BOS > MTL (02)


Day  2: Northampton to North Adams (44 miles)

A bike, loaded with gear, leaning against a sign. Behind it is a large, historical hall, and to the left a tree.I knew that day two was going to be miserable. At least, everyone kept telling me that and the little graph of elevation gain was steady up for some 37 of the day’s 44 miles.

Thirty-seven miles up hill.

I don’t really know what else to say beyond that.

I spent a surprising amount of the trip singing songs to myself about Massachusetts and New England. In one rendition of “New England,” Jonathan Richman replaces the line “I love New England,” with “Jonathan loves New England.”

In spite of the day being basically one long climb, it wasn’t a painful climb. I became acquainted with every gear on my bike and had the opportunity to try out every combination.

This day was also my first encounter with The Dirt Road.

Dirt roads may seem like they’re lovely, in that they wind through lovely places. Beautiful places. Places that cause you (or me) to stop and take a rare photo. Places that make me pause to look around and appreciate the world. To have a cow loudly moo at me in confusion or, I hope, friendliness.

Dirt roads are also positively miserable to bike on. I don’t recommend it if it’s at all avoidable.

A dirt road to the left, with a snow fence and field to the right. In the background there are mountains and, straight ahead, a tree. There may be a cow in there somewhere.When your bike is loaded, your balance isn’t all that great. You get better at it–much like how by the end of day two I was much better at starting while going up hill and getting my second foot into the pedal clip–but your balance isn’t great. It’s a delicate thing, easily disrupted by, say, a rock only part of your tire hits. Or maybe another rock that ricochets off your back wheel and makes a ping that makes you nervous enough you want to stop and check to make sure nothing is wrong. But wait, you can’t because you’re now going downhill and you need to keep going because if you try to break you will definitely skid and lose balance.

But it was still real pretty.

Me, in cycling jersey, sunglasses, and blach bike helmet, standing in front of the Mass MOCA buildingIn eastern MA, we have these lovely signs as you roll into any given down limits, declaring where you are. They’re iconic–to me anyway. I could not find a single one in the rest of Massachusetts. Maybe they don’t exist. Maybe they were on different roads.

Luckily, MASS MoCA is in North Adams, and is fairly well known in its own right. It’s basically, as far as I’m aware, the reason people go to North Adams. That and flower farms.

The reason I took this particular route was that IR did some friendly but serious advocating for the cross-MA trip to Montreal. She helped make this all easier by putting me in touch with a friend of hers in North Adams. I deeply, deeply appreciate the kindness from both IR and her friend, who not only made me some dinner, gave me an incredibly comfortable couch to sleep on, and very kindly stocked my favorite handsoap in the bathroom, but she also washed my clothes.

Erica, you are a beautiful person. I want you to have not just nice things, but good things. You deserve happiness, sunshine, flowers, warm rain, and days filled with joy.

total miles: 44
elevation gained: 1,873 ft
hills climbed: 2
hours slept the night before: 11
homemade dinners: 1
new (human) friends made: 3
new (cow) friends made: 1

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