The Route 57 Loop in Massacusetts

I used to live very near Bradley Field, the airport that serves Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut. The airport is tiny; it's nearly an insult to any traveller. While I lived there, I frequently travelled for my employer to go to Detroit, Boston, and Piladelphia. I sometimes flew home to Pittsburgh to see my parents, and also a couple of times flew overseas—to London, twice.

During my time in Connecticut, I got started writing. Since I was also working full-time even then, deadlines sometimes came creeping up on me without the warning I felt I deserved. There's a Federal Express office in Granby, Connecticut, and I'd often make runs on my motorcycle there just before they closed in order to get an envelope on the last plane out.

After all that stress, I'd often run the bike into the woods. Not literally, of course: I'd dive down CT-20 into Granby and get as far as I could before coming home, writing for another hour, and getting to bed.

If you're ever in Connecticut or Massachusetts, you might want to try taking this ride: it takes some of the more interesting roads over some of the most beautiful parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. The ride is dangerous: there are many blind curves, some questionable pavement, and some very off-camber turns. Many surrounding driveways and unpaved roads spill their gravel and oil into the road, and if you're not careful, you can enter a nasty slide. Unless you're a very experienced rider, please do not push your luck the first time you make it around the loop.

By starting in Windsor Locks, near the airport, you'll be able to stop for gas at any of a number of stations that service the airport. Along CT-75, which leads from Poquonock, Connecticut, all the way to West Springfield, Massachusetts (and, probably, further) you'll want to get some food at any of the varaiety of quaint restraunts in the town, or down a burger at any of the fast-food joints along the strip.

If you head north along CT-75, you can take a left-hand turn to get onto CT-20 to go right in front of Bradley Field. That left-hand turn is at the corner where Bradley Bowl is; there's a PGA tournament sponsored by Tums (the antacid) once a year. One of the years I lived in Connecticut, there was a huge bomb scare at the tournament and the bowling wasn't televized. In fact, the whole town was nearly brought to a standstill as the roads leading to the alley were closed while the bomb was sought.

Once you're on CT-20 heading west, you'll come to a light; be careful at this corner, as it's sharper than it looks and there's lots of terrible traffic because of the carelessly driven airport parking vans. When the light turns green, you'll go under a bridge that services the airport, and you'll want to take the first exit on the right. The exit lets you continue following CT-20 to the west; you'll end up in East Granby, Connecticut, immediately.

There are still a couple more parking lots, so make sure you keep an eye out for the lethargic vans that are driven by wreckless idiots. The road will narrow from four lanes into two, and you'll start to go uphill. This is Granby, itself. Granby Center is defined by the five corners: where CT-20 crosses US-202 and meets CT-189. You'll essentially go straight as you pass through the light, but be sure to bear right just after the light.

Your gentle right-hand wiggle will take you onto northbound CT-189, towards Granville, Massachusetts. In fact, you'll follow CT-189 all the way north over the Massachusetts border into Granville. The road is just great: you'll rip through several tiny towns, see quaint little roadside ice cream stands, and pass lots of farmland. If you look close, you'll see a working waterwheel.

As you near Granville, you'll see a very dangerous right-hand "tee" intersection. The intersection is terrible for motorcyclists because the oncoming traffic is facing a blind corner, but is still tempted to take a left turn to get into a park. The park is beautiful, and if you have the time, you may want to stop. If you don't stop, make sure that you don't meet an early demise when someone on the southbound side takes their left turn without careful attention.

On your way up a hill sortly after the park, you'll see a sign that says you're entering Granville, Massachusetts. You've really been in Massachusetts for about five miles, and you're only really entering the outskirts of Granville. The road lofts and falls on tiny rolling hills several times before entering the town. As you gain comfort with the road and its hazards, you might want to rev your bike up the hills and get a little weightless on the way down.

When you enter Granville, you'll see a white saltbox building that provide postal service to the town. Just after that, you'll see a traffic island that goes in front of the Granville General Store. If you miss this sudden (and unmarked) turn, don't fret; you'll actually be safer taking a hard left at the stop sign that marks the center of town.

Take a left, and that's it: you're now on MA-57 going east. You have nearly 15 miles of this road to enjoy: your route includes beautiful sweepers, sharp jaggy turns, and one of the most amazing uphill passing zones I've ever abused. After you pass the KOA campground on your left, you'll find yourself on a sweeping lefty that taught me a lot about motorcycles.

The next few miles will find your course straightening out just a bit; the road still certainly isn't level, though. There are interesting little antinuqe shops around the road, so you might want to bring hte Weinnebego back to find some nice curiosities for the house if you do a bit of shopping.

On the right, you'll pass The High County Store, which is a tiny deli and convenience store. The store has a wonderful selection of ice cream and sorbet, so you cna stop by if the weather is oppressive and enjoy great views of the valley. To the right and left in the tiny town, you'll find unpaved roads that really go nowhere. One, though, goes through the Granville State Forest, and comes out onto a few miles west along CT-20 in a town called West Hartland. Unfortunately, the road through the park isn't paved, though there are some very curious houses whicxh seem like they must actually be a part of the park itself. South of the state line, the forest turns into the Tunxis State Forest.

Continuing west, you'll find some great downhill stretches. The signs are right: test your brakes (and assess your skills!) before you get all the way to the bottom; there's a run-off for runaway trucks, but if you can't make the left hand turn, you'll end up crashing into a gas station with a parking lot full of rental trucks.

This is New Boston. Take a left hand turn onto MA-8, and you'll be heading south. If you have the time (and a basket of sandwiches) you might want to take a right and ride about four miles north; there are several turn-offs on the road where you can enjoy a picnic along a rushing stream that feeds Connecticut's biggest reservoir.

On southbound MA-8, you'll find several straight stretches of road where you can stretch your leges. One cuts through a notch of hillside where it's not uncommon to see piles of snow well into May, as the direct sunlight still hasn't made it into the crevace. Just afte rthis notch, you'll find yourself overlooking the West Branch Resevoir— and you're well into Connecticut.

You can keep heading south until you come across the junction of CT-20, just west of Riverton. There's a large gas station at the intersection. You'll find yourself cutting back east along CT-20 through the American Legion State Forest, through Riverton, and then north of the Barkhamstead Reservoir—which provides nearly all of Connecticut with drinking water.

After the beautiful canopied roads and some more twists and turns, you'll pass through Hartland, Connecticut. That huge empty field in the middle of Hartland is the home of one of the more interesting folk festivals in the state. CT-20 leads all the way back to the five-corners after going through Hartland; the roads are simply blissful.

Once back at the five-corners interesction, you can go straight through the light and back onto CT-20 east to head towards the airpor the way you came.

There are a few variations you can make on this ride which add some distance. One of my favorites is to get CT-20 west at the five corners intersection and then take Moutnain Road from Hartland back to CT-189 where you can continue the route as I've described it here. Without any such modifications, the route I've described is approximately sixty miles in length.

If you decide to take this trpi, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have in the past. Over the years I lived in Connecticut, I've probably taken this trip more than fifty times.

Please ride carefully—people who drive cars are jerks.

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Last modified on 5 July, 1997