A recap of the 2022 run.
The fifth Reliability Run was, by most measures, a very enjoyable event that went smoothly. We could not have asked for better weather and the scenery was enhanced by bright sunshine in the clear air of September. The driving was as enjoyable as you will ever experience thanks to the use of quiet state highways with occasional forays on to US numbered highways. We drove for miles with the road almost entirely to ourselves, something that seldom happens these days. The day started for me with quite the opposite experience: getting to the start point at Farmington Motorsports involved either a very slow progress on route 10 or taking to the interstate highways and hoping no behemoth doing 80 mph ran my car over. Once that ordeal was behind me I could look forward to a more relaxing day. After enjoying Farmington Motor Sports’ generous hospitality we set off in two groups. Most of the morning’s route involved following the Farmington River well into Massachusetts. The dry summer had taken a toll on the river which the recent rains had only slightly mitigated, but the drive along route 8 was still a pleasant run in the morning sunshine. We made a pit stop in Dalton, MA, a town which marks the boundary between rural route 8 and the busy urban environment in the Pittsfield area. Dalton is a town to which we all owe much, because it is there that the paper used to print Federal Reserve bank notes is made. This tradition dates back to 1770 when Stephen Crane’s paper mill provided Paul Revere with the paper on which to print the Colonies’ money. From Dalton to North Adams is not a long journey up route 8, but neither is it a pleasant one, so we followed 8’s country cousin, route 8A, over hills and down valleys to Charlemont and MA route 2. The road has historically been called the Mohawk Trail in homage to the trails that Native American tribes used as trade routes. We did not, however, use route 2 to climb to the summit of Whitcomb Hill, following instead a roadless travelled that runs alongside the Boston and Maine Railroad track and the Deerfield River. The upstream dam had released some water that day so the Deerfield was actually flowing. The railroad passes under the high ground through Hoosac Tunnel, completed in 1875 at the cost of 196 workers’ lives, but we had to climb Whitcomb Hill Road and its fine hairpin bends. The view from the road approaching North Adams offers a fine panorama of the valley and the distant Taconic Range, which we would tackle after our lunch stop at the Freight Yard Pub in North Adams. Some people may not regard a drive like this as much of a challenge, and for most of our cars they may have a point. But mishaps can occur, and sadly for the second year running we recorded a Did Not Finish. Pam and Dwight Ihling’s splendid 1952 MG TD appeared to be in fine form and took the steep ascent up Whitcomb Hill Road in its stride, but at the lunch stop oil appeared to be leaking from the engine in such quantities as to make further progress foolhardy. With some assistance from Farmington Motor Sports Pam and Dwight were able to find a tow truck that would take them and “Matilda” back to Farmington where the car could receive attention. They vowed they’d be back next year. After wishing Pam and Dwight safe passage back to Farmington we returned to the Mohawk Trail and crossed the Taconic Range into New York. The views from the road are not as expansive as might be expected due to the trees but there are occasional glimpses over the countryside around Petersburgh. From Petersburgh we made our way north on NY route 22 through Hoosick Falls on our way to Cambridge, where we turned northeast towards Vermont. The going was easy as we threaded our way through the hills following the Batten Kill, which rises in Vermont and empties into the Hudson. In Arlington we picked up Vermont 7A, the original alignment of the present day US route 7, which took us to Manchester. Manchester appears to have sold its soul to the temples of brand-name retailing and is not readily recognizable as a small Vermont town, although we saw some traces of its past as we left town. Now on the final stretch of our drive we made our way down Vermont 30 to Winhall before turning up Stratton Mountain Road to reach the Black Bear Lodge, and welcome food and drink after the 201 mile run.