|Start:||Event will start at a Concord MA hotel. Which hotel, TBD.|
|Length:||600k / 375mi|
|Time Limit:||40 Hours (Finish by 8pm Sunday)|
|Ride Leader:||Jake Kassen|
|Controls:||Eastford, CT; Willington, CT; Brattleboro, VT; Deerfield, MA; Williamstown, MA|
|Sanctioning:||RUSA and ACP|
|Cue Sheet:||Download Preliminary 2016 Cue (PDF) (Updated July 20th 2016)|
|Online Map:||https://ridewithgps.com/events/8843-ner-2016-600k Updated July 20th, 2016.|
|Registration:||Register Via BikeReg|
2016 600k Overview:
Several people are needed including one position in Concord on Sunday morning. Please volunteer!
Weather: In 2016 temperatures were in the upper 90s and humid. Other years have been cool and stormy. When planning for the ride expect a wide range of possible weather conditions over the 40 hours.
This route is an attempt to make the ride slightly easier and more suitable for training for those going to longer events such as 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 3 miles of dirt roads in several short stretches with no dirt section being longer than a 1 mile. 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 Start, Finish, and Parking Locations:
The 600k will start from the parking lot of the Best Western hotel in Concord Massachusetts (just off Rt. 2) and will finish in the hotel in a room to be announced during the event.
For riders driving to the start, please park in one of the office building parking lots located 2/10th of a mile away on Baker Ave Extension. Do not park at the Best Western if not staying at the hotel as a guest. Your car will be towed. The Best Western is not affiliated with this event and no room discounts are given. Please do not ask the hotel about the 600k.
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 Concord 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.
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. 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 cross Rt. 197 staying on small country backroads. After passing into the Constitution state (unmarked) the pavement improves.
The section in Connecticut might be my favorite but it’s also the most hilly. (Want nice roads? Prepare to climb…) On a weekday pre-ride there was still only light traffic and the twisty roads and dense foliage kept things interesting. The control in Eastford is at a small Cafe popular with local cyclists. Nice people & good food. Remember that you still have 300+ miles at this point so keep the stop short, perhaps only buying a drink or cookie as the next control is only 11 miles away.
From Eastford you head to Willington almost entirely along and through the Yale University 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. In the updated route riders stay on paved roads so if you leave the pavement, you’re off route.
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 have plenty of steep rollers but then it flattens out for a while.
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.
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.
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.
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 are finally are back to Concord. Congratulations.
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.
Tom Worster’s 600k (2008) photo gallery.
If you have photos or a gallery link you’d like to see here, email the webmaster.