November 1, 2010

Berkshire Cycling: South Lee Loop 1 (part 2)

The road starts an easy climb up at and I quickly reach Fernside, on the side of Mt. Horeb. This was once a Shaker colony, dating I think from 1792.  The views down to the Tyringham valley are beautiful. The valley below is wide, long, straight and home to several beautiful farms many quite old. Its road is a good ride in its own right. It is always difficult for me to decide which route to take, the high road or the low road. If you’re looking for a shorter ride, take both: go one direction to Monterey Road and then return the other direction.

Where Jerusalem Road bears left and McCarty Road goes off almost straight, I could follow Jerusalem down to Tyringham Cobble, a Trustees of Reservations property that offers some of the best walking, and most beautiful views, in this part of the county. But my map shows that I can continue straight on McCarty to reach Monterey Road. It is a pleasant ride, past pastures between areas of woods, with no traffic. When I reach Monterey Road I turn right, heading south, and the road climbs up, its surface wider and smoother until reaching Monterey. The descent is fun, with protected land to my right. It is fast and chilly enough that I zip up my jacket and put my headband back on. And I remember about last Thursday, which I spent indoors at work, with sunny blue skies, only the mildest of breezes and 70 degree temperatures outside. Why is it always like that? How often do you hear someone say: “All week I worked inside while it was grey, cold and rainy outside only to get to my time off and have the weather blue, gorgeous and wonderful?” It doesn’t happen.

Before reaching Lake Garfield I noticed a sign to the Bidwell House Museum, but didn’t follow it today. I had thought it was located elsewhere in Monterey, and am intrigued, but rain threatens, and I don’t take the time. There is a flock of Canada geese on Lake Garfield, and some gulls. On the beach, I read a sign telling me that “Water rights purchased and given to the town of Monterey by the summer and town’s people 1913.”  I am sure that everyone in town has been eternally grateful for this clear, long-sighted thinking. It is a beautiful resource and always crowded when I ride by in warmer weather. Shortly past the lake, I reach Rt. 23 and turn right, west, and ride past the Monterey General Store, town hall and United Church of Christ. Rt. 23 is a decent road, but there is no shoulder at all to speak of. This time of the year there is not much traffic, but it could be quite busy in July or August.
 
 At about 12 miles, I turn back north (right) on Blue Hill Road towards Beartown State Forest. It goes uphill, providing good riding. Soon I turn right again on Beartown Rd. This state forest protects about 11,000 acres, and is the third largest in Massachusetts, with a campground and hiking trails. The road surface on this side of the park is good, there is no traffic and I stop for a few minutes at Benedict Pond. The pond is pretty, about 40 acres in size, with the hills beyond it showing off the colors of the oaks. There are a few people around, hiking on the roads and trails. I’ve heard many chickadees, seen crows, juncos, bluejays, cardinals, those geese and gulls on the lake, and unnamed sparrows. It is late fall here, and the chipmunks are busy storing food for the winter before they dig deep into the earth to hibernate. Most every rustling noise that I hear is made by a chipmunk.

The road surface on the descent into Lee is very broken up. I am a cautious rider, and wouldn’t want to hit that section of road fast. But, like most descents, it is fun. The ride remains pretty, following a beautiful, bigger stream down into the valley. I am quickly back in South Lee, and just as it starts raining I am back in my car headed north.  

Click here to see the route, with map, cue sheet and climbing details, on Map My Ride.

Berkshire Rides List

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