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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

Old 06-12-13, 11:21 PM
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Took a 4-5 mile ride towing the kid on the Topsfield Linear Common trail today. I went with a child-hood friend that I have seen only twice in the last 15 years. He took the opportunity to make fun of the pretentious bike that I had when we were kids (a Redline Proline II) and point out that his current (and brand-new) bike is nicer than mine. Truly a friendship that can stand the test of time!
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Old 06-14-13, 06:51 PM
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Twenty miles on the Minuteman after work, out to Depot Park, Bedford, and back.


The rain ended this morning, leaving some unusually large puddles on the trail. All the low places and backwaters are fully charged, just in time for the start of Mosquito Season.


Peepers Pond has been completely choked with duckweed for a couple of weeks now. The frogs don't seem to mind.


In the midst of what was otherwise a pleasant, contemplative, solitary ride, I discovered that Bevis and Butthead had grown up (sort of) to be IT consultants, and turn out to be fond of bellowing at each other about their dubious business adventures while riding 29ers on the Minuteman, in effect delivering both sides of one of those annoying cell-phone calls at high volume, but without the phone. This spurred me to rediscover bicycle racing--not my usual riding mode--making haste until I was safely out of ear-shot. A bit later, encountered a Corgi-Sheltie cross, which looked a lot like it had a fox's head attached to a woolly caterpillar's short-legged body; shortly thereafter, met with a young couple affectionately groping each other in the middle of the trail, and found myself wondering if their offspring would be as funny-looking.

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Old 06-15-13, 05:03 PM
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W00t! headed out to buy some lights at Dedham Bike and on my way back home saw none other than Jim from Boston riding north on 1A!!!! Yelled out to him; he stopped, and we did several miles together. Best part was seeing his smokin' hot Roubaix SL3 with full Dura-Ace. my puny Domane 4.5 w/Ultegra was no match! though our shoes matched (no pic, sorry). route: https://app.strava.com/activities/60570311
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Old 06-15-13, 06:20 PM
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Got out for 35 miles thru Templeton, Gardner region with the road bike, then took the single speed out for 10 miles. Tomorrow it's out into Worcester to do the Airport and George street.
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Old 06-16-13, 12:20 AM
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Zipp,
Great to read Major Taylor's George St is covered by your powerful rides. Will you be there July 21st?

This is a great time of year to be out and about. Last week I rode to Wrentham and bowled over to find a wicked good Cricket game. Last Wednesday I wasn't thrilled about the herringbone motif of Beacon St. in Brookline but the rest of it was a fine ride to South Boston and then on out through Government Center across Fielder Bridge, the Esplanade and catch a lacrosse game at Harvard Stadium.. That ride inspired a shorter trip on Beacon yesterday stopping at the Waterworks Museum at Chestnut Hill Reservoir. This is a not to be missed jewel to admire huge steam powered pumps, and begin to appreciate the magnificent engineering that cured epidemic health and fire safety ills and helped create the parks, gardens and lifestyle then and now.

That brings me to today. Your posts are all so interesting I've not posted a number of "same old" rides that don't have George St, test of time friends, Jim or otherwise insightful interest. Today (Saturday), I rode an errand in Framingham then went on to visit friends in Concord via Saxonville into Sudbury (past the same old Goodenow Tercentenary marker and on up the winding River Road. I thought it was a the same old crack in the road but it was a Northern Water Snake catching small fish flipping across the flooded road. Bicycling does afford us a different view, doesn't it?
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Old 06-16-13, 07:19 AM
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Spent Saturday mostly on the bike. Got out at 9--early by my Saturday standards, usually still in Random Walk state then, wondering what happened to the work week and kind of glad it did. I had some goals for this one: to ride the Harvard Shaker Village area, to explore that portion of Devens that isn't off-limits to civilians and subject to loud noises, and to ride some likely-looking roads that looked to have good veiws of the Dead River. All this had come from a lot of staring at Google Maps, plus miscellaneous topical web sites.

The Minuteman was in a state of cheerful efficient congestion, all well-behaved, in their lanes and each moving at their own pace without impeding others. This theme was echoed in Bedford, first by a crowd of roadies forming up at Depot Park for a Quad Cycles group ride, then on Railroad Ave., where the PMC Kids Rides were in progress. Lots of kids--some of them remarkably little--on their bicycles wearing red shirts and happy grins.


Out Route 62 to Concord, with lots of road bikes and relatively few cars for company, and prevailing good spirits; this continued throughout the day. Used Lowell Street and Barrett's Mill Road to connect to Strawberry Hill Road, the start of a middle path to Harvard that runs North of Rt 117, but South of Rt 225, and has the advantage of crossing I-495 and Route 2 without ramps. Strawberry Hill Road got me to Acton; one short block on the Great Road, the pleasant length of Brook Street, and two long blocks on Main Street/Rt 27 got me to Nagog Hill Road, the next long segment of the way West. Rode that into Littleton, pausing to admire Lake Nagog, then climbed the hill past horse farms and riding stables to Nashoba Road and the start of Apple Country.




The down-hill run on Nashoba Road brought the highest speed of the ride, 32 mph. A one-block jog on Newtown Road put me on Harwood Avenue, which starts with a view of the Great Pyramids of Littleton. If you need firewood, these folks will fix you up.


There are a number of conservation areas on Harwood Avenue, Littleton has made a praise-worthy investment in these. Stopped for lunch at Bumblebee Park, an old farmstead that has a popular sledding hill.


Continued on Harwood Avenue, ramp-free, across I-495: this always makes me happy on a ride, it means the bicycle has carried me beyond my own neighborhood. Crossed Mill Pond on the causeway, and stopped to admire the view; there's a swan and her cygnets in the middle distance, just white specks in this image.


Rode into the Littleton Depot neighborhood, parallel to the active freight rail line. The old depot, now home to a stove repair business, is a preserved relic of an earlier era when the rails carried passengers, as well. A few old B&M cars, permanently sidelined, complete the picture, but the signals are active down the track, and the roadbed is in good repair.


Harwood Avenue ended, and a short-block jog put me on Harvard Road, the next link in this way West. Unlike many Massachusets towns, Littleton has an active manufacturing business at its heart: the Very Fine/Sunny Delight/Fruit2O factory. These folks put the freight service to good use. The area smells faintly of nectar, which must drive the hummingbirds and bees wild.


To be continued...

rod

Last edited by rholland1951; 06-19-13 at 03:49 PM. Reason: fix a toponym
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Old 06-16-13, 07:49 AM
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Rod,
Beautiful description and beautiful photography. Please continue!
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Old 06-16-13, 04:28 PM
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(Continued)

Beyond Littleton Depot, Harvard Road starts to climb, and the pavement becomes rougher. Beyond Bruce Street, a long stretch of road work began, with the pavement broken or mostly gone, mostly a mix of graded dirt and gravel, and continues to climb. Apparently Harvard Road was closed for a period, but has been re-opened for the time being in this rough-but-usable condition; "Road Closed" signs are posted, but shrouded in black cloth, a sort of semiotic burqa. The new tires worked fine climbing in the gravel, and it's a marker of the degree to which I've come to trust them that I didn't hesitate to try it. Traffic was light, and what cars I encountered were being driven sensibly. Eventually, the pavement resumed, and a while after that, the Littleton-Harvard town line delivered better pavement.

Continued past farms and woodlots; the noise of Route 2 was rising, when I turned onto Shaker Road, Harvard, the ride's first destination. The forest at the turn had a lyrical beauty that we sometimes get in New England, but is always startling when we find it because of all the places we don't see it. Didn't try to capture that with the camera, I'm fairly certain I'd fail. I'd started researching this part of Harvard a couple of weeks ago, and the previous Saturday, when a ride didn't seem practical but a walk did, went for a hike with my sweetie on Holy Hill, which only increased my enthusiasm to ride out there; took this photograph then:


Now that I was back on the bike, I wanted to explore Sheehan Road, a single-lane, dead-end gravel road that lies across Shaker Road from South Shaker Road. Initially, this travels through a wetland, and in places was wet enough itself so that it's a toss-up as to whether the large puddles would be better described as partial flooding. Forded these without incident, and admired a squadron of dragonflies working the puddles. At this point, I encountered a man driving a pick-up truck; I squeezed over to let him pass, I smiled, waved, he waved, smiled, revealing two missing front teeth. His dog look confused by the transaction.




Sheehan Road then climbs into a forested upland.


A little further along, a sign posted by the occupant of the house at the end of the road indicated a sense of humor; it may have been intended for the guy in the pick-up truck, who may have been able to read it. It would be wasted on his dog. Ah, country life...


At then end of Sheehan Road, one has the choice of either visiting the Man with the Movie Camera, or taking a side trail and going fishing. I did neither, and turned around.


Back on Shaker Road again, I rode North, stopping to photograph some of the old Shaker structures, now private residences well-preserved as part of the Harvard Shaker Village Historic District.






Continuing North, Shaker Road climbs through forested hills, with a steep valley falling away to the West. At one point, even though the hill appears to climb, the bike began to coast: the Magnetic Hill effect is apparently in effect here... After that, Shaker Road crosses the Ayer town line, turns West at Shaker Millpond, then turns North again to stop at Littleton Road (2A/110). Turned West and rode to the big rotary, picked up Barnum Road headed Southwest, and rode into Devens.

To be continued...

rod

Last edited by rholland1951; 06-19-13 at 03:49 PM. Reason: fix a toponym
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Old 06-16-13, 07:47 PM
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Rod, your ride descriptions are marvelous. They make our rides seem positively mundane!
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Old 06-16-13, 10:46 PM
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(Continued)



The theme of the Devens portion of the ride might reasonably be, and not for the first time, "Google Maps, trust but verify". The entity that Google Maps gives you in response to a query for Devens MA is roughly the old Main Post and North Post of the old Fort Devens. There's some interesting history from the last two decades that explains how this came about, but the upshot is that the old South Post (the part South of Route 2) is since 2007 again operating as Fort Devens (after 11 years as "Devens Reserve Training Area"), while the area North of Route 2 is now just plain Devens, a "self-contained community" and economic development initiative with considerable State involvement through MassDevelopment. Fort Devens is off-limits to your bicycle, Devens isn't. So far, so good...

I entered Devens on Barnum Road, one of the major arterials. The first thing I saw was a large Massachusetts National Guard compound, shown in the distance to the left of the Welcome sign, followed by various office buildings and signs offering land for development.


My thesis was that the things I wanted to see--Mirror Lake, the Northern boundary of the Oxbow NWR, the Dead River--were all on the periphery, so I took the first left off of Barnum, Patton Road. This took me past a golf course, and past an interesting lake with associated wetlands.


I rode past the entrance to Marne Street, which was blocked with a locked gate. In retrospect, this was the beginning of the divergence between the Google's-eye view and the facts on the ground. Continued on Patton until I came to Mirror Lake Road, gravel, which led, logically enough, to Mirror Lake, a kettle hole (two, actually, if you count Little Mirror Lake) with a (supervised) swimming hole. The water looked pretty inviting!


The map showed a path or dirt road between Mirror Lake and Little Mirror Lake, and I asked the lifeguard if it was traversable; the lifeguard said he didn't know about that, and had never seen Little Mirror Lake. I continued South down Mirror Lake Road, which became narrower and showed real signs of disuse, past meadows and forest. The South end of Mirror Lake, away from the swimming area, was lovely.








After a bit, I came to a locked gate, but nothing was posted, so I continued. This brought me to Sheridan Road, on what should have been the Northern Boundary of the Oxbow NWR... but it was clearly abandoned.


To be continued...

rod

Last edited by rholland1951; 06-19-13 at 07:38 AM. Reason: revise error in Devens history in previous version
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Old 06-16-13, 11:38 PM
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(Continued)

I briefly rode to the East looking for the path to Little Mirror Lake, but when found it was so narrow that it was not rideable by me, that day, on that bike, so I rode Sheridan Road West, enjoying the tranquility and solitude, and puzzling over its status. While the locked gates had their own ipso facto significance, nothing was posted, and it wasn't clear whether hikers or cyclists were permitted; were the gates for cars only, or was the message, in the words of Oz, "not nobody, not no-how!"? The only signage seen, which seemed to countenance hikers at least, deepened the mystery.






Whatever the story is, it's a beautiful place, and it was a privilege to discover and ride. Soon enough I reached another locked vehicular gate, and after getting the bike and myself through it, continued up Sheridan, and had a bit of surprise. As I emerged from the forest, I saw more razor wire than I've seen in my entire life, festooned around a large, modern building. In the yard were perhaps two dozen men in karate gi's practicing martial arts drills in unison. This was the Devens Federal Medical Center, which has been in the news lately. In the interests of avoiding any possible misunderstanding, I took no pictures of what was a truly photogenic scene, and rode on.

Sheridan Road ended at Patton Road, which I followed West to Jackson Road, the other Devens arterial. Took this North past Massasoit Community College, then took Givry Road over to Hospital Road for a look at the Dead River.


This tributary of the Nashua River was the third destination of the ride. Google Maps shows several little roads with access to it, but...




The gate was one thing, but the tall grass (look Ma, no DEET!) and water visibly flowing in the ruts strongly suggested letting this one go. After finding my way out of Devens into Shirley, and trying to connect again with the Dead River via MacPherson Road, only to find that closed, I came to the conclusion that I had seen my quota of dead rivers for the day, and headed back home. I rode through the Ayer business district on Main Street.


I jogged one block North to pick up Central Avenue, much quieter and at least as efficient on a bicycle, followed that to Sandy Pond Road and Willow Street, which took me to Pingryville. Pingryville, which turns out to be a village in Littleton, was one of those intriguing names on a map, about which I knew nothing. I still know very little. Here it is:




From Pingryville, followed Bruce Street back to Harvard Road, Littleton, mercifully on the East end of the road work. From there, it was the outbound trip in reverse, all the way to Concord Center. By the time I reached Concord Center, I was sufficiently bushed that I took a straight-line route home, Lexington Road to North Great Road to Mill Street, etc. I usually avoid North Great Road, it's a little fast and congested for a road with no shoulders to speak of, but it's safe enough, and it did allow me the privilege of closely observing the rumbling passage of a white Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon, circa 1993, Moby Dick in Detroit Iron. All this and a whale watch, too. 74 miles through Arlington, Lexington, Bedford, Concord, Acton, Littleton, Harvard, Ayer, Shirley, and Lincoln, 5100 feet of climbing.

rod

Last edited by rholland1951; 06-16-13 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 06-16-13, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller
Rod, your ride descriptions are marvelous. They make our rides seem positively mundane!
Thanks, Jim. Sorry for running on a bit with this one: a lot happened, and the part of my brain that's usually in charge of lossy compression seems to have gone out for a beer...

rod
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Old 06-17-13, 08:00 AM
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Did the 126 mile Outriders Boston to Provincetown ride on Saturday.

A far cry from my last century, beautiful weather all day long. Rode with two friends. Felt pretty good for the first 60 miles, then my legs turned to mush on the interminable rollers across Cape Cod. We ended up in Ptown right around 4:00 p.m., which gave us ample for dining and exploring before taking the ferry back to Boston. Great day on the bike. Well supported and marked ride as well.

Strava file: https://app.strava.com/activities/60611413

Video my friend took on his "Go Pro" (I'm the rider in white): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb8hXdmHxqg

Now I'm in recovery mode for a few days.
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Old 06-17-13, 08:33 AM
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Based on Rod's travels I expect "Epic" to be in the definition of "lossy compression. I had to look it up and already can't go back to the complete definition.

I can reassemble pieces of my Father's Day ride. It was about 1/8th of Rod's ride but included chowder at South Boston's Yankee Lobster. Meandering past impressive new and redevelopment, stopped to listen from Fort Point Channel, swung by a cool new grocery/general store on Farnsworth and found ample parking at Yankee Lobster. More meandering out to a Monet-like park setting at Castle Island with motion, colors, sun dappled and cook-out sounds and smells. The Causeway was less crowded and we didn't need Farragut's bravery to see what could be seen from the binoculars at a small park by the NSTAR plant. It was a nice 10 mile exploration.
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Old 06-17-13, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by godshammgod
Did the 126 mile Outriders Boston to Provincetown ride on Saturday.

A far cry from my last century, beautiful weather all day long. Rode with two friends. Felt pretty good for the first 60 miles, then my legs turned to mush on the interminable rollers across Cape Cod. We ended up in Ptown right around 4:00 p.m., which gave us ample for dining and exploring before taking the ferry back to Boston. Great day on the bike. Well supported and marked ride as well.

Strava file: https://app.strava.com/activities/60611413

Video my friend took on his "Go Pro" (I'm the rider in white): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb8hXdmHxqg

Now I'm in recovery mode for a few days.
Looks like a great ride, in multiple senses of great! Happy recovery!

rod
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Old 06-17-13, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by sherbornpeddler
Based on Rod's travels I expect "Epic" to be in the definition of "lossy compression. I had to look it up and already can't go back to the complete definition.

I can reassemble pieces of my Father's Day ride. It was about 1/8th of Rod's ride but included chowder at South Boston's Yankee Lobster. Meandering past impressive new and redevelopment, stopped to listen from Fort Point Channel, swung by a cool new grocery/general store on Farnsworth and found ample parking at Yankee Lobster. More meandering out to a Monet-like park setting at Castle Island with motion, colors, sun dappled and cook-out sounds and smells. The Causeway was less crowded and we didn't need Farragut's bravery to see what could be seen from the binoculars at a small park by the NSTAR plant. It was a nice 10 mile exploration.
SBP, I'm feeling inspired by your urban rides: New Frontier on two wheels...

rod
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Old 06-17-13, 02:16 PM
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Godshammgod,
Bravo! Congratulations! Fast and 3000 ft. of elevation. Great video.
You all looked cheerful and fast; no panniers of raingear, fenders and spare tires.
How were you able to dine and explore afterwards?
How was Morrissey Blvd. (not a fan of traffic on that bridge), the jog east to Plymouth and 6A?
Again, congratulations!

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Old 06-17-13, 07:40 PM
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I have no special ride report except the mundane. Or maybe it wasn't so mundane, for do you see, I won the Tour de Attelboro today. I left work late thanks to a phone conference with another engineer in Illinois so I was racing the train under warm sun and blue skies. Then a cloud bank loomed on the northwester horizon so it became a race against the storm. I hammered all the way from the office to the train station, beat the train by 10 minutes and the cloud bank by 5. It didn't rain while I waited but the wind speed suddenly went from zero to something quite large.



Before the train had made it halfway to 128 it was raining heavily.
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Old 06-17-13, 08:04 PM
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Holy smokes! That was quite a storm, glad you beat it. Sounds like it was a choice between the hammer and the snorkel.

rod
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Old 06-17-13, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
\Sounds like it was a choice between the hammer and the snorkel.
That sounds quite communistic, but I assure you it was a solo effort. I won the Dry Jersey (and a ride home that I'd already paid for).
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Old 06-18-13, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by sherbornpeddler
Godshammgod,
Bravo! Congratulations! Fast and 3000 ft. of elevation. Great video.
You all looked cheerful and fast; no panniers of raingear, fenders and spare tires.
How were you able to dine and explore afterwards?
How was Morrissey Blvd. (not a fan of traffic on that bridge), the jog east to Plymouth and 6A?
Again, congratulations!
Thanks!

I'm glad we looked fast, not sure we felt that way the last 30 miles or so! I've learned to really pace myself on long rides ever since I injured my bike, so I do a lot of spinning in the small ring.

One of the great things about the ride is that they have a bag truck that drops all the bags at the finish line in Ptown. That way everyone can have a nice, fresh change of clothes for the post-ride fun. I must admit, our exploring was more akin to walking around in that familiar post-ride endorphin/exhaustion haze. Not bad though!

Luckily Morrissey Blvd. was not bad. We started around 6:15 a.m. or so, thus beating most of the traffic. The whole ride was largely low traffic. Even 6A was unexpectedly light. The rail trail was also fairly quiet for an 80 degree Saturday-- not that we were complaining!

It's a hard ride, but one that I always find myself enjoying immensely. Lots of friendly people, and no hammerhead egos trying to "race" to the finish.

Jim-- those storm clouds certainly look ominous! I was en route to my physical therapist in Natick last night and the skies quickly got dark as the wind whipped up. As you said, it went from dead calm to rather gusty in just a few seconds. Glad I was not outside!
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Old 06-18-13, 07:28 AM
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One more note about Devens. I found a very useful history of its post-BRAC development at https://www.harvard.ma.us/pages/Harva.../historydevens. According to this, the area South of Route 2 (the current Fort Devens, former Devens RFTA) was the South Post of the old Fort Devens. The area now called Devens includes the old Main Post (the section between Route 2 and Main Street) along with the area North of Main Street, the former North Post (including the former Moore Army Air Field). This bit includes the now-closed Macpherson Road. All the stuff shaded green on the map is now part of the Oxbow NWR, which may explain why Macpherson Road was closed.

rod

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Old 06-19-13, 08:59 AM
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A useful resource for planning new rides are the Mass. DCR Reconnaisance Reports on the historic and scenic assets of a number of towns. These are in pdf format, and can be found here. A broader set of resources can be found here.

rod

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Old 06-19-13, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
A useful resource for planning new rides are the Mass. DCR Reconnaisance Reports on the historic and scenic assets of a number of towns. These are in pdf format, and can be found here. A broader set of resources can be found here.

rod
Rod, this is brilliant stuff. What a resource!
Thank you!
I internet noodled your Devens info and learned the original Camp Devens was built in 1917 and the nearby Fruitlands Farm and Museum was founded in 1914 by Clara Endicott Sears in recognition of the 1843 utopian community Fruitlands and it's founder, Bronson Alcott, famous vegan trascendentalist socialist educator. It turns out I was a disciple and devoted practitioner of one of his radical educational inventions, the school recess.

I recessed today with a beautiful 39 mile trip through Millis, Norfolk, Franklin, Wrentham, and Burnt swamp Rd in Cumberland RI passed the Diamond Hill and Harold Mills reservoirs then looped back past Mt Saint Mary's Abbey and their huge ~6 megawatt pV solar installation.
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Old 06-19-13, 06:57 PM
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Ooh, there is too much here to keep track of! I keep wanting to track out everyone's rides on my map programs but I never have the time.

(Fruitlands is an interesting place with a beautiful view. It's worth a visit, but to do it on a bicycle might require a bit of puffing.)

I just rode my commute today. It was lovely. The only problem was I had to put in a day of work between the beginning and the ending.
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