Saturday, July 11, 2015

Greylock Gravel Grinder

Mt Greylock has been on my bucket list and today I finally got to check it off.  When I had heard that Berkshire Cycling Association was offering a dirt road ride to their annual Greylock Century ride, I was in like Flynn! I had contemplated doing the century but I don't think I would have been ready, but a lesser distance and to do it on gravel who could say no to that?

I headed up to Will's house in Spencertown the night before, stopping off in Chatham to fill my growlers because I was supplying the beer for dinner.  I filled the 64 oz with Farmer's Daughter and and my half growler (32 oz) with more of the 8 Barrel IPA.     

Dinner at Will's, combined with the svelte Farmer's Daughter, and a beautiful sunset made for a nice relaxing evening.

At the registration point, Notchview, it was beautifully sunny with just a hint of chill in the air.  Many riders were going out with arm warmers on but you you knew those would be discarded quickly after the first climb so I opted to not put mine on.  After registering we hopped on our bikes and the first turn in the course we were on sweet, freshly bladed (it seemed) Massachusetts gravel.     

Descending down from Notchview on some really nice dirt roads and seasonal routes we encountered a phenomena that I think neither Will nor I have ever ridden in before, fog!  First thing through my mind was remembering that I didn't have my front blinky.  I had the rear one, though.  The visibility was about 30 yards in front. 

The fog did cool things off.

After awhile we were treated to a nice view of Brodie Mountain.

Eventually we found ourselves on Mount Greylock Road

And were treated to some interesting obstacles.

While Will was fixing his bike we met Ed Carman.  Ed told us we were the first Gravel riders to come through so far.  Will's valve stem came out of the tube and I thought we were going to have to change his tube but he was able to get it back in.  I whipped out my CO2 inflator and got him up in running in 2 seconds.

At this sign is where things go interesting and by that I mean really steep!  In fact, it was so steep my chain started skipping off the front chain ring and I had to walk a few sections.  Looks like it's time for new gears.

The dirt ended and then we climbed the hard ball to the top.

And we climbed

And climbed some more

Finally we got to the top!

Take Mt Greylock off the bucket list!

What a view!

If you look real closely in the picture above you might see a little white tower.  That's the Zephyr, Jiminy Peak's windmill.

We descended Mt Greylock into North Adams and then began climbing again on Rt 2.

The descent down the backside was awesome!

An incredible descent!

Finally, we came to the bridge over the Deerfield River

After crossing the Deerfield River we climbed E Road behind Berkshire East Ski Area.  We did this climb last year on the 2014 D2R2 and it was just like I remembered it from last year, brutal!  My skipping chain didn't help in the really steep parts either.

Apparently there was only one other Gravel Rider, Christian Bratina of the Litchfield Hills Cycling Club.  He had a triple and was zooming up theses hills!  There was a detour that we ended up following loosely but instead of riding the last dirt section we opted for the road and that was bear because it was all climbing back to Notchview.  When we got back I cramped up seriously.  I drank a lot but I didn't replenish my electrolytes and that's was got me!  

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Ride after Work: On a Sunday!

One of the drawbacks of working for a financial company is sometimes you have to work on a weekend due to month end. What made matters harder was that it was a holiday weekend.  Since the family was heading to the beach I opted to take a spin on the Cannondale and try a new route that included a lap around Lake Waramug.

I initially followed the LOF Lake to Lake route for first 10 miles into Woodbury but then started following the 75K route in reverse by heading up Route 132 towards Bethlehem and Morris.

I found this great climb called Camel Hill

At the top of the Hill is the Golden Pear, which at one time was Bed and Breakfast that my wife and I stayed at once.  It didn't look like the B&B was still in business, though.

I found this sign on Camel Hill Road

I rode to Route 202 from here and then headed to Rt 341 

Rt 341 was newly paved a so smooth!  I took this to Rt 45 and down to Lake Waramug.  I did one lap around the lake then headed down Rt 202 towards New Milford

I found a D&D and stopped for a Boston Creme and a Coolotta.
Then I it was hammer home.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Gravle Independenza

The desire to explore more gravel roads in Western Massachusetts has been high on my list and since I had the Friday before the Fourth of July off I made plans to meet Will in Copake to do just that.  Of course, I couldn't resist hitting Mount Washington State Forest, home of the biggest road climb, albeit dirt, in Connecticut call Mt Riga Road.  What was disconcerting about this route was hitting Mt Riga Road and 50+ miles of riding but from the starting point in Copake, there was just no other way.

The steepest climb on this route is Sunset Rock.  It has an average grade of 12% and the steepest section is 22%.  Will and I made short work of it being right out of the gate.

Looking north towards Great Barrington

Before descending toward the Jug End of Mount Washington State Forest stopping at the intersection of West Street (Gravel) and East Street (Pave) is always nice to take in the view.

Pretty wildflowers

Riding across the Eggermont/Sheffield plain yielded more gravel roads that I found on the map and confirmed with this ride.  Eventually we came to this covered bridge that I never knew existed.

The Housatonic River was a flood stage

I wasn't sure whether Covered Bridge Lane actually went through or not.  

On the satellite photo it appeared to turn into someone's house but it does go through and it's great cut through.

Climbing up out of the Housatonic River plains we eventually came to Umpachene Falls Park.
The bridge over Konkapot River is blocked off to traffic and it's a nice dirty climb past the falls, too.

The bridge that connects Umpachene Falls to the Canaan Southfield Road is also blocked and goes over Umpachene River looked so cool and inviting.

We rode up River Road, which on most maps is not there but I had heard from a reliable source that it does go through and it did.

Eventually we wound up at The Southfield Store.  I remember this place as a kid when my father had a ski house in New Marlborough and we used to drive down Norfolk Road to get to Winsted and Route 8.  Of course, back then, the store was a general store/post office.  From here, the route took up East Hill Road, the second significant climb of the route.  What have annotated on the Tri State Gravle Map shows the dirt starting further towards the center of Southfield but it really doesn't get dirty until you crest the hill.  The route swings through Cookson State Forest and eventually drops down in Canaan Valley.

Riding back across the Sheffield Plain and back over the Housatonic River the route eventually lead us to the border with Connecticut.  While riding down one of the many dirt roads up we rode past a farm where this grisly old farmer emerged from a barn and I swear it was Gerry Garcia!  Then it was between the lakes, down Wildcat Hollow, back along the Housatonic and then climbing back to Salisbury where we stopped at Sweet William's Bakery for pastry and beverages to get ready for the last climb, Mt Riga Road.

There were so many cars passing us it was nuts

The road was in fine shape

It's the type of climb that seems to go on and on

Passed a couple of guys on mountain bikes

Coming out of the State Forest, Will's rear tire was getting mushy so we stopped to put air in it and hoped that it would hold till we got back to car.  It did.  From here is was a quick rip down into Bash Bish Falls and eventually back to the parking lot.  We drove over to the Four Brothers Pizza restaurant in Hills Dale for couple of Chatham Brewing's Farmer's Daughters and a pepperoni pizza!

Sunday, July 05, 2015


A quick lunch time ride is awesome!

The only downside is that my bottom bracket was making a clicking sound. 
 I hope it's because I rode in the rain last weekend and they just need a little oil.

I can't believe this is the first time I have ridden to the top of Castle Hill this year!

The view is worth every pedal stroke!