August 12, 2012

Ride Around Town

Becket Arts Center
Steal this idea! Ahh, two steals here, the first the book title in that first sentence: the second ...well, in these internet days, ideas are so easily stolen and perhaps good ones should be.  Perhaps this post will help spread someone else's idea. Perhaps you're a cyclist with a blog, who will in turn pick it up and post a neighborhood ride, introducing your neighborhood.

Thanks go to Steve at There and Back Again, whose blog stole this idea. But certainly not from me. He linked to Matt at Barn Door Cycling, who owns, or owned, the original idea. So extra thanks go to him. I know Steve is in Virginia, and believe that Matt is in Illinois. I am in Massachusetts. Where are you riding, reader? The idea for you to steal is to post a ride around your neighborhood, introducing that neighborhood, or town. Here's mine.

This morning dawned grey, the sky low, the air a bit foggy.  I knew my local mountain, Mt. Greylock, was in the clouds, and would not make good climbing or descending. But I needed some climbing, and enjoyed the two posts mentioned above, so ... why not ride around town, and abandon my original plan. Not just my town, more like my neighborhood, though it is really too rural to be that either. But it is hilly, so I went up and down, crisscrossing the main road and working my way generally south. Rt. 8 passes north to south from VT to CT. In my area there are ridges to either side, so if you leave the main road you ride fairly steeply uphill. The main road itself is a series of rollers, some longer than others. Here's one view of what life here is like.

Heartwood Owner Builder School

If you want to learn something about timber framing, or house design, or are a woman wanting to learn about carpentry, come here to take classes at Heartwood Owner Builder School. It is a wonderful school, and very knowledgeable, and a lot of fun, where you will learn useful skills, and also meet great people teaching, cooking and in your class. And we can go for a ride, if you bring your bike. Other people have done that.

Washington Town Park

Our local park, right on Rt. 8, was an auto dump not so long ago, in the 1970s, but the dump was abandoned, the town owned the land and residents turned it into this park. There is a bike trail for children that you see in the foreground, a gazebo for parties, music, picnics and just relaxing, courtesy of Heartwood, the baseball field in the background. There's also a well-surfaced basketball court, barbecue grills, a soccer field, and some great birding on the trails.

Hinsdale Flats ACEC wildlife habitat

The birding continues a bit further north, in the headwaters of the Housatonic River, and a proud part of the Hinsdale Flats Area of Critical Environmental Concern. You could find moose here too, if you're lucky.

Eden Glen
Rather than include another photo that doesn't adequately depict a steep road, here's one of a stream that normally runs rapidly downhill. It has been a very dry summer, and the water level is scarily low in all the streams and rivers.

Old Ford, lovely some day maybe
There are some oldtimers in town, like this Ford, waiting for some rejuvenation.

The town is small in people, 541 in 2009, but large in area, about 38 square miles. Zoned rural you won't find any stores, highrises, or gas stations here.

Historic one-room schoolhouse
Even our 2-room schoolhouse was closed in the 1960s, after a legal battle with the state, which the town lost. That building is now the Town Hall. The original town hall is now a historic site. Grammar school children go to Becket to school. But once there were six schools in town. The population was larger, and so were distances, without the now-ubiquitous automobile. Most kids walked to school. This is one of those old schools, now taken care of by the historic society.

Becket Library, which also serves Washington
Becket, actually North Becket, founded in about 1840, boasts a general store, as well as our shared library and arts center. All are lively spots, community centers, much busier in the summer months when our populations swell with summer residents, campers, and vacationers. Well, as lively as it gets in our still-rural neighborhoods.

Winter heat, summer chores
It's summer now, but winter is long here, and not so far away. Many people heat with wood, and summer chores include splitting and stacking the woodpile. 

My ride continued south a bit, but without photos. It ended being about 37 miles, including something over 3300 feet of climbing, and  Ride with GPS tells me a maximum grade of 13.5%. My bike computer reported somewhat fewer miles, and slightly less climbing. If any readers have opinions on how accurate Ride with GPS is, I'd love to hear them.

There is no possibility of getting similar climbing practice here to my planned route in the Pyrenees. Even riding both sides of Greylock, still in my plans, will provide less climbing over more miles. There may be some shorter, steep road sections, which I'll search out.

So that's my town (well, towns.) Hurry up now, get on your bike and write up a ride introducing your neighborhood, then leave a comment here, and better yet also with Steve and Matt so that we can find it and learn a little about riding in another place.


  1. Nicely done, Suze! 3,300 feet of climbing over just 37 miles is impressive, at least for this Flatlander.

    1. Thanks Steve for that, but also for the idea! I'm hoping others might pick it up. I suspect you would find very similar riding west of you in the Blue Ridge, maybe steeper there, though.

  2. Nice idea! From what I've noticed, RideWithGPS tends to overestimate elevation, sometimes by quite a lot. For instance, we mapped a route with 5,000 feet climbing according to the app, which turned out to be 3,000 on the computer. Big difference. It probably depends on the computer as well.

    1. HI Aaron,
      Thanks! Are you back home now? Loved your Colorado posts, armchair travelling is fun!

      I had about 300 feet more climb on Ride w GPS than on my computer. I tend to trust my computer more.

      Maybe you'll write a visit your neighborhood post? Of course after catching your breath and remembering where you are!

  3. I'm not going to suggest that anyone took this idea from me, leading somehow to your post (there is not much original on the Net these days!), but here's my own spin around town from nearly two years ago:

    Your 'town' is nice and rural, it seems. Love to see all that green.

    1. Hi Gerry,
      Yes indeed, my town is rural and very green, at least this time of the year. Four or five months from now it will most likely be very white.

      I've tried to put a hyper link to your post here, but can't make it work. So, readers, for "A Spin Around Nimes" paste in Gerry's link. His neighborhood is quite a contrast to the others so far.

  4. Not "stolen" but similar - I photographed my regular local training run. It's a mix of urban and suburban. Here's a link:

    1. Hi Iron Rider,

      Thanks for sending that along. Now that I followed your link, I remember enjoying reading it earlier. Wish I'd remembered when I wrote this, I would have included it up front in my text.


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