August 30, 2011

Berkshire Cycling: Mount Greylock

Parking: Cheshire Reservoir  & Rt. 8       37 miles    

View from Visitor Center
I've ridden up Mt. Greylock twice in the past two weeks. It's the closest thing in the Berkshires of western MA to the cols and mountains in the Pyrenees and my riding has included lots of hills. This is a really fun ride and I don't think it is as tough as its reputation. At least not from the Lanesboro side. You can go up either from the Lanesboro side (easier) or the North Adams side (much steeper.) Both times I rode up from the Lanesboro side, but I always park on Cheshire Reservoir, to get a bit of warmup ride in before beginning climbing.That approach ride is bucolic for much of it, with equestrian centers and farmland.

Pleased on the top
First time I came down into North Adams. Now that is steep. That day, at the top I met a group of cyclists who came across Rt. 2 (also steep, notoriously so from the west)from Charlemont and climbed the steep side of Greylock. They were tired. Real tired. It was too steep to be really fun for me going down, so the second time I went back down the way I came up. Some day I'll ride up that side.

The climb up was gorgeous, not too hard. You get some respite during the climb with downhills along the way and some straight-ish sections. And you get a lot of support from hikers, but mostly from people who have driven up when you reach the top. And there are often other cyclists to meet and chat with.
So I had a lovely climb up, the day was gorgeous, the scene at the top was a bit circus like, with small girls dressed as fairies, and families picnicking. I was pretty pleased with the world and didn't want to go back down, so I sat in the sun enjoying the mountain, and the scene, and my lunch and my last training ride before France.

I had an appointment at Arcadian Shop in Lenox for a bike adjustment, so down I went, and the ride down that side is so much fun. Not too steep and twisty, but fast and long.Thoroughly enjoyable, with loads of views out to the hills beyond. The road was in dappled sunlight both up and down. By the way, if you ride it look out for the grills in the road to warn vehicles of crossing pedestrians. I wouldn't want to hit one fast.

The day turned into a little Berkshire adventure and I tell this story for Gerry Patterson if he's reading, remembering his escapades of leaving things behind, in his training schedule for racing in France.

After I was off the mountain, I  rode back from Rt. 7 to Rt. 8 to get my car to drive south to Lenox.

Now the buts start


View from the summit
Reached the car, feeling slightly guilty about not being as early as I said I would, reached for my car key. But car key. I knew 100% for sure that I had put it in its regular spot in my handlebar bag and realized that it must have fallen out on the top, somehow. But ... I didn't look forward to 3000 feet of climbing back up the mountain  in the probably slim hopes of finding my key. So I reached for my phone. But the battery was ... dead, of course. I'd used its last power up calling Arcadian Shop to make the appointment. But some friendly and helpful folks sitting at the lake offered up a cell phone, and I thought I' d call my husband for help. But then, I always call him by pushing speed dial number 2. Of course, given the world's technologies, I didn't know his phone number.

But I really wanted the adjustment made to the bike before France. It was my climbing gears that needed their help. So next I rode to Lenox, probably 15 more miles, but not pleasant ones, busy crowded fast ones. Luckily for me, I met a very kind rider who gave me a lift in his van through the worst of the shopping malls complexes.

View on way down
Ken at Arcadian Shop fixed my bike, by now my memory had retrieved Roy's phone number, so I left him a message and headed home. Another roughly 20 miles and probably 1000 feet of climbing, and off I went, headed home at probably 5:00. By the time I' d made my way through Pittsfield, I saw a familiar blue car approaching. Roy gave me a lift to the car with a spare key, I drove up Greylock and ... no one had turned in the key. It wasn't in the grass or anywhere to be found. I was even more glad I hadn't ridden back up.

So my last training day turned into a particularly good training day for climbing and distance. And happily also, a few days later the Visitors Center had my key.

Click here for a link to the route, with cue sheet and climb details on Map My Ride. The route on Map My Ride was from last week, and makes the entire circuit, climbing from Lanesboro, descending to North Adams. You can descend the way you went up. Or, you could ride up the steep side. It is hard to tell from the map, but in Adams you can pick up the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, pleasant riding and off busy Route 8. The section from North Adams to Adams follow Route 8, though you could put together a nicer ride to the east of town, using any good map.

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  1. Suze, I'm glad I'm not the only cyclist suffering from forgetfulness. Quite the adventure, but ended well, I'm glad to hear. I suppose you are nearly on a plane for France. I still hold out some slim hope that we'll be able to meet up. Have a great trip and take lots of'll need them for the routes I'm sure I'll be asking for!

  2. Hey Gerry, I really thought of you ... you told some great stories! I did so many goofball things the week before I left, finally thought it must be related to approaching moments of truth...

    Tonight in Berenx, just getting going.


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