Bike Fest 2011 Wins the Day

For several weeks before yesterday’s Bike Fest sponsored by the Northampton Cycling Club, I’d been encouraging people to join me at this celebration of cycling in the Pioneer Valley. This event was big time, and the club had gone all out to plan and promote it. Roadside ads were all over, a television commercial ran during cycling events like the Tour de France. I was especially excited because I was going to do the 25 mile ride with my son, Quinn,  to make up for missing our summer bike tour.

Then came the weather forecast. Rain. Heavy rain.

But you know what? The rain never came. Bike Fest was a marvelous success and won the day!

Quinn and I arrived at Look Park about 15 minutes before the 25 mile ride began. The joint was already jumping. We saw some friends there with their bikes and lots of smiles. By the time we had finished registering the ride was about to begin. Look Park had requested that all cyclists leave the park at the same time, so we had a park vehicle escort in front and the back until we reached the bike path exit.

During the first part of the ride, Quinn and I rode with many other riders in a large group. I was concerned that this would be hard for him, as group riding takes some skill. It was not a problem. He rode a straight line, he was aware of the riders around him. He pedaled at a steady cadence. I was so impressed and proud.

Before we’d left the park, I’d glanced at the cue sheet directions. I recognized the route from my own rides – so I thought. I was pleasantly surprised to find the route went to roads new to me. Wonderful quiet roads with spectacular views. I love when I find new places to ride my bike in the Pioneer Valley!

One of those new roads was Park Hill Road in Easthampton. Our rest stop was there at Micka Farm. It was staffed by organizers of Steph’s Wild Ride, a cycling and motorcycing poker run event in memory of Stephanie Micka which raises money for grants to support individual children with cancer. Steph’s Wild Ride was also a beneficiary of funds from Bike Fest. Steph’s aunt and uncle were so welcoming and gracious to us encouraging to eat more of the apples freshly picked from the Micka orchard – delicious!

This stop re-confirmed my belief that the Northampton area is a terrific place to ride a bike. Here we were at a farm having apples fresh from the field. The view was spectacular, little traffic on the road. We had just passed dairy and other kinds of farms. We were 13 meandering miles from the end of the ride, but only about 6 miles from downtown Northampton where restaurants and entertainment could be had.

Quinn and I decided to move on and this is where we really began the part of the ride I always look forward to – just the two of us, telling stories, encouraging each other along.

He surprised me by telling stories from our family trip along the Erie Canal in New York in 2003. Quinn was three years old and rode in a seat on the back of Heidi’s bike, playing with his cars and bullet train and eating cheerios. I was so surprised that he had such clear memories of this trip. Talking with him as we rode along made me glad to be where I was doing exactly what I was doing with him.

Towards the end of the ride, we got back to familiar roads, and I could describe the coming terrain for him – he appreciated knowing exactly where the hills were. We were both tired and looking forward to the BBQ promised back at Look Park.

When we got back to Leeds, he recognized where we were and shouted for joy, knowing that the bike path to Look Park was only a block away. We both savored the downhill into the park, and of course he sprinted to the end.

We could hear Roger Saloom‘s band playing as soon as we got to the park. There were several hundred people milling around, bikes everywhere, and yes, a food area. We parked and loaded our plates. The food was really good!

I talked with friends who had done the 44 miler and the 75 miler. Both talked about the new roads they were introduced to and how beautiful the routes were. I also saw lots of cars with out of state tags.

Bike Fest was a great time and I can hardly wait until next year’s version. You should definitely put it on your schedule. Congratulations to the Northampton Cycling Club for a great event, and thanks to them for highlighting the beautiful bike riding in Western Massachusetts!

Maybe next year I’ll convince Quinn to do the 44 miler with me…

If you were at Bike Fest, drop a note in the comments with your experiences of the day!


About Pedal Paradise

Cyclist, Mom, Travel Nut, Bike Riding Empower-er!
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11 Responses to Bike Fest 2011 Wins the Day

  1. Apral says:

    WOW! Your description was great SISTER DEAR! It made me feel like I was there with Boy #2. LOL Both of those boys are in such great shape it makes me feel old and flabby. I’m glad you were exactly where you wanted to be!

    Kiss my nephews for me!

    • Thanks, Apral! Yes, they are in really good shape. I was truly impressed with Quinn’s ability to keep a steady pedaling cadence the entire trip, right to the end. He’s a fun kid, and I’m glad I got to get in a ride with him.

      After the ride was over he kept asking me about getting him a new racing bike. So now you know to get for him, Auntie dear!


  2. Nice writeup! Hope to get my own up soon too. I did the 75 mile, and I too saw some new roads even though the last two weekends I have been on long rides. I had the honor and experience of riding in a NCC pace line for the first time- everyone was very nice and it simply was a great day from start to finish. The food (and beer) was excellent, and I met some new people (sorry I missed you). I second the notion of many out of state plates- I was surprised and pleased about that. Great atmosphere, well organized. Well done NCC. I encourage everyone to attend next year. They have something for everyone. This was my first year at this event, and I am very impressed. I’ll be back next year.

    • Tim,
      I’m glad to know you enjoyed yourself and were introduced to some new roads. I’ve never ridden in an NCC paceline, I’m glad the riders made it a good experience.

      I’m sorry I missed meeting you too. I’m sure we’ll see each other at some cycling event. I look forward to reading your description of the day on your site. Be sure to post a link here.

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. I really appreciate it!

      Gina, who agrees the beer was excellent.

  3. ben says:

    great that you got to do the ride with your son!

    • Ben,

      We had a wonderful time together! On these trips my kids really take on part of the responsibility for making the trip a success. They take care of me, in their own way, as I take care of them – ‘need water?’, ‘look at that waterfall!’, ‘we live in a beautiful place!’, ‘car back!’. I really enjoy getting to know them in this way.

      Thanks for stopping by!


    • That’s a really good write up! I could picture myself riding along with you on the 75 mile ride (virtually, of course!). Quinn and I rode with some very nice folks also.

      Click on over and read Tim’s post!


  4. Bob LaPalme says:

    Speaking for myself and my wife Margaret, (Steph’s uncle and aunt), managing the rest stop at my Brother-in -law’s farm on Park Hill was great fun. As a cyclist i enjoyed seeing the bikes that people rode that day, but what was most interesting was the riders. The couple that just moved to Northampton from New York city, yourself and your young riding companion and others made the time fly by. Great fun! Thanks for mentioning Steph’s Wild Ride and providing the link with your generous comments about the rest stop at the farm. Please say” Hi” if you see me downtown sometime, i would enjoy sharing some of my favorite hilltown rides with you if you like.
    Take care. Bob LaPalme

    • Bob,

      That rest stop at the MIcka Farm was the right place at the right time, and the apples and you and Margaret made it even better! When I asked you what kind of apples those delicious apples were, your answer was perfect – ‘Golden Delicious!’ This is what I mean about Western MA being a great place to ride. I can’t remember having a Golden Delicious apple which made me exclaim because it was so good.

      It was a remember once again to have local products fresh from the farm. We have an abundance of farms, and we need to support them. Riding my bike helps me to appreciate them as part of the landscape even more.

      I’m happy to post about Steph’s Wild Ride. The group does good stuff, and like most people, I’ve had young people in my life who’ve had cancer. Be sure to put me on the list for places to send ride announcements, and I’ll post them here.

      Thanks so much for writing. See you on the road!


  5. Pingback: BikeFest Returns for Fifth Year | Pedal Paradise

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