10 miles on the Minuteman before breakfast, at a relaxed pace about 15% off that set in yesterday's quick sprint; there's a cause-and-effect relationship between the two times, of course. Spent the extra time checking out what people were riding; the number of fixies surprised me; don't know whether this is representative, or some sort of statistical fluctuation. Sighted The Mysterious Tourist headed West, his bike looking more heavily loaded than usual. A story goes with that, I'm sure, but for now it's a Mystery.
Got lucky with both my schedule and the weather, and had a sunset ride on the Minuteman to Bedford Street, Lexington, 14 miles. After a couple of weeks of morning rides, the glowing clouds of sunset were a treat; trees caught the low sun in their branches.
Rode back in the twilight, renewing my acquaintance with the Night Chorus: magical.
10 cool, green miles on the Minuteman before breakfast, before the heat of the day or the storms of the afternoon.
A big Tiger Swallowtail fluttered by for a few seconds; since I'm no longer a 9-year-old boy, I didn't catch it, kill it, and pin it to a display, but simply admired its beauty and wished it well.
Your ten mile blast on the M.M. are a great inspiration to me. I have found a 12 mile mixed surface loop out of my front door that I enjoy on a regular basis. I never seem to take any photos though. Unlike you, I do not have a nack for making photos of familiar places look fresh and new, they just look like more pictures of the thing I already tok pictures of. Of course, I can bring my self to actually stop to take them either. At this stage of the game I have a (quite reasonable) fear that if I stop riding I might not be able to start again! Hopefully I'll get quick enough that, like you, I can bang out a quick 12 miles before breakfast!
Originally Posted by rholland1951
Took delivery of the project bike this evening, after a couple of miles' check-out ride to verify the last round of trouble-shooting. This is the custom travel bike that Tyler Oulton at Paramount Bicycle Repair, Ball Square, Somerville, has built for me, based on a 58cm Surly Trucker DeLuxe frame and fork. It has some likable attributes, including S&S couplers, 26" hand-built wheels with Chris Kng hubs and Sun Rhyno Lite rims, supple Compass Bicycle 1.75" tires, a Sugino XD600 touring triple crankset, NOS Sun Tour bar-end friction shifters, Shimano XT derailleurs, a SRAM cassette, and Nitto Noodle bars, among other things. The build period has been a lot of fun, next comes some rides long enough to bring any necessary tweaking to my attention. It's already a blast to ride. Thanks to Tyler for the craftsmanship, wisdom, and care he put into this build. This Trucker DeLuxe is really a Tyler DeLuxe.
Ever since I first saw the Wachusett Reservoir, I've wanted to ride a bike around it. That, and a growing awareness that the sun is setting earlier each night, foreshadowing the end of the season for long rides, spurred me to today's ride, 94 miles through Arlington, Lexington, Bedford, Concord, Sudbury, Maynard, Stow, Bolton, Clinton, Sterling, West Boylston, Boylston, Berlin, and Hudson, with 7066' of elevation gain, which for my money gives the whole trip a net grade of 1.4%. Did this on the trusty LHT: the new bike needs to be broken in slowly, no sense in taking it on a long ride out of the box and having it break me in rapidly...
Left the house at 9:15, about 45 minutes later than I'd hoped, then headed out the Minuteman to Bedford, keeping an easy pace. Headed over to Concord on Route 62, negotiating a knot of parked/stopped cars at a yard sale. At Scimone's farm stand on Old Bedford Road, encountered my friend Dave, who was out doing errands. Dave rides an old Trek 520 steel touring bike, very much the brother of my Surly. We chatted for awhile about bicycles, rides, pedals and shoes--he was curious about the combination of MKS Lambdas and five.ten Impact 2s I was using. Continued on to Concord Center, where a street fair was in progress.
Rode up through Concord and picked up Sudbury Road; the stretch between the railroad tracks and Route 2 is mostly grooved pavement, with a nasty 3-inch shelf on either end that required special care. I was pleased that the Grand Bois Cypres Extra Leger 32mm tires (hereafter, the GBs) soaked up all the road buzz from that.
The weather forecast called for a 30% chance of a thunder shower around noon, but the weather radar showed all the big stuff sliding West to East along the South coast, so this seemed like a good bet. I paused on the Sudbury River bridge to have a look at the sky to the West, my own forecasting technique on these rides. The high, bright overcast didn't look particularly menacing.
It was on Sudbury Road I first got the feeling of this ride. There is a kind of space repeated many times across New England, a two-lane asphalt road with a steel barrier on one side and woodland falling away behind it that just screams "riding in the country" to me, that presented itself here for the first of many times that day. My friend the anthropologist would say this has liminal significance.
Picked up Route 117 headed West, passing familiar landmarks through Concord, Sudbury, Maynard, and Stow.
In Stow, noticed this little Gingerbread cottage again, and took its picture; didn't notice my finger, and took its picture, too.
Rode deeper into apple country, crossing the Bolton line. Stopped at a farm stand for a bottle of lemonade and a delicious homemade shortbread cookie stuffed with apricot jam: first fuel of the ride, and welcome.
Maybe it was the pink flamingos on Still River Road, or maybe it was the dude in the BMW on Route 117 who buzzed me to impress his girlfriend, but Bolton had not made a good impression on a previous ride. This time was different. I started noticing charming 18th-Century farmhouses in good repair, often attached to working farms. Then I reached the Bolton Historical District and the Pan Burying Ground, and the sale was made.
Picked up Wattaquadock Hill Road headed Southwest, and began a long climb, as is customary for any road with "Hill" in its name. Rode past the the Nashoba Valley Winery, which looked worthy of a separate visit. Kept climbing, enjoying the mix of Concord grapes, Virginia creeper, and poison ivy that contended for the same ecological niche on the road's right shoulder, and the orchards and fields on the left side. At the top of the hill, reached a cow pasture with one of the best views this side of Switzerland.
Over the top and down the other side I went, on a very long, very fast descent that made me thankful for the smooth road surface. Good old Worcester County, nobody ever complained about a lack of hills there. Transited the Clinton line, came to a crossroads, and passed into the the next phase of the ride: more liminality.
To be continued...
Clinton is an old mill town. Water and water power built it, exemplars of mill-town architecture abound. From the crossroads, I followed Bolton Road, Water Street, and Branch Street to Green Street, which runs alongside the Nashua River, passing mill houses and the mill itself, not to mention the Polish American Veterans Club.
The powerhouse is an elegant souvenir of its epoch.
The milldam itself, hidden under a bridge on Chestnut Street/Boylston Street (Route 70) is mostly heard, rather than seen, the water roaring as it rushes over. I got an oblique peep at it through the fence.
Upstream there's a large pond, with houses on its far shore.
To be continued...
Across Boylston Street lies the entrance to River Street, closed to cars but open to walkers and cyclists, the gateway to Wachusett Dam.
DCR maintains a park around much of the millpond in front of the Wachusett Dam. The dam itself is imposing. Red warning signs at intervals throughout the area remind visitors that there's a lot of water on the other side, that could come for a visit on short notice.
The dam is built across a valley. On either wall a steep set of stairs give pedestrians a path between the base of the dam and the surface of the Reservoir, at the cost of some sweat. No dogs allowed, we're talking drinking water here.
For bicycles, a steep gravel road does similar duty. I rode up this, blessing my granny gear and tires.
This winds under the Reservoir path, and climbs to the level of the Reservoir surface. The view rewards the climb.
To be continued...
From this perch, it was possible to survey the dam from above.
Got up on the causeway for the gravel road leading around the Reservoir's margin. The view over the rail down to a secondary spillway was stimulating.
Rode down the gravel road through what might have been a natural ravine, but was more likely a man-made cut in the rock walls. This was strikingly beautiful, and a clear indication that Middlesex County had been left behind.
The gravel road emerged from the cut, revealing fine views of the Reservoir.
A hard-packed dirt track forks off the gravel road and runs along the North Dike of the Wachusett Reservoir. This is what Google Maps shows as a bike path. I rode it to its end, enjoying the view, blessing my tires, and scattering the occasional flock of geese.
To be continued...
The dirt path followed the contours of the North Dike, mostly staying close to the water, once making an excursion into the woods to skirt a hill before returning to the shore.
Finally, the end hove into view...
... with a welcome amenity...
Met a pair of touring cyclists who had started in Monterey, MA, on Friday, spent the night near the Quabbin, and were headed for Boston. We talked a bit about conditions on the Reservoir trail, and they concluded they wanted to go for it with their 28mm tires. Hoped that worked for them.
Before leaving the North Dike parking area, I had a chance to observe one of the lesser-known natural wonders: dragonfly congress.
To be continued...
All of this puttering around on gravel and dirt on the North Dike had cost time, and it had just turned 3 o'clock, with the greater part of the Wachusett Reservoir to ride around, to say nothing of getting home. I wanted to get back to the Minuteman by nightfall, and knew I needed to make time now. The path had gotten me out of Clinton and into Sterling--not that there was any visible indication of that--and I got on West Boylston Street (Route 110) and cruised. This stretch of road was well set back from the Reservoir and heavily wooded, with gates for fire roads at intervals. It looked to me like the bulk of it was state land. The Worcester County roller coaster riding style was in effect here, spinning up hills and charging down them. I passed from Sterling to West Boylston, and West Boylston Street became Lancaster Street.
Approaching a Northwest-jutting arm of the Reservoir called the Thomas Basin, I came to another crossroads. The left fork would take me home, the right fork went to Mount Wachusett, my current working value of Out Yonder. Liminality to burn...
I took the left fork, and rode across Thomas Basin on the causeway, noting as I did the Old Stone Church, an enigmatic monument to the communities displaced to create the Wachusett Reservoir over a hundred years ago.
At the far end of the causeway, I caught a glimpse of Mount Wachusett through the trees, and felt the tug of Out Yonder.
To be continued...
After crossing the Thomas Basin causeway, continued to wind counter-clockwise around the Wachusett Reservoir through West Boylston, taking left turns wherever practical. On Temple Street, noticed a series of displays of old agricultural equipment in several yards: it looked like one neighbor had started that, and others had liked the idea, and joined in. West Boylston looks to be a pretty little town with a bandstand, an old burying ground, an historic tavern, and other features, but I didn't give it its due, and kept cranking, mindful of the clock and, more practically, the height of the sun.
Crossed the Boylston town line, and rode along the South Bay of the Wachusett Reservoir, which made me happy. Started seeing signs for Worcester and Shrewsbury, too. For some reason, that made me jumpy: I guess the time spent staring at the map hadn't really informed me of where I'd be at this point in the route, what else would be in the neighborhood. For some reason, having Mount Wachusett next door excited me, but having Worcester a few blocks away seemed disorienting. The constellations were changing.
Kept making left turns, hugging the Reservoir, and came to the old village center of Boylston. Stopped for a little food and water, and admired the conserved antique charm of the place.
Noticed that several plein air artists were doing their best to render that charm on canvas or paper.
Kept riding Northwest along the Reservoir, with extensive tracts of watershed area on the right. I was struck by a scene that was either a dead, flooded forest, or a lively wetland, depending on your perspective.
Enjoyed some last views of the Wachusett Reservoir's Carville Basin before turning East on Willow Road/Route 62, at the Clinton line. This left a couple of miles of the South Dike untraveled, but it was time to go home.
To be continued...
Before leaving, I had worked out a route for this part of the ride, involving back roads to sneak through Boylston and Berlin roughly East-Southeast, pass under I-495 without ramps on River Road, and connect with the Assabet River Rail Trail. Another look at Google Maps suggested I could get a look at the Wachusett Aquaduct if I substituted Route 62 as far as the center of Berlin. I tried that, saw a lot of woods, but no aquaducts. In Berlin, I picked up South Street to rejoin the planned route, and had a pleasant ride up to the point that I stopped by a cornfield to check to see where I was...
The more I looked at the map, the more puzzled I became. I seemed to be on the road to Northborough... I looked at the map, and looked again, followed the roads I knew I needed to follow, and wound up miles from where I thought I should be, in a different town than I knew I should be... This was more cognitive dissonance than I was really prepared to handle 8 hours into a ride, so I turned around and rode back up South Street to Berlin town center and its junction with Route 62. I knew I could get home that way, and was prepared to ride it all the way back to Bedford, if need be, just to avoid the necessity for thought...
Heading Northeast on Route 62, I transited I-495 (with ramps, but without undue difficulty), and shortly thereafter crossed the Hudson town line: goodbye, Worcester County, hello, Middlesex.
As I rode along Route 62, basking in the reassurance of its cognitive resonance, I noticed that the Assabet River Rail Trail was running along beside me. My fall-back route had converged with my planned route. I hopped onto the ARRT, and rode that as far as it would go.
As I pedaled, I realized what had happened back in Berlin: I had fat-fingered the Google Maps view option, so that UP on the map was the direction I was headed (South). So, it was Upside-down Town: South was North, East was West, and Northborough was Hudson: wheeee!!!! To my long-standing motto, "Google Maps, trust but verify!", I added a new motto, "Google Maps, trust but rectify!" Note that this would not have happened if I hadn't been peeping at the world through the keyhole view provided by the smartphone, capable of delivering either context or resolution, but not both simultaneously. I never would have made this mistake with a paper map, and made a mental note to get hold of a copy of Rubel's Central Massachusetts map (apparently out of print, but there must be a way).
To be continued...
That happens to me fairly often around here.
Originally Posted by rholland1951
Your photos made it almost as good as being there.
Reassured that I hadn't lost all capacity for spatial reasoning, I abandoned the simplicity of rolling a peanut with my nose the length of Route 62, and used Orchard Road to skip over to Main Street, Hudson. Along the way, a little girl on a bicycle rang her bell at me, and I returned her salute in kind. The traffic on Main Street was moderate, and I rode out past ponds through country that was a site of bloody massacres during King Phillip's War. Nipped through a small corner of Stow on Sudbury Road, passing White Pond (a reservoir for the Town of Maynard), the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, and the entrance to the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge (the former Ammo Dump).
By now I was in Sudbury, and the road had, of course, changed names again, to Hudson Road. Followed that East as far as Haskell Field, where I picked up Fairbank Road headed Northeast, then jogged a block on Route 27 to pick up Marlboro Road, followed by Haynes Road, Pantry Road, and Concord Road, a chain of Sudbury Scenic Roads that tended Northeast, and delivered me to Sudbury Road, Concord, without recourse to Route 117 (a neat trick!).
By now, I was really racing the setting sun...
Nipped through Concord, giving a couple of wandering cyclists directions to the Minuteman that I hope were as lucid as I thought they were. Reached Depot Park, Bedford in the last of the twilight, topped off the last of four water bottles, and rode home on the Minuteman in the dark, grateful for the gentle rail trail grades and enjoying the Night Chorus, which seemed to have acquired some raucous new voices for the month of August. As I rolled down through Lexington and Arlington, I heard the concussions of a distant fireworks show off to the North (Woburn? Winchester?). Home a bit above 12 hours after I started, pleased that everything had worked: the weather, the roads, the bike, the tires, the phone, the legs. Awarded myself a hot shower, an uneaten peanut butter sandwich, and a couple of beers.
Nice story, Rod.
I wish that all you may never have a commute home like mine this evening.
Oh, the bike ride portion was awesome. As on the ride in this morning, the air had a nip of autumn, traffic was courteous as usual, the bike performed wonderfully, and my legs felt strong. If my boss hadn't come by to talk about somethingorother just as I was about to depart I wouldn't have had to ride so hard, but what the heck, that's wasn't a problem and it wasn't the first time.
The part I wish you never have was the train ride. Only two people occupied that end of that car, a raving lunatic/admitted loonie/alcoholic/druggie ("Yeah I'm crazy, I'm 57 and I hate life...I hate life on earth... God made package stores for people who can't stand life ... I just spent 8 days sober and just gotta' get back home 'cuz I gotta' go nuts every so often, you know...I had this friend, they found him in Florida tied to a tree with 7 blasts from a shotgun in him...I gonna' get a bunch of C clamp and put them on the rails and watch as the Acela comes by, just kidding, I like people, I hate this life...[I left out all the f words]") and me, and the Masi of course. Then the train stopped because the Amtrak train ahead of us "broke down" and we had link up to it and push it. I spent 1hr20min with this guy. Fortunately he was easily distracted. When we finally disembarked the conductor apologized.
That sounds like a nasty train ride.
On the bright side, the loonie wasn't driving...
Spent the week at a conference in one of Metro Boston's outer fringes, Manhattan. With the conference over and a little time to kill before catching the train home, I tried renting a Citibike (New York's bike sharing program) for a ride around Central Park, six miles. The Citibike itself is a 45-pound, step-through frame commuter bike with a 3-speed internally-geared hub in the rear and a dynohub in the front, shod with wide, sturdy tires, and a seat like a catcher's mitt, dispensed from kiosks placed to attempt to provide strategic coverage, apparently on a crowd-sourced basis. Manhattan doesn't have much in the way of hills (I found a few of them on the Uptown end of the park), but low is low enough for them, and even the gentlest down-grade quickly gets to coasting in high gear, accompanied by a soft whine from the dynohub. Convenient, if not swift. I did see folks using these on Manhattan streets, although far more were on personal bicycles.
Entered the park from Columbus Circle, walking the bike on the pedestrian path until I got to West Drive, then got into the bike lane and took off, if somewhat sedately.
Did an end-to-end circuit of the park in less than an hour, and saw things I hadn't seen before: Cleopatra's Needle, a crouching sculpted cougar, the hilly Uptown section with the Harlem Meer. Rode back to the kiosk nearest my hotel, docked the bike, and had some breakfast.
Spent an hour putting lights, bottle cages, a saddlebag with the necessary goodies, and a very loud bell on the new bike, then rode it out to Bedford Street, Lexington, and back, 14 miles. Along the way, decided to move the seat forward, which helped considerably. Noticed an interesting squeak when the bike is rolled backwards (suspect this is a request for a brake adjustment), and experienced a couple of episodes of a drive-train glitch that bears investigation. And had a lot of fun with it. The break-in period has commenced.
Climbed OUT of the river valley today and then, instead of riding out along the ridge line, descended back INTO the valley, so I had to climb back OUT of it to get home! Putz. Climbing in and out is a lot harder than just doing laps in the riverbed!
Lexington, concord - towards sudbury and back to chelmsford
Took the STD out for 10 miles on the Minuteman before breakfast. Checked out changes to the derailleur adjustment and a few other tweaks made Sunday: so far, so good. Tried running the Compass 1.75" tires at 45 psi front, 55 psi rear, and liked how they rolled. More fiddling with the seat is likely. Still getting used to the handlebar, steerer height, stem combination on this bike, will give that a while before I start fiddling. Couplers are rock-solid. Geekery aside, it was a good ride this morning.
Rode out to Lexington on the new bike before dinner, 10 miles, back with the sunset in my mirror. Fiddled with the seat position and height, got both righter. Saw a bunch of the Minuteman evening regulars, folks I miss on morning rides, the Mysterious Tourist among them; the Reading Woman was out for a walk with her husband, so no book this time. A runner had her long red hair in a single braid, which she held in one hand while she ran, a sort of Pre-Raphaelite vision of aerobic fitness.
10 miles on the Minuteman before breakfast, took the new bike but didn't tweak anything except the tire pressure. Kept a good pace in relative comfort, the recent adjustments seem to be helping, although I foresee more small adjustments to the seat position and height. The weather radar suggested that rain was flirting with the route, and I enjoyed occasional warm drizzle, which at one point became the gentle beginnings of a Summer shower before subsiding. Not so many folks out today, but the bugs, birds, and frogs were singing in good voice, it could have been midnight judging purely by the racket. Noticed that these Compass tires sing a little too, the pitch rising with speed.