Pedaling About ❥ Valley Bike Paths

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser Banner

Note 2, Bike Paths

❥ Relatively early in my pregnancy with my second child, I began to get just the littlest bit hooked on riding my bicycle on what we called the bike path. Back then, you’d have known what I meant, the one to Belchertown from Northampton. It felt shiny new and exciting. I was enthralled rolling along.

Somehow, rides like that seemed to fall by the wayside (mostly, time without kids like that fell by the wayside).

I’ve used my bike since then, and done some bike path riding, even, but not all that much. Still, I heart—big heart—the whole bike path movement. As a still-timid-around-cars biker, the bike paths seem exceedingly smart, in large part for the safety factor. But there’s more—on the bike paths, you can get places. You can get places and the route there is a pretty one and a cleaner one (free of exhaust). And by riding a bicycle when you are actually going somewhere (beyond a ride in order to ride, which is awesome on its own merits), you’re not polluting the area by one car less. However you look at it, biking is one of those win-win-wins.

A few weeks ago, my eight year-old and I took the bike path—for the sake of testing his brand-new bike (pictured in parking lot, thus no helmet)—almost to the center of Easthampton (it was dusk and we felt compelled to be sure to get home by dark or we’d have gone that much further).

I was reminded of this: biking with someone you enjoy talking to can be really pleasant on a bike path. There was a way that we’d removed ourselves from the constraints of everyday obligations—and the road.

The next weekend, we biked to Hadley—smack into the town’s Memorial Day festivities. That ride, for my eight year-old, was all about crossing the Connecticut River. We feasted with our eyes on the view as we made our way across (and back). Then, we detoured from the bike path just far enough to enjoy a feast of a different sort—at GoBerry in Northampton (author’s note: I could write an entire essay about my love of GoBerry and its delightful owners Molly and Alex).

❥ My practical goals this year include equipping my bike to haul a bit more (including possibly a three year-old) and then to ride that much more than I used to (I might even get comfortable on the road this year). I anticipate using the bikes paths frequently.

My fantasy has to do with a short spin I boldly invited myself to take on an incredibly fun machine: a tandem recumbent bicycle. Its owners bicycled cross-country on it last summer (and kept a blog). This summer, they are having twins, a far longer journey. Although we just met, I’ve offered up my baby-holding skills. I have no fantasies of a newborn pair over here. My dream after the tandem recumbent bike is a tag-a-long once the littlest gal is big enough for one (on my bike, not a recumbent tandem). At that point, I imagine you’ll find a good portion of my crew on those paths a good portion of the time.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

4 Comments on “Pedaling About ❥ Valley Bike Paths

  1. For your next adventure, come up to Turner’s where another great bike path awaits. Start at Unity Park, visit the Great Falls Discovery Center, ride the path along the canal, then after a quick jaunt along a couple city streets (we walk across the main one, but the others are small and void of traffic), you can cross the Connecticut River and end up at the Rail Yard. On your way back, you can grab a bite at one of the great restaurants in town!

  2. I heart bike paths too, and I especially love crossing the river with Lily in her trailer behind me. So much to love about biking here.

  3. The option for silence between 2 riders is another plus for biking. Many times my 8 year old & I had reset our moods on a quiet ride. Look forward to seeing you on the path or lane!

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