July 24, 2012

Saturday's Ride

It appears that I can train either with way more intensity than ever before (both of my group rides, and the hill strength routines are intense for me) or I can drop something and add a longer weekly ride, of 50 or so miles. But, since long rides in my neck of the woods will have at least 3000 feet of climbing, I can't do all five of those days. A long, flatter ride would be fine. But I do know that rest counts, and am paying attention. For now, I'll stick with intensity and rely on my endurance holding up. It's my only actual strong point in cycling. Well, that and curiousity. Stubborness. Resilience. Though you'll notice none of those are classic cycling attributes, like strength, or speed. Anyway, my next trip doesn't include lots of miles. It does include lots of climbing.

Historic Washington Town Hall
Saturday's ride turned into a recovery ride, which first took me up a steep, if short hill, to the top of the ridge where the town center was located before the railroad arrived. The historic town hall is here, though it is no longer used as a town hall, but maintained as a historical building. One of the town's cemeteries is located there.

The Berkshires were settled late in New England history. These aren't big mountains, but they are hilly, and both the Connecticut River Valley to the east and the Hudson River Valley to the west, were settled first, before the hills were explored and settled in the mid 18th century. Historical records show the town's largest population about a hundred years later, in 1850; it hasn't ever again reached 950 people. 

These cemetery stones tell stories. One reads: "Sally, wife of George Smith, died Sept. 7, 1793. Aged 26 years." The photo doesn't show the smaller stone, next to it, which reads: "Sally, Daughter of George and Sally Smith, died Aug. 30th 1796. Aged 3 years." Most of the stones are granite, or marble, but occasionally there is a reddish-brown one, which looks to me like some kind of sandstone, though not as weathered as I would imagine sandstone would be. I look, and wonder what determined the choice of stone, and if the same person did much of the carving.

By the end of the 19th century, William C. Whitney, President Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy, had secretly purchased 42 farms on the top of the mountain, an area of about 5 x 7.5 miles, to build a summer estate. At its height there were 24 houses, 30 barns, roads and outbuildings. Bikes were very popular then, and so he built bicycle paths. But William Whitney died in 1904, his heirs chose not to maintain the property, and eventually it became October Mountain State Forest, now protected (though heavily logged.) While the original cycle routes are long gone, there are many dirt roads that provide good cycling. However, today I stayed on the two paved roads that skirt the forest preserve. It is easy, pretty riding, through this protected forest land, and generally flat. By the way, the Appalachian Trail passes through on its north-south route from Maine to Georgia. 

Dream Away Lodge
The middle of my ride took me to the Dream Away Lodge. I hadn't been there since before the rooster took on the job of greeting guests and visitors. If you're nearby, go there .. for dinner, a beer, music. It's a fun place, in a beautiful location, with good food and chock-full of local history and memorabilia.


  1. I'm slightly puzzled by the combination of the words 'recovery' and 'ride', especially when it involves hills!!

    1. Hi Steph,

      Recovery ride ... I could be using it inaccurately, but for me it means riding without any particular training (or other) goal besides enjoying pedaling the bike and seeing the countryside around me ... riding for the pure fun of riding. There is no riding (or walking for that matter) that doesn't involve hills where I live, so they are a part of pretty much all kinds of riding, unless I drive a car to get somewhere flat.


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