Updated: Jun 22
My driving schedule recently changed, affording me
time to regularly bike the back roads of beautiful
Berkshire County in Massachusetts.
I pedal right by this beautiful hillside in Richmond on one of my regular routes.
Truckers are often portrayed in myth as tough guys... but trust me, our job turns many a driver into not only a flabby slob but also a medical disaster waiting to happen. That's because we sit nearly motionless for long hours and yet wind up too tired to exercise, and the "food" available in truck stops is almost always fundamentally unhealthy garbage. (Truth be told, most of my fellow drivers are disinclined to eat anything healthier.) Accordingly, high blood pressure and diabetes are two common consequences of the trucking lifestyle.
But we are actually required to pass a DOT physical every so often, so it pays to pay at least some attention to one's over-the-road diet. Meanwhile, your Grumpy Old Man-Splainer will turn 65 this year, and it's not getting any easier to keep my target weight and BP within striking range of my next 2-year medical pass. So I dusted off my old road bike and had my good friend and fellow driver AnthonyC. give it a professional upgrade (he's a racer and a brilliant mechanic.) And then I hit the road.
* * * * * * *
I'm able to park my 120-foot double tractor-trailer rig at a truck stop on the NY-MA border, and a quick four-mile leg takes me into the town of West Stockbridge, where I toiled for a decade in a restaurant and then our gourmet take-out store. As I pedaled into town, the adjectives started flowing through my mind. "Bucolic"... "Idyllic"... pick your synonym for rural pleasantness, and it likely applies to the majority of Berkshire County in westernmost Massachusetts, a.k.a. "The Berkshires." (An incorrect name, as the actual Berkshire Hills take rise about fifteen miles to the east.)
On my very first day of riding I happened upon the West Stockbridge Farmers Market, managed by an attractive thirty-something local woman who used to bus tables for me when she was fifteen. This weekly event was where I connected with the folks from HIGH LAWN FARM (see " The Perfect Little Dairy Farm") and re-acquainted myself with the joys of their rich butter and cream.
HIGH LAWN FARM's booth at the West Stockbridge Farmers Market.
Their delicious ice cream is a fitting reward, I think, for a good hard ride.
From West Stockbridge one must navigate a little mountain to reach the town of Lenox. The 500' vertical climb is a tough workout, but the view at the top (along with the great cardio benefits) makes it worthwhile–
Olivia's Overlook, at the corners of Richmond, Stockbridge, West Stockbridge, and Lenox. The lake called STOCKBRIDGE BOWL reposes in the distance. If you think this is beautiful now, wait until I
post a pic in October's full autumn splendor.
As I approached downtown Lenox, I couldn't resist reviewing the two dozen or so spectacular mansions than line one particular side street, remnants of the robber baron era when wealthy New Yorkers annually fled Manhattan's summer swelter for the cucumber air of the mountains. (The town's sports teams are called the Lenox MILLIONAIRES, for God's sake.)
After that, I also couldn't resist stopping at my favorite old haunt–
Lenox Coffee... the nerve center of The Berkshires.
And then it was time to head back to my truck and my other life. On every trip I take, I try to return by a different route whenever possible. But there was no avoiding West Stockbridge.
On my way back through town I took a look through the window of AMICI, a new-ish restaurant in a space that had previously been occupied by a succession of restaurants that simply couldn't quite survive for one reason or another. One of the previous restaurants had purchased the furniture from my old restaurant... and as I peered through the window, there it was– a real Danny's Table!
I built several of these by purchasing old and very sturdy solid oak table-tops, stripping them, and then adding two-by-two oak edges to make them just big enough for a party of four–
It's really cool to see that artifacts of my old life in the Berkshires still remain as I look to extend my new life with regular healthy exercise. Though my legs are a little rubbery from today's ride, I'm greatly looking forward to my next one.