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Quiet Roads near Northampton, MA / Pioneer Valley?

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Quiet Roads near Northampton, MA / Pioneer Valley?

Old 06-08-20, 05:36 PM
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UniChris
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Quiet Roads near Northampton, MA / Pioneer Valley?

Northampton, MA is lucky to have first class rail trails extending from town in three directions which seem really treasured by the community.

But what sort of riding options exist beyond those, in particular, what roads are nice?

Rode southwest down to the end of the Manhan RT in Easthampton/Southampton today, did a little bit of rt 10 that was narrower than I'd like past Big Y then enjoyed some wide shoulder to where I could take Glendale north on near perfect pavement hardly ever being passed by a car. Followed that just under ten miles across a few name changes with the intent of picking up the Mass Central RT in Leeds, though I missed a turn and actually ended up in Williamsburg. With my wrong turns it added up to a nice 30 mile loop by the time I found the trail and followed it through Florence back into Northampton, with just enough climbing on the road section to give it some enjoyable variety compared to the trails... ironic, as someone who used to stick exclusively to trails I find I now enjoy roads like that more.



What else is around that's nice to ride? Definitely hoping to make it down to connect to the Canal Trail in Westfield, but curious about things in other directions, too.
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Old 06-10-20, 07:54 AM
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Oh, boy, there's a ton of good riding around here on quiet roads (once you get away from the busier towns). My first suggestion is to check out the Strava heat map to get a sense of where people ride and if you want to build your own route.

One of my favorites is going north from the UMass campus to Montague (Bookmill/Lady Killigrew Cafe); or continue further to Turners Falls. You can take Rt. 63 or the way more hilly Montague/Cave Hill Rd. Can do a loop via Millers Falls and Federal st. Parking on UMass lots is usually plentiful and free on weekends.




I would be cautious about going on Rt 47 (River Rd) during the day or late afternoon - I found it to have too much traffic and very windy. Might be OK early in the morning. However, that little hook East-South from Montague to Northern Sunderland is magnificent farmland riding.

If you're into climbing, Sugarlof in Sunderland and Mount Holyoke in South Hadley.

Check out where local clubs and organized rides go as well. Once you start going out of the Valley, you're going to hit some climbs.
https://umasscycling.com/training/routes/
Mostly unpaved: D2R2 Courses | Franklin Land Trust -> https://ridewithgps.com/events/77755-d2r2-2019 (has a 50mi road version which I did and it was TOUGH)
https://thefarmride.com/main-directo...one-files.html -> don't see the files but you can search on RWGPS for "Farm Ride" for plenty of routes
https://www.bywayswestmass.com/map-m...ounty-bikeway/
https://bikenewengland.com/pioneer-valley-rides/
https://www.nohobikeclub.org/general...de-routes-etc/

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Old 06-11-20, 09:06 AM
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When you get up to Turners Falls, check out the Canal Trail along the river and the Discovery Center
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Old 06-15-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
Oh, boy, there's a ton of good riding around here on quiet roads (once you get away from the busier towns). My first suggestion is to check out the Strava heat map to get a sense of where people ride and if you want to build your own route.
Very glad to hear that! I like your idea of a loop northwards but will head the comment on rt 47. Maybe I can find something up the west side of the river to make the other side of a loop.

Saturday rode rt 5 south out of town to the Dinosaur footprints. Much of it was fine, but the section right on the edge of Northampton itself doesn't have much shoulder, I feel it's kind of misleading that google maps shows that as a bike routing, but south of the Oxbow it has a very generous shoulder that feels fine. On the return I opted to get on the Manhan branch at the Oxbow and took that the longer way home.

Sunday I set out and rode to Westfield to get on the Canal Trail and took that down to the CT line as a preview for longer plans (I've done the whole canal trail before but getting rides across the gaps). Followed the google maps routing by leaving the Manhan and taking Park St which becomes Line Street and then Country Rd, then a jog on 202 above the airport and finally rt 10 south into town. That was mostly fine - including the 202 and 10 portions, except that from crossing the Mass Pike to the Westfield river was unpleasant - no shoulder, sharrows, lots of people trying to pass in the right lane rather than changing to the left. There's also a hill, though coming back north the climb wasn't anywhere near as taxing as I'd worried riding down it. Opted to take rt 10 the whole way back to the Manhan and liked it less - narrower north of 202 and more curvy.

I am hoping to find a better solution across the Mass Pike and Westfield River though - it looks like County Rd continues as East Mountain Rd after crossing 202, then after the Mass Pike I could take Papermill west to Union and hit rt 10 just north of the river, skipping the sharrows zone. Seems to have a fair degree of usage on the Strava Heatmap though more take and earlier westbound option on Holyoke St - I don't like that as it would still mean most of the sharrows zone. Papermill does look like it could use re-paving but I've ridden worse.
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Old 06-16-20, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Very glad to hear that! I like your idea of a loop northwards but will head the comment on rt 47. Maybe I can find something up the west side of the river to make the other side of a loop.

Saturday rode rt 5 south out of town to the Dinosaur footprints. Much of it was fine, but the section right on the edge of Northampton itself doesn't have much shoulder, I feel it's kind of misleading that google maps shows that as a bike routing, but south of the Oxbow it has a very generous shoulder that feels fine. On the return I opted to get on the Manhan branch at the Oxbow and took that the longer way home.

Sunday I set out and rode to Westfield to get on the Canal Trail and took that down to the CT line as a preview for longer plans (I've done the whole canal trail before but getting rides across the gaps). Followed the google maps routing by leaving the Manhan and taking Park St which becomes Line Street and then Country Rd, then a jog on 202 above the airport and finally rt 10 south into town. That was mostly fine - including the 202 and 10 portions, except that from crossing the Mass Pike to the Westfield river was unpleasant - no shoulder, sharrows, lots of people trying to pass in the right lane rather than changing to the left. There's also a hill, though coming back north the climb wasn't anywhere near as taxing as I'd worried riding down it. Opted to take rt 10 the whole way back to the Manhan and liked it less - narrower north of 202 and more curvy.

I am hoping to find a better solution across the Mass Pike and Westfield River though - it looks like County Rd continues as East Mountain Rd after crossing 202, then after the Mass Pike I could take Papermill west to Union and hit rt 10 just north of the river, skipping the sharrows zone. Seems to have a fair degree of usage on the Strava Heatmap though more take and earlier westbound option on Holyoke St - I don't like that as it would still mean most of the sharrows zone. Papermill does look like it could use re-paving but I've ridden worse.
Oh yeah, 202/10 South right after crossing the Pike looks like a nightmare to me, with the interchange and all the businesses that people will be turning into/out of, and what looks to be a 45mph two-lane road with no shoulder. That short section alone would make it a no go for me even on a road bike. And to make things worse, you're riding a unicycle?

Assuming you want to stay on 202/10 to take advantage of the wide shoulder
https://goo.gl/maps/yUtx61HL3xw59yVt7 the direct route is 4mi
https://goo.gl/maps/z4WuxKvKP6oNdQgR7 For the alternative crossing east, on rural roads, you are at 6mi. 187/Union St. looks like it has decent shoulder and there's a very brief nasty segment on Springfield Rd westbound with the option of hopping on the sidewalk. Or instead of the picturesque Shaker Rd. you might opt for Ridgecrest Dr. https://goo.gl/maps/4B8Ujqo1ieFJceko8

Another potential way to stick to mostly 202 and avoid that segment north of the river is to do an awkward elbow https://goo.gl/maps/XKDXSY2sNXyypENi9 and then stay on the wide sidewalk of the northbound part of 202 when crossing the river. By the way, Komoot doesn't do any better than Google Maps in routing through here.

Hold it, I just noticed on OpenStreetMaps that there's a bike bridge west of 202. Combined with the awkward detour https://goo.gl/maps/XKDXSY2sNXyypENi9 this could be the best way to get across. Heh, shows you that you have to look at all available source of information...


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Old 06-16-20, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
Assuming you want to stay on 202/10 to take advantage of the wide shoulder
I'm actually not committed to 202 at all. The shoulder through most of it is wide enough to feel comfortable so I have little hesitation in using it, but there's nothing particularly interesting about it to make it a compelling choice rather than just a viable option, and the complete lack of shade would not be fun in late afternoon sun.

https://goo.gl/maps/yUtx61HL3xw59yVt7 the direct route is 4mi
https://goo.gl/maps/z4WuxKvKP6oNdQgR7 For the alternative crossing east, on rural roads, you are at 6mi.
Fortunately with no commitment to 202 there's no reason I have to come down the west side of the airport rather than the east side via East Mountain Rd (not ridden yet, but seems comparable to Park/Line/County leading down to it). So the extra distance in the above routing then simply replaces the westward jog on 202 above the airport, with one below it.

However, I do have a bit of emotional attachment to picking up the rail trail at its current terminus at the missing Main St. bridge and Stop & Shop parking lot, so much so that after taking the wrong exit from the rotary on Sunday and wandering around and ultimately *under* the trail I still looped back to enter it properly. That may fade with time... using all of the trail may matter more if I try to do an "historic" New Haven to Northampton and less if I'm just picking 100 miles of map to ride.

Hold it, I just noticed on OpenStreetMaps that there's a bike bridge west of 202. Combined with the awkward detour https://goo.gl/maps/XKDXSY2sNXyypENi9 this could be the best way to get across. Heh, shows you that you have to look at all available source of information...


This is closest to my temptation, except rather than coming down 202 I'd be coming down East Mountain to the east, so there's not really a detour but just finally doing the last bit of westward traverse to the bridges via Papermill and Union rather than way up above the airport.

https://goo.gl/maps/o9Zjk1cZWZCfBxhFA

The bike bridge incidentally is pretty, but not connected to all that much yet - unfortunately, that elevated section of trail is missing its bridges until the current start at Main St - though I did see what seemed like some prep work in progress on the abutments of one when I rode past on the street below. It's possible that there's already connectivity to Elm Street a little further south than the direct jog-to-exit that I found (actually more of an entrance to my explorations, I crossed the river on the Elm Street bridge before finding the bike option). Much of that section of Elm can be avoided by taking Mechanic Street to the east.




Anyway, I feel like I should get out there and try East Mountain Rd to Papermill as an east side alternative to 202 on the west side of the airport. Only it almost feels like a waste to ride to such a beautiful trail trail without doing anything on it. But beyond the CT line the next point of meaning is Simsbury for the flower bridge that was closed when unicycle friends and I did a ride from Westfield to Plan B burger last August. But my thinking then gets to, if I'm going to ride 75 miles why don't I just go for the hundred with a standby option of getting picked up in Southwick or Westfield if it turns out I'm not back in shape to ride all the way home again yet? But if I'm going to do that I need to get a little more organized so I can be on the trail at 5am, and make a few more masks so I can have a fresh rather than sweaty one to put on for each refill stop and to ride in for the last rail trail stretch into Northampton where it's a social norm.

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Old 06-22-20, 10:21 PM
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Tried the Easthampton Rd to Papermill to Union Ave alternative to reach the MA part of the Canal Trail in Westfield this past sunny Saturday.

Not perfect, but I think it's a keeper. A hair more shade than out on 202, granted East Mountain Rd is a little narrower than the line of progress it continues from Park St, Line St, etc coming down after departing the Manhan via the Williston School lot in Easthampton, but drivers who are inclined to be polite have space to and the others, well... at least they don't have the excuse of someone sitting in the left lane that they do through the sharrows stretch of 202 between I90 and the river in Westfield which this avoids.

Papermill has been re-paved since the streetview car went through and is actually rather nice, though southbound there's one potentially nasty chuckhole around a water company shut off opposite the intersection of Mockingbird right after the first of two mild descents. Union can be a bit industrial with trucks etc but not too bad, also has a few more mild holes around water shutoffs on the eastbound side. While there might ultimately be more elevation change this way than 202 (?) it's spread out enough, the northbound climbs on Papermill aren't a very big deal.

Unfortunately you still hit Elm (202) a hair north of the river and that stretch isn't nice. Met some folks salmoning the sidewalk, which given fences that hook a bit back along the inclines of cross streets is pretty wild. Ride in the traffic lane or walk, it's not that far. With the current street situation the bike trail (ex rail) bridge is barely worth it, used it southbound but took the road bridge north. Fortunately noticed even more signs of progress towards replacing the missing bridges to connect that down to the current trail start at Stop and Shop - even the abutments of the *huge* missing span across Main St at the current elevated dead end seemed to have work being done on them.

In theory after the river Bartlett to Mechanic is an option but it's often a tricky left if there's any traffic, just staying on Elm to the rotary isn't bad. Nominally one should go 3/4 of the way around but if you go straight you can turn just past the fire station and go the back way into the Stop and Shop parking lot, then fill up there before exiting the lot to the incline ramp up the trail. Or skip it all and go a few blocks south to another trail ramp off Hedges Ave, but there's something special about climbing that ramp beside the grocery lot to the trail - a sort of literal "rising above" the chores of everyday life ;-)

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Old 06-23-20, 09:19 PM
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Got my kicks on MA 66 riding west out of Northampton further than I'd been before. Deciding it was getting late I consulted the map and turned up Easthampton Road (initially signed North Loudville) looping around onto North Rd and then Montague. Most of this turned out to be wide, wonderfully smooth recently repaved road curving through beautiful farmland - great for an evening ride, and with almost no traffic. Chesterfield to head back into town was a little narrower, curvier, and hillier but without many cars felt fine.

Only downside to the evening was that I hit Burt's Pitt road from what I though was the south but was actually the north and so turned the wrong way - instead of racing darkness back into town I ended up on a speed run back out into the boonies. Finally figured that out, too many bugs where I turned around but found a spot with fewer to rig my lights and then enjoyed a peaceful summer night's ride unwinding my mistake and returning home to downtown.

I'd probably do most of this again, though will have to look and see if there's anything wider that might be an option to Chesterfield at times when traffic could be high.
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Old 06-26-20, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post


Got my kicks on MA 66 riding west out of Northampton further than I'd been before. Deciding it was getting late I consulted the map and turned up Easthampton Road (initially signed North Loudville) looping around onto North Rd and then Montague. Most of this turned out to be wide, wonderfully smooth recently repaved road curving through beautiful farmland - great for an evening ride, and with almost no traffic. Chesterfield to head back into town was a little narrower, curvier, and hillier but without many cars felt fine.

Only downside to the evening was that I hit Burt's Pitt road from what I though was the south but was actually the north and so turned the wrong way - instead of racing darkness back into town I ended up on a speed run back out into the boonies. Finally figured that out, too many bugs where I turned around but found a spot with fewer to rig my lights and then enjoyed a peaceful summer night's ride unwinding my mistake and returning home to downtown.

I'd probably do most of this again, though will have to look and see if there's anything wider that might be an option to Chesterfield at times when traffic could be high.
I always wanted to but never had the opportunity to cycle on 66. If you go long enough west on 66 (8mi), you will eventually hit 112. There are a couple of places of interest I would love to come back to at some point. Littleville Dam/Lake is a nice scenic spot if you turn south, and if you turn north, this really obscure locals spot - Old Worthington Rd which leads to a very in-the-middle-of-nowhere Army Corps of Engineers Rd (gravel/MTB). If you follow that north, next to the shallow but swimmable river, you will eventually reach the Chesterfield Gorge. Of course, you could just get there by going on the road.
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Old 06-26-20, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
I always wanted to but never had the opportunity to cycle on 66. If you go long enough west on 66 (8mi), you will eventually hit 112.
Yes, I didn't have a lot of time before dark so started curving homewards went not too far west of where I'd been before. But this is a "route 66" all of which I could probably manage to ride ;-)

There are a couple of places of interest I would love to come back to at some point. Littleville Dam/Lake is a nice scenic spot if you turn south, and if you turn north, this really obscure locals spot - Old Worthington Rd which leads to a very in-the-middle-of-nowhere Army Corps of Engineers Rd (gravel/MTB). If you follow that north, next to the shallow but swimmable river, you will eventually reach the Chesterfield Gorge. Of course, you could just get there by going on the road.
Sounds tempting. How rugged is the road? Dirt and gravel are fine, I'm not great on obstacles, crosscut water channels or larger loose or embedded rocks though. And I don't do well in slippery mud.

Alas today looks to be the last nice day before a predicted week of rain. If I'd though of this earlier might have tried for it this afternoon, but just invited my nephew to join me in riding the rail trail the other way so may be committed to that.
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Old 06-29-20, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Yes, I didn't have a lot of time before dark so started curving homewards went not too far west of where I'd been before. But this is a "route 66" all of which I could probably manage to ride ;-)


Sounds tempting. How rugged is the road? Dirt and gravel are fine, I'm not great on obstacles, crosscut water channels or larger loose or embedded rocks though. And I don't do well in slippery mud.

Alas today looks to be the last nice day before a predicted week of rain. If I'd though of this earlier might have tried for it this afternoon, but just invited my nephew to join me in riding the rail trail the other way so may be committed to that.
Yeah, that is a route 66 that is more manageable than the one everyone tours on

For the Knightville Dam road, well... the first mile, mile and a half it's pretty smooth from what I remember, then gets rougher, MTB or gravel bike terrain. I haven't gone all the way up but from what I've seen it's pretty standard stuff; can obviously get muddy the way NE trails do but there are elevated bridges. https://www.pioneerframeworks.com/about.html, scroll down to "Favorite Dirt Road Riding Spot" - those two pictures are great representations of what it looks like.
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Old 06-29-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
For the Knightville Dam road, well... the first mile, mile and a half it's pretty smooth from what I remember, then gets rougher, MTB or gravel bike terrain. I haven't gone all the way up but from what I've seen it's pretty standard stuff; can obviously get muddy the way NE trails do but there are elevated bridges. https://www.pioneerframeworks.com/about.html, scroll down to "Favorite Dirt Road Riding Spot" - those two pictures are great representations of what it looks like.
The first picture looks nice, the second with the bike sideways across the trail about at my "extreme concentration" limit. When we dry out after this rainy week I may have to go look.

Interesting website though... I keep dreaming of a custom frame, they might be the folks to talk to. Reminds me how when I was coming back through Florence I got passed by a pickup with trailer of the sort's that's a stereotypical concern, looked to see if there was anything wide on the trailer and what did I see but the X axis handwheel of a Bridgeport! Fun stuff.
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Old 07-05-20, 09:57 PM
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Did my Northampton - Plainville CT roundtrip Century ride and found it great, though managed to hit East Mountain Rd at a busier time than in the past. Made great time which means I can contemplate doing it again later in the year with shorter days than I previously thought possible. Doubly so if I figure out a road route all the way back from Westfield to Hamp vs hopping back on the Manhan in Easthampton, as once it's really dark roads can be preferable to trails.

That said, kind of interested in finding an all-road alternative for another Century route before I repeat that one...

Had occasion this weekend to drive up towards Chesterfield, was interesting to see how short and rideable the distance actually is from the rotary at Look Park which I'ved reached by the trail, vs. the point on Route 9 which I've reached by taking a wrong turn at the river on another ride. But heading up rt 143 from Williasmburg, wow! It goes up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up, and up... If I ever want a hill to train on! Only I noticed on the return that a chunk of the southbound shoulder is a bit of a ditch and so not as hospitable. Also dropped in at the Chesterfield Gorge from the north end, rather nice, though i'd prefer to enjoy it by riding that fire road up along the river.

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Old 09-19-20, 06:42 PM
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Tried to make it out rt 66 to the fire road today. Huge mistake to look only at distance, not elevation. Basically burned up my legs going up and down the many ridges and had to throw in the towel a few miles and half a ridge climb short. When you come around the bend, and it just keeps going up, and up and up... and that's not even really the "hill towns".

Had a nice ride back through Westhampton and Williamsburg then picked up the trail trail back through Florence.

Utlimately rode three centuries on the Canal Trail this summer using roads to and from Westfield, which works though leaves a lack of variety.

I think checking out that fire road up the gorge is going to be a drive-to adventure.
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Old 11-10-20, 08:22 PM
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Finally made it up to the Peace Pagoda. Wanted to ride up to Turner's Falls and had previously come close while riding up Leverett Road from Amherst so looked at Cave Hill Rd on the map and decided the climb from the south wouldn't be too bad. Ended up taking two breaks on the hill, the first really about where the slope decreased and almost might have made it (would have a couple months ago, but I've slacked off). After resuming the rest was pretty easy; saw a downgrade sign and stopped to consult the map again and realized that I was a mere 20 feet from the driveway of the pagoda. Walked from where their paving stopped up to the hilltop shrine.

Then continued north. Was planning to take Turner's Falls road up, but wanted to have a loop so took the more easterly option of 63 toward Miller's Falls until cutting away on Pleasant Lake Rd and the Miller's Falls Rd past the airport until I finally got to the park alongside the dam and power canal.

Followed the canalside MUP west then set out south on Greenfield Road, and learned from northbound cyclists that it continues as a cycling route over the closed bridge. So in the end I never did Turner's Falls Rd, but ended up instead following along the river until I picked up 47 back into Sunderland.

Many of those Franklin Country roads are really outstanding for cycling. There's a brief paving issue on the way up to Leverett, but mostly they're in great condition and very comfortable to ride on. Pretty flat, too, with the exception of the detour up Cave Hill to the pagoda, and the ones along the rivers are especially gentle.

Pretty much the whole way from Turner's Falls down to where I hit 47 I was seeing more bikes than cars - granted it was mid-day on a weekday, but I kept wanting to say "in theory they are roads, but in practice they are bike routes". Rt 47 was of course a bit different - was very glad to be there midafternoon and not at a busy time when it would not have been pleasant. Fortunately I didn't really pick up a lot of traffic until the point in Sunderland where what I think is the "back way from UMASS" joins in, and it really wasn't far from there to where I cranked a right onto the rail trail and followed that to cross back to Northampton.

About 53 miles overall; if I'd gotten going earlier it might have been a metric, but I've been slacking off since the weather turned cold, and this took a lot out of me. In theory I can do them in colder temps; in practice, not sure I will until cabin fever sets in and the first day that doesn't have too many icy remained of footprints to dodge gets me out to begin the distance season again. First metric of last year was in January, so who knows?
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Old 11-15-20, 08:09 PM
  #16  
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Tried the west side of the river as a complement, and wow did I burn out my legs!

Lets' start with the elevation profile:




That first bit is the western branch climb from Florence through Whately. Had to take a break before finishing the hill beside one of the reservoirs, but so far so good.

Then in Conway took a detour on a gravel road out to the site of the former train station and what was (when it was still there) the tallest trestle in New England, allowing northbound trains to cross the east-west South River, while an electric trolley line ran underneath, across the wider Deerfield River and to meet the competing railroad on the east bank as well. Nice little adventure, but legs weren't quite up to climbing the gravel back out so walked a bit.

But Bardswell Ferry was a mistake. Really given all the time I spent on the gravel excursion I should have simply turned for home, instead decided I'd ride north at least to the bridge over the Deerfield river. Only it's down a huge hill, and who wants to ride back up the hill you just descended? So pressed on north, walking many steeper spots from fatigue and riding the shallow ones. Passed a couple of branches that didn't look promising like Hawk Rd and Old Albay Rd (only later passed them southbound; they actually would have been great choices) and then rather than really go into Greenfield proper and cross the river to repeat the ride down the Montague side, I just set off on Upper Rd heading for the straightest flatest way home. Er, well the 2nd straightest and flattest, - I-91 wasn't really an option, so I headed for route 5. Apart from one crossing over I91 that was a bit tight it was actually a decent ride with a fair shoulder and light traffic. And compared to the hilly way up, just a long gradual descent, as shown by the tail of that elevation profile.
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Old 11-22-20, 10:30 AM
  #17  
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Did another ride north, again up North Farms Rd up through Whately, Weber Road, Conway etc but this staying on Shelburne Falls Rd to its destination. Crossed at Salmon Falls then RT 2 to Greenfield, finding my way past the rail yards to River Rd and down that into Hatfield and finally Elm Street west above the bend in the river to pick up RT 5 back to Hamp.

After Conway the climb on Shelburne Falls Rd immediately following where Bardswell Ferry Rd (and last week's ride) branches off was substantial, also a lot of grit on the pavement. Probably should have used the driveway of the shooting club for a rest, instead pressed on and quickly stalled out and had to walk 30 vertical feet to a driveway where I could re-mount (also triggering the first of the day's three cars stopping to ask if I was OK) But at least it was the only hill walk of the day, unlike last week's many!

While hilly this is mostly a rather nice ride up to Shelburne Falls though the last mile into the village has poor paving condition and somewhere in there was a descent that wouldn't be fun to ride back up. The Salmon Falls are kind of nifty, you can see where the river drilled into the rock in the years before the dam, and its easy to imagine salmon leaping upstream. The old trolley bridge that's been planted with overflowing flowers as a pedestrian path was closed for the season but could get a sense of it from the gate road bridge. Trolly Museum is closed for COVID, much off the town center seemed to be open, definitely shops and eateries with local character though didn't sample any.

RT 2 from Shelburne Falls towards Greenfield is pretty decent for the most part with a quite generous shoulder though definitely some climbs of rolling hills as the road ventures from one valley to another. The thing is that it ends with a CRAZY descent - so long I had to take breaks to give my brake hand a rest! At one spot there was a tower that claimed you could see both VT and NH; took my best shot from the shoulder. Would not want to be trying to climb that in the reverse direction, not just because of the hill but because the shoulder on the uphill side becomes a truck climbing lane. Also ends with a rotary at the I91 interchange. On an ordinary bike the descent would be a non-issue so it's a viable route eastbound though it would take a lot of determination to to it in the west direction. Navigation wanted to route my across one loop of the middle part on OId Greenfield road which might have been nice; pictures I saw showed less than wonderful pavement so I opted for the slightly longer way on RT 2's generous shoulder.

Working my east from Greenfield towards River Rd wasn't bad though the stretch by the East Deerfield rail yards has little to recommend it. Unlike the Turner's Falls (Monatague) side, the road on the west bank is pretty hilly until you get much of the way down towards the RT 116 crossing. But from a bit north of the 116 bridge down through Hatfield it was a nice flat fast ride on wide low traffic roads that are often laced with crack sealer but still pretty smooth regardless. Bad timing meant well more than the last 10 miles were done after dark with a headlamp, but fortunately the breeze dropped with the sun so the early dark wasn't very cold.


----------------

After three major trips north in a hair under three weeks, I'll try to summarize my feelings on the various routings

Amherst, Leveret, Turner's Falls: This is a charming route, good quiet roads, some scenery, only moderate climbing (unless one opts to go up to the Peace Pagoda). For me though it means the extra distance of the rail trail ride out to Amherst

Montague side of the river (east) is really nice in the north, pretty flat ride through farm meadows. Only Falls Rd dumps into RT 47 a mile and half north of the 116 bridge; RT 47 is tolerable at low traffic times but doesn't have much of a shoulder.

River Road on the Deerfield side of the river (west): quite a bit more hilly in the northern portion as the road follows hillsides more than the river. Not as scenic as hoped but not bad. Descends to the river just north of 116 and then is a nice flat ride on decent wide roads all the way down to Hatfiled where Elm street then continues west to meet RT 5.

Seems like a combination of the above two could be good: River Rd in the southern portion through Hatfield, across the 116 bridge (looks reasonable on streetview), mile and a half of RT 47 on the Sunderland side up to Falls Rd and then follow along the river up to Turner's Falls.

RT 5 itself - flat, tolerable shoulder, straight, flat and efficient - just not particularly interesting. The expansive crossing of I91 just south of Yankee Candle has some issues through: busy, weeds overflowing into the shoulder, and really broken up pavement and detritus in the shoulder on the bridge over 91 itself. Unfortunately a detour would go quite a bit out of the way on Long Plain Rd and Christian Ln.

North Fams Rd through Whately to Conway - nice ride though lots of climbing makes it probably not the best prelude for say, riding into Vermont next spring. Heading towards Bardswell's Ferry means a big drop and then climb back up; looks like Hawk Rd could save some of the climb on the northbound side if trying to make a shorter loop, but haven't tried that (D2DR routes over it though)
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Old 11-23-20, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
But Bardswell Ferry was a mistake. Really given all the time I spent on the gravel excursion I should have simply turned for home, instead decided I'd ride north at least to the bridge over the Deerfield river. Only it's down a huge hill, and who wants to ride back up the hill you just descended? So pressed on north, walking many steeper spots from fatigue and riding the shallow ones. Passed a couple of branches that didn't look promising like Hawk Rd and Old Albay Rd (only later passed them southbound; they actually would have been great choices).
Ah, congratulations on hitting some of the notorious roads/climbs of D2R2. I thought the climb northward after Bardwells Ferry Bridge (awesome place) was finally going to be the place where my wife kills me, but I guess in the end she decided to redirect all her strength towards not stopping (and being unable to start).
Old Albany road has some pretty steep sections, 12% either way you go. Hawks Rd too gets rowdy but would've been a better choice. Regardless, I have to say it's pretty incredible for you to be doing these on a unicycle!

I did the classic 100K D2R2 a month ago and all climbs were kind of on par - long and grueling - but Peckville Rd up to Apex Orchards was somehow worst of them all. If you really want to punish yourself! But the view from up there is great plus you can get some cider (and other things) from the orchard store. On the other side of the spectrum I found 112 heading north into VT from Colrain to be a very nice, mostly flat picturesque road with a generous shoulder and would like to return at some point to do a road loop.

Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
RT 2 from Shelburne Falls towards Greenfield is pretty decent for the most part with a quite generous shoulder though definitely some climbs of rolling hills as the road ventures from one valley to another. The thing is that it ends with a CRAZY descent - so long I had to take breaks to give my brake hand a rest! At one spot there was a tower that claimed you could see both VT and NH; took my best shot from the shoulder. Would not want to be trying to climb that in the reverse direction, not just because of the hill but because the shoulder on the uphill side becomes a truck climbing lane. Also ends with a rotary at the I91 interchange. On an ordinary bike the descent would be a non-issue so it's a viable route eastbound though it would take a lot of determination to to it in the west direction.
Wow, yeah, that one is insane!
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Old 11-23-20, 04:30 PM
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Off-Topic: UniChris - Were you on the Cross Island Parkway (Joe Michaels Mile) this past weekend?
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Old 11-23-20, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Off-Topic: UniChris - Were you on the Cross Island Parkway (Joe Michaels Mile) this past weekend?
No, I haven't ridden in NY state since early March and not on LI since early 2019. There are other folks out there though.
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Old 11-23-20, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
Ah, congratulations on hitting some of the notorious roads/climbs of D2R2...Hawks Rd too gets rowdy but would've been a better choice.
Thanks, though given I was worn out in last weekends and walking the steep parts I don't think I deserve it (I will claim this Saturday's though)

And yes, I noticed D2DR routes via Hawk, will probably try that if I go back, at least if I'm planning to return directly south.

I did the classic 100K D2R2 a month ago and all climbs were kind of on par - long and grueling - but Peckville Rd up to Apex Orchards was somehow worst of them all. If you really want to punish yourself! But the view from up there is great plus you can get some cider (and other things) from the orchard store.
Tempting, maybe I should get a smaller wheel for lower gearing vs. range. Looking at stuff I've made it up, 6-7 % seems to be my power limit, and then there's the endurance question. I've done 6.5% for a half mile. That looks to be effectively 10% for a mile (er, 500 feet in just over a mile). But there's always training. Until this spring I was a creature of rail trails and couldn't climb worth beans.

On the other side of the spectrum I found 112 heading north into VT from Colrain to be a very nice, mostly flat picturesque road with a generous shoulder and would like to return at some point to do a road loop.
May have to consider that. I'm kind of looking for a VT-directed century route as a change from the CT directed ones I rode this past summer. the D2DR "Green River Ride" with its "family" targeting seems to have some promise as a route, coupled with whatever the easiest route up that way from Hamp ultimately is (probably either rt 5 or through Hatfield to river road crossing at 116 to the Montague side for the northern portion). Or I might just drive up there and do it with family.
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