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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

Old 07-19-15, 09:13 PM
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Continued...

Boston Harbor is a mix of working harbor and recreational resource. This tug is token of the former.


I made my way to the Charlestown Navy Yard, a working naval base and a National Park Service living history museum. We used to build ships here; there's history in what was done as recently as WWII, and history in why we no longer do, but the Navy will tell you a good deal about the former if you pay them a visit. And there has been a fair bit of condo development in the empty spaces, part of the broader transformation of Charlestown, that seems to have happened when I wasn't looking. My mental model for Charlestown was formed in the 70s, and involves a closed ethnic community with a covert criminal sub-culture and the marks of fetal alcohol syndrome on many faces. That was real enough then, and I caught some glimpses of it at the time, but, decades later, it's not clear how much of that old Charlestown survives (and where those people went, if they're not still there, or dead).














Just beyond the Navy perimeter, some Lyndon LaRouche people were making their unique rhetorical contribution to the national political discourse. Some things don't change so much, it seems.


Back in the "changed" column, I came to Paul Revere Park, a quiet gem of a civic space set off by the Zakim Bridge.


To be continued...

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Old 07-19-15, 10:57 PM
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Continued...

One of the things that is new (since 1974, anyhow) is the relatively good cycling and pedestrian connection between Charlestown and Cambridge. I started on the homeward leg, still not sure how I'd go, but figured I'd learn something getting there. First, took a causeway that crossed under the Zakim Bridge in a graceful arc.


A bit of the old and familiar intruded: I watched the North Station rail drawbridge raise its counter-weighted span to let a small boat pass up river.


Another bit of the old that seems to be making do with the new is Boston Sand and Gravel: I got a look at a couple of their dunes, stowed under the Zakim Bridge (or some associated infrastructure).


North Point Park, another little pocket of novelty, connected via a little web of bike paths to bits of the Old.


I considered riding back along the Charles, but had some things that needed doing that afternoon, and had a feeling I'd learn more taking another diagonal route through Somerville. First step (after some more bike-path riding) was a jog through the Lechemere pedestrian tunnel; as far as I know, Lechemere is the only spot in the Metropolitan Boston Area with a 6 mph posted speed limit.


This got me to Cambridge Street, and the imposing brick pile that houses the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds and Registry of Probate. If your Middlesex County heirs and assigns tactfully hint about your taking steps to avoid probate, they're talking about this place.


Cut through some charming East Cambridge residential side streets; I once knew somebody who lived in that neighborhood, it always sounded like a good deal, but never had the pleasure myself. It's a part of Cambridge with its own character.


In the process of making my way to the intersection of Somerville Ave. (which I wanted to ride on) and McGrath Highway (which I wanted to avoid), I passed this bunker-like auto body shop that evoked, no doubt unfairly, the bad old days when the chop shop business was booming in these parts. It struck me as photogenic, but perhaps that's just nostalgia.


I rode Somerville Ave. as far as Union Square, then picked up Summer Street as far as Willow (where I saw a dandy Infant of Prague). Good bike lanes for most of this, and Prospect Hill (or something like it) as a bonus.


Picked up the Somerville Community Path at Willow, and stopped to admire a fine map of the city. Somewhere along the line I saw a sign that said, "Davis Square is closed. Seek alternate route." And so it was... ArtBeat was in its glory.


This topped the crowds at the Navy Yard for viscosity, so I poked through on the West branch of the Community Path; things thinned out after the bandstand (don't know who was playing, but they had a pedal steel guitar), and I crossed Mass. Ave. and continued on the Linear Park to Alewife. Passed the little body of water that was a swimming hole for Cambridge kids in living memory, and is now a number of other things, but not that. Took the Minuteman home, and got on with the day.

This was a relatively short ride, 20 miles through Arlington, Somerville, Charlestown, and Cambridge, but was a lesson in the efficacy of diagonal routes through Somerville (something that I really hadn't thought about), and also a gentle reminder that the mental map I formed of Boston 40 years ago, while driving cab as an undergraduate part-time job, needs a bit of revision. Oh yeah, and 1945' of climbing, courtesy of Clarendon Hill, Winter Hill, Bunker Hill, Prospect Hill, and miscellaneous speed bumps and ramps.

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Old 07-20-15, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
…I had a chat with Tyler about how to get to Charlestown from Broadway, via Sullivan Square, and he gave me the kind of directions that are necessary to overcome Boston street signs, which after all are designed for people who already know where they're going. Off I went down Broadway, which has bike lanes most of the way…

Originally Posted by rholland1951
One of the things that is new (since 1974, anyhow) is the relatively good cycling and pedestrian connections between Charlestown and Cambridge. I started on the homeward leg, still not sure how I'd go, but figured I'd learn something getting there….

This was a relatively short ride… through Arlington, Somerville, Charlestown, and Cambridge, but was a lesson in the efficacy of diagonal routes through Somerville (something that I really hadn't thought about), and also a gentle reminder that the mental map I formed of Boston 40 years ago, while driving cab as an undergraduate part-time job, needs a bit of revision. Oh yeah, and 1945' of climbing, courtesy of Clarendon Hill, Winter Hill, Bunker Hill, Prospect Hill, and miscellaneous speed bumps and ramps.
Hi rod,

That was a nicely written and photographed cyclelogue of Charlestown and Cambridge. So true about Metro Boston street signs.

I am comfortable with and enjoy urban cycling. I live in Kenmore Square and my commute through Boston is south of the Charles River, and even most of my longer training rides are southbound. When I head north, I usually only pass through that section of Charlestown on Alford Street over the bridge, with one trip once to the Naval Yard, with a visitor.

I recently realized what I have been missing after a drive to the new Spaulding Rehab Hospital, and realized there is interesting life on the other side of the Tobin Bridge. Somewhat “unfortunately” though, when I find the time to train, riding south through less-crowded and residential Boston, early in the morning, and even at other times does afford more continuous riding, red lights notwithstanding.

I would probably do more inner urban riding with visitors, but,

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
…I had promised myself as I did last year, that I would not take the participants out onto the streets of Boston, since I live downtown. A well-used urban bike path with nice city views follows the Charles River and would IMO be a fine, safe, and pleasant introduction to Boston. Recently though,[a separate] post suggested a short, interesting detour from the MUP...

we were facing the busy mean streets of downtown Boston at rush hour. I myself had never ridden most of that on-street route to the Navy Yard, but I knew we could take sidewalks. Dick, as he was during the entire weekend, said “Fine, you lead the way.”

So we made our way, mostly on crowded sidewalks with some hazardous street crossings. Eventually I had to give up and go onto the streets. Dick had no problems with street riding, and actually seemed to prefer it. Later on he said it’s really no problem, and has cycled streets around the world such as Munich and London, so I realized, “What’s Boston?”...

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Old 07-20-15, 08:13 AM
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Thanks, Jim! The point about training rides is well-taken: one thing this ride wasn't was fast. I suppose that would change somewhat with familiarity, but frequent stops are frequent stops...

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Old 07-20-15, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller

The kids were pretty well hidden. I did manage to sneak a pic of one.


Wow, Jim, I keep going back and staring at that bird. Helluva photo.

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Old 07-21-15, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
I'd been thinking about a run out the Northern Strand, but decided to put that off until the newly-surfaced Revere segment is officially opened (did I just say that?).
A note: I was out that way on July 4th and the Revere section didn't look remotely close to done, or like they were working on it at all. Might have to keep waiting for awhile.
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Old 07-21-15, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DBrim
A note: I was out that way on July 4th and the Revere section didn't look remotely close to done, or like they were working on it at all. Might have to keep waiting for awhile.
Apparently, things have gotten moving since then. I was inclined to do a little reconnaissance, but I inferred that they were trying to keep folks out of the asphalt until it was complete, and figured I'd comply. Here's what I was reading at the time:

Trail Surface Work Begins in Revere Section of the Trail | Bike to the Sea, Inc.

https://www.facebook.com/BikeToTheSea

May have to go have a look soon, if this sudden fit of good behavior wears off...

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Old 07-21-15, 08:58 PM
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15 miles on the Minuteman after work, hot and dazzling at first, then shady and cooler as I got into the leafier bits. Took the DeLuxe on this one, and had an interesting demonstration of how quickly its little 26" wheels can spin up, when I got into the drops and sprinted away from some incompatible riders, losing them handily and hitting 29 mph in the process. Saw several more series of Burma-Shave-style behavioral admonitions in Lexington.








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Old 07-22-15, 06:40 PM
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Fifteen miles on the Minuteman this evening, nipped along and avoided colliding with any of my fellows, although in the case of four knuckleheads who ambled into the trail without looking, it was a bit of a trick; the brakes squeaked, and I had the dubious pleasure of watching this register on them, and then watching them slowly, slowly, think... High point of the ride came near the beginning, in Arlington Center, where a blues band was performing a creditable rendition of "Messing With the Kid".

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Old 07-22-15, 07:51 PM
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Rod, it's always good to make people start to think.

We played a show yesterday so I couldn't commute, but I commuted again today. Traffic both morning and afternoon was brutally heavy. Is it just me or are people, both drivers and pedestrians, going nuts this week? I've been honked at, I've seen more than the usual impatience and outright moving violations. I saw four or five new splatters of glass today.

This evening Sharon and I walked to the library and as we were climbing the steps we heard tires screech and a guy start yelling out in the street. Some idiot with his wife and two children decided to cross the street in the middle of the block while a car was coming. Then he had the cheek to yell at the driver for not stopping. Then while the car was stopped he yelled at his wife and children to come with him across the street. They wisely didn't want to, so he yelled again. Hey wake up, guy. Just because you are walking doesn't give you the right of way everywhere. "Stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk". You do something stupid and you should expect the consequences. You can't expect everybody else to accommodate your stupid whims.
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Old 07-22-15, 11:08 PM
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Newly back to biking, I gingerly rode across suburban intersections in Holliston, Hopkinton and Ashland. No stupid whims or honking. It was my third 20 mile, tree lined, back road recumbent ride and a mixture of shaded humid breeze and that excitement on the first ride beyond your neighborhood. Thanks to all your brilliant reports I can't wait to cruise from Joe Moakley to Paul Revere. Great posts all!
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Old 07-23-15, 06:14 PM
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sbp, it's good to read that you are getting back out. As they say, you have to get back on the horse that throwed you, even if it is with a different perspective.

I just rode my commute again today. Here's a pic of one of the nice neighborhoods I rode through on the way home.



The ride in this morning qualifies for Chapter 37 in my planned Every Day's An Adventure book. After bombing down a hill and passing a school I came up to a stoplight and saw this on the pavement. This is even better than the steak knife on the road's shoulder that I encountered a few weeks ago. Fortunately I did not hit it with my wheel.



I didn't want to leave it there. I didn't want to pick it up either, and there were no readily available "medical waste disposal" buckets around. I finally called the Woburn police and explained it to them. The guy asked for a precise location and said he'd send somebody around to take care of it, that I needn't wait if I was on my way to work. So I rode on...
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Old 07-23-15, 08:30 PM
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10 miles on the Minuteman tonight. Admired the big catalpa tree on the trail in Lexington, which has dropped its blossoms and produced long pods.


On the ride out, I passed a woman pushing a stroller with two small dogs inside, and a big Persian cat curled up in the canopy. On the way home, a short jog on Medford Street included the unexpected apparition of The Amazing Acro-Cats tour bus; they're doing a gig at the Regent, apparently.




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Old 07-24-15, 07:36 PM
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Ten miles on the Minuteman this evening, under an energetic sky.


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Old 07-25-15, 11:12 PM
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Last week's impulse to orderly civic virtue gave way to this week's curiousity, so I rode out the Northern Strand Community Trail to see how the newly-surfaced Revere section at Rumney Marsh is turning out, for a 26-mile ride through Arlington, Medford, Malden, Everett, Revere, and Saugus, on a mix of pavement and gravel.

Riding to the Northen Strand through Medford was a pleasure as always, with a nice hill-climb and descent on High Street, the agreeable bustle of Medford Center, and a quick stop at the stupa to pay my respects. Some event seemed to be in progress there, so I didn't linger.


Reached the Northern Strand at Bell Rock Cemetery, Malden's old burying ground.


Usually, I take the Northern Strand N here, but it occurred to me that I'd never ridden the Everett section, so I detoured S to see it.



Reached the end, turned around, and promised myself to return and do some exploring some time, then proceeded back through Malden, headed for Revere. Along the way, came upon a dandy mural celebrating Bike to the Sea, and a scene of some major demolition of an industrial site.




Reached the Revere section of the Northern Strand soon enough, noting that Malden and Revere have created a good connection between the two, no small trick in the tangle of busy intersections where they meet. It soon became apparent that while the Revere section is still considered a construction site until the crossing at Salem street gets striped, the trail surface itself is finished. It's a mixture of compacted soil and recycled asphalt (read, gravel of one of the better sorts), and rode well with the Compass 26" x 1.75" tires I was running today, certainly a vast improvement over the railroad ballast and mud that it replaces. See the Bike to the Sea pages for more background. And Rumney Marsh, which the Revere trail borders, was as lovely as ever.








While the Revere section isn't formally open yet, people are finding it, and riding or walking it. Unfortunately, there's a story that some motorcyclists crashed the party, and did some damage to the trail surface. The trail is now posted against that. I noticed what looked like a motorcycle training class (or license exam) in progress in a lot a block from the Revere trailhead, and encountered a pleasant-enough young man riding a Suzuki motocross bike on the crushed-asphalt Saugus section of the trail, so this seems plausible. It reminds me of a section of the Minuteman that had been a dirt-bikers' heaven before that was paved, and that got some of that traffic off and on for years after. It's just a couple more edges in the Fully-Connected Graph of Complaint, I guess.

I rode out the Saugus section and admired the familiar beauty of the Saugus River tidal flats, stopped to have a little lunch, and continued as far as the Lynn line, then rewound the tape (omitting Everett this time, and getting a little random in the Medford back streets) and rode home.


Along the Malden section of the trail, I had a short chat with a couple on road bikes, who wanted to know how far the trail ran. I found that the first answer, "to the Lynn line", was too simple, because it wasn't clear how their 23mm tires would fare on either the Revere or Saugus trail surfaces, and I explained that the last two sections were gravel, not pavement. With that caveat, this new Revere segment is a wonderful development, and the imminent ribbon-cutting should be a jolly occasion.

rod

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Old 07-26-15, 06:16 AM
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Rod, interesting tour of the near-NS. One day I'll have to figure out how to get theah from heah. (I'm not sure it's possible without going somewheah else first.)

On Saturday we met up with some friends (my old boss Jan and his wife Dorothy) who are in town for a spell. He is a serious cyclist from past lives and still rides regularly, and they ride their own tandem occasionally. So they rented a tandem from Bikeway Source and we went for a local spin. But my sweetie wanted to do more miles than they were likely to want, so we started earlier and met them.

Our pre-meeting run took us south from Bedford into Lincoln, west on rt117, local roads over to rt62, then back east-northeast toward Concord Center. Rt62 was blocked and marked closed at the rt2 crossing but I figured we could probably get through anyway. After a short ways up rt62 a policeman stopped us. He we couldn't even walk it because the RR bridge construction crew was putting up a big steel beam. His suggestion was to go back out to rt2 and take it west for half a mile or so. Oh that will be fun! I mentioned as how rt2 is normally off-limits to bicycles and he said he'd already directed about 500 cyclists to go that way. So off we went, took rt2 to the stoplight just east of the Concord Rotary. It was great. Nice wide clean shoulder, cars whizzing by at 45-55mph. The rest of the day was downright serene.



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Old 07-26-15, 04:50 PM
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We went out for 39 miles today. The weather was supposed to be humid with a threat of showers of t-storms and we got a late start. It turned out to be cloudy and cool even if humid, great for riding. We got rained on briefly on our return but it was nothing, nothing at all.

The subject of today's photographic tour is the signage between Concord and Chelmsford, with a diversion or two thrown in for variety.

At the top of a hill I call Attack Duck Hill:



At an isolated intersection. We asked ourselves "What font is that?"



A little further on, 3 sides to this one (we wouldn't want to get lost, now would we?):





At Great Brook Farm State Forest (we wouldn't want to get hungry, now would we?):



The view at our lunch stop:



Under the heading of Dramas of Everyday Life, we observed a few interesting episodes over lunch. The beach was uncommonly deserted except for a lifeguard who appeared to be high school age. Then some guy (wearing swim trunks) wandered into the water and started swimming across the pond toward a distant point about .21 miles away just off the left of that pic. The guy was obviously a strong swimmer and apparently knew what he was doing. But the poor lifeguard got worried and made a phone call. A few moments later a woman who we suppose might have been a Chelmsford parks department official showed up and they conversed for a while and made another phone call. A few moments later a Chelmsford policeman showed up and they conversed for a while. The swimmer just kept swimming and we just kept eating. Eventually the policeman left (we later observed a sign that simply said "Swim at your own risk") and the woman left. The lifeguard climbed back up to his elevated chair secure in the knowledge that he'd done what he could to handle a situation he knew he couldn't handle. (Very responsible of him, we figured.)

In the meantime an elderly couple showed up with a small radio-controlled toy power boat. They spent maybe 10 minutes buzzing it around the near end of the pond. And the swimmer reached the far point, turned around and swam back. As we finishing up our lunch and the boat people retrieved their toy boat the swimmer walk out of the water back to his car.

We got back on the bike and rode away.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:28 PM
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15 miles on the Minuteman this evening, as the light faded and the air cooled.


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Old 07-28-15, 05:08 AM
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Yesterday, which was today yesterday so it qualified yesterday for a Good Ride Today? entry, I rode to work and back. It was, ahem, hooomid. The run home was exciting. About 4:30 I checked the weather radar and saw what looked like a gigantic t-storm sitting just off to the northwest of Woburn but not moving fast. A smaller storm looked to be on an intercept line toward Waltham. Hmm, do I wait or do I run for it?

Then Accuweather's Minutecast started saying rain and a t-storm would hit Woburn in 38 minutes. ("Destruction of your vessel will commence 38 of your earth minutes.") I decided to run. I figured I could escape perdition's flames and maybe miss the smaller storm too. I'd played out that sequence before.

When I stepped outside, sure enough the storm was visible to my right. My route went more to my left and the storm gradually diminished in my mirror. I messed the Waltham-bound storm too but did encounter wet roads as I left Lexington.

I arrived home dripping wet, but not from rain.
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Old 07-28-15, 06:12 PM
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Another 15 miles on the Minuteman this evening, proceeding at a good clip through the crowds of walkers/runners/skaters/riders (and their little dogs, too) who were out taking the air as Middlesex County exhaled. Noticed with amusement that some free-lance artists are taking the individual signs from the Burma Shave behavioral modification displays and rearranging them on the trail, a little bit of William S. Burroughs visited on Lexington, one good 20th Century allusion evoking another.


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Old 07-29-15, 08:17 PM
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Paid a visit to Paramount Bicycle Repair, Ball Square, Somerville, to talk with Tyler and take a first ride on this year's project bike, a Rawland Nordavinden. I got that first-ride giddiness, and am very happy with how this is coming together. The Nordavinden is a 700C bike with a light steel tubeset, a sports-touring geometry, and enough fork rake to give it low-trail steering. We've built it up with a mix of old and new parts, and I think it's going to be a whole lot of fun. Thanks, Tyler!


After that excitement, I went home and took last year's project bike, the Surly Trucker DeLuxe, out for a 10 mile spin on the Minuteman in the hot, muggy evening, which cooled just a bit. Some of the best features of that bike have been duplicated in the new build, with enough differences to be interesting.


Lots of skaters out tonight.






rod

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Old 07-30-15, 06:51 PM
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No pics again today either. I rode my cermmute and it was a steamah, especially the ride home. I left the office when Accuweather gave me 85 earth minutes before the destruction of tranquility, made it home without getting hit by a storm. With about 3 miles to go I encountahd one minah sprinkle which didn't amount to much. Still arrived home dripping wet but like yestahday it wasn't from getting rained on.
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Old 07-31-15, 10:38 PM
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Took the Rawland Nordavinden (NEW BIKE! NEW BIKE! NEW BIKE!) out for a 26-mile shake-down ride after work today, through parts of Arlington, Somerville, Lexington, and Bedford. Started off by riding over to Ball Square, to check the bike for fender clearance before ordering a pair. Tyler had stepped out of the shop for a few minutes, so I killed time with a detour out Willow Street over to the Somerville Community Path...

... where I discovered a new-to-me class of trail user: Hammock Operator. Pretty good idea on a hot day...


Rolled back to Paramount Bicycle Repair, and determined that the clearance on the frame and brakes (Tektro 559s) passed the giggle test for the fenders in question, then went back over Clarendon Hill and through East Arlington to pick up the Minuteman. Soon after crossing the Lexington line, I came upon the scene of a calamity:


The Egg has suffered a Great Fall. I hopped off the bike and had a look, and was able to make a quick field repair, but I think there's more to be done, or the Egg will not be long among us. It had a 13-month run since I first noticed it, surviving that rough Winter and various other bits of meteorological nastiness.


A band in Lexington Center was doing a creditable job performing some old Stax-Volt numbers: culture I can relate to.


Continued on through more leafy Lexington bits, and on to Bedford and Depot Park.






Turned around and rode home in one long, fast burn, as much to get a sense of what the bike could do as anything else. Brief summary: it goes like a bat out of Hell, and the light, flexible tubeset is definitely noticeable; I haven't ridden anything like it since the late 70s, when my old friend John had apprenticed himself to a frame builder and lent me the bike he had built for himself for a couple of weeks. There's definitely something interesting going on with pedal-stroke dynamics here that doesn't happen with my touring bikes. The 32mm Grand Bois Cypres Extra Leger tires (no longer available, but one of the original inspirations for this build) are as supple, quick, and cushy as I remember them, and the wheels Tyler built me--Chris King hubs and Alex DM-18 rims--put them to good use. The bike's shorter chain stays and low trail (33mm, if I did the math right) also made themselves known, mostly for the good, although I did manage to make the bike shimmy briefly in a couple of situations, and will want to be increasing the preload on the needle-bearing headset to damp that.

In any event, I was looking for a departure from my other bikes, and definitely got it. So far, so good. I'm a happy boy...

rod

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Old 08-01-15, 08:54 PM
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YANBOP (Yet Another Nice Bunch Of Pics)! I saw the Asbury Park pics and said that has to be VR's work. Really inviting road in Wisconsin too.

Happy August, everyone. Be thankful we survived July!

We did 50.7 miles on ye ol' vintage (1982) tandem today, which is of course the same tandem we always ride. Temperature hit 90F but the humididity was down from mid-week. We left directly from home through town then went west on rt117. First stop, Drumlin Farm:



Had a spot of bother a bit later on when the FD decided to move on the stoker's ST. Fortunately I carry a small adjustable wrench, which I suppose I should call a croissant wrench because the bike is French and all the threads are metric. Between that croissant wrench and the metric screwdriver we were all set.



We were recognized twice today. Once was by a couple of runners who spoke to us after our lunch stop in Concord. They said they had seen us a lot. Well, we do ride out that way quite often. The second time was when we were passed by another tandem and the stoker called us both by name. We didn't have much time to respond because they blew by us and turned to attack a hill I hadn't intended to go up today (though we often do). We wouldn't have caught them anyway! I think she might have been bikinggrrrl who was active in the MetroBoston thread when we started riding the tandem and who gave us much good advice. I have her email address here somewhere and will have to drop her a note.

They say timing is everything. As I was putting the tandem in the basement five minutes after we arrived home we heard a long peal of thunder. Five minutes later the rain started.
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Old 08-01-15, 09:05 PM
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Took the Rawland to Tyler at Paramount to up the pre-load on the headset (and to note how he did that, in case more is required), then took it for a 10-mile ride on the Minuteman in the late afternoon, warm and dazzling to start, then shady and cooler. Kept a good pace, and didn't encounter any more shimmy.


Brought a bit of twine along, and used some Boy Scout knots to repair the Egg. I think there's a bit more to do, but this was definite progress; hope the anonymous artist doesn't mind. Thinking about it, I suspect the Egg was brought down when a crew was clearing knotweed. Oops...


Arlington's Great Meadow was looking lush today.


This was one of those evenings when there was more color in the East than the West, a function of where the clouds were, I think.


I'm continuing to grin about the Rawland. I expect that will persist for some time.


rod
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