Saturday, August 30, 2014

A bad day on the bike is better than a good day at the office

I came really close to debunking that old adage on Friday. Three of us had a Berkshires ride planned. First Brett drops out when a work obligation trumped the ride. No problem, Dave was still in. I left early to crab a Clover machine coffee at Starbucks in Chelmsford. Traffic seemed light for Friday morning rush. Maybe a lot of people were taking the day off for a 4-day holiday.

I no more than got on I-495 when traffic came to an abrupt halt. WTF. Over the course of the next hour I covered about four miles. Dave was asking if he should just start the ride without me, as I had no idea why I was going nowhere. There were no accident reports. Later I learned they shut lanes down at the Rt 2 construction site. Friday morning rush? REALLY?! So Dave was kind enough to wait so we wouldn't each be doing the same ride solo. I made up some time on Rt 2, let's not say how much, lest I incriminate myself.

Starting the ride an hour late heading up Rowe Rd, we saw signs about Depot Rd detour. I had no idea what road Depot Rd was. We were going over Monroe Hill, over the Deerfield River to Kinsgley Hill Rd, the "meanest mile" in Massachusetts.

Well wouldn't you know it, Depot Rd is the bridge over the river. It is being reconstructed and doesn't even have a deck on it right now. There was no way to cross there. The freaking detour dead-ended there. No other roads escape that area except the wall called Monroe Hill Rd that we just came down. Neither of us brought phones to study the situation, nor did we buy map packages for our GPSs. A couple of sorry old fucks if you ask me.

Google Maps did try to route me over another bridge only a few hundred meters north when I was doing some route planning the night before. Apparently Google knows the Depot Rd bridge was out. So we rode over to this other bridge, only to find private property signs all over, keep out, etc. The bridge looked perfectly suitable for us to take bikes across. But this was some kind of utility property and there were people about. I asked a man walking by if there was any way to get across the river from here. He chuckled and said "the bridge is out, didn't you see the signs? You'll have to go back the way you came. You might have to walk your bikes." Yeah, right. I told him we had planned to ride up Kingsley Hill, which is at least twice as steep as Monroe Hill. He looked at us like we weren't normal.

So we mashed our way back up and over Monroe Hill, finding ourselves almost back at the cars 90 minutes into our ride. Now what? Neither of us liked the prospects of riding up and over on Rt 2 with all the semi's going by and little to no shoulder. I didn't want to drive over to North Adams either to hit Greylock, the main feature of the loop I had planned. Between starting an hour late and dead ends, I was almost ready to hang it up. A lot more could go wrong with the day the way things were going.

Dave topping out on East Rd

Near bottom of East Rd

Instead, we decided to just hit local climbs around Charlemont. There are enough of them there, having ridden many of them in various D2R2 routes. East Rd was gravel, but conditions last week suggested it would be fine with 23mm road tires going up. It was. We did it twice, looping over to East Hawley Rd for a monotonic paved descent. Each loop netted 1400ft of climbing. Twice around was equal to Greylock. We also hit Mountain Rd and West Hawley Rd. This got our total climbing for the day up to 7000ft, still short of the goal, but some solid intensity in those climbs.  The day turned out to be a big CF, but the objective was achieved: body depleted, mind purged. A good day at the office can never do that.


Anonymous said...

That private property area is Yankee Atomic and/or Bear Swamp Project. High security, even though the nuclear plant has been decommissioned. Rte 2 is actually a nice ride. Way less traffic than you'd expect, very scenic. Another climb out of that area is Whitcomb Hill, not as steep but longer and possibly harder than both Kingsley & Monroe. Depot St. bridge is closed a lot, so just some suggestions next time you ride in the area.

Hill Junkie said...

I knew of Whitcomb, but with no map on us, I didn't remember how to get to it. Didn't want to risk another dead end. Maybe with the Depot St bridge being reconstructed, it will be closed less often? Anyway, probably good idea to stay on the west side of the river to avoid this in the future. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

It's almost as if they close the bridge randomly and periodically so as to train people to gravitate toward another route. Not really sure why. The "Bridge Closed" signs seem to always be up, even when the bridge is open. That whole area has a certain secrecy/off limits vibe to it, due to the closed nuclear plant and active hydroelectric plant. But it also has the most dense collection of steep climbing in the state.