Sunday night message from friend James (yes, that James) to me and Marc: "how about a big ride Wed or Thurs?". Check of the weather, agree on Thursday. Work is overrated. Reach out to Alex -- We have a Gang of Four.
Options for a "big ride" always start with Quabbin. I've ridden the Quabbin area with James 30+ years ago, circumnavigated with Alex and Elmo in 2011, and explored with my daughter Sarah last year. Today's ride incorporated elements of those rides: a "big loop" of 79 miles -- 20 more than the usual 60 mile loop. We started in Templeton, where James and I based our earlier exploration. This is VERY rugged country -- nothing super-steep, but hardly a flat mile to be had. But -- we have all been training, we were a very compatible group.
Three highlights: The first 25 miles wound through scenic and deserted roads. Pretty and relaxing. Second, the exploration of Quabbin reservoir itself. The roads along the lake have limited car access, so you just have bikes and hikers. The climb up Quabbin Hill (the finish line of the Quabbin Reservoir Classic) yields a marvelous view from the top of the watch tower - easy views to Wachusett and Monadnock 30-40 miles away, marginal view to Greylock 60 miles away. Taking the bike across Winsor Dam was a treat, and the visitor center was fun (plus a drain/fill spot).
Third -- the opportunity to grind our way up US-202, the Daniel Shays Highway, from Belchertown to Athol. Shays, a Revolutionary War officer, led Shays' Rebellion -- a major insurrection to government authority during the years of the Articles of Confederation. While strong action by the Massachusetts militia put down the rebellion, the warning of "weak central government" helped nudge the Constitutional Convention towards a stronger Federal government. Shays failed, but his memory remains strong in his home region -- the passage of time, as it turns out, can bring redemption.
Today was our own little Shays' Rebellion against the routine -- we all enjoyed the ride and each other's company. And look forward to our next little rebellion. Alex rated the ride as Type 1.5 fun, and Marc summarized, "That was a thing!"