Greatest Hits – Western Massachusetts, Again

greatest hits 3It was warmer Sunday morning, though still cloudy. It did make for a far more comfortable time packing and loading the bike. I went back into Charlemont for some coffee and food (since I hadn’t had much for dinner the night before), then hopped on Route 8A south out of Charlemont and through Hawley.  This was another road that was hard to believe it was a state highway, being so narrow and with old but adequate pavement. It was quiet, scenic, and twisty, which was enjoyable. At one point I went by a field of cows, some of whom were right next to the road with nothing but a thin electrified wire between me and them. I stopped to say hello.

IMGP0593After a pleasant ride (and a close meeting with a flock of turkeys – I managed to miss them), I got to where 8A merged with 116, I’d intended to head west on 116, then south through Great Barrington to Lime Rock, CT. I was already pondering a change of plan, due to some rather rainy looking clouds to the west. But when I got to 116, looked west, and saw the state highway torn down to loose gravel, that was the deciding factor.  I abandoned my original plan for the day, and instead headed east down the paved portion of 116.

Route 116 deserves its place among my Greatest Hits anyway, since the portion between Adams and Deerfield is a whole lot of fun. I hadn’t planned to ride it today, but I enjoyed it. I continued to follow 116 into Amherst, and took the opportunity to drop in on a couple of friends going to school at UMass.  Since I took a chunk of time and space out of my intended trip, I didn’t mind spending some time with them.

When helping one of these friends move back to school, Google Maps on my phone sent me down a shortcut from 202 to UMass – Leverett-Shutesbury Road. There’s about a mile stretch in the middle of it that’s nothing but constant left and right curves of varying degrees of tightness. When I drove through there during the move, I swore I would return one day on a bike. Today was that day. The curvy section was as epic on a bike as I had hoped – so much so that I turned around, rode it the other direction, and then came back east again. I pondered yet another romp, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome or annoy neighbors.

IMGP0597I came out on Route 202, and took it south along the western side of the Quabbin Reservoir. I’ve written before about how much I like this area, and even before cutting out the Connecticut portion of my ride I knew that I’d have to pass through here on my Greatest Hits tour.  I took 202 south to Route 9 in Belchertown, then turned east. I took a detour through the park, and continued on to Ware, where I decided to stop for lunch.

IMG_0971The first place I stopped was already closed, so I ended up at Gheppetto’s Grille and had a very tasty burger. Even better, the waitress recognized the Doctor Who themed t-shirt I was wearing, and was a big fan herself. The place was empty, so we spent about half of my lunch geeking out about Doctor Who. At the end of the meal she brought the bill with some custom artwork on it. I had to save it, both for myself and to share it with you. I left her a very generous tip. I probably should’ve left her my contact info, too…

After a tasty lunch, I made my way north to Barre, where Route 62 begins, and followed it all the way home to Acton.  The western portion of 62 is yet another Greatest Hit. I don’t ride it as often as I used to when I lived in Berlin, so it was nice to have the chance to ride it again.

And then I was home. It was a shorter day than planned, so I had plenty of time to unload the bike and relax. Though I didn’t get to go everywhere I wanted to, I ended up taking a few fun roads that I hadn’t planned to, so it all worked out in the end.

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