The weekend of Sept. 26 -- 28, 1997 touring@ denizen Jody Fitch and I got together for a short weekend tour to get to know each other and to enjoy the early fall scenery here in southern New England.
Jody is a grad student at UMASS in Amherst Massachusetts. Since he had a Friday morning class to attend, I drove up from my home in Connecticut and met him on campus when his class ended at 10:00 AM. By the time we had gotten ourselves organized, found a place to leave my truck for the weekend, assembled bikes and luggage, etc., we were finally on the road around 11:30.
The weather on Friday was a constantly changing mix of clouds and sun. Whenever the sun broke though it quickly warmed. When the clouds rolled back in, it became cool and damp. I spent most of the day switching back and forth from my regular glasses to my sunglasses, and donning and removing my jacket.
We headed north out of Amherst, following the left bank of the Connecticut River. We were fighting a mild headwind, and I quickly discovered that Jody's Haluzak recumbent has the wind shadow of a short dachshund, and is totally useless for drafting. I told Jody the next time we traveled together I was going to bring a 2' by 4' piece of plywood to strap to the back of his seat, just to even things out a bit. :-))
We had a pleasant, but unspectacular trip north into New Hampshire, then we crossed the river into downtown Brattleboro VT. It was only midafternoon, and we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in a downtown coffee shop, talking and getting to know each other. Jody's 'bent received many interested looks from passers-by on the sidewalk, and one young woman even stopped to photograph it.
As dark approached, we headed uptown to the local supermarket for food, the climbed the hill to Fort Dummer State Park, where we planned to spend the night. As we approached, we were surprised to find that the park had already closed for the season. Taking advantage of our bikes' superior mobility as compared to a motor vehicle, we walked around the gate and had the entire park to ourselves.
Saturday turned out to be a perfect early New England fall day. The sun shone brightly from a deep blue sky, the temps were cool, the air was dry. After stoking up at a local diner, we headed back into New Hampshire and struck southeast with Quabbin Reservoir as our target. The road we picked at random from our map (NH 78) turned out to be awesome. A great surface, no potholes or pavement cracks, fairly light traffic, etc. We rolled along a pretty valley lined with farm fields and pastures. We even got to take our morning break beside a field that was being visited by a group of wild turkeys.
As we crossed into Massachusetts and neared the Quabbin Reservoir (look at any map of Massachusetts and you'll see a huge expanse of water in the middle of the state), we started watching for a glimpse of the water. Finally, as we approached the top of a rise, I spotted it through the trees. Braking hard, and nearly causing Jody to crash into me (sorry, Jody!), we walked down a short hill until we reached the shore on the north end of the reservoir. The trees bordering the water were just starting to take on their fall colors; a mixture of green, golds, reds. Truly beautiful.
We continued across the northern end of the reservoir, then made a short detour north to the town of Petersham. This is a nice rural town, with some beautiful buildings surrounding the town green. We passed the afternoon sitting in the sun outside the general store. There was a great photo in the store of the reservoir as it now exists, inlaid with an old photo of the town now buried under the water. As the day waned, we headed down Rt. 32A along the eastern shore of Quabbin, and found a nice secluded spot to pitch our camp for the night.
On Sunday morning we completed our circumnavigation around the southern end of the reservoir, and arrived back in Amherst early in the afternoon. Our mileage for the weekend was modest, and we had plenty of time to hang out, enjoy the fall weather and scenery, and get to know each other. We made about 45 miles on Friday, 55 on Saturday, and the last 35 miles on Sunday.
Thanks Jody, for such a great time!