Skip to main content

Great River Ride 2021


A Fundraiser for the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail Inc.

We're back for 2021 with minor changes. Lower entry fee but Same great routes, same great rest stops,  great post-ride gathering with entertainment. The only thing missing will be the post-ride buffet but food trucks will be present for food purchase.

October 10, 2021

Enter the Great River Ride Challenge at The Great River Ride has been rated as "one of the best century rides in the USA" by Bicycling Magazine and the League of American Bicyclists. "Gorgeous but grueling" is Bicycling's description for what we believe is the most challenging century in New England. This is a must do event for any cyclist. Done it before? Come again, each year or two the route changes slightly offering new vistas and new challenges. Can't wait till October? Visit our Berkshire Brevet page for a series of Spring events.


For 2021 the Great River Ride Challenge will be the major fundraiser for the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.

Donate to FOCGRT  Here

Choose between four rides; , 108 miles,, 62 miles, 36 miles, a 36 mile gravel ride or a 30 mile Winery Ride. You will encounter knee-popping hills, breathtaking views, awesome descents, and gorgeous fall foliage as you tour the hilltowns of the Eastern Berkshires. Add in miles of stone walls, waterfalls, plenty of New England white churches, loads of colonial homes, historic keystone arches, a wild and scenic river, and did I mention hills. But that's not all, we've got rest stops staffed with friendly cyclists and good food, including our famous "Baked Potato" stop. 

The Westfield River, the Great River in the river ride, is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. The GRR wanders the course of this scenic river to give you a unique cycling experience. 

The GRR Gravel Route is a mix of pavement, gravel, dirt and seasonal roads that we’ve enjoyed fall riding on for over 50 years. The 65 mile route has several gravel/dirt sections totaling 23 miles.  The route will take you through the remote Knightville Basin and Chesterfield Gorge with stunning vistas along the East Branch of the Westfield River. You’ll pass through the Knightville Meadows, the Rainbow Pool, the Little Gorge and the Chesterfield Gorge on your ride.  Most climbs are paved but Thayer Rd. is a moderately difficult climb of 1.4 miles on dirt ranging from 10% to 7%.  A long descent to River Rd. follows a seasonal road with some steep downgrades. The final gravel climb up Maynard Rd. has grades up to 16%. Be prepared to handle mechanical problems, and flats, cell phone coverage is limited..  Several miles of the route follows a gated road closed to motor vehicles. Tire widths of 38mm or wider are recommended.  Fallen leaves will hide loose and bony surfaces, so caution on descents is advised.

The 30 mile Winery Ride utilizes the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail  and the New Haven/Northampton Canal Trail to visit the Brignole Vineyard for a snack stop (wine will be available for purchase).

In the past your entry allowed the staff of New Horizons to pursue their bicycle advocacy efforts throughout the Pioneer Valley. New Horizons Bikes works with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, MassBike, the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, City Governments, and other organizations to improve cycling in the region. Accomplishments include:

  • Attend the Annual National Bike Summit in Washington DC
  • Share The Road Signs on Westfield streets
  • Bike racks on PVTA Southern Tier routes
  • Organizer of the Berkshire Brevet Randonneur Series
  • Encouraged the city of Westfield to approve a $700,000 bond to complete Columbia Greenway design
  • Assisted in the development and co-promoter of the 1st4 years of D2R2
  • Encouraged the adoption of a resolution in support of Active Transportation by the city of Westfield
  • Spearheaded the successful effort to prevent the sale of future Rail Trail Right of Way to a private developer in 2006, insuring the future of the Columbia Greenway.
  • Introduced a zoning amendment (currently in Legislative & Ordinance Committee) to require bicycle parking in future commercial developments
  • Founder and first chairperson of the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail
  • Founder of Westfield's original youth BMX racing program at the Westfield Fairgrounds.


The GRR is a recreational ride on hilly and winding roads. Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome.

34 x 28 is recommended but strong cyclists will find a 39 x 23 adequate.

Cue and GPS files will be sent to all riders the week of the ride.

Ride elevations

GRR Century expect around 109.7 miles · +7,901 ft / -7,899 ft

GRR 85    85.1 miles · +6,029 ft / -6,027 ft

GRR Metric  63.8 miles · +4,458 ft / -4,457 ft

GRR Gravel expect around 66.6 miles · +4,980 ft / -4,978 ft


GRR 35 mile  35.4 miles · +1,674 ft / -1,673 ft

Entry Fees

$60.00 with proceeds to benefit the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail

GRR on-line registration   


Start Times

RUSA 200K Brevet (RUSA Membership and Lights Required)  

6:00 AM

Century Ride (111 miles)7:00 - 8:30 AM
85 mile route 9:00 - 9:30 AM
Metric Century9:30 - 11:00 AM
35 mile ride And Wine Ride11:00 AM

Gravel Great River Ride 

9:00 am


Sons of Erin , William St., Westfield, MA

Directions to the GRR start:
From the Mass. Pike I - 90, Take exit 3, Right on to Rte. 202/10 South for 2 miles, immediately over Great River Bridge take a Left on to Meadow St., 0.4 miles Left into Sons of Erin Parking.,-72.73955,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x5d1a507a0806c388