I need a Western Mass mentor...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    I need a Western Mass mentor...

    4 years after starting a thread about where to live for the best balance of riding-to-quality of life, I'm looking again, and just took 3 days to drive up 7 and 183, and then down 91. I saw lots of great spots, but have the most interest in N. Adams, Greenfield, and Northampton.

    My current thought is that Greenfield may offer the most riding, but is further from Bachelor St than I'd like. I watched video of Bachelor.

    Aside from riding Dubuque 4 years ago, i just don't know exactly what the riding is like from each of those towns. I prefer CCC-style hiking trail, but I do really enjoy the best machine-built trail, too. I prefer used trail to blazing a path through forgotten carriage trails... but that stuff can be fun at times. My trials rear wheel hopping isn't so good, but I do like very technical trail. I've got a good list of the available public riding from the NEMBA sites, but would love to hear more about the character of the available parks and if there's much grey zone and private trail.

    I'm a bit of a hermit, but I'd really like a good riding community, including trail work. Santa brought me a Rogue Hoe that needs to be used.

    I'll also be needing affordable space for the framebuilding shop and somewhere to live... including considerations of community, etc. I want to be somewhere nice that has a good pool of folks, visual appeal, some culture, and opportunity. And not a tourist trap.

    Forgive me if this is just a retread of "Where to live" threads. I'm hoping that narrowing it down would make the feedback more specific. I'd love to hear from folks in these towns, or who know them pretty well. If it's not thread-worthy, I'm happy to talk to people offline.

    I'm excited about the possibilities and I'm looking forward to learning more. Thanks!

    Steve Stickel
    ByStickel

  2. #2
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    The Charlemont Trail System is located between Greenfield and North Adams on Route 2. There's nothing to the town of Charlemont though.

    I rode around both North Adams and Greenfield this summer and preferred the vibe of Greenfield. The scenery around North Adams is beautiful but the town seemed a little more run down than Greenfield - like the decaying mill towns around Fitchburg.

  3. #3
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    No decent riding to speak of in North Adams. Charlemont has a very up and coming system but can be a little rough. Pittsfield is a good sized town with ALOT of established riding.

  4. #4
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    I got off on the west side of the main drag in Pittsfield and was immediately into a struggling section of town, which may have spoiled my impression of it. Is it correct that there's riding in Pittsfield SF right from town?

    In such a short trip, i didn't have time to meet folks and get a better feel for each spot. I'm hoping to gather some info and make some contacts so that during the next trip up, I can get together with a few people and try to see some trail.

  5. #5
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    Greenfield area has some of the best riding anywhere. From Charlemont, Catamount and Dubuque less than a half hour to the west, Wendell a little less to the east, the long ridge from in town connecting with very little pavement to South Deerfield and Mount Toby, some nice stuff north in Northfield, Vernon VT and up to Brattleboro, or about the same south to Batchelor Street, Earles and the other small areas around Hamp.
    http://facebook.com/CharlemontTrails
    NEMBA Past President...

  6. #6
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    All of western Mass (in my opinion) has very good access to trails. If you're looking for culture and community, Northampton is good. Check out Florence (it's a section of Northampton) - some large mills with rental spaces available and good riding right in town. Also check out Easthampton - check out "NFG Cycles." He's a local frame builder and may be a good resource for shop space, etc.. Greenfield is more affordable (and more "down and out") and also has excellent riding in town. Brattleboro, VT should also make your list. Good luck! Drop a line if you need a guided tour of some local trails.
    Last edited by pulsepro; 01-07-2015 at 11:18 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    like the decaying mill towns around Fitchburg.
    C'mon now - Fitchburg stands on it's own as the local decaying mill town - the surrounding towns are a good a bit nicer.

    The 'burg does have a sweet skatepark tho.



    My wife works in Turner's Falls, which seems like a nice little 'city' and in good striking distance to a bunch of stuff.
    Sinister Bikes
    Wraith Bicycles
    Sunday River Mtn Bike Park
    NEMBA
    Wachusett Brewing Co.

  8. #8
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    I really appreciate the suggestions and offers. Thank you.

    I'm going to plan to get back up and spend a week or so trying to get the feel of all the towns mentioned. I just didn't have time to do that on this last trip.

    I'm wondering how much of the riding in the region is old-school, hand-cut, CCC_style hiking trail. Are these ridges rocky? Is there a good amount of low-speed techy riding to be found? And, without revealing too much, do you have to 'know a guy who knows a guy' in order to ride the choicest trail?

    I look forward to learning more and thanking people in person.

  9. #9
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    There is a lot of variety in the trails, as there is/was a lot of variety in the goals of the trail builders throughout the region. There is a lot of low speed tech, but the recent trend in trail design has also brought in some faster flowing, less techy stuff, often as re-routes or options on established techy trails, sometimes cut from whole cloth. Many places are mapped, some signed, but a lot of the time it's best to either plan on getting lost or a finding guide. Of course there are secret stashes, but with very few exceptions you aren't missing much in sticking to the public riding areas.
    http://facebook.com/CharlemontTrails
    NEMBA Past President...

  10. #10
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    Strava global heat map! If a trail has been ridden enough, it will show up there. It's really handy for finding singletrack.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L. View Post
    I'm wondering how much of the riding in the region is old-school, hand-cut, CCC_style hiking trail. Are these ridges rocky? Is there a good amount of low-speed techy riding to be found? And, without revealing too much, do you have to 'know a guy who knows a guy' in order to ride the choicest trail?
    There are plenty of rocky, ridgy old school, CCC rustic trails around. They are super fun & don't get too much bike traffic. Heavy ATV use in spots, unfortunately, but there are scenic, untouched sections around. You don't really have to "know a guy" to hook up with local trail knowledge around here, just throw up a post of what you're looking to ride in the forum here & you're bound to find a guide for where you want to ride. When the snow melts, that is -which is looking like mid-july the way things have been for the past 3 weeks...

  12. #12
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    Thanks again, folks. I was hoping for some decent weather so that I could come up for a few days, but Mother Nature hasn't cooperated. Maybe an RV would be a good choice, if the winters are all going to be like this...

  13. #13
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    Are you implying you're looking to camp full time around here?
    Got any pics of frame work you've done?
    Trails around here are awesome. Best of luck finding a space to settle. Hit us up for a tour when you get in.

  14. #14
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    Yeah, I'm looking for a permanent move. I'd like to be closer to family and have lots of new N.E. techy riding to explore.

    I've got bike info at bystickel dot com and more pics on flickr. I fail at updating, but there's some good info there. I look forward to meeting lots of folks, and I will be taking people up on their offers to show me around.

  15. #15
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    So, I just spent a few days scouting:

    NoHo looks to be too busy and too expensive. Not many shop spaces. Looks like a great place to stroll and get a nice dinner, though. Nice people watching.

    Easthampton has the mill space. Met Nialls of NFG and he seems like a nice fellow. Downtown wasn't quite as charming, with all that traffic streaming through.

    The old factory and canal complex in Holyoke is amazing. I don't think I'd want to live there, unless we can get enough people to gether to buy some old brick factories and create a Ray's-like set-up with bike factory and condos.

    I think I liked Florence best. A bit quieter, nice folks, mill buildings with space.

    And I got to ride both sides of Holyoke range. Batchelor street side was fantastic. I can't wait to discover more of it. The west side of the notch will be a great option when I'm not in the mood for tech. I rode the north side of Charlemont, up King's and Red Zone, and then off the TV tower on the way down, struggling with light after the storms on Thursday. I kept wondering why those trails, while open and fully maintained, don't seem like they get tons of riders, but I guess it's the combo of climbing, techiness, and remote location. And then, on th eway to NJ, I stopped and sampled Blue Mountain Reservation for the first time. It has an amazing combo of loamy and rocky.

    I'm going to try to get back up in a few weeks. I'd still love to meet some folks and hear any leads people have on work space, collaborations, space-sharing, housing opportunities, etc, etc. I want to try to get a couple of CNC machines running to churn out framebuilding components and production FS parts, so if anyone has any knowledge/contacts, I'd love to know. I'm still feeling a bit lost trying to come to an area with no contacts. At the very least, maybe somebody could show me a 'base loop' through Batchelor.

    I can't wait to get back up.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by D.F.L. View Post
    So, I just spent a few days scouting:

    NoHo looks to be too busy and too expensive. Not many shop spaces. Looks like a great place to stroll and get a nice dinner, though. Nice people watching.

    Easthampton has the mill space. Met Nialls of NFG and he seems like a nice fellow. Downtown wasn't quite as charming, with all that traffic streaming through.

    The old factory and canal complex in Holyoke is amazing. I don't think I'd want to live there, unless we can get enough people to gether to buy some old brick factories and create a Ray's-like set-up with bike factory and condos.

    I think I liked Florence best. A bit quieter, nice folks, mill buildings with space.

    And I got to ride both sides of Holyoke range. Batchelor street side was fantastic. I can't wait to discover more of it. The west side of the notch will be a great option when I'm not in the mood for tech. I rode the north side of Charlemont, up King's and Red Zone, and then off the TV tower on the way down, struggling with light after the storms on Thursday. I kept wondering why those trails, while open and fully maintained, don't seem like they get tons of riders, but I guess it's the combo of climbing, techiness, and remote location. And then, on th eway to NJ, I stopped and sampled Blue Mountain Reservation for the first time. It has an amazing combo of loamy and rocky.

    I'm going to try to get back up in a few weeks. I'd still love to meet some folks and hear any leads people have on work space, collaborations, space-sharing, housing opportunities, etc, etc. I want to try to get a couple of CNC machines running to churn out framebuilding components and production FS parts, so if anyone has any knowledge/contacts, I'd love to know. I'm still feeling a bit lost trying to come to an area with no contacts. At the very least, maybe somebody could show me a 'base loop' through Batchelor.

    I can't wait to get back up.
    Sent you a PM.

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