Well, another biking season has come and gone. Although I didn't get a chance to ride as often as I'd like, I certainly can't use the weather as an excuse. As most of you may recall, we had virtually perfect riding weather on every weekend throughout the summer and into early fall. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the remainder of the fall. I've only been able to get out on the mountain bike on a couple of occasions and most of the scheduled mountain biking excursions had to be canceled. I guess my riding activity will be confined to the wind trainer for the coming months (is there anything more boring than being on a wind trainer?).
Now that we're in the off-season, I hope many of you will give some thought to planning our ride schedule for next year. I also hope that many of you will volunteer to become ride coordinators. There really isn't much involved in leading a ride. Either pick a route that you will frequently ride, or you're welcome to lead one of the dozens of pre-planned routes that have been designed by others. You don't have to be a "hammerhead" to lead a ride. Often times riding "sweep" is just as enjoyable (if not more so) than attempting to lead the pack, and I've often found it a convenient excuse to claim, on those days when I'm not feeling particularly ambitious, that I have to hang back because I'm leading the ride. I must have said that a dozen times and, so far, no one has caught on.
Just remember to get those ride reports to Marion - as soon as you can!
My best to all of you and your families for the Holiday Season and let's look forward to next season. To quote Sally Peters: "Let's ride!"
Minutes of the Meeting of September 13, 1997
Twenty-five Franklin-Hampshire Freewheelers enjoyed an evening of laughter and delicious food at the Vinskey's house on September 13. President Jack Fitz-Gibbon called the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.
Treasurer's Report: Al Shane reported that the club had $ [...] in the treasury.
Century Ride: Sally Peters reported that 140 bicyclists participated in the Connecticut Valley Century (COVAC), the 100-mile bike ride sponsored by our club on September 7. The riders consisted of 38 FHFers and 102 non-FHFers. After the ride, Sally took the leftover muffins, bagels, bananas, and juices to Jessie's House, a shelter in Northampton.
Newsletter: Marion Gorham had produced a new newsletter, and brought copies to the potluck for distribution. Members not at the potluck will receive theirs by mail.
Hosting a Potluck: Al reminded everyone that the club will reimburse any club member, who'll host a meeting, $20 for beverages, paper plates, snacks, etc. and the host and/or hostess need not prepare a dish.
Bicycle Advocacy Speaker: Jack announced that a person from Boston, representing a bicycle advocacy group called Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts, would like to talk to us. The group is trying to connect up with bike clubs around the state.
Rides Schedule: We planned the rides through early November. Sally mentioned that the Yankee Pedalers bike club lists mountain bike rides and cross-country ski outings on their club web site. They also list our club's rides, using teal-colored lettering to identify them as FHF rides.
Bike Paths: Marion suggested that we make a contribution to the Friends of the Belchertown Rail Trail, because they need support and we have supported other rail trails. The group decided to donate $100.
Barbara Rich summarized what's been happening with Easthampton's proposed rail trail. The appraisal took longer than expected, but things are moving along now and negotiations are underway. There will be a public information session on Wednesday. A fundraising letter was sent out and $5000 has been collected so far.
Marion reported on the Franklin County Bikeway, which is in the planning stage and making progress [this time]. This bikeway is not a bike path: it is part bike path, part bike lane, and part shared road. One part of it will take the railroad bridge across the river and work its way down through Sunderland and Leverett to UMass.
Next Meeting: The next potluck meeting will be on Saturday, November 15th, at Al & Marion's, right after a mountain bike ride.
SEPT. 20-21 - GRANITE STATE WHEELMEN SEACOAST CENTURY - Approximately 30 Freewheelers participated in this popular ride. It was the first but not the last time for Al and me. Most of us stayed at the same Inn along with Cyclonauts and Yankee Pedalers. According to the desk clerk, the Inn, actually a motel, was taken-over by bicyclists. Al and I bicycled the 75-mile loop on Saturday. We stopped at four tag sales and bought at two; wait until you see my hot pink bike shorts and my Mickey Mouse shirt! We did the 25-mile loop (plus Plum Island) on Sunday and did some birding and beaching. As we sat and snacked on a bench by the water in Newburyport, who came along walking her dog but Nancy Roeder, one of our speakers at NEAR 85 at Umass. Nancy had made a solo trip across the U.S. on her bicycle and spoke from the point of view of a woman traveling alone. She and her boyfriend, now her husband, were our houseguests. They now run bike tours (Easy Riders) primarily in Ireland but also other places. We hadn't seen her since 1985. Anyhow, the G.S.W. Century is a great ride, although not better than ours - only different. We enjoyed renewing acquaintance with some of the G.S.W., whom we bicycled with in Germany and Austria and at a Craftsbury Common in VT some years ago. In fact, if we hadn't spent so much time visiting and stopping at tag sales, it might not have taken us two days to do their century, but as Al said, we were there for the "Zen" of it.      -Marion
SEPT. 28 - RITES AND LEFTS AROUND THE QUABBIN - Joyce Hansbury and Fred Morris led this 60-mile ride. Some time between the scheduling of the ride and the ride itself, the name was changed from "Ride Around the Quabbin" to the above, catchier title. Joyce and Fred led us a merry chase around the Quabbin through Pelham, New Salem, Hardwick, Petersham, Gilbertville and Ware, from Belchertown. Al and I, at the tail end as usual, stopped at Friendly's in Ware for ice cream, dropping further behind, and not satisfied with just bicycling around the Quabbin, bicycled in the park before returning to the ride start. I almost said, "into the Reservoir", but that could be misconstrued.     -Marion
OCTOBER 5 - DALE'S VERY COMMON RIDE - Eleven brave and hardy souls took
the weatherman at his word and met in Athol for a ride in the hills of
northern Worcester County. The weather was cool and gray but the rain had
stopped by the time we headed-out. Just as promised, the sun was out by
afternoon. This ride came complete with scenery and entertainment. Not too
far into the ride, a group of wild turkeys was noted on the side of the road.
In the middle of our tour, a rather load scream was heard from some member
of the group. Joyce and Julie claimed to have seen a snake in the road.
The foliage was not quite peak, but excellent just the same and where it belonged - on the trees instead of under our wheels. The only serious concern of the day was not realized until much later. Fred had a problem with chest pain and upset stomach in Petersham. He insisted on completing the ride and was actually charging off the front, toward the end of the ride, as he started feeling better. It was not until the episode repeated itself the following week, when he tried to do the Great River Ride with Joyce, that tests revealed he had suffered a heart attack. At last report, he was on the road to recovery (pardon the pun) following a stay in the hospital and looking forward to getting back on his bike.
OCT. 11-13 - MOLLY STARK CAMPING TRIP - The weather forecast for the
weekend indicated clear, cool weather for all three days. We did
not even pack raingear - just plenty of warm clothing. This year we had
reservations at Molly Stark Camping Area because I felt it was just too dicey
to ride into the campground and expect them to accommodate a big group in an
overflow space on a holiday weekend. The group WAS pretty big. There were
13 of us on 12 bikes. Veteran campers joining us for the first time were
Tim Roaix and Bill Burgart. Bill was the only one pulling a B.O.B. trailer.
He was able to carry a lot of gear without changing the handling of his bike.
Roger Ralph tried-out bike camping for the first time. The other campers
included: Mike & Fran Ungaro; Ron Degray; Nancy DeCrisantis; Pam Painter;
Elsa Rosenak; Mary Libby; and Al Hathway.
The ride to Molly Stark campground is UP-Hill on mainly dirt roads. We regrouped at the scenic Green River covered bridge for lunch. The beautiful weather was an added treat, and we took extra time to enjoy the bridge and the river.
We arrived at the campground by 3 PM, and had two adjoining campsites waiting for us. Al Hathway brought his new Outback Oven and ingredients for both coffeecake and brownies. Mike & Fran and Elsa & Mary both had new tents - last year they all got drenched in an unpleasant nocturnal downpour. This year they would not get to test their tents for waterproof-ness.
We ate dinner at Pancho's Wreck in Wilmington and then stopped at the Grand Union to buy food for breakfast. Back at camp, Al fired-up his stove to "bake" brownies while Tim made the coffee. Bob made a roaring fire as the temperatures dropped near freezing. The brownies came out just like homemade!
We planned to have breakfast at the Skyline Restaurant - uphill from the campground. To fortify ourselves for the ride and the wait for a table, we cooked a "small" breakfast in camp. Coffee, oatmeal and Outback Oven coffeecake by Al was the menu. Everything was delicious - better by far than what the Skyline would serve.
After breakfast, some people hiked up Mt. Olga for a fantastic view of the fall foliage in three states. About half of the group had to work on Monday, so they were packing-up and pedaling back to Greenfield. The rest of us rode part way back with them and then branched-off to do a dirt road loop before heading back to a pizza joint in Wilmington for dinner. It was dark when we finished dinner because sunset was so early. We did get to do a beautiful full-moon ride back up to Molly Stark. We had another campfire to chase away the chill.
Monday's morning temperature of 38 seemed warm compared to Sunday's 30 degrees. On Sunday, Fran had ICE in her water bottle at breakfast. On Monday morning all our water bottles were ice-free! We all pooled our remaining food and cooked a potluck breakfast. We definitely missed Al and his Outback Oven! We took our time breaking camp because we knew that the downhill ride back would go by quickly. We made three stops on the return trip: one for coffee at the top of the hill; one to see the "headwaters" of the Green River and lastly to have a snack at the covered bridge. To keep the weekend from ending too soon, we all met for ice cream at Friendly's in Greenfield after loading our bikes into our cars.
A Post-Script: I, too, have purchased an Outback Oven. Next year we will
cook wonderful breakfasts in camp and skip the lengthy wait for lousy food
and lousy service at the Skyline Restaurant!
OCT. 19 - NORTHFIELD RAMBLE - Our hands became so cold biking to the ride start that we had to stop at Dairy Mart in Sunderland to warm them. John Fitzpatrick, who biked to the ride as he does to all rides, also complained of cold hands. 25 cyclists showed-up for this popular ride. Although the skies were overcast when we began, the sun came out and the group lingered on the bridge over the Millers River until everybody caught up. The changing of names of a couple of the roads led to some confusion. We lingered again at the picnic site along the Connecticut River enjoying the sunshine. The sunshine on the foliage made a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, the Discovery Center in Turners Falls was not open when we regrouped there. Too bad, the displays inside are interesting. Our third regroup was at the falls on Falls Road in Sunderland, where our bikes automatically stop. Some of us also stopped at the Dairy Mart in Sunderland before driving or cycling home. Before we lead this ride again, we promise to update the cue sheet and insert the mileage.      -Marion and Al
OCTOBER 26 - LEAF-PEEPERS SPECIAL - When I found out just before press
time that nobody had written a ride report for this most beautiful ride of
the year, I had to take action, because this ride deserves some publicity
and should become an annual event!
Eight of us, plus Jim Downs, the ride leader, showed-up at the ride start in Shelburne Falls. Jim had pulled a muscle and couldn't ride, but he was there to pass out the cue sheets and apologize for the trees being past peak (he had even renamed the ride to Leaf-Peepers' Lament), although, in fact, they were very colorful, and made the already beautiful scenery even more spectacular!
This 45-mile ride had everything a bicyclist could want! We had beautiful views of mountains, including Mt. Monadnock. The hills were nicely positioned for efficient use of downhill momentum to help get up the next hill. The roads were freshly paved and there was no traffic for miles!!! [no pun intended, Julie?] (Except for a few minutes on Rt. 2, I think I only saw a grand total of 3 cars all day!) We rode through apple orchards on rolling hills, and one of our group reached out while riding to pick a little on-the-road nourishment. There were peaceful cows and a galloping palomino horse. The weather was fine, we had no dog encounters, no flat tires, and around every bend of the road yet another scenic view opened up.
After the ride, most of us went to McCuskers for vegetarian chili and hot cider. This was an unforgettable ride, notable for its beautiful views and total lack of traffic. Let's do it again next year! Maybe even more than once!      --Julie Miles
NOVEMBER 2 - SHOW & GO ROAD RIDE - The day was overcast, with a threat of rain, but 4 optimistic riders showed up and enjoyed a scenic ride with only a brief gentle misting. John Fitzpatrick guided us on a 36-mile variant of "Around the Range" which included lunch at the Tailgate in South Hadley. The trees were still quite colorful, in spite of being past peak. Mother Nature held off on the rain until the ride was officially over, but just as everyone was leaving the parking lot, the skies opened up! Good timing! (But not for the 2 who rode to the ride!)     --Julie Miles
NOV. 15 - X-C SKI AND POTLUCK - It was supposed to be a mountain
bike ride. It has always been a mountain bike ride. But, Old Man Winter
came early this year and dumped enough sleet and snow to negate the ride,
but make decent skiing. So, Diane and Irv, Fran and Mike, Sally and Bob,
Al and I skied. Al led the trip from the foot of our driveway, into the
Eastman Brook Conservation Area, over the fields to Cherry Hill Golf
Course, then on to Factory Hollow Pond, returning on the Robert Frost Trail
to the Eastman Brook Conservation Area to "happy hour". I had left the
group at Cherry Hill Golf Course to return early and prepare for that event.
Good thing I did. They were ravenous and began eating almost as soon as they
came in the door.
The group swelled to 33 for a bountiful potluck. As usual, there was not enough room on the table for all the good food: tasty casseroles; an enormous calzone; great breads; a pot of homemade pea soup; a huge tossed salad; and more - followed by a table full of delicious desserts. All this on top of the happy hour. We eat well! And what dud we talk about at the meeting that followed? You guessed it - food! So what's new?     -Marion
Minutes of the Meeting of November 15, 1997
The meeting was preceded by some cross-country skiing, and then the usual delicious potluck feast. Thirty-three hungry people did their best, but there were still some leftovers. The skiing, the eating, and the meeting all took place at Al & Marion's. At 7:10 p.m., President Jack Fitz-Gibbon called the meeting to order.
Treasurer's Report: Al Shane reported that the club had ... in the treasury.
Nominating Chair's Report: Barbara Rich presented the slate of nominees for the 1998 officers (to be voted in at the Annual Banquet).
Newsletter: Marion Gorham announced that she needed items for the next newsletter. She especially asked the ride coordinators to send her their Fall ride reports.
Annual Banquet: Pat and Joe Pitchko gave us each a 4-page handout to facilitate our decision-making. We voted on the date (Feb. 7), location (the usual place in Northampton won out over the Bluebonnet and Zoe's), price level (the $16 dinner defeated the $20 dinner), and menu (choosing among various main dishes, salads, starches, and desserts).
The program at the Banquet will feature Beth and Pete Sutch, who have recently moved to Chesterfield. They're writing a book about their 3-year around-the-world bicycling trip and will present a slide show about their experiences.
FHF on the World Wide Web: John Gustin has created a web site for the Franklin-Hampshire Freewheelers. The address is http://members.aol.com/gofhf and it includes ride schedules, newsletters, miscellaneous information, and links to other sites. John asked for people's opinions about what should or should not be on the site. Some felt that the ride coordinators' phone numbers should not be given. [these have since been removed - web ed.]
Next Meetings: The next meeting will be at the Annual Banquet on Feb. 7, and the meeting after that will be a potluck meeting at Jack's house on Saturday, March 14th. The main agenda item will be planning the spring ride schedule, plus Al and Marion will show their slides of Norway.
SWITCHEROO - Beth & Pete and Al & Marion will probably switch slide show dates. So, it may be "Norway" at the Annual Banquet and "Around the World" at the March potluck and meeting, but there will be a slide show. As for you, come to both and you'll see both. - Marion