David, Anne and the kids are early starters, they are all out the house by 7am, which meant I was as well. I arranged last night to stay with Chris, who I met way back in Missoula Montana. Chris was moving back out to Massachusetts and used the opportunity to drive cross country with his friend Pete. He now stays in Northampton MA, which made for a nice manageable distance for the day. Northampton is only about 45 miles away from Pittsfield, so despite there being a couple of substantial hills in the way, I was scheduled to arrive nice and early. This was not a bad thing as there was thunder storms predicted for the afternoon, so arriving before that would be preferable.
It was barely even light when I set off, so I decided to stop in at a cafe to get some breakfast before tackling the hills that David warned me about. After almost an hour, I set off again and was almost immediately climbing, once again the Berkshires were in my way. This time though I climbed with ease, it made a huge difference knowing that the hill was coming and how long it would last and most importantly, that it would be mostly downhill to Northampton after the initial climb. The hill was not easy, but compared to a very similar hill yesterday, it really wasn’t much trouble. A long, very enjoyable downhill followed, probably the best downhill so far. I still don’t really enjoy going downhill, but this one was pretty good. After this, google maps said that it was almost completely flat the rest of the way to Northampton, with small sections of downhill. Looking at the road ahead, this was difficult to believe. I was still very much in the mountains, surrounded on all sides. But to my surprise, it was right. The road followed a river through the mountains, and while it wasn’t completely flat, it certainly wasn’t hilly.
The road then wound away from the river, which by now we all know means bad news for cycling. Sure enough, the road began to wined uphill, with no end in sight. By this stage my phone maps were almost useless as they were saying that the elevation was still flat. Just like yesterdays unexpected hill, this one was a real struggle. I have been telling myself the whole trip that any foot I go up, I am eventually going to go back down. This thought was more prevalent than ever in my mind, as any foot I went up today, I simply had to lose within the next few days. I eventually reached the top, pretty grumpy and tired. But I now had a long downhill, followed by a really short flat period until I reached my destination and it was still only 11am.
I arrived in Northampton at around 11.45am, I wasn’t to meet Chris until 5pm so I had some time to kill. Fortunately, Northampton is a really cool town. It and the two neighbouring towns are all college towns, with a total of five colleges located in the small area. This meant that there was plenty of cafes and restaurants that I could effectively hide out in until the evening. I managed to find the Haymarket cafe and happily spent the rest of the day there.
After meeting Chris, we headed to a local pub for dinner. I had an excellent burger, probably the best burger so far, and I’ve had a lot of burgers! Chris is a big bike racer and has lots of crazy bike stories, including the story of the world record for cycling across the states. One man completed his 3,200 cycle across the country in 8 days 9 hours, putting my effort really to shame. Chris then helped me plan my route for the next day. I initially planned to take three days from here to Boston, making it exactly ten weeks for the whole trip. But after agreeing a destination for tomorrow, it turned out that it was only a further 70 miles to the coast. The 70 miles also had to be predominantly downhill meaning this would be a complete waste of time to take two days to do and was very manageable in one day. So the arrival date was changed, providing a make it to Leominster tomorrow, I will arrive at the Atlantic ocean in two days!!