bikingandbaking: photo of my road bike with a tag reading "51" on it (Default)
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Last weekend, [livejournal.com profile] dphilli1 had a race out in Charlemont, so I tagged along. I'd been neglecting doing hill-climbing training, and it kind of showed in how I felt on the 200k, so I figured there were two options:

1. Ride home from Charlemont, a 200k, in what was predicted to be heavy rain. Not especially hilly, mile-for-mile, although nothing resembling flat.

2. Put together a hill ride in the area, finishing about the same time David would be done. Given that this is the land of D2R2[1], the only challenge would be keeping it mostly on paved roads, since none of the online mapping sites reliably show improved vs. unimproved roads, and there's a lot of dirt out there. Still predicted to be in heavy rain, but I'd only be out in it for 40 miles or so.

I went with the latter, which was by far the most fun I've had climbing hills on a bike. It didn't hurt that the predicted rain all dumped on us on the drive out there, and by the time I set out the roads were dry and the sun was out.

Definitely so much better than doing hill repeats, which I did today. Ugh. (I don't actually go repeat the same exact climb; I have a loop that takes me up a whole bunch of local hills in a row, but it's definitely a workout ride and not actually scenic.)

image of a hilly road on a sunny day



What was perhaps the worst of the hills was first, which got it out of the way, but I had to do it without really being warmed up. I didn't stop, though, except for one thing: there was a wad of money ground into the sand at the edge of the road -- $17. I stuffed it in the side of my new handlebar bag and pretended I hadn't really needed a few seconds to catch my breath anyway.

image of a road going over the top of a hill, with a truck-caution sign

That's looking back down it, with the handy-dandy truck caution sign.

And here's the other way:
image of bucolic countryside

This was pretty much the scenery all day. I'd promised myself a combination training ride and tour -- I'd push on the hills, but on flat ground, I'd ride as I liked, stopping for pictures and snacks. There were the obligatory stone walls:

image of a bike leaning against a stone wall

funky barns:
photo of a barn

rivers:
photo of a river

and cows:
photo of a hillside, with cows grazing

I was going to lean the bike up against the stump in the foreground, but I realized at the last minute it was covered in mostly-dead but not entirely-dead poison ivy.

I did end up with one dirt-road climb, but it wasn't one of the steep ones, and it was, in fact, in better shape than a lot of the pavement, plus it went over to very nice pavement as soon as it plummeted back downhill. I'm starting to be strong enough to understand the appeal of dirt-road rides; the surface saps a lot of speed, so you have to be strong, but the roads are really pretty, and if they're in good shape, very smooth even with skinny high-pressure tires.

After the first three big hills, I stopped in Shelburne Falls for a break, keeping with this touring zeitgeist. Walked the bike across the bridge of flowers:

photo of a bike by a sign for the bridge of flowers

I dropped the now slightly less damp $17 I'd found in the garden's donation box, and found a picnic table by the falls to sit for a few minutes.

photo of the falls in Shelburne Falls

Then it was time for the long steady climb. For the first half of it it was a new road; the second half had been part of a lovely long downhill on the Berkshires to Boston tour. It was long, and the sun had started beating down on me. But there were some nice little breaks. A roadside spring:

photo of a bike by a spring flowing into a trough

which was exactly what I needed at that point -- I poured icy water over my head and felt rejuvenated. And then a farmers' market in Ashfield -- I'd planned to stop at the pizza place we'd eaten at during Berkshires to Boston, but the market was even better. I bought the smallest amount of goat cheese I could from one farmer, and an anise-orange pastry (I don't even like anise, normally, but it sounded perfect and it was) and some coffee, and watched the town flow in and out of the market until I couldn't put the second half of the climb off for any longer.

The sun got worse on the second half -- if I manage to attempt the 600k, I'm going to have to do most of that climb with 200k already on my legs, and without stressing them before the actual mountain passes later in the ride. I'm dubious as to whether that's going to happen, but I'm still aiming for it as a goal. I took no pictures after the spring; I just wanted to get the climb done.

Then there was 8-10 miles of straight downhill, on mostly excellent pavement, which was my grand reward for that uphill slog. I didn't really pour on the speed here -- I was enjoying the wind on my face and the views. (This is where the river and cows pictures above come from, heh.)

I got back to the car, put the bike away, got changed, went *back* to the car again for my camera, and got back to the crowd of spectators at the finish about ten minutes before David and his teammates finished, so it was pretty much perfect.

[1] If you don't want to click the link, this is the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee, a notoriously hilly, mostly dirt road organized ride.

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