That's what the woman sitting astride the horse was yelling. I was sliding and bumping my way down-hill on a dirt road in south-central Massachusetts. Just as I was approaching the bottom of the hill, I heard the dog start barking wildly. Then, the three women on horseback came into view. One of them was yelling something, but all I could hear was my gear bouncing and clanging in my panniers. She yelled louder, perhaps angrily. Finally I understood what she wanted. She wanted me to stop. There were two problems with this. First, I was tired, thirsty, and in no mood to have people giving me orders. Second, I wasn't exactly in complete control of my bicycle. Mostly, I was just holding on as the bike rolled, slid, and bounced its way downhill. Finally, however, I managed to bring it to a stop without embarrassing myself by falling in the middle of the road. It seems the bicycle scares the hell out of the horses, and they wanted me to stop as they rode by.
I had rolled away from my home in Meriden Connecticut just this morning, setting out on my first extended bicycle tour. The first part of my trip followed my daily commute route to work. It was difficult not to try to match my commuting speed. I had to remind myself that my bike was a lot heavier than when commuting, and my riding day would be much longer. Slow down and relax.
It was fun riding past my workplace and mentally saying good-bye for the next week. I turned north and headed up state Route 10. This would follow the left bank of the Farmington River north, providing me with a flat and scenic route into Massachusetts. When route 10 crossed over to the right bank in Avon, I stayed on the left side and followed local, rural roads to Tariffville. This little town was so quiet that I rode past people walking down the middle of Main Street.
I reconnected with Route 10 in Granby, and crossed the state line into Massachusetts shortly before noon. As soon as I was over the line, the road shoulder disappeared. I was now sharing the single lane with 50 mph car and truck traffic. Not fun!
I was looking for a pleasant spot to stop and eat lunch, but nothing appeared. Finally, I stopped at a convenience store and bought some rolls to make peanut butter sandwiches, which I ate on the side of the road. Thus fortified, I rode shoulderless Route 10 into the city of Westfield. I passed a 'Big Y' supermarket, and thought I should stop and buy groceries for tonight's dinner, then decided against it. I was concerned about leaving my bicycle unattended in the city while I was inside shopping. Surely, one of the small towns between here and my destination for the day would have a store of some kind where I could shop without leaving my bike so far out of sight for so long a time.
The road through Westfield was very nice, being a wide boulevard lined with shade trees and park benches. I took the opportunity to stop here and eat another peanut butter sandwich. With only half a bottle of water left, I looked around for someplace to fill up, but saw nothing. Oh well, something will turn up. From here, I had picked a route on the map that looked like it would take me along rural roads into the hills and to my destination in Westhampton. After a bit of trial and error, I located the turn I wanted just after crossing Main Street and then the railroad tracks. The city soon dropped behind, and the road passed several farms. A point labeled on my map as being the town of Russellville turned out to be nothing but an intersection in the midst of the forest. Not a building in sight. The prospects for shopping and getting water looked none too good! I continued on, and soon the pavement ended. Hmm! I wonder how my 700x28 tires, which I had inflated to a hard 120 psi just this morning, will do on a dirt road. I pressed on, waiting and watching for the flat tire I was convinced was inevitable. It never happened. The network of dirt roads was a bit confusing, as most intersections lacked any kind of signage. I believe I managed to stay on my intended route, right up until I reached the sign which proclaimed "ROAD CLOSED BRIDGE OUT". After consulting my map, and doing a bit of backtracking and sidetracking, I found myself bouncing down the hill to my encounter with the three equestrians. Once past this hurdle, I pushed and dragged my bike up a sandy hill and there, at last, was Route 66. I was delighted and surprised to see that I had emerged exactly where planned. From here, I coasted down hill and in a matter of minutes had arrived at the campground where I would be staying the night.
Since I never had found a store this afternoon, it would be peanut butter sandwiches for supper, and a bagel I had bought this morning in Farmington Connecticut for breakfast in the morning. Obviously, I need to get a handle on this shopping routine!
The days statistics:
- 64.1 miles
- 5:09:55 riding time
- 12.4 mph average speed
Distance from home:
Day 2: Westhampton MA to Brattleboro VT