January 29, 2012

Northampton - Sunderland Loop

24 miles       Paved Roads
Parking: Damon Road and Rail Trail Bridge
Northampton, Hadley, Sunderland    

There is no way I can make indoor winter training into an interesting post. Other people are good at it, but it is beyond me. January 2nd, over three weeks ago, was my last outdoor ride.

Today, my training plan called for 2-1/2 hours of easy riding, preferably on a flat to rolling course outdoors.The first photo is yesterday, out my window. The second is what I found out there, when I went out to investigate.

The next pictures shows you what I decided. Those tracks are Papillon (for you nonregular readers, that's my sweet bike) and me, well, our tracks, emerging from barn storage. What's wierd about the next photo? Papillon does not have a kickstand and she stands proud and upright in the icy snow.


I drove over to the Connecticut River Valley, and rode from Northampton up to Sunderland, crossed the river, and back to the car. The weather is different there, 1600 feet lower. Today's is a very flat ride that I enjoy a few times a year, usually when it is cold or icy in the Berkshires. My ride passed by a preserved house, and that is fine, a good thing.  Someday I'll stop and go in. It is a pretty, expansive building that doesn't show well in the photo. There is history here, old by US standards, where that means towns that date from the early to mid 19th century. Not very old really, but still it is difficult for us to keep even that.

I continue to wonder that our culture requires preservation trusts to keep using our old houses. Every time I am there, I regret the ongoing loss of farmland, and today I saw adjacent signs both advertising different  60+ acres for sale. Both specified buildings and more than 80% tillable. Judging from the barns, right now it is tobacco land, not a laudable crop. But if the land is lost to suburbs, it is lost to the possibility of any crop.

I rode past these two empty houses, that almost certainly were once working farms, and wondered what would become of them, if they would obtain a huge community-wide effort to continue using them, or if they would be lost to history and replaced by...?

It's odd to me that buildings don't just ... last, stay maintained, go on through time, since they exist and house and serve people. In our culture it takes such an effort not to tear things down and destroy them, why is that? It is also true, I think, that we humans tend with time to accept whatever is going on around us as "normal," and sometimes, scary thought, as "right." But it could be equally "normal" and "right" to maintain our housing and farms, support our old schools and not throw away or destroy everything in favor of the new.

Cross Connecticut River on pedestrian bridge. First left, unmarked, then left on Rt. 47 Left again on Rt. 116 and across the Connecticut River in Sunderland. First left onto River Rd.Follow to  Main St. /Elm St./left onto 5/10. Left, then left at Rt. 9 back to parking lot. Click here for this route on Map My Ride, with cue sheet and map.


  1. Hi Susan,
    Thought you'd get a kick out of this hilarious breakdown of clothing layers for cold weather riding.
    Portland, OR


  2. Hi Ellen,

    Thanks, that was a hoot! Makes it seem positively warm here. Don't know what has happened to winter, it is even warmer today. With rain. Hope payback doesn't arrive in April.


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