This was the week of Massochistah. The plan was after doing 2 weeks of big efforts to taper for a few days to be fresh for the hard Massochistah ride on Saturday. We'll see if that worked out.

Monday had a day off the bike since I still felt a little lethargic from the Booster short a few days earlier and to save some energy for the NCC short time trial the next day.

Riders gathering at the start, Mt Sugarloaf in the background

The time trial was the regular 9 mile loop from Deerfield to Hatfield. I showed up at just before 6pm. Some riders had already gathered at the start. Coming in I had seen Melissa already warming up. After some chatting and waiting for other riders we had about 10 participants. We had staggered starts with 30 seconds between each rider. I started 4th, before Melissa. The wind, which normally comes from the West/North West, now came from the East. This was not helping in the first section but it did the last little section heading west.

Rider finishing up

After about a mile I overtook the first rider, turned out later she had a flat. I got closer and closer to the other 2 riders. But before I could catch them, Melissa passed me, with the typical sound effect of a deep rim wheels. After she overtook me, I had to maneuver a little to avoid being in her slipstream (not allowed to draft). But after she had about 100 meters on me I was able keep the distance about the same. In Hatfield around mile 6 I overtook David and then at mile 8 I overtook Madeline and started gaining on Melissa. Just when I was about to pass her Andy overtook me. I then passed Melissa and raced towards the finish. I finished in 22:47 with an average power of 280. My 2nd best time so far, missing my best time by 1min8s seconds. Must have had a better wind as power output then was 271 waats.  Afterwards a bunch of us rode back together for a while before I turned off and rode back home to Conway. A good 34 mile loop with a 20min+ effort.

Chatting after the race.

When I came back home Anja had texted me if I wanted to join her for a ride the next day from Conway. Not what I had planned with my taper plans, but not often she is in the area. So I made us a route that included Chesterfield gorge, an over 50 route. Ouch. That morning had to create a video presentation, but I was done at 2pm. Anja would ride from Amherst to my house. In the end we left around 3pm from my house and it turned that the route I had created was not quite including the roads and trails I had planned.

Anja taking a selfie

So I improvished the route out. We went passed Main Poland, the trail along the Chapel Falls, then thru DAR into Ghoshen where we merged back on the original route. After a while we descended into the Chesterfield gorge. At that point we decided it would take too long to ride the 8 miles through the gorge and back. So we decided to cut the route short and head back towards Williamsburg. There I rode over Nash hill back home and Anja rode towards Haydenville to ride the bike path back to Amherst. All and all still a pretty intensive 40 mile ride in just under 3 hours.

Hard work to keep up with Anja

Definitely needed that break on Thursday. Friday texted John and Mike who were driving in from Boston if they wanted to join for a quick openers ride Friday afternoon. But no takers. So I went for a quick spin, on the CSA loop. Just when I got back and I was making sure the Seven was ready for the next day John and Mike arrived. We decided that we would ride to the Massochista start in Ashfield from Conway. About 7.5 miles with a 800ft of climbing. That meant we had to leave at 6:15am to be ready for the 7am start with an early 5am wakeup.

Mike, John and I on our way to the start of Massochistah

Massochistah is a gravel ride organized by the Northampton Cycling club (NCC) to raise money for their youth program. It starts in Ashfield and explores the roads in the neighboring hilltowns. It had 3 different route options: The Dirty 30 miles with 4,000ft of climbing, the Hurty 50 miles with 6,000ft of climbing and the Gurdy 70miles with 9,000ft of climbing.

John, Mike and I had signed up for the Gurdy. When we arrived in Ashfield at the Lake house, a considerable amount of riders had already been gathering. We fortunately had some time for a pre-ride coffee and some croissants.

Aime explaining some route details, while police escort waiting for the lead out

After lots of hellos to riders we knew both from the local hoods but also from the Boston area we were off. We had an escort from the Ashfield police for the first section down 116 before we turned left on Emmet rd. There was the first short but steep climb. We took it easy as the day was long.

Emmet rd just after the start

We then rode a number of roads towards Bishop's corner and then via Pine Hill to Conway. At that point the group had strung out and we had a group of 6 riders including Tom from Somerville and Peter, also from Conway. This was the first time Peter and I ever rode together. From Conway we went up Main Poland rd. On the fast descent we saw a stopped rider with his bike upside down with some mechanical. Unfortunately for him we went too fast to stop. Shortly after, at south Guinea rd we had our first of three rest stops at mile 18. We topped off our water bottles and I had a banana and for on the road I brought some Welch fruit snacks.

First rest stop

We continued south around Goshen and towards Chesterfield. On Stage rd was a downed tree that blocked almost the whole road. And right after that we saw two riders that had stopped. One of them had leg cramps. It was getting warm now. Fortunately the week before all the leafs have come out and most of the time we rode under the tree's canopy. After a steep gravel climb on the last section of Stage rd we arrived at rest stop number two at mile 40. We were welcomed by 2 boys who sprayed us with their water guns to cool us off. Aime was also a the stop so we chatted for a while. Again I ate a banana and also drank a small coke. Since the welch fruit gums were a success in the previous section, got another little bag for on the road.

Tom after the 2nd rest stop

We now headed towards Plainfield along river road and union st. On this more technical section we lost contact with Tom. We only saw him back at the finish later. When we passed Plainfield we encountered more technical sections, that was still a little muddy but was way drier than last year. In this section Mike lost onE of his water bottles. As we when entered Kenneth Dubuque state forest he was missing one. The roads in the forest Hunt and Middle rd where gravely and we had some fun descending.

John navigating the mud

We then went up Pudding Hollow which gave me a lot of grief last year, but this year I was fine.

Steep first section of Pudding Hollow rd

And with a last climb on Willowby we descended onto the main road where John pulled us for 8 miles towards the last rest stop at Berskhire East in Charlemont at mile 56.

Approaching the last rest stop at Berkshire East

At this reststop besides my regular banana also ate a bag of chips and some melon. To cool off drank another Coke and drenched my head and neck with some water. Turned out that the sunscreen I had put on was not water proof and with the water  and sweat dripped into my eyes, which stung pretty bad. We also saw Ben here. He had broken off one of his crank arms and was waiting for the sag wagon to bring him back to the finish.

Ben's loose crankarm

Soon we were on our way to complete the last and hardest 15 mile section. This contains 4 steep climbs: East rd, Avery rd, Orcut rd and Smith rd. With fresh energy we went up East rd for a good 15 minute climb. The group separated here a little so halfway the descend down Labelle, John and I waited for Mike and Peter. Standing still without wind in the sun I suddenly felt surge of heat and started sweating like crazy. So was anxious to start riding again to generate a cooling breeze. Apparently I was too eager as in the last tricky gravel corner on Labelle I lost control of the bike on some lose gravel and had a minor crash. I had already significantly slowed down after the warning sign of the sketchy corner but still ended up in the wrong soft gravel line. Just 2 little scratch wounds.

Mike descending Labelle

When we ended up on the regular road; Clesson, we saw doctor Sean ride by and we quickly caught up with him. He had been riding around to see if he would see some folks to ride with and he joined us for a few miles. Including the climb up Avery rd into Buckland. He let us climb Orcut but ourselves and then we only had 1 climb left: Smith. The first part of Smith is gravel and in the shade, the 2nd part however is on asphalt and there are no trees to shield you from the sun. At the last super steep section it got really hot but as in a mirage this jeep stopped and the driver was handing out cold drinks. A miracle.

Good samaritan handing out cold drinks at Smith rd

Talking about mirages, just a little further up the road we saw a rider, shortly after followed by a rider coming towards us. It was Pamela but instead of waiting for us, she turned around with the other rider which turned out to be here riding company Maria. After a regroup at rt 112 we all rode back to finish at the Lake house house. Here the party had started, a live band, food, beer and a lot of tired smiling riders. Some even had taken a dip into the water.

Ashfield lake still early in the morning

After lots of chatting, sausages and beer it was time for us to roll down 116 for the last few miles back into Conway. I could not resist and jumped into the lake to clean, cool and sober up a little. It was a good Massochistah day. On the event t-shirt that I bought it summed it up nicely in Dutch: "Jeetje dat was moeilijk"

Jeez, that was hard!

The next day we had an easy start to the day and we had decided to go the the Treehouse tasting room. So John, Pamela, Paula and I rode down the brewery and met Mike there who on his drive back home,  joined us  the brewery. I had bought a few to many beer tickets. And after a bunch of beers we had to switch back to Seltzers to make sure we could make it back up into the hills to Conway.

Parking our bikes at Treehouse

This week on Veloviewer

Massochistah 2022 and other rides