Boston 600k – June 20th 2015

Ride Information

Start: Hanscom Civil Airport, Bedford, MA
Length: 600k / 375mi
Start Time: 04:00
Time Limit: 40 Hours (Finish by 8pm Sunday)
Ride Leader: Jake Kassen
Controls: Willington, CT; Brattleboro, VT; Deerfield, MA; Williamstown, MA
Sanctioning: RUSA and ACP (PBP Qualifier)
Cue Sheet: Preliminary Cue in Miles
Preliminary Cue in Kilometers
Last Updated 6-15-2015 @ 6:30pm.
To save on paper, metric version won’t be distributed at the start.
GPS/GPX File: PRELIMINARY & UNOFFICIAL: http://ridewithgps.com/events/NER-2015-600k
Registration: Register Online via BikeReg

Information

2015 600k Overview:

The Boston 600k has an entirely new PBP-year route for 2015. This route is an attempt to make the ride slightly easier and more suitable for training for those going to PBP. The short, seemingly endless rollers match what riders will find in France plus this ride features an almost 100 mile stretch that is about as flat as any NER 600k gets. The route has about 20,500′ of climbing — about 1000′ less then the 2014 600k. Riders will pass though MA, CT, NH, and VT and comes within a few miles of NY. It uses some of my (Jake’s) favorite roads in MA.

Much like PBP, the route features longer control legs — 75 miles, 80 miles, and the ride home being almost 140 miles. Services are abundant with a local store to stop for food & water every 25 miles or less during the day. Many possible stops are listed on the cue but there are dozens of other locations on-route. The longest stretch without services is about 45 miles which most riders will be on at night. Much like PBP, riders would do well to stop at locations outside of the controls.

In total there are about 5 miles of dirt roads in several short stretches with no dirt section being longer than 2 miles. Two 1/2 mile stretches are bumpy dirt and the rest is good condition hard pack. All dirt roads can be readily ridden on “racing” style bikes with 23mm tires. However, riders who have the choice may find wider (28-32mm) tires more comfortable. (This is true for almost all NER rides.) The pavement on the paved 370 miles is in surprisingly good shape for MA.

Ride Finish Location:

The 600k will START in Hanscom Civil Airfield in Bedford, MA but it will FINISH at the Bedford Motel in Bedford, MA. The route distance is the same and riders should park at Hanscom unless they are staying as guests at the Bedford Motel. It’s about 5.5 miles via bike between the two locations. At the motel you can take a shower or a nap before heading home. We’ll have snacks and there’s a good ice cream stand directly next door.

Here is a RWGPS route of the best way to get to from the Motel to Hanscom. Note that I’ll have a minivan and can shuttle riders who don’t want to ride back to their cars.

Sleep Stop & Bag Drop Info:

We thank Bruce MacDonald for graciously offering his house and hospitality in Williamstown, MA for the overnight stop at around mile 240. We will offer transport for a small (15 lb) bag + Sleeping Bag/pad from the start to Williamstown and back. (FYI: Bags should be back in Bedford by noon on Sunday.) At the sleep stop riders will be provided dinner and breakfast. If they plan to stay the night they should also bring a sleeping bag/pad. We will provide floor/couch space and a wake-up call. For those who want privacy or a real bed there are motels on-route about 5 miles beyond the control that can be independently booked.

SAG Support:

This ride is being run with very limited volunteer support and thus there is no ability for riders to be brought back to the start if they are unable to continue mid-route. Do not start this ride unless you have someone who you’ve arranged with ahead of time to pick you up should it be needed.

Jake’s Ride Report

Leg 1 – To I-84 (73 Miles): Riders who have ridden with NER for years will find some familiar roads in this section. The first 30 miles are largely flat to gentle rolling as you head out as the sun is rising. The route uses a 1.5 mile section of Rt. 20 which most riders will hit around 5am when the traffic is light and the stores are closed. Still, please ride this section single file. Westborough marks the start of the rollers as well as a good place to stop for a coffee and a donut. The rollers continue on the small roads though Oxford (~45 miles) which is another opportunity to stop on route. You’re almost out of the state when you hit Nicholas College and turn onto Rt. 197. After passing into the Constitution state the pavement improves and Rt. 197 becomes a bit wider. While traffic on this state road is generally low, riders should be mindful of the twists and stay single file on this 8 mile section until they hit Old Turnpike Road, the first of the dirt sections. While there is some gravel on this section it’s short, hardpacked, and mostly downhill. A mile later the pavement resumes as you head toward one of my favorite sections of this leg: Yale forest.

Yale University owns a forest? Actually they own several. This one is particularly nice. As it’s used for research there is very light traffic and no hunting or homes — just lots of woods and ponds. On the pre-ride a hawk followed me down this section and played leap frog until I was almost out of the woods. I don’t know if he was trying to keep me safe or just making sure I didn’t go into his woods but either way it was a nice sight. This section features the longest dirt road at nearly 2 miles but it’s easy and enjoyable riding.

Once out of the woods you’re back to moderate to steep rollers of northern Connecticut. The truck stop control is sizable and has a few restaurants as well as a connivence store. Make sure to stock up — the next 25 miles feature some of the steepest rollers of the ride.

Yale Forest dirt road

Yale Forest dirt road

A scene from the Yale forest in CT.

A scene from the Yale forest in CT.

Leg 2 – To Brattleboro, VT (80 miles) Leave the control and cross I-84 and you’re back to low traffic residential streets. Steep streets. You’re crossing a mountain range as you head northwest so it’s no surprise that the rollers continue. Keep an eye out for an Octopus! A short but steep climb follows. Also keep an eye on the cue sheet as there are a number of turns but navigation is generally pretty easy and the streets are generally well marked. You’ll soon pass back into the Bay State and the hills start to subside after crossing under I-90.

At mile 37 you’ll come to the Amherst (Norwottuck) rail trail which is paved and in great shape. Nice scenery too with a marsh on one side and an active rail road on the other. Please be courteous of other users on this 4 mile section as it’s a popular destination for families, walkers, and riders who couldn’t even comprehend 600 kilometers on a bike. You’ll leave the rail trail by making a sharp left after a tunnel and then another left onto Rt. 116 to head into Amherst center.

Amherst marks the middle of this leg and is a great place to stop for a quick lunch as there are dozens of options including a bike store (Laughing Dog Bicycles) should one be needed. I’m told there is an excellent coffee shop to the left but on my pre-ride I opted for fro-yo on the right. Riders will encounter lots of tourist and college foot/car traffic but there are bike lanes and the downtown section is short.

After Amherst you’ll head through Leverett and Montague on mostly flat roads. One note: At mile 56 you’ll turn onto Lake Pleasant Rd which starts paved but has one 1/2 mile section of pothole encrusted dirt road. The road itself is hard packed but you’ll need to be mindful of the many bumps. But make it through this section and onto Mineral road and you’re headed to perhaps the most scenic footbridge in the state over Millers river. This century old bridge features an fantastic view of the notable French King Bridge (built 1932) which carries Rt. 2 traffic over the CT river.

After the bridge there is another section of hardpacked dirt (easy riding) and shortly thereafter you’re in Northfield. This is a good place to stop at the general store on the left or at High Top BBQ on the right. From here it’s only a short, mostly flat ride into the Granite State for a few miles before crossing the CT river into the Green Mountain State. The control is the Brattleboro Food Co-op which has hot and cold self-serve sections in the back. Try to keep your stay short; you still have a lot of miles to cover.

Octorock demands climbing!

Octorock demands climbing!

Bike Path to Amherst

Bike Path to Amherst

Molly Stark taking a break on the bike bridge over Millers River.

Molly Stark taking a break on the bike bridge over Millers River.

French King Bridge (built 1932) as seen from the bike bridge on the 600k.

French King Bridge (built 1932) as seen from the bike bridge on the 600k.

Early morning in Hillsborough, NH

Early morning in Hillsborough, NH

Leg 3 – To South Deerfield, MA (32 miles): This is the shortest and flattest section of the ride. Enjoy! It’s quite riding south as you stay next to the CT river. 15 miles from the control and you’re back in MA for the rest of the ride. Mid-way in this section you’ll pass through Montague (food options) before hitting the 2nd bike path and bridge, this one being a long converted railroad bridge. The path is short and you’ll soon be riding though historic Deerfield which is a mile stretch featuring restored 18th century buildings. [As an aside, you’ll also ride by the factory which manufactures Pelican cases.]

The control is a Cumberland Farms which closes only a few minutes after the control cut-off time so keep this in mind if you’re getting in late. After dark this will be your last option for food and water for nearly 45 miles and over the highest elevations of the ride so plan accordingly.

One of hundreds of farms seen on the 600k. This is in Vermont south of Brattleboro.

One of hundreds of farms seen on the 600k. This is in Vermont south of Brattleboro.

600k bike bridge heading towards Deerfield

600k bike bridge heading towards Deerfield

Leg 4 – To Williamstown, MA (54 Miles): Unlike the previous legs which have dozens of turns this leg has easier navigation and the hilly rollers. For most of this section you’ll be on Rt. 116 — a twisty and lightly trafficked state road. Rt. 116 is notable in that it’s north of I-90, South of Rt. 2, and cuts though some of the least populated parts of Massachusetts. It’s scenic as you ride along rivers and farms and continue to climb. The highest point is 2,000′ which you’ll reach 31 miles into the leg.

Most riders will complete this section at sundown or after dark so good lights are key — with the few houses and intersection this section is particularly dark. (Remember that you leave Rt. 116 onto Creamery road before returning to the highway several miles later. Skip this shortcut and you’ll add another 5 miles to your ride.)

After reaching the peak of Savoy mountain it’s a steep down hill toward North Adams. As you get closer to this historic industrial city the houses and shops return. North Adams itself has an active downtown so be mindful of the drivers who won’t necessarily be expecting cyclists. You’ll pass Mass MOCA then cross over Rt. 2 to stay on small roads to Williamstown. You’ll cross Rt 2 again to Rt. 43 toward the overnight control.

Found on Rt. 116.

Found on Rt. 116.

Maybe use on the 600k in 2016? They do have a small store at the top....

Mt. Greylock (not on route) as seen on the 600k

Leg 5 – To Bedford, MA (140 Miles): This section marks the longest leg in NER/BBS’s history. Yes, a 200k+ with no controls. For some this is ideal and others will surely find the distance daunting. I’m interested in feedback.

Riders will leave the control headed north and turn onto Rt. 2 — early in the morning there should be little traffic and the road is fairly wide. You’ll head back though North Adams, pass the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony, and use a “shortcut” to Savoy mountain and Rt. 116. Turn right onto Burlingame Hill and encounter the steepest climb of the ride at 15%+. But it’s short. The road levels off as you hit a 0.4 mile gravely dirt section though a dairy farm. You’ll make a left onto Rt. 116 and keep climbing until reaching the peak after which it’s rollers for the next 20 miles or so. Riders on this section after sun up might find Savoy Country store (right) open at around 20 miles into the leg but otherwise the next open services are at mile 50 at a Gas Station / Subway / Dunkin Donuts.

At around mile 60 riders cross the CT river one last time into Sunderland and join the 300k route back to Bedford. The route goes through North Leverett (the town I’d move to if Emily would let me) and past Lake Wyola. If it’s hot jump in for a swim! The lake has public restrooms and hot dog stand which opens at 11am. Don’t like Hot Dogs? There’s another stop for food shortly before Wendell Center. Many rollers in this section, some steep but none long. (Much like PBP…) When you get to Rt. 122 please ride single file on this ~7 mile section of highway which has light but fast moving traffic. You’ll leave Rt. 122 by cutting though Petersham. The Petersham country store has tasty sandwiches but notably slow service. (Unlike the 300k, Petersham is not a control so you don’t need to stop.) After Petersham there are again some short steep rollers.

Hubbardston (Services available) feels like the beginning of the end to me. You’ll soon be on Rt. 62 which you’ll take for most of the ride back to Bedford. Rt. 62 is not without hills but it has a long downhill section after Princeton and generally is quick riding.

You’ll leave Rt. 62 in favor of backroads though Harvard and other suburban towns. Watch for turtles! It won’t be long before you hit Acton, then Concord, and finally are back to Bedford. Congratulations.

North Adams, MA (600k)

North Adams, MA (600k)

As seen in Harvard on the 600k

As seen in Harvard on the 600k

600k Ride Reports for other versions of the 600k

Lovely Bicycle’s 2012 600k Crew Ride Report
A great report to read if interested in helping to support the events.
Cris Conception’s 600k ride reports from 2006 and 2007.
More of Cris’s ride reports can be found here.
Jake Kassen’s 600k ride report from 2007.
More of Jake’s ride reports can be found here.
Charles Coldwell’s 600k ride report from 2003.
More of Chip’s ride reports can be found here.
Mike Beganyi’s 600k 2006 report.
More of Mike’s reports are here.
Kris Kjellquist’s 600k ride reports from 2005 and 2006.

If you’d like to see your ride report listed here, please send the text or a link to the NER webmaster.

Photos

Tom Worster’s 600k (2008) photo gallery.

Bliss Hill Road in Royalston, MA. Photo by Jake Kassen

Bliss Hill Road in Royalston, MA. Photo by Jake Kassen

David Lafferty and Emily Searles headed outbound. Photo by Tom Worster.

David Lafferty and Emily Searles headed outbound. Photo by Tom Worster.

Charles Coldwell. Photo by Tom Worster.

Charles Coldwell. Photo by Tom Worster.

Jake Kassen & Glen Reed heading back to Brattleboro, VT. Photo by Tom Worster.

Jake Kassen & Glen Reed heading back to Brattleboro, VT. Photo by Tom Worster.

A familiar sight for riders on the 2008 600k. Photo by Tom Worster.

A familiar sight for riders on the 2008 600k. Photo by Tom Worster.

If you have photos or a gallery link you’d like to see here, email the webmaster.