Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Dirty Wachusett

Will from Mike's Boston area D2R2 crew, suggested last week that he wanted to ride the Dirty Wachusett route. Apparently Mike, Will and few others of the D2R2 crew did it before and Will thought re-riding it would be good to prep for this year's D2R2. There was interest from everyone at first but then they bailed leaving just Mike, Will and I. We met Will at the Massachusetts Central Rail Trail head and headed down the rail trail. 

It was heavily shaded and not paved, however, as it started to rain I was cursing myself because this time I brought both a clip on fender and my Ass Saver but since it was sunny and warm when we started I didn't think to grab one or the other and as luck would have it, it started to rain after a mile into the ride. I think from now on, I am going to always ride with at least the Ass Saver.

The trail portion of the Rail Trail ends at River Street, about 3 miles in and then turns north on a wide trail that is clearly not an old railroad bed. It appears the State couldn't get access to the original roadbed so they had to build this connector trail. You can't complain because at least its gravel.  

There's a pretty steep climb after Manning Street. Mike's cassette was popping so I adjusted his barrel adjuster and that seemed to make things better for him.

We pick up the rail trail again after short interlude on some pavement, called Mill Street, that actually turns to dirt. There is a connector trail that eventually meets up with the old roadbed but there is a pretty formidable climb first.

You leave the trail at a dirt road called Cobb Street but its closed to cars. At the end of the road I rode the little side trail, hit a log funny and dropped like a rock. Came close to hitting my head on a big rock.  Bottles were askew and my right brake lever was pushed sideways but nothing was amiss so on we went.

We got some some drizzle but it appeared to have rained harder elsewhere.

The real dirt started 12 miles into the ride on Emerald Road

and it stayed dirty for a few miles

Emerald Turned into Irish Road

And it got rougher, too. The kind of roughness that has you wishing for pavement.

Then we came to Rutland State Park and started dodging potholes filled with rain water. 

The road we were on popped out at a dam that wasn't really holding a lot of water back. Probably built after Tropical Storm Carol flooded New England back in 1954

The route took us over another earthen dam

And then we were at the Barre Falls Dam

Again, the dam wasn't holding the water back but if there was another repeat of that storm from the 1950s they would be closing this dam and everything behind it would get flooded out.

Everything upstream from the dam is temporary, including this bridge we had to ride over

The gravel on Prison Camp road was tough, too

but it gave way to smoother roads

and then back again to rougher terrain

Then the climbing started

This part of North Road is dirt and RWGPS doesn't do justice to the actual grade of the road

Right before the lookout the grade was 18%

but it was worth it!

From here you can see Mt Monadnock

And here is Mount Greylock, approximately 65 miles away

The paved climb is pretty tough, too. Once again, there was an 18% section that had me wishing more and more to have added that 42t cassette.

You get a nice respite at the Ledges overlook

and then making the turn to the summit there is another kick in the teeth.

But it's worth it

The temperature atop Wachusett Mountain was nice

Will didn't bring a sando so Mike and I split ours with him. I brought two Peanut Butter, Jelly and Bacon sandwiches.

Then we mounted up and headed down the mountain. It was a fast descent, I hit almost 40 mph!

On Thompson Road I had made a course change because I didn't want to overlap the route however what you see on RWGPS is not what you might want to ride! It looked like a road but turned out to be singletrack. Seeing that the Deer Flies were following us closely I didn't want to run into a Napoleon's Death March and get munched so we called an audible and stuck to the original route.

The last leg of the route was down a numbered road and as we were eating our ice cream at this unplanned stop we talked ourselves out of the quickest way back and headed back down the rail trail.

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