March 23, 2012

Berkshire Cycling Classic Cyclosportif: Route 57

Swamp on Rt. 57
Styles change, one thing leads to another, and before you know what happened, your situation is quite different. But this time, I know just what happened. After my September 2011 Pyrenees tour, it was wildly difficult getting back into the swing of things here. The Pyrenees are a cyclist's paradise. But I won't go back into that now. Clearly, goals here at home were called for.

Sandisfield Bridge
I signed up for the St. Patrick's Day 100K, a RUSA event. Added the 59-mile VASA ride in Washington DC before that event, since I was going to be there anyway. A few weeks ago I learned of an inaugural cyclosportif here in the Berkshires, named the Berkshire Cycling Classic Cylosportif.

Wanting to ride further, I signed up for the 138K which, by the way, includes over 6000 feet of climbing and winds its way around the rural landscape of the Berkshires. My biggest weakness is hill climbing. I would be a happier rider if I become a stronger climber.

Now to get to the point. Many of my outdoor rides will cover a part of the Berkshire Cyclosportif course. Today I rode the Rt. 57 section of the course, from New Boston on Rt. 8 to New Marlboro. It is a pretty ride, entirely rural and includes two climbs. The first comes shortly after the turn off Rt. 8 onto Rt. 57 and was definitely the easier. The second was harder, but not too intense or steep. That doesn't mean I was fast. I was slow. Note: Added after the official map and cue sheet were published. The route does not follow Rt. 57 all the way to New Marlboro, it turns south part way across the road.

The road is a state route, and the surface was generally pretty good, for this part of New England after the winter. Never terribly broken up, no huge long lengthwise fissures, and only a few serious holes that I noticed. One of the bridges had a surface I rarely see, pretty but bumpy. I doubt the roads will be closed to car traffic on the day of the ride; it would be nice to be surprised. There is no shoulder on Rt. 57 to speak of, but also not much traffic.

The Old Inn on the Green

The road follows a stream that feeds the Farmington River for a while, which was pleasant.  Once reaching The Old Inn on the Green, the climbing is done, and the ride runs downhill into New Marlboro. If anyone visiting for the cyclosportif wants to treat themselves to an absolutely fantastic, though not inexpensive, dinner, this is the place.

If this is a race with a maximum time limit, my time wasn't good enough; it isn't on the registration but in one of the other tabs on their site it says it is a 7-hour ride. Also, it would be terrific if the organizers would post a readable version of their two route maps. I imagine they are pretty hard to follow if you're not familiar with our local roads.

In New Marlboro, I turned around and retraced the route, taking photos along the way. It is a pretty ride either direction. Spring is here, witness the hepatica blooming.

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