My Last State. Or IS It? - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

July 5, 2014

My Last State. Or IS It?

Williamstown, MA

When I reached Troy, New York, I left the Erie Canal/Mohawk River/Hudson River corridor that had been my companion for most of the last week.  I definitely enjoyed New York, most of its people, and ALL of its bike-friendly roads.  I wasn't quite prepared for the last couple of workouts the state had for me though.  I knew I would have to climb out of the Hudson River valley at Troy, but I did not expect to climb fairly steadily for about 10 miles.  It was nothing despicable but, for me, it meant spending a lot of time in the granny gear.

I topped out and went careening down the other side.  It was a thrilling four miles at up to a 10% grade, but one thing made it death defying.  I passed within a foot of a deep and wide pothole while going about 35 miles per hour.  I didn't even see it until I was alongside of it.  If I would have hit that thing, without being overly dramatic, my body would now be nothing but blood, meat, and crushed bones more hideous than the many opossums victimized by cars that I passed today.  I kept my eyes peeled the rest of the way down.

The descent was quickly followed by four steeper uphill miles.  I guess these were the Berkshire Mountains, REAL mountains, no less challenging than anything I experienced riding out west, and just as beautiful in their own way.  What they lack in jagged, rocky peaks, they more than make up for in huge walls of green, streams of water tumbling out of the hillsides, and pretty rivers and waterfalls.  Sometimes I forget to give the mountain ranges of the eastern U.S. the respect they deserve.

My lo-tech phone-cam does not specialize in landscapes. This is probably the best one of the Berkshires.
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The mountain pass was also the MA border.  It had an alpine feel up there.  I saw some bike riders who were unloading their bikes from cars.  They had been DRIVEN to the top and were getting ready to ride down.  Call me an elitist, but that just ain't right.

I let them go first, drank some water, and proceeded down a few minutes later.  The previous four miles took me almost an hour.  This four miles took less than ten minutes.  I don't know exactly how fast I was going, but I do know the speed limit for cars was 35 m.p.h. and no car caught up to me.

So now I am in my last state.  My original plan had been to go north into the Adirondak Mountains and then cross Vermont and New Hampshire before dropping down to MA, but somewhere in eastern New York I came to the realization that I was starting to miss my family, my dog, and my home.  I decided to take a more direct route to Boston.  I have no regrets.  I admire around-the-world bikers, Alaska-to-Patagonia bikers, etc, but I'm not cut out for it.

I'm just incredibly fortunate to be on this little journey.  I feel like the great Harmon Killebrew who, upon his retirement, declared, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

What?  That wasn't Harmon?  Lou who?

Williamstown has some fine architecture.
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A Berkshire Mountains view in Williamstown, MA.
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Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,586 miles (2,552 km)

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