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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

Old 01-11-21, 05:47 PM
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Took the GT out on the Minuteman as far as the Bedford Street crossing. It was a cold, gray day, and Sam was looking decidedly down in the mouth. I told him things would improve. "I've heard that before," he growled. "Well, cheer up anyway," I said, and rode off up the trail.


The Mile 4.0 Cairn Builders continue to evolve. In my opinion, they've now discovered Apache Dancing, but perhaps they've independently evolved Muppets, instead. Or maybe, both.


Just when I'd convinced myself there was no sunset to speak of today, I found one on Taylor Lane, along with one of the placid Taylor Lane horses, caparisoned against the cold.


I waved to the horse, turned on my headlights, and chased them through the cold and dark back home to East Arlington.


rod

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Old 01-15-21, 11:00 PM
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Took the GT and rode East.


Somewhat later, I rode West.


In between, I rode up hill, I rode down hill, I rode in traffic. Sometimes, I rode up and down hill in traffic. None of that was conducive to pulling over to the side of the road in the cold and taking a photo, so I just kept pedaling.

Some years back, I likened riding the GT with the Nokians on to driving a tractor. I no longer feel that way, I've come to perceive it as rather nimble. The bike hasn't changed, so it must be me. It was fun to ride it today.

rod

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Old 01-16-21, 10:56 PM
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Took the GT out on the Minuteman a bit before Sunset, temperatures starting in the low 50s and falling through the high 40s, with a sky full of clouds that had already dropped all the rain they were likely to, and were just hanging around until they could buy a ticket to get blown out to sea.


There was plenty of company on the trail to start, with pretty much the full gamut of trail users, llama walkers and goatherds excepted.


Soon enough, night fell. and I turned around at Bedford Street, Lexington. I had come either too early by the clock, or too late by the calendar to see the big tree at Taylor Lane lit. But I admired the crescent of the new moon, with the old moon in her arms, through a lattice of bare tree branches.


Old Glory, illuminated and at half staff on the Battle Green, seemed particularly salient tonight.


The Night Chorus was holding forth in Arlington's Great Meadow. I have a hard time imagining either bugs or frogs making a go of it at this season, so it must have been the birds.


In Mal's yard, someone had wrapped up their car for take out.


rod

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Old 01-17-21, 02:25 PM
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Been gravel grinding the past 2 weekends. Last week I rode out to trails in the Winchester Melrose area. Today I rode around Prospect Hill park,




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Old 01-19-21, 11:07 PM
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Took the GT out the Minuteman to Depot Park. Returning, I was delighted to discover that the big tree at Taylor Lane is lit again this year.


As I pulled away, the Hanscom AFB public address system played The Star-Spangled Banner, unusually loud and clear, given the distance. I assume that it was the cold air that made that possible. A bit later, as I transited Arlington Center, the Unitarians' big bell began to toll. I thought at first that it was sounding the hour, but dropped that hypothesis when it struck 13 and kept right on going. Turns out it was taking part in a nationwide Covid casualties remembrance, and many another church bell was tolling, if only I had had the ears to hear them all.

rod

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Old 01-23-21, 12:16 AM
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Rode East on the old GT.


After the first few hills, and on my way to still more hills, I stopped to photograph the Malden River from the Medford Street bridge. There was enough wind to fly the flag. As usual, the dragon at the casino slept on the slot machines. Funny how seldom he gets noticed. The dragons in the power plant are similarly discreet.


After the requisite number of hill climbs, descents, and dodgings of the occasional dragon in an SUV, it was time to head West again, noting that while sunset is later than it has been it's still a good deal earlier than is ideal for rolling around the countryside on a bike. A little patience will serve to remedy that.


Which reminds me... I had been having odd problems with one of the two Planet Bike headlights on the GT: dimmer illumination than was desirable, and occasional unprompted darkness, that seemed to be sensitive to the angle of the headlight to the handlebar. All in all, a little puzzling, but I decided I could do worse than swap in two fresh AA batteries. While doing so I discovered that I was replacing 1 AA and 1 AAA; several of the more peculiar symptoms suddenly became comprehensible, and the headlight is now working normally. Must have put the mismatched pair in in the dark, wearing gloves. Interesting that the mismatched pair of batteries worked as well as it did.

rod

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Old 01-25-21, 06:00 PM
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On the last few walks around Fresh Pond, the fact that the long-time-under-construction Watertown Cambridge Greenway had finally been paved got my attention. Today I took the GT out to explore, what turned out to be an 8-mile ride through Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, and Watertown, to see what work had been done and what remained to to do.

This is my favorite road sign in Belmont.


Took Brighton Street to Concord Ave., then picked up the raised bike lane to head to Fresh Pond; I remembered the fuss that occasioned when it was introduced.


The entrance to the newly-paved section of the Greenway is reached through the Fresh Pond Reservation parking lot. It's still closed, as the barrier indicates, but people have found it and are already putting it to use.


I hopped on, and had a nice little ride.




Bridges not only serve as the principal landmarks on this trail, but provide a canvas for urban art.


As does an abutting Star Market.


The pavement is a work in progress. Here's where progress pauses.


I followed the graded-but-unpaved section of the Greenway for a few blocks.


When I encountered this ice-crusted mud puddle, I had a lively internal debate as to whether to trust to the studded Nokians and ride on through. YES and NO bounced off each observable feature in a logic cascade that would have sounded like a pach*nko game if it had been audible beyond the confines of my noggin. As the distribution willed it, I decided to let it go, this time, and not inject an adrenaline rush--to say nothing of a pratfall--into what had otherwise been a blissful ride. It's been a couple of years, at least, since I've done any serious ice biking, and this looked like an entirely too complex way to renew my acquaintance with the art.


It was easy enough to ride a couple of blocks to Grove Street, using the Art Deco tower of the old Western Electric building as a landmark, and take that to Arlington Street and home by a known route. When I looked at the track laid out on the map, I realized that I had gotten within two blocks of the original, long-paved, Watertown Greenway. That's for another day.

rod

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Old 01-26-21, 06:00 PM
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I had some time to ride this afternoon, before the snow started, and used it to return to the under-construction Watertown Cambridge Greenway, and to find my way to the established Watertown Greenway that it will connect to, 12 miles through Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, and Watertown.

After riding to Fresh Pond, I got back on the Watertown Cambridge Greenway, and started taking pictures of the overpasses that cross it. Here's the one carrying the exit road from the Fresh Pond Reservation.


Here's the Huron Avenue overpass, with a timely admonition.


I believe that this was the Mount Auburn Street overpass, or maybe Belmont Street or Holworthy Street, but I was more focused on the big power shovel backing under it, headed in my general direction. Yesterday, it had been sleeping peacefully, but today it had digging to do. Squeezing by didn't seem either practical or respectful of the folks working to get this trail built, so I got off the trail and detoured back on the road network.


The detour had me riding up Holworthy Street (the wrong way, I regret to note), then taking Belmont Street past the Eastern Lamejun Bakery (yum!) to Arlington Street, then following that South until I reached the Watertown Cambridge Greenway crossing. I could see yesterday's icy mud puddle on the left, and the DCR pillar marking the entrance to the Watertown Greenway on the right. It seems that I really had gotten close on yesterday's ride. I turned into the Watertown Greenway and resumed exploring.




Lots of graffiti on this path, some of it charming. The little ghost was a recurring motif.


There's that little ghost again. This side path led down to Arsenal Street. It may be the beginning of an eventual access trail to the Paul Dudley White path along the Charles; if so, there's still a piece missing, but that may come.


I took a picture of the Army Materials Technology Laboratory, the present-day remnant of the Watertown Arsenal. I spent a bit of time right out of school working in the precursor to that facility, so I got a whiff of nostalgia at the sight.


One more amusing graffito presented itself: a cigar-smoking prelate. Wonder who that was?


End of the trail at School Street. The DCR pillar that marked that end of the trail was decorated with a map of the local network of bike paths. While some of these are still aspirational, that map already bears a considerable resemblance to reality, with more to come. Having gratified my curiosity, I'll stay off the new Watertown Cambridge Greenway section now until it's done. With a little luck, that should happen some time in the warmer months of the coming year.


I rode home on the streets, School Street, Washington Street, Blanchard Road, Brighton Street, Lake Street, and Mass. Ave. The pedaling kept me cozy in mid-30-degree weather.

rod

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Old 01-30-21, 08:53 PM
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Having ridden the GT around over dry, bare pavement on crackling studded 559-47 Norkian W240s for the last few weeks, it was a pleasure to take the bike out on the Minuteman at sunset in 20-degree weather. There was snow...


... and ice...


... and occasional runs of dry pavement.


As I rode along, I could hear the difference between surfaces: crackling pavement, silent snow, the ice voice varying according to depth and integrity. It was a pretty evening, with an absolutely clear sky and a luminous pink glow at the horizon, attached to nothing in particular.


Various cyclists were out trying to make a go of it with whatever tires they had mounted on their wheels. My favorite was a little kid on a BMX, holding his line confidently. Some others were finding it slippery going. A few examples follow.






At Peepers Pond, a skater was taking advantage of the hard freeze in a scene right out of Currier & Ives.


The lovely back-yard skating rink looks ready to use, but no kids were on it this evening.


Rode home in the cold and dark, and admired Orion in the clear Winter sky as I put the bike away.


rod

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Old 01-31-21, 06:52 PM
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We were lucky to have a mostly snow free January. I only rode 16 miles Tuesday morning. I should have slipped chemical warmers into my Bar Mitt encased 45Nrth gloves and wore my trusty PI Barrier pants. Perhaps I could have endured the additional uncycled 9 miles on my planned route. As much as it pains me to be off the bike for longer than a few days I have been taking comfort in knowing what awesome adventures 2021 has instore. Ive been putting pen to paper jotting down pannier and rack weight, packing lists and planning out the 5 day tour to Portland and back this May, my longest thus far. I’ll of course still do my annual 2 day 1 night ride from home across the Cape and back home via the fast ferry. Maybe on my Allroads and a carefully loaded handlebar bag. Soon enough this weeks coming snow will melt and I’ll be back in the saddle with my studded tires clacking away on pavement that is hopefully always ice free.
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Old 02-04-21, 11:02 PM
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I found time in the late afternoon for a ride, up to Lexington Center on the Minuteman and back on Mass. Ave., temperature in the upper 30s.


The Minuteman was mostly clear in both its Arlington and Lexington segments, even if the tree trunks were frosted with wet snow frozen overnight.




However, the trail was apt to be icy when crossing bridges, or passing under them. I continued to relearn my trust in the Nokian W240 studded winter tires, and rolled over all that without incident.


A series of icy bits adjacent to the Brown Homestead capped off the trust-the-tires lesson.


On Mass. Ave., the snow had turned much of Lexington into a vast Christmas card. Cue Bing Crosby.


As usual at this time of year, the road surface was in better shape than the trail surface.


I stopped for a minute in Arlington for a look at Charles Proctor's ghost bike...


And looked back up the hill at the lethal intersection of Mass. Ave. and Appleton Street. A permanent fix for that remains to be made.


rod

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Old 02-06-21, 11:57 PM
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Rode East.


Rode West.


Noticed snow on the stupa.


Noticed ice on the Malden River.


Rode to the top of a hill.


Rode to the bottom of a hill.


Rode home.

rod
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Old 02-10-21, 09:21 AM
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I haven't been on here in a LONG time but since then I moved from Providence to Somerville and logged about 7k miles around Eastern MA last year. I'm currently on a 15 day tear of riding every day in the dumbest weather we've had in years so I guess I'm doing alright.




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Old 02-10-21, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DHPflaumer


Welcome back!

rod
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Old 02-12-21, 06:00 PM
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Took the GT out on a little cold-weather ride along the East bank of the Mystic River and Mystic Lakes, as sunset approached. No particular ambition attached to this ride, but I wanted to get back on the bike after a couple of days mostly snow shoveling, and wanted to try out a particular ensemble of clothing in the 20degF temperatures.

The denuded trees provided a good view of the Mystic River getting its start from the Lower Mystic Lake.


Road Runner! Not what Jonathan Richman or Chuck Jones had in mind, but sufficient unto the day is the Road Runner thereof. The Lower Mystic Lake is pretty well iced over.


​​​​​​Wandered over to the dam parking lot. Some clouds were showing promise for the sunset, but weren't there yet.


A sign caught my eye. Back in the day, we just called that "parking". I was reminded that this area is something of a local lovers lane, and it was Friday afternoon, running up on a date night. Here and there, cars were settling into spots. A little early (not to mention a little cold) for romance: perhaps there's a sunset-watching scene here.


Swans on the Upper Mystic Lake took to the water, heading for the ice.


Got back on the Mystic Valley Parkway, and rode as far as the bridge crossing the Aberjona River.


I doubled back to the dam, checking on the clouds. Here and there a touch of sunset colors, not completely devoid of charm. And there was that sign again.


Back along the Mystic River, a bit more color in the sky.


The mix of clothing on this ride was working for me as the temperature fell through the 20s. In particular, I was riding with a pair of Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski 3 Finger mittens ("trigger mitts") for the first time. These kept my hands warm while providing enough effective dexterity to operate the gears, brakes, and bell.


rod

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Old 02-13-21, 10:54 PM
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Took the 1987 GT Karakoram, shod with studded 47-559 Nokian W240 tires, and rode East.


There was Even More Snow on the stupa, as the Jet Blue marketing literature might style it.


There was Even More Ice on the Malden River. You have to pay extra for that.


As I rolled onto the Northern Strand Community Path, I realized that Malden had done a better job of keeping it clear than the Arlington DPW has done with the Minuteman. Who'da thunk it?


Riding in cold weather changes how I think about hills. When the temperature is in the mid 20s, I regard them as heat sources on the ascent, and keep my eyes peeled for wayward ice or new potholes on the descent, disregarding the sudden chill wind. Somehow I most often seem to have some leftover heat at the bottom of the hill. Perhaps that's a function of having spent more time cranking up than whizzing down. Anyhoo, rolled over a bunch of them.


Rode West, looked in on the now-illuminated Kurukulla Center again, then over a couple more hills and home.


rod
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Old 02-18-21, 04:27 PM
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Between this morning's computer-assisted goat rope, and the snow that came a little later this afternoon than originally expected, I managed to get a compact little ride in the cold weather, North along the Eastern shore of the Mystic River and the Mystic Lakes, South on Grove Street past the Brooks Estate and the Slave Wall, 7 miles and under an hour, even allowing for the time to take a few photos.

The friendly, neighborhood Mystic River divides West Medford from East Arlington with no hard feelings.


At the dam dividing the Upper and Lower lakes, I gave my regards to the ducks in the remaining open-water channels.




Skaters and slippery-sliders on the Upper Mystic Lake managed to avoid swimming with the ducks. I did not join them on my studded Nokians, thereby also avoiding the ducks.




On Grove Street, did a bit of preliminary exploring of the Brooks Estate.






A little further on, rolled past the Slave Wall.


Then over the Mystic again, back to East Arlington, up the hill, and home.


rod

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Old 02-21-21, 05:46 PM
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After two days shoveling snow at intervals, I took the studded-Nokian-shod GT Karakoram out Saturday afternoon and rode East.


The Land of Snows was where you found it (in this case, in Medford), although a gentle thaw had settled in for the afternoon.


The ice on the Malden River was receding somewhat, and the ducks were on maneuvers..


The Northern Strand Community Path was a bit of an icy mess, which pleased the Nokians.


The hills were, uh, hilly, and the pavement had been kept clear, no unruly ice or fresh potholes to dodge.


Riding over the hill on Fellsway East, the snowy forest danced in my peripheral vision.


At the end of a swift descent, snow-covered Fellsmere Pond glowed gently in the sunset.


Paid my respects again at the Kurukulla Center, then rode West.


Descending into the sunset on High Street, West Medford. Anything nice I said earlier about the pavement on hills does not apply to High Street westbound: bumpety-bump.


The sunset followed me home, here illuminating the snowy basketball courts on the Mystic riverbank in West Medford.


rod

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Old 02-22-21, 02:11 PM
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Got out on the GT again on Sunday afternoon for a clockwise turn around the Battle Green in Lexington, up Mass. Ave. and back (didn't feel like doing surface conditions research on the Minuteman just then). Temperatures falling from the mid-30s towards the freezing point, but not there yet. The sun was low enough to illuminate the facades of any building on the right side of the street while I was riding outbound, yet still high enough to do a wonderful job of it, with that brilliant, perfectly collimated light that comes from a thermonuclear candle burning at a safe, but still useful, distance. There's nothing quite like it, and it inspired some impromptu architectural photography as I trudged up the hill towards Lexington Center, on an unhurried, low-energy ride in the cold afternoon.

East Arlington, Broadway Historic District: my favorite exemplar of the Greek Revival style remaining in the neighborhood.


Ra pays a visit to Arlington Town Hall, grinning fiercely.


The flagpole at Arlington Town Hall was decorated by Cyrus Dallin; I believe the finial sculpture is titled "Allegory of Massachusetts", but her friends call her Betty Boop.


Currently home to the Highrock Church, this exemplar of Italianate ecclesial style was built in 1841 to house a Universalist congregation that had separated from (and later merged again with) the First Parish Unitarian congregation. Somewhere along the line it was reconsecrated as the Orthodox church of Saint Athanasius the Great, which was how I first knew it, when I moved to town in 1976. The afternoon sun did a good job resolving details of the facade.


The lethal intersection of Mass. Ave. and Appleton Street. The job of implementing permanent remediation for this deathtrap is rolling slowly, slowly at the moment. Careful if you're riding inbound on Mass. Ave.


Charlie Proctor's ghost bike.


Robbins Cemetery, East Lexington: a particularly intimate example of the old integration of the quick and the dead in village life.


Follen Community Church, East Lexington.


Tower Park, East Lexington: parents and children sledding, or at least milling around.


After some additional cranking, I reached the Battle Green, and circled it clockwise. It seems to me that we take our history for granted. There are lots of places to live (and ride) with no apparent temporal depth at all. Whatever problems we may have here, that's not one of them.


Rode home faster than I rode out, thanks partly to the downgrade, partly to the tailwind, and partly because I kept my phone in my pants.

rod

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Old 02-23-21, 08:33 AM
  #9145  
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Always enjoy your photo posts, Rod. Really nice to see some of the stuff I grew up driving or biking by, even though I no longer live in the area.
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Old 02-23-21, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by drewguy
Always enjoy your photo posts, Rod. Really nice to see some of the stuff I grew up driving or biking by, even though I no longer live in the area.
Thanks, Drew. Always having a camera in your pocket creates opportunities.

rod
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Old 02-23-21, 05:38 PM
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At lunchtime, I took the GT Karakoram wearing its winter shoes (47-559 Nokian W240s, with 240 carbide studs and an aggressive tread) out the Minuteman to Depot Park and back. Made for a late lunch, but I had a pleasant ride and got to see how the trail has been holding up through the recent pach*nko game of snow-rain-freeze-thaw events. Turns out it's in pretty good shape, only a few trouble spots, and those not very bad. Further, a few long-time problem areas seem to have been improved with better drainage or better snow removal policies.

Most of the path, in all three towns, looked like this stretch in Arlington: mostly dry pavement, some wet pavement, no snow or ice. Good for everybody, except perhaps the barefoot.


Whoever plows the trail segment adjacent to Russell Place, Arlington, has done it again: veered off the path with the plow, creating one lane on asphalt and one lane on mud. They do this every year. There's a folkloric explanation for that, but it's going to require some escalation with DPW to fix, since the effect is to create contention for a very narrow asphalt path for all users in both directions: nobody in their right mind would ride or walk in the mud, and some bikes/riders would probably get into trouble if they tried.


There was a little slush under a bridge in Arlington, a certain amount of punky ice encroaching on the trail surface at Brown Homestead in Lexington, and this perennial slushy mess on the approach to the Woburn Street intersection, also Lexington. Of all of the messy bits (and there weren't many), this was the worst; it was only a nuisance outbound, but constitutes a real hazard inbound, since the thickest and least tire-friendly field of slush is encountered there while making a sharp left turn. It needs the attention of a guy with a shovel.


In Bedford, the bridge over the Shawsheen had some residual slop, and was, perhaps, considerably more hazardous before the latest thaw. This is one of the perennial trouble spots.


Farther along in Bedford, towards Elm Brook and Depot Park, there's a longish stretch of soft ice and puddles that looks worse than it actually is. If I had to guess, I'd say that it looks like the plow operator had his blade set a little too high on this stretch. Again, some of the risk here lies in contention for restricted bare-pavement tracks from users approaching in both directions, some of whom may not have a viable Plan B.


On balance, this seems like good news. The Bedford segment is much improved over past years (or, at least, seems so on the indirect evidence offered in thaw conditions), especially in the immediate vicinity of Depot Park, which used to be left purposely unplowed. Similarly, some repaving between Depot Square, Lexington, and Meriam Street has banished the sheet of ice that used to lurk there. And the Arlington segment is in good shape.

Trail conditions aside, it was a pleasant ride.


Someone shoveled snow off enough of Peepers Pond to make a skating rink; at this point, it's more likely to function as a swimming pool.








rod

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Old 02-25-21, 11:09 PM
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After two more thaw days, I took the GT up the Minuteman to Depot Park again Thursday afternoon, in moderate temperatures albeit with a stiff headwind on the outbound leg. Skies were sunny more often than not, and the light was brilliant (except when it wasn't).








Taylor Lane's answers to Ponyhenge were out foraging in the snow. What does snow feel like to a horse's nose?


The Eye of Horus was on the wind-stirred phragmites in Tophet Swamp.


The Shawsheen River was fat with meltwater. It has grand plans.


Snow between the toes at the turnaround point.


Nice day for a ride, with a friendly tailwind on the return.


rod

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Old 02-26-21, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951

Whoever plows the trail segment adjacent to Russell Place, Arlington, has done it again: veered off the path with the plow, creating one lane on asphalt and one lane on mud. They do this every year. There's a folkloric explanation for that, but it's going to require some escalation with DPW to fix, since the effect is to create contention for a very narrow asphalt path for all users in both directions: nobody in their right mind would ride or walk in the mud, and some bikes/riders would probably get into trouble if they tried.

rod
I can't come up with a rationale for not plowing the full width of asphalt. But perhaps by exposing some mud it avoids the problem of having melt water refreeze on the asphalt - it can run off to the mud, drain, and refreeze there. Maybe just the plower is lazy and wants to do only one blade width.

But equal chances it's just being sloppy.
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Old 02-26-21, 10:58 PM
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Winter was flirting with Spring, and I rode East.


Ice-out on the Malden River. No skating. That was quick!


Some very tired snow and ice on one of the hilltops. Ready to give it up for Spring. The warmth of the hill climbs was still welcome at today's temperatures.


Twilight at the Kurukulla Center. I wonder when they'll take down the Winter lights? I rode West.


The Moon veiled by clouds suggested a change in the weather.


rod

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