Saturday, September 26, 2009


In the spring of 1978, I had just met a really nice girl, who had come into the shop right at closing to buy toe clips for her new Schwinn LeTour. I installed them in the parking lot and summoned up the nerve to ask her for a ride, ostensibly to make sure she was able to use them properly. During the short jaunt, I found the courage to ask her for a date. That worked out well, but it was Friday and she said that she had already made plans to leave town to see her mom that weekend. I spent that Saturday riding one of my favorites--out to the top of Greylock and back--thinking about her the whole way. As it turned out, the story about visiting Mom wasn't a brush-off and we picked up again on Monday. A year later we were married and I think that was the last time I rode Greylock.

Fast forward to today. Jeanne is at her Mom's again, taking care of her, and I happened to be in town Friday for a conference at RPI. I checked the Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club's website (my club, back in the '70s), and saw that they had moved their annual Greylock ride up a week. I've wanted to ride Greylock again for a few years now, but it was closed as the access roads were completely rebuilt. The forecast was for cool, but sunny weather, so hooking up with them for a ride was a no-brainer. I needed to ride into work on Friday, with Jeanne picking me up at the end of the day to travel, so I decided to take the Gunnar cyclocross bike, as it has a rack, but fairly light wheels. I also thought the triple might come in handy, but as it turned out, it wasn't needed.

54 degrees at the start didn't feel cold under the bright September sun. There was a good turnout of riders of a variety of abilities, but all appeared to be in decent shape. I chatted with the owners of a Tommasini and a Colnago Master, both classics in excellent shape, but with upgraded parts. Most riders were on very nice, modern bikes. I left with the first group and the pace quickly picked up to the point that I wondered if I would be able to keep it up over the entire 70-mile ride. I dropped off the lead pack on the long climb before Stephentown, but caught up on the rolling terrain. They finally dropped me for good on Brodie Mountain Road when I lost contact on the climb and then missed a turn. When I rejoined the route, the main bunch was just going by. I passed most of them, grabbing a few photos, and eventually caught up with a few riders from the lead group.

The ride up the south side of Greylock had a few good pulls in the beginning, but was much less steep than I remembered. I actually started picking up the pace after awhile. Things really started to feel familiar when I hit the tight double-switchbacks near the top and I put the hammer down to the summit, realizing how much easier it was turning out to be than expected.

After resting awhile at the top, and sharing my trail mix with some of the other riders, I started back down. The views were fantastic in the clear, late-September air and the foliage was just starting to turn. Riders had been coming and going, so I was pretty sure I'd either catch up with some or be caught by others. The fastest riders were long gone, including one amazing woman who had bucked the stiff headwind for the fast bunch for most of the ride out.

As it turned out, I rode solo all the way back to the start. Other than a number of riders still climbing up, I didn't see anyone until I had my bike loaded and was getting ready to leave. I had a nice tailwind most of the hilly return ride, so I kept a brisk pace and took advantage of it. When I finished, I felt like I had gotten in a great workout--much more than one would expect in 70 miles. Total climbing was over 7,000'.

The ride was a real blast. The other riders were pleasant and there was usually someone to draft or to pull. 30+ years ago, I spent the ride thinking about a special girl I had just meant. Today, I had over three decades of fond memories to reminisce about as I revisited this great tour. All-in-all, it was big, big fun.

More photos on Picasa.