Sunday Gravel Bike Route Scouting Adventure

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Chris Stratton

Sep 16, 2022, 12:30:59 PM9/16/22
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I want to take the gravel bike out Sunday morning and try routes someplace I haven't yet been.  This will not a curated route type of ride, but an "adventure" that might have to backtrack and reroute due to unworkable terrain, too many downed trees, signage prohibiting the planned route, or just not finding it fun and opting for a paved bypass instead.

I'll be doing this the day after the Saturday C ride to Cummington, so pace will definitely be modest, especially on climbs.

All that said, anyone interested in coming along?

I'm thinking meet 9:30 since these are remote starts, hopefully done by early afternoon.  Bring two bottles and some snacks and whatever you prefer to keep ticks off your legs since there probably will be areas pushing through some brush.  Shoes that can be walked in recommended.

I'm debating between two possibilities, so if the idea is of interest drop me a note off list with your preference or concerns.

A) Wendell Gravel Adventure 40 miles, 3000 feet 59% unpaved from Sunderland Public Library

I took an existing club route (albeit one I've never done), cut off Pratt Corner and substituted a return via Rattlesnake and Teawaddle, which I know and love.  I'm not sure what the first trail part skirting Mount Toby will be like, though it was in the previous route, if it's not working we can go around on roads.  The route then heads up into the unknown realm of Wendell mostly on gravel and generally follows the original to the Wendell Country Store, but from there cuts to Lake Wyola and a personally favorite paved route towards the Leverett Coop, over challenging gravel Rattlensake (I'll be taking that descent very slowly and happy to wait if anyone prefers to walk), and then the known Teawaddle Trail to a bit of untried gravel road and then making its way back to the library.  If I end up biking up to Sunderland start I may reprise the fun but moderately challenging swamp forest trail off Coles Meadow on the way home.

B) Burochowski Trails, Ashley Reservoir, and Bear Hole 36 miles 1800 feet 36% unpaved from Easthampton Millside Park

Though again intended for gravel bikes, this is not really a gravel ride but more a mix of mountain bike trails and connections on at times moderately busy roads.  I've gone the wrong way up through Burochowski and ended up bushwacking, this tries to take the correct trail choices that are reportedly free of downed trees, but who knows.  Apart from getting in to it, the loop around the Whiting Street reservoir is family hybrid bike type gravel path  From there the route attempts to go south through the East Mountain WMA on mountain bike / hiking trails, I did a little bit of this before on a different one of the trails and that was fine except for a few rocky spots and downed trees - expect at some point we'll find our way out to the roads on the east through Holyoke Community College.  After crossing light for the busy road the Ashley Reservoir is beautiful - more of that family hybrid bike gravel, but on causeways winding through the reservoir itself.  Challenge is then finding the allowed way out from the southern end and into the Bear Hole mountain bike trail system.  I've drawn the route through Bear Hole on what I think is more the gravel service road, but hope we can sample some of the trails too.  Finally exiting at the south our only real choice is a bit of route 20 that now appears on streetview to have a bike lane, and then East Mountain Road north - which is nice territory though people sadly tend to drive too fast.  After crossing 202 it gets much quieter back up through Easthampton to the designated start.  I'll probably return to Northampton via Old Springfield Road.

Also open to being talked into other ideas - and I may well go out and do whichever one doesn't happen Sunday some nice day next week.


Chris Stratton

Sep 17, 2022, 8:32:18 PM9/17/22
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Looks like we're going with the Wendell route for Sunday's gravel grind

Meeting at 9:30 am at 20 School Street Sunderland - please park behind the library or the town offices which are also authorized for the boat launch, but NOT in the double long spaces intended for boat trailers

My thinking it that this is, at least in terms of sources stolen from, potentially an actual "gravel grind" while the other is more an attempt to ride gravel bikes on an assortment of MTB trails and CX obstacle courses - I'm going to try that soon too, but the Wendell route seems a more viable route to invite others on.

At the moment it looks like we have three  riders - more are welcome, and I won't say you can't just show up, but a heads up note from those interested is appreciated, if even in the early morning hours.


Chris Stratton

Sep 17, 2022, 9:19:21 PM9/17/22
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It's been brought to my attention that there's something goofy about
the Sunday gravel route link

All I can say is that if you cut an paste the URL, it does work though
I'm also finding that clicking on it is not working at the moment.
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