The fall is a great time of the year in Western Massachusetts. The humidity is mostly gone, mosquitos are few and far between, and the colors on the trees are popping! Sometimes the sunlight hits in just such a way to create unique shadows and illusions on the landscapes. Mornings are brisk, excellent temperatures for an early ride. After a rainy and hot July and August with intermittent riding days, I am happy that September and October have been so nice to us. Last year I wrote some reflections on gravel riding in the fall here, you can read that blog now. For me the fall always foreshadows other seasons too, and at certain times I could swear that I feel old man winter knocking at the door.
This fall wraps up year two of Frontier Cycling Tours. I am proud to say I survived the craziness of yet another year with Covid. I not only survived but grew in my offerings and tours. Since I am a one person business, my success is due in large part to my collaboration with others. This collaboration includes a great partnership with Pioneer Valley Food Tours and a new partner Speed and Sprockets Mobile Bike Shop. The owner, Sean Condon is a local cyclist and mechanic who knows the local routes very well, and brings over a decade of mechanic support in case we need it. He has been a bonus to us and our guests during Farm Bike Tour series.
Our Season started May 29th with the Farms of Franklin County Tour. This tour focused on the farms and products around South Deerfield, Sunderland and Montague. Our 8 guests included a family from the Boston area, a few new transplants to the Pioneer Valley learning more about the products and landscapes, as well as weekend visitors. We were lucky enough to have an excellent tour at Thomas Farm in Sunderland and play with their goats, as well as eat fresh goat cheese, delish!! If you are in the area stop and visit their farm stand to purchase some fresh cheese or other farm products! Deborah crafted a superb picnic of local products for us as we ate and conversed on the lawn of the Historic Deerfield museum.
On September 18th we hosted the How ‘bout Dem Apples Tour, focusing on all things apple related. We were happy to have Artifact Cider be on board with us to host the group after the tour and walk us through the process of making tasty hard cider. Like many local businesses, including Frontier Cycling and Pioneer Valley Food Tours, Artifact is focused on sourcing apples from local orchards. Speed and Sprocket met us at Park Hill Orchard with the tent and tables, in order to keep us fed and satisfied with local apples and check in on bike mechanics.
Our final tour this year was October 9th. The West Valley Farm Tour is the one that started it all. Several of our guests had E-bikes. I was really impressed with those. They provide just enough assistance to help out, while still requiring the rider to pedal. Our route takes us past a working dairy farm crafting excellent cheeses and Skyr, a yogurt like product high in protein and flavor. We visited Park Hill Orchard again to admire one of the best views of Mount Tom and the Metacomet Ridge. Pioneer Valley Food Tours provided a picnic filled with tasty snacks and specialties from the area while guests relaxed and sip wines at Mineral Hills Winery in Westhampton under their outdoor covered patio. Thankfully for us, Speed and Sprocket was around to help a few riders who had technical issues. Thanks Sean!!
Just like I did last year, the winter is time to reflect and think about ways to grow and improve in guiding group rides and private tours. 2023 could finally be the year Frontier Cycling’s international tours in Quebec get running, as well as some longer tours with SAG van support. Regardless, thanks to all who have attended our events and reached out! Keep me in mind for your next eco-friendly, Western Massachusetts cycling event!