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  1. #1
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    Where do Boston cyclists ride?

    I am moving from the DC suburbs to Boston in August. I guess I am a bit spoiled here with low-traffic country roads practically in my backyard.

    I will be living in Back Bay, so right in the heart of Boston. I've been looking around, but I'm not sure about where to ride safely in the area. Where do Bostonians (people who actually live in the city, not the metro area) go to ride? Are there any local clubs that meet up in the city for training rides? What routes do you take, and do you usually get out of the city for a ride? Please share clubs that I could look into joining, since I would like to get into the cycling community in my new city! Hoping to get some cycling in the fall before winter sets in.

    Also, I won't have a car, so driving out to a suburb wouldn't be feasible for me, unless I rent a Zipcar or something.

  2. #2
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    Being in Back Bay, you'll have easy access to the Charles River path, which is (i think) a 14 mile path that goes from Boston out to Waltham. It's a mixed use path, but I like it, although prob not always the best if you're doing any specific training. There are several clubs in the area that I'm aware of, but the only one I know of that is in central boston is a group ride that goes out from Landry's (local bike shop, at Cleveland Circle, I think, on the Green Line) that should be easily accessible to you, although you can't take bikes on the green line. Most of the clubs seem to ride out of the surrounding burbs (Lexington, Bedford, for example) so that Landry's group ride might be the best for your situation.

    Hope this helps at least a little!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Hub. I'm a decades-long, year-round outbound commuter and occasional centurian, living in Kenmore Square, right next to Back Bay. I’m also car-lite at least, when it comes to cycling. A few years ago, I posted a compendium about Boston cycling in response to a query like yours from a Hawaiian transplant to Saugus.

    Also, check out this thread on the Northeast Regional Discussion Forum, IMO the “de facto” Boston subforum, MetroBoston: Good ride today?. See for example the most recent full page for excellent representative posts. Finally, my most excellent bike shop is Back Bay Bikes.

    Feel free to PM me for any details, though I think you need fifty posts to to so. Otherwise, write to my User Profile.

  4. #4
    bicycle snobs stay away. casio04330's Avatar
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    i loved the Charles River path... I miss that...
    From now on i will add anyone who tries to troll me to my ignore list without replys

  5. #5
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    I can't offer much help for Boston proper because I don't ride much that way. But if you can get to the Alewife T stop Cambridge you'll have access to all of the western suburbs. The Minuteman Bikeway runs 10 miles from Alewife through Arlington and Lexington to Bedford. Its western terminus is about two blocks south of Bedford Center. From there you have good road-cycling to Concord, Carlisle, and beyond.

    I live on the eastern side of Waltham, not so far from the bike path(s) along the river. Getting out of Waltham northward is okay but there aren't many great options. From the river I would suggest you take Farwell/Seyon/Gore except that Farwell is a mess right now due to a building going up where it crosses River St. Instead, take the bike path to the bridge up near Willow and cut north on Willow, making your way over to Belmont Rd., left on Sycamore to Waverly Square (Belmont Wheelworks is there), left at the stoplight onto rt60, right at the next light uphill on Mill St, left on Concord. Skip Winter St to the right - its not a bad uphill but it is narrow, the pavement is terrible after this winter, and it carries a lot of traffic. Instead continue west on Concord and go up a steep 150-yard hill. At the top of the hill either continue on to Spring St where you turn right to get to Lexington, or you can take the next right onto Pleasant which rejoins Winter/Watertown. Follow that north to Mass Ave in Lexington, go left (west) on Mass Ave and the world is your.

    If you hop off the bike path in Watertown Square Rt 20 Main St westward from Watertown is fairly nice but the adjoining residential roads would be quieter to go N or W.

    See if you can find these roads on Google maps.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    The riding north of the Minuteman trail is pretty good. The trail is also not bad but relatively heavily trafficked with many of the issues that urban MUPs have. You might want to check out the Charles River Wheelmen as well.

    I miss a lot of things about Boston but not the congestion.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rholland1951's Avatar
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    Hard to improve on the good advice you've already got; first, some reinforcement on a couple of points: 1) DO look into the Charles River Wheelmen, if you're interested in group rides; 2) DO check out the thread Metro Boston: Good ride today?

    If you're carless, and want a way to get out of town to more bucolic settings, the MBTA Commuter Rail offers some very attractive access. Figure out how to get your bike to North Station and the train will carry you to some great riding on the North Shore and Cape Ann. A different line out of North Station will get you to Lincoln, or to Concord, both hubs for some great rides; ride a little further to Ayer, and you can pick up the Nashua River Rail Trail, a beautiful paved trail that runs through working farms, conservation land, and Central Massachusetts villages up to and over the New Hampshire line. Or go to Back Bay Station and catch a train to Wellesley or Natick, which will put you in striking range of some beautiful rides in Dover and Sherborn; ride further, to Grafton, and enjoy the Worcester Hills. In principle, you could load your bike on the Red Line and get to Alewife Station and pick up the Minuteman Bikeway there. Check out the MBTA's bicycle policies page before you try any of that, to avoid surprises.

    Finally, getting acclimated to riding on the streets in Boston and Cambridge is a good idea. Many do, and bicycle lanes have proliferated in recent years. If you're comfortable doing that, there are many fine rides in the city, and practical ways out of it (the Minuteman Bikeway and others) without waiting for the train...

    Enjoy.

    rod
    Last edited by rholland1951; 05-05-14 at 08:57 PM.

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    Thank you all for the great advice! I am going to Boston for dental school, so I am hoping that I will have the time to explore the area by bike. Going down to the Charles river would be convenient for a short spin and to get some fresh air. I'll definitely check out Back Bay Bikes and Landry's, as well as the Charles River Wheelmen. Going on group rides that start in the city and head out to the suburbs will be helpful for learning the roads and the safest route. Can't wait to get acquainted with the Boston cycling community

  9. #9
    Senior Member rholland1951's Avatar
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    Here's a link that describes many of the bicycle paths in Boston and beyond, both existing and proposed. Paths/Trails | MassBike

    rod

  10. #10
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    I ride everywhere! I do an 18-mile round trip between Malden and Back Bay/Fenway areas for work, year-round in all weather.

    You should look up Boston Bike Party - large social rides (as in, a couple hundred people) at a slowish pace around the city, usually ending at a bar. Some good opportunities to see some interesting bikes and meet cool people.

  11. #11
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    Hi if you want something local to Boston go to the meet ups website. There are rides that leave from Alewife T station. You can take the Red Line to Alewife & bikes are allowed on the red line. CRWheelmen rides leave from suburban locations. CRW Rides leaving from Lexington would be accessible by MBTA bus up Massachusetts. Appalachian Mountain Club also does local rides though irregularly. Neil

  12. #12
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Jojomojo,

    Congratulations on being accepted to HSDM. I just got hired by the Health Policy and Epidemiology Department, and will be moving to Boston (From Florida) in early june. I will not be teaching students though, my position is based on a Federal grant to teach other schools about a standardized method of dental records developed in Harvard.

    When you have a chance, look for the HUCA: Harvard University Cycling Association. They have a newsletter with several events.

    Because I travel a lot ( I am in forensics and mass disaster management), I typically ride a Brompton. It is one of the best folding bikes once folded, but it is not a performance oriented replacement for a road bike ( Like a Bike Friday, i.e.). Please let me know if you want to team up starting in August and try some of the suggested trails. With the Brompton, I can only average below 16mph, but I might ship one of the "real bikes" before the full move ( house relocation, family, pets, etc) in December.

    If anybody here wants to offer some slow, guided scenery rides, please let me know. The high carb meal after riding is on me. My family will be in Winter Park 'til December, so I'll have plenty of time.

    PS: ahould I take a mountain bike/fatty for winter rides or the urban paths are rideable during the winter on skinny tires?
    Last edited by 14R; 05-26-14 at 05:25 AM.

  13. #13
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 14R View Post
    ...I just got hired by the Health Policy and Epidemiology Department, and will be moving to Boston (From Florida) in early june.
    ...
    If anybody here wants to offer some slow, guided scenery rides, please let me know.
    ...
    PS: ahould I take a mountain bike/fatty for winter rides or the urban paths are rideable during the winter on skinny tires?
    Welcome (soon) to the Boston area.

    We'd be glad to offer you some routes and ride company. Our typical moving average is between 12.5 and 13.5mph. The thing is though, tandems have a different pace from solo bikes, faster down hill, slower up, sometimes faster on the flat, sometimes slower. We've ridden with people who are faster'n us and people who are slower (not so frequently though!) and keeping together is always a challenge.

    If you need a road bike I could lend you one if it fits. ("With wishes you could put all of Paris in a bottle" - Steven Maturin.) I can't answer about riding in the winter. The urban trails tend to be open mostly, but once it snows any great depth they may not be readily passable without studs. I'll let Rod Holland answer that.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
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  14. #14
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    The thing is though, tandems have a different pace from solo bikes, faster down hill, slower up, sometimes faster on the flat, sometimes slower.
    Thank you for the reply. I don't ride tandem though, I ride a small wheeled folding bike.

    good enough for mutants

    If your speed is below 15mph, I'll do just fine. I will be in touch soon.
    Last edited by 14R; 05-27-14 at 12:18 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rholland1951's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    I can't answer about riding in the winter. The urban trails tend to be open mostly, but once it snows any great depth they may not be readily passable without studs. I'll let Rod Holland answer that.
    Studded tires for riding in the Boston winters are a good idea, particularly on the trails. Many of these are plowed, but typically only once per storm. After that, the freeze-thaw cycle sets in, and they are often icy; this year featured lots of snow, and fewer (and briefer) true thaws, so things got pretty bad. In general, in winter here, the streets are in better shape than the trails, but even there you will benefit from studs. Peter White's excellent page on studded bicycle tires covers the technical questions on that subject. People do ride here in the winter without studs, but it can be dicey, and falls are not uncommon. Some winter cyclists here keep one bike with studs, and another with normal tires "for the good days". And "winter beater" bikes are common: the sand and salt are a caution, hard on frames, chains, and machines; of course, these anti-icing substances are encountered on the roads, rather than the trails, most of which never receive them.


    That being said, winter cycling here can be a real pleasure. Around about April, that particular pleasure gives way to cycling of a more conventional sort...

    rod
    Last edited by rholland1951; 06-01-14 at 07:30 AM.

  16. #16
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    I live in Arlington and ride both towards the city and suburbs. If you want to cruise for joy Charles river path is nice though I prefer riding on Memorial drive. Actual path is not very wide and you need to share with the runners. when students are around, it becomes like a computer game trying to dodge everybody. That's why riding on memorial drive is nice. You also get to better views of the city on cambridge side. I sometimes follow the path towards Charlestown Navy Yard, it's just another 1-1.5 miles from the science museum and you can enjoy views of north end and USS Constitution. The other option for joy ride is to use Minuteman bike path that starts from Alewife and ends in Bedford - 11 miles total. Near town centers it gets crowded with runners, people walking with younger kids and dogs. But generally it's not as crowded as the Charles river path. Hot and sunny days, you get to ride under the shades of trees which is nice. Ride is not as flat as river path, from Alewife to Lexington you'll be in a constant uphill mode, not steep at all but expect to ride 3-5 mph below your average for about 5 miles. Then from Lexington to I-95 it's a constant downhill where you can ride 3-5mph above your avg for about 3 miles, from I-95 to Bedford it is flat.

    Beyond Bedford, you will see lots of bikers going around Concord and Carlisle. Roads are wide, most drivers know there are cyclists around, and you have shoulders to ride on. On a saturday morning, expect to see 100s of cyclists riding around these loops. Lots of rolling hills, shaded by big trees, and nice resting stops along the way (Fern's/Kimball farms in Carlisle, Concord Center, Concord Battlefield, etc). From Concord, a lot of riders go back to Lexington using regular roads. Search google for routes near lexington/concord and you'll find lots of options. You may also choose to go towards Walden Pond/Lincoln/back to Lexington from Trapelo Rd. That's another nice option (steeper hills in general) but on weekends expect lots of crowds crossing street, trying to park their cars on shoulders near the walden pond area. You may easily go over 50-60 miles by riding around Concord/Carlisle/Lincoln area (can do multiple loops on different streets) and going back to the city but if you want to do short ride from Arlington to Concord and back, it's like a 26mile loop. You can take Red Line from Alewife back to City if you feel tired.

    I'm not a group ride person but if you're looking for group rides most bike shops have group rides on weekends. Some start at 7 am, some start around 9:30. I'd suggest going to their websites and find a group that suits you the most.

    Enjoy!
    Last edited by RocTurk; 07-18-14 at 01:40 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocTurk View Post
    I live in Arlington and ride both towards the city and suburbs. If you want to cruise for joy Charles river path is nice though I prefer riding on Memorial drive. Actual path is not very wide and you need to share with the runners. when students are around, it becomes like a computer game trying to dodge everybody. That's why riding on memorial drive is nice. You also get to better views of the city on cambridge side. I sometimes follow the path towards Charlestown Navy Yard, it's just another 1-1.5 miles from the science museum and you can enjoy views of north end and USS Constitution. The other option for joy ride is to use Minuteman bike path that starts from Alewife and ends in Bedford - 11 miles total. ...

    Beyond Bedford, you will see lots of bikers going around Concord and Carlisle. Roads are wide, most drivers know there are cyclists around, and you have shoulders to ride on...
    Nicely written. Next Saturday is a group ride put on by Mass Bike, and I have some people from the Bike Forums Fifty-Plus Forum coming in for an Annual Ride. I'm intending to do a Charles River loop, and I hadn't thought about about trekking over to the Navy Yard.

    See also this thread with lots of posts about the Minute Man and Northwest Metro rides. Some of the later posts (#3763-3768) are also about the MassBike ride if interested. Under Fifty-Plus is not a disqualification.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    ...Also, check out this thread on the Northeast Regional Discussion Forum, IMO the “de facto” Boston subforum, MetroBoston: Good ride today?. See for example the most recent full page for excellent representative posts. Finally, my most excellent bike shop is Back Bay Bikes. ...
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-18-14 at 11:50 AM.

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