November 8, 2013

Coffeeneuring Ride 4

Saturday last was gorgeous and I aimed to follow the pattern set the previous weekend: a long ride Saturday, this time with a coffee at the end, not the beginning. A shorter ride for a cuppa on Sunday. Stockbridge is a seriously tourist town, located somewhere between quaint and the wrong side of cute. But there is good parking, good riding to be found nearby, and a good coffeeshop to return to.

Starting north towards Lee, I decided to go without a cap or toe covers, with fingerless gloves, one less layer than last weekend, the temp just over 40. It was still grey and a bit windy.

These bright maples jumped out in a  hill of dull hues

Those were good decisions because soon enough the sun came out, and it was glorious.Yum, a sunny warm reprieve. The woods higher in the hills are uniformly grey and dreary. I was hoping for some bits of remaining color on the ride, somewhat south, more importantly, less high.

Turning right I headed towards Tyringham. Regular readers have seen many photos of this pretty valley, which climbs very gently until reaching its southeast end, where the choice is up, or up. I continued straight on Tyringham Road, to Otis. Once at the top the road passes through high swampland, which provides excellent habitat for tiny warblers, big moose and myriad creatures in between.

The bright yellow colors are larches, the only conifer here to drop its needles in the fall

The route traversed a section of busy Rt. 8 as I rode south again. I say busy because of frequent trucks, and fast-moving traffic on this 2-lane road, which is a main thoroughfare from Connecticut. There is no real shoulder, but I tried to stay on the outside of the line marking the edge of the road. I hate riding in that area of a roadway, but thought it prudent today. Glass, debris, cracks, holes: all are found in that part of the roadway. Where, after not too far, I flatted.

Western MA is fortunate to have many large state forests, protected from development

I am lucky, I suppose, because this hasn't happened too me often, actually it was only the second flat I've had and I didn't immediately recognize it. For a bit I rode along wondering why my steering felt so unresponsive and unstable. Eventually I thought, ugh, maybe a flat, got off and checked. Yup. As I wrote, Rt. 8 is busy enough, and there is no shoulder. (There is another post there, on the topic of shoulders.) Since the only place I have ever changed a flat has been in a bike shop workshop on how to change a flat, this wasn't my first choice of locaIes. I crossed my fingers, pumped up the tire, and continued. It held, for about 8 or 10 miles, when I pumped it up again. This was to stay the pattern.

Love the reds berries against the rusty oak leaves in the background.

Rt. 57 is a good road for bikes. It climbs, not too steeply, drops back down, then works its way back up towards Rt. 23. I made my way to Blue Hill Road, my favorite descent in the area.

Route 57 crosses this bridge soon after leaving Rt. 8. The surface always catches my attention.

From there, back to Stockbridge, and coffee. By the time I returned, the sky was dark with grey clouds and the wind picking up. The coffee was good.

This week: good coffee.

49 miles, 3300 climb

Once home and inside I changed the tube. In the process of replacing it, almost done, I caused a pinch flat in the new tube. Glad I waited.


  1. Great pictures Suze. Must be nice to have such an extended fall. Regarding the reference to coffee; I wrote a blog post a while ago on the topic of coffee. Here is an excerpt that describes the relationship between riding and when you drink your coffee.

    Coffee Can Reduce Post-Workout Muscle Soreness

    According to a study published in the March 2007 issue of The Journal of Pain, consuming a cup of coffee an hour before training can actually help reduce post-workout muscle soreness by up to 48 percent. To put this into perspective, studies using naproxen (Aleve) only achieved a 30 percent decrease in post-workout muscle soreness, and aspirin produced a 25 percent decrease.

    Why Drinking Coffee after Exercise is NOT Recommended?

    When used before exercise, coffee will give you a good boost. However, it affects your muscles similarly to exercise itself. It increases the energy expenditure by your muscle while inhibiting the “mTOR”; the mechanism that increases protein synthesis in your muscle.

    What that means is that coffee, similar to exercise, actually inhibits the inherent mechanism that builds your muscle. (You do not build muscle while exercising. Muscle building occurs during recovery).

    The mTOR cannot be activated when you drink coffee. When you drink coffee before exercise, the mTOR is going to be inhibited by exercise anyway, but this inhibition is not a regular inhibition… Fasting, exercise and coffee inhibit mTOR in a way that can be compared to a spring being compressed in a closed box.… It's a bit tricky, but exercise inhibits and stimulates mTOR at the same time. So when exercise and coffee inhibit the mTOR, as soon as you stop exercising, mTOR kicks back in with a vengeance. And when you eat a recovery meal after exercise, your muscle is biologically most prepared to accept protein and gain muscle.

    That's why the timing of coffee is very important. Before exercising, coffee will work with the exercise itself. It really inhibits the mTOR but at the same time, it stimulates energy production and fat burning. After exercise, it's the wrong time for having coffee—that's the time for a recovery meal, like a good quality whey protein shake".

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thanks for that ... very interesting and all new to me. The science of this sport is very cool to understand some.

      And it fits essentially in the Coffeeneuring rules, which call for a total ride of 2 miles, and a hot beverage, though the ride can be as long as you like. MG is a randonneur, coffeeneuring is a "challenge," though I admit to enjoying it as a "game," devised after PBP. The rest of the extended rules:-) are here on chasing mailboxes d.c.

  2. Lovely fall photos, Suze. I do miss that kind of scene when I see it.

    1. Oh, if you find yourself nostalgic for fall, just focus on what comes next. You are right though, it is pretty, and I will drag it out as long as possible.

  3. The startling maple was a treat.

    I sympathise with your Rt 8 angst. The sides of busy roads are no places for cyclists as the cars sweep the debris into them. Planners who think that putting white lines up the side of them to make cycle lanes are inviting punctures. Have you thought of trying one of the squirty canisters that put sealant into a punctured tube and inflate it at the same time? I've got one but I haven't had to use it yet. It should be quicker to do beside a busy road than anything else.

    I was interested in the coffee info as someone who often drinks coffee after a ride.

    1. Thanks! They were even brighter somehow in reality. Thanks also for the tip about filling tubes. I am not a confident tube changer, and that could be a good safety backup. In France I carry two tubes. Not here.

      I feel a rant of a post coming on about shoulders...and probably bike paths. And what the Congress here calls "entitlements" and what they don't count ... ooops, yes, remind me to keep politics out of biking. As if it isn't in it.

      I know you know Coach Rob from Jerry's blog, but for readers who don't, he writes an informative blog about fitness, nutrition and health. His url is:

  4. I love your photos Suze. We also had a spectacular foliage season here in western VT, which seemed to linger this year, Way to go fellow coffeeneurist!

    1. Hi Annie,

      Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment. When I saw your comment I went straight to your blog. Are you in or near Burlington? If so, lucky you! My first tour ever, in 2008, took me up the eastern side of Lake Champlain, through Burlington, around the Bay in Canada and back down. It was spectacularly beautiful, and I returned totally wild about the area ... and about bike touring. I am near Vermont's southern border with western MA. Will be back to your site soon. Happy coffeeneuring, with all your good coffeeshops!

  5. BOOM !! That bright yellow maple was spectacular. What a great surprise. I so appreciate seeing the world through your eyes . Thank you for letting me tag along.

    1. Hey Marguerite! Thanks! Isn't the Tyringham Valley just ... pretty? And you know you are not tagging along, but always invited! See you next soon. Suze


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