The weekend forecast is looking good after many days of rain. My bike and I are ready to go out. Trees are doing their color changing thing. It will be a great weekend to ride around the Pioneer Valley.
I like to ride my bike to events as well as just sightseeing and getting exercise. So where to go?
One place to check for events is the Hilltown Families blog. They have a couple of suggested events for this weekend. One of them is the Ashfield Fall Festival. I’ve only been to the center of Ashfield a couple of times, and each time I ate breakfast Elmer’s Store. Can’t wait to go back – the biscuits are the real thing. A ride from Northampton to Ashfield will set you back a couple of hours, and the ride up the hills will have you ready for copious amounts of food upon arrival.
If you have never ridden the quiet roads behind the Fairgrounds, you really are missing something. Henry Street/Venture Field between Hocanum Road and Fair Street is quiet and scenic. If you are trying to get to the Arts Festival, this might be a good alternative to going down Bridge Street/Rte 9. Less traffic, and more relaxing.
As for rail trail riding, well, the UMass Football team has the weekend off, so heading over through Hadley and Amherst might be a little calmer than the usual Fall Saturday. (Though, riding the Norwottuck rail trail over to the football game would get you immediately out of a lot of post-game traffic.) The trees lining the trail should be gorgeous, but might be crowded as I would guess there are plenty of people longing to get outside who will pick the trail. Places to stop include the art and natural history museums at Amherst College . There’s food in downtown Amherst, around the malls in Hadley, and in Hadley center. And of course, plenty to choose from here in Northampton.
One of my all time favorite places to ride is through Hatfield-Whately-Deerfield along River Road. There are few cars, most of the road has really wide shoulders, and the views are spectacular. Mountains in the distance, farms up close. The Connecticut River just peeking through the trees. Food can be had at farm stands, in the center of Hatfield, the center of South Deerfield, and just across the Connecticut River bridge into Sunderland.
Wherever you decide to go, wear your helmet, take what you need to fix a flat, and have a good time. Maybe I’ll see you out there. You’ll know me by the smile on my face.