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T minus one week: Pedal 2 Pints

Had my final training ride yesterday, which happened to be the final Pedal 2 Pints ride. It’s a bit bittersweet⁠— I’ve been doing this ride for the past 4 years and it’s always been my favorite ride of the year. (I mean, 70+ miles and 8+ breweries. How can you go wrong?) But the organizers have been running it for 10 years and I gather it was getting increasingly logistically difficult to pull off.

Anyway, the ride itself was awesome as always. The route this year was a figure 8 up and down the Connecticut River, starting and ending at Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield. The southern half of the figure 8 took us down to the Norwottock Rail Trail, which I’ve been biking since 1994.

Norwottock Rail Trail bridge over the Connecticut River

Last year, after talking about it for decades, they finally completed a tunnel under the train tracks to connect the Norwottock directly to the Northampton Bikeway.

It was great not having to take a weird detour on Northampton city streets for a change!

Breweries on the southern loop included Northampton Brewery (try the altbier); Abandoned Building (which still makes their collaboration bourbon barrel imperial stout Abandoned at Lefty’s even though Lefty’s closed in April); BLDG8 (now making a lime gose in addition to their lineup of IPAs); and Hitchcock Brewing (with some great unusual styles like a strawberry kiwi golden ale or a black lager). Sadly, the alpaca farm next to Hitchcock sold their alpacas a couple of months ago, but here’s a photo I took of them on last year’s ride.

Also, mad props to Abandoned Building for making their flight paddles in the shape of the City of Easthampton.

To complete the 40-mile southern loop, we had a great lunch at Wild Roots, which was included with ride registration. When we started the northern loop of the figure 8 though, it started drizzling almost immediately. I was a bit worried we might be in for bad conditions, but the rain soon stopped and the sun came back out, so I thought that was it for the day. However, as I arrived at Element Brewing (Red Giant is still my favorite there, though the Acidum is really good as well), it started raining more steadily and within a few minutes it was hailing! Very fortuitous timing for my stop, though I know a number of other riders weren’t as lucky and were caught on the road in the hailstorm. I waited until the sun came back out to start riding, and by the time I had covered the 4 miles to Brick & Feather (which was unfortunately out of Sauron’s Nightlight, my favorite beer of theirs) the roads were already mostly dry. The approach to Brick & Feather is along the Canalside Rail Trail, which has a great view of the Power Canal on the Connecticut River.

At this point I decided to be a rebel and take the newly-reopened Turners Falls Bridge instead of going to Montague City and crossing the river there. Probably cut out a couple of miles that way but had to climb a pretty serious grade up from the river into Greenfield. It also meant that my next stop was Artisan Beverage Cooperative, whose new Backwoods Libation (alcoholic ginger beer with botanicals added) is really great! They were even nice enough to give me seconds 🙂

The final stop was People’s Pint on the other side of downtown Greenfield, which had a great one-off barrel-aged stout. While People’s Pint runs a gastropub in downtown Greenfield year-round, Pedal 2 Pints is the only occasion when they open their actual brewery to the public.

At this point the cue sheet called for a return to South Deerfield via a climb into West Deerfield, but it was already 5:20 and we were supposed to be done by 5. So one of the other riders I was with at the time decided we’d go back via Old Deerfield at an all-out sprint, taking advantage of a tailwind. It may have only saved half a mile, but it saved a big climb, and going with some seriously speedy riders got me pedaling a lot faster myself! I finally made it back shortly before 6 and got a well-deserved dinner.

(Pictured with me are Rachel, Ben, and Dan, who are some of the many riding buddies I’ve gotten to know in the course of 4 years of P2P rides.)

Total distance: 71.6 miles
Average speed: 14.9 mph

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