April 8, 2012

Berkshire Cycling Classic Cyclosportif: 100K Route

64 miles          Challenging         Paved Roads
Start: Lenox
Towns: Lenox, Stockbridge, Lee, Tyringham, Monterey, New Marlboro, Sheffield, Egremont, Alford, West Stockbridge





View to south from behind Tanglewood
Wind intimidates me. I don't like even to listen to it from snug inside my house. Don't like it when I'm hiking outside, or gardening, or cycling. Duly noted. Today I didn't actively dislike it, tried to note it and then let it go, but struggled with it almost the entire route of the 100K Berkshire Cyclosportif, coming up on May 6. The weather reporters tell me it was a fairly steady 20mph; I only know that I was working pretty hard to hold a cadence of 70 and it was energy-sapping.




South County landscape
The route itself is fabulous, very beautiful virtually all the time. It rolls from Lenox south, winding around the smaller towns of southern Berkshire County, passing through varied geography and offering the rider a fair sampling of the rural southern Berkshires. This is pretty terrain, frequently fairly manicured, in a prosperous New England kind of way. Further north, and in the hilltowns, there are wilder, less developed parts of the county, but this is the best known area.

Lenox, the start of the route, is home to Tanglewood, summer residence of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which plays a big role in driving our tourist-based economy. Though it is  the most prominent of many cultural institutions in the area, there are many more,  mostly seasonal, and the economy and population are radically different summer to winter. Right now towns and roads are still quiet, and will be until June.



View of Stockbridge Bowl from near end of ride
After passing through Stockbridge, where there are plenty of stops for food or water, the route follows the beautiful Tyringham Valley before turning south and climbing over the hill to Monterey. There is a busy section of road on Rt. 23, but it isn't long, and I quickly turned south on Corashire Road, a beautiful short link to Route 57. From there it travels west to Sheffield, before turning back north on Route 41. It is generally flat and rural most of the way, with the only two real climbs: the first  between Tyringham and Monterey, and the second at the very end, from West Stockbridge into Lenox. That one goes past two Berkshire Natural Resources Council properties. You'll see if you click the route map below.




Old barn
In the end I finished with plenty of time to spare, and a new, more specific, goal for the May 6 event. Oh yes, when I learned about the 7-hour time limit to successfully complete the course, I changed my registration from the 138K to the 100K. There is no possibility that I will ride the 138K within that time limit. The 100K, about 64 miles, about 3700 feet climbing is doable for me. Perhaps more gracefully if there's less wind on the day of the event.






Shadbush is blooming, spring is here

Sportif or not, this route is another good addition to my list of County rides, one that I will be glad to ride again. To see a map of the route and cuesheet, click here to visit Ride with GPS.



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4 comments:

  1. Congratulations on braving the wind. It sounds like you're all set for the sportife! As for cue sheets, it is my experience that most riders do not do any research whatsoever on the route ahead of time. Further, I great many count on being able to follow the crowd. The one exception to this rule was my experience with the DC Randonneurs. They take cue sheets extremely seriously.

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  2. Hi Steve,

    From what I read on your site, and that of a friend who is a serious birder in NJ, this wind is blowing up and down the coast, and meant to continue. Ugh

    I liked your account of the DC Randoneurs. They sound like a terrific organization. As for me and the "all set" part, who knows? I figure since it is so close to home, I'd best know the route!

    Happy spring, I imagine it's greening up and gorgeous there.

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  3. Suze, if your indoor training has paid off this winter you may qualify for the World Championships in your next race. No, really! The Berkshire Cycling Classic is one of the few UCI-sanctioned races in North America and all you have to do is finish in the top 25% of your age category...I'm gunning for you!

    http://www.uciworldcyclingtour.com/

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  4. Hi Gerry,

    Good you added the UCI link, thanks.

    You might be right, maybe I'll qualify. Last I heard, they only had about 80 participants. So, perhaps I'll be first in my age group. And LAST in it, also. Funny thing, percentages. Actually, I imagine only the 130K qualifies.

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