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Perfect Pedal2Pints

I think Buzz and I rode the first Pedal2Pints several years ago. In the intervening years, I didn't go: sometimes I was busy, but also it was hard to get into good enough bicycling condition to commit to the ride. (Back then, it was earlier in the spring.) This year, Buzz got me to commit and I signed up for the ride back in March. And I started trying to get in shape for a long ride.

They have four different routes from 33 to 90 miles. Each route leads to a series of breweries where you can stop to sample beer. I'm happy to go on the shortest route -- to have more time for beer.

When I signed up, it said I could indicate a team affiliation, so I choose Amherst Media and wore my Makers at Amherst Media shirt for the ride.

The suggestion for people going on the shortest ride was to arrive around 11 and leave between 12:00 and 12:30. Since parking is always an issue, Buzz picked me up and we arrived around 11:30. Once we were checked in, we decided to just head out -- more time for drinking beer!

We had a cue sheet and they'd marked the pavement at all the turns. The marking was pretty good. The cue sheet was sometimes hard to interpret and the fact that my cyclometer is not well calibrated didn't help. But we found our way. The route was slightly different than I'd remembered from past years. The first part is along 116, which is fairly busy. But then we turned off onto the back roads and saw cars only infrequently.

The road goes way down when it crosses the Deerfield River and then there are two steep climbs out of the valley. The first is so steep that I always have to walk my bike. The second one I weathered and then we pushed on toward Greenfield. The road parallels the expressway, which makes that leg not as peaceful as it might otherwise be. Similarly the Riverside Greenway also is so close to the highway that there's constant noise of cars.

The first stop was the Artisan Beverage Cooperative. They have kombucha, mead, and other weird things -- not really my thing. But I tried their Oaxacan Mead and a stout and both were interesting. Just down the street is Lefty's Brewery.

They had an English IPA, which was good, and a double IPA, which was better, but also a "Li'l Sticky" IPA which was excellent. The brewer said that the Li'l Sticky is a version of a "Wicked Sticky" beer they make in the early fall with local fresh hops, but uses dry cones instead, as the fresh hops aren't available. Both Buzz and I made entries in our mental calendars to come back in August to try to get some Wicked Sticky. (It was only as I was researching this post that I realized it was "wicked" and not "wicket".)

We rode on, slightly unsteadily, to the People's Pint where, outside the brewery, they were serving pilsner (ick) and training wheels (a session IPA), but the pitcher of training wheels had just run out. Inside the brewery, a gal gave us some training wheels and then opened a bottle of a beer she had made with maple syrup (3 gallons in 200 gallons of beer). It's not normally my thing, but it was pretty good: a nice balance among the roasted malt flavors and the maple.

Much more unsteadily, we headed off to Millers Falls. This has a series of very long climbs with one or two steeps climbs in the middle, and then a quick steep descent. We arrived at Element hot and starting to get pretty tired.

Element always has somewhat weird, offbeat beers. To be honest, they've never had something that's really captured my heart. They have a couple of IPAs that have sake notes in them, Plasma and Tachyon. I was pleased to get a chance to try them. I actually have a bottle of Tachyon that I've been meaning to try. It's OK.

At that point, the ride heads back to South Deerfield with an unofficial stop at the Bookmill. Buzz and I got cans of Resin and, after one round, decided to have a second before pushing on. I would have tweeted again from the Bookmill, but by then the battery had died in my cameraphone.

It's mostly downhill from there. We took a wrong turn and had to get directions to put ourselves back on track, but then sailed along the beautiful Falls Road where I pointed out where I want to look for terrestrial gastropods. And we stopped to pay homage to the Buttonball Tree.

Back at BBC, the party was already in full swing. They gave us some Pedal2Pints socks, a pint glass, and 5 tickets: 1 for dinner and 4 for beer. They weren't serving any good IPAs outside, so we went into the BBC to get pints of Lost Sailor and then got a nice dinner of pulled-pork sandwiches. We ate under a tent and enjoyed the camaraderie and the feeling of accomplishment of making the long ride. In the end, we only used those two tickets and handed off the others to other folks.

Buzz dropped me off in time to catch the last couple of innings of the Cardinals and I was in bed by 8pm. Mission accomplished.