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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

Old 10-28-23, 10:55 PM
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Saturday afternoon, the last day of the unseasonable-but-not-complained-of warmth, I took the Atlantis and rode East.


Medford: self-portrait in a convex mirror rides again.


Medford: Ken was looking for Barbie. I told him I'd seen her in East Lexington. He looked skeptical, and cracked his knuckles.


Northern Strand Community Trail, Malden: like the signs say, Coming Soon! Bike Kitchen.


This was, indeed, the more-or-less weekly hills-and-traffic drill in the towns and cities that have paved parts of the Fells Escarpment. I was curious to see how the Atlantis, with its long wheelbase, heavy touring tubeset, triple crank, and 55mm Rene Herse Antelope Hill Extralight tires (inflated to 30PSI) would handle the various hills encountered on this route. It was a slow but comfortable climber, and I often found myself shifting the front derailleur onto the smallest chainring while climbing. This long climb up Fellsway East definitely called for that.


The bike is swift and stable--and, again, comfortable--in descent. I clocked 26mph descending Fellsway East into Malden. The fat, supple tires and long steel frame do an admirable job making the least of rough pavement.


"Hills-and-traffic" often means traffic on hills. Encountered this on High Street, Medford. The Atlantis did just fine in crowds, including descending into West Medford at speed. Wheee!


rod

Last edited by rholland1951; 10-29-23 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 11-03-23, 02:04 PM
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I got out for my more-or-less weekly ride to Concord this morning, via the Minuteman and the Reformatory Branch Trail.
It was a beautiful mid fall day.

Cooling weather has been thinning the crowds, and today was no exception.

On the outbound leg, I crossed paths with the Lexington leaf blower:



The operator was good enough to quell the gust as we passed each other.

The RBT was covered in leaves:




Pretty as it was, it made it hard to spot rocks and sinkholes in the trail. I bounded over a few, one of which nearly sent me off the trail till I recovered my balance!
The positive side of the leaf layer, besides the esthetics, was that any mud bogs where filled with leaves, making them easy to ride through.

Crossing the Great Meadows access road outbound, I was pleased to see that had finally been paved. More on that below.

Trails End Concord:



Heading back, again the big news was at Great Meadows: the access road and parking were freshly paved:



Notice that there were no cars in the lot. That's because the entrance from Monsen Rd was still blocked off - that's how recent the work was.

I climbed partway up the observation tower, something I hadn't done in awhile:



As I left, I checked the new bathrooms: still locked.

I stopped at Bedford Depot on the way home:



BTW: the bathrooms at Depot Park are still open.

In Lexington Center, I saw two Lexington DPW workers taking measurements at the Meriam St MM crossing. I had seen these same two folks at Westview St, near the Bedford border. I chatted with them, and found out they are investigating the possibility of safety improvements at the MM crossings. I thanked them and wished them well.

Also in Lexington Center I spotted an older rider with a bike outfitted with the distinctive red disc of the Copenhagen wheel. We chatted for a bit, she telling me that her son used to work for the now defunct maker of that e-wheel.

Back in Arlington, I encountered yet another leaf blowing apparatus, this one of the stand-up variety:



The Hurricane!

A good ride. About 28 miles, with Strava showing 404 feet of elevation gain.

Tom

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Old 11-03-23, 09:50 PM
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Took the Atlantis out on a cool and breezy Friday afternoon for a spin up the Minuteman to Lexington Center. It was warmer than it had been this week, but not so warm that I didn't make at least one error with layering, nothing too drastic. And windy enough to let the Atlantis show me its stability in a stiff cross wind. The low November sun cast sharp shadows. The ride began with a chorus of emergency vehicle sirens and growlers.


The wind tossed the treetops and the shadows danced.


One of the Minuteman abutters was having some tree work done. Very impressive machinery. Doesn't anybody use an axe anymore?


Goodbye, Barbie. See you next year, in whatever role you're called on to play. And perhaps see you next week, if Halloween lingers in East Lexington.


The ride ended as it began, with sirens. Somebody was having a busy day.

rod
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Old 11-04-23, 09:48 PM
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Saturday afternoon, I took the Sam Hillborne and rode East.


It was one of those days when the ride was the thing: very few photos were taken, but I kept a brisk pace. Went scampering up the hills and whizzing down again. Waved to several cyclists at the Malden Bike Kitchen, and they waved back. Rode immediately behind a big old Harley in traffic on High Street, which was a multisensory feast. Had an object lesson in the early sunset at this time of year, which of course will be worse tomorrow. Cranked through the Winthrop Square rotary, coming and going. Good day for a ride, good ride for the day..

rod
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Old 11-07-23, 02:15 PM
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Around Halloween we spent a week in Florida, on both coasts, for a family wedding, and to see an old friend. Gorgeous weather, right around 90, but not very humid and with a good breeze. I noticed quite a few people cruising on bikes, many with electric assist, despite the flat terrain. Good times, but it added up to two weeks out of the saddle for me. I sort of caught up with a 26.5 mile ride to West Concord and back on Sunday, and then realized this left me just short of 1,247 miles (known to its metric friends as 2,000km) for the year.

With no deadlines until tomorrow, and 67 degree weather, I decided to bike just enough to reach that mark. An easy ride on the BFRT to Route 225 and back provided the required distance and was very enjoyable, even though mostly covered in leaves that were still half wet from last night's rain.



At one point I did need to stop and pick a stubborn leaf out of the Bianchi's freewheel but on the plus side, the squirrels and chipmunks seem to have gone to sleep now. Back home, I hosed the bike off, and then remembered that with plummeting temps and possibly a little snow in the forecast, I had better shut that outdoor faucet off for the season.

12.6 miles and 432 vertical feet.
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Old 11-07-23, 11:34 PM
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Another day with unlooked-for good weather. I made the time to take the Atlantis out on the Minuteman; would have been a sin not to. The big touring bike continues to school me in how to ride it. Standard time brought with it sunset colors at an absurdly early hour, but I've been living in Eastern Massachusetts long enough to regret this situation, but too long to be surprised by it.


Something gelled in my understanding of the crowds on the Minuteman: many of the people who ride, walk, run, skate, or scoot on this trail are not, in fact, happy. I was seeing and hearing signs of fear, anger, boredom, and confusion, to a surprising degree. Don't know what that's about, perhaps it's just a bad day, a fluke. Or perhaps something about the bike path environment brings out these emotions in some people, sometimes. Perhaps sometimes the bikeyface is a snarl. I was feeling merry, myself, but some of the people I played informal games of Drop the Pursuer with might have perceived things differently.


Right at the end of the ride, a little rain shower blew by, drizzly-dripping on one and all, but not too much. More different weather while you wait. I made good time through all of it, and to the best of my knowledge, didn't snarl.

rod

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Old 11-10-23, 11:27 PM
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I took the Atlantis out for a spin on the Minuteman on a cold, grey, and breezy Friday afternoon. Folks seemed frisky.


Everybody was going somewhere.


For the most part, I was content just to ride along.


Whoops! Gotta go!


rod
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Old 11-11-23, 03:50 PM
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I rode out to Billerica today, via the MM and NGRT. This was my first weekend ride on the MM since April, as I generally avoid the crowds.
It was a beautifully crisp fall morning, around 43 when I started out, with an occasionally stiff breeze.
The MM was about as busy as a much warmer weekday.

I think these folks are part of an organized group of senior riders I see quite often:




I was pleasantly surprised at how dry the NGRT was, given the rain we had on Thursday. Here's a typical stretch:



Good thing I'm not afraid of my own shadow - it's really long at this time of year.


So, the NGRT presently ends at Spring Rd in Billerica, across from Astrig Way, as seen here:



Despite the "Resident's Only" sign and the "Private" signs further along (yes, I rode down it a bit), this is in fact the planned route for the Yankee Doodle Bikeway. At the end of Astrig you can just barely see a single track path in the woods that heads north. I believe that's an unmaintained remnant of the old railroad and part of the future bikeway.


I stopped at Fawn Lake on the way back, which rewarded me with a classic New England fall scene:




Back at Depot Park:



I cranked on home to Arlington - the exercise and fresh air having sharpened my appetite for lunch.

Let's hope there are many more days like this before things get messy or too cold. My personal lower limit is about 35. Last winter, due to the mild weather and lack of snow, I think the longest I went without riding was about two weeks. In contrast, more typically I take a cycling break from roughly mid-December to mid-March. We'll see...

Tom
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Old 11-11-23, 11:48 PM
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Saturday afternoon was colder, windier, sunnier than Friday, so I took the Sam Hillborne and rode East.


Tuxedo Sam (so named due to the color scheme, black and creme, with silver highlights) is quite ridable in the wind, climbs quickly, and descends with speed and stability. The 38mm Rene Herse Barlow Pass Extralights did for the stretches of rough pavement that are encountered on this Eastern hills-and-traffic route at times. The bike coped with headwinds and cross winds as needed, and sailed along on the occasional tail wind. I got the layers right, and was in a cool-not-cold winter riding state of grace for the duration of the ride (I know, it's not ^real winter, but it's certainly prep for one).

Old cemeteries tend to become invisible when passed by repeatedly: in this case, the Bell Rock Cemetery, Malden's old burial ground, had become easy to miss for me, just at the point where I get onto the Northern Strand Community Trail. So I took a little time to photograph it anew, along with some of the bike traffic on the Northern Strand. Taken together, I think the resulting animation documents the corner of Quick and Dead.


Once again, I found myself riding in traffic at night, thanks to the early sunset, the gift of EST. Sign me up for Atlantic Time.


The night was dark as molasses. Good thing the current generation of LED bike lights allow us to see the road, as well as to be seen by others. I raced my shadow home.


The eerie blue glow of the jet d'eau on the Fellsmere pond, shining through some intervening scrub fringing the water, contrasted with the general blackness of the night. Farewell to Malden.


rod

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Old 11-13-23, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bike_tom
I rode out to Billerica today, via the MM and NGRT. This was my first weekend ride on the MM since April, as I generally avoid the crowds.
no unruly dogs off-leash?
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Old 11-13-23, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
no unruly dogs off-leash?
There were some off-leash dogs, but they were all ruly, thankfully.

I am always mindful of your bad experience, on the Reformatory Branch IIRC, when I encounter unleashed dogs while riding.
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Old 11-13-23, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bike_tom
There were some off-leash dogs, but they were all ruly, thankfully.

I am always mindful of your bad experience, on the Reformatory Branch IIRC, when I encounter unleashed dogs while riding.
met a really cute beagle in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest last weekend. kept running away from it's owner, but you could tell they both knew the area very well. the dog almost ran off ahead on the trails I was riding, waited for me, then barked, waited for it's owner's whistle & call, then checked to be sure I would follow, but it was all over the place, but always stayed a comfortable distance from me, but was a curious sort & no fear of heights! (must be part cat)

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Old 11-13-23, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
met a really cute beagle in the Freetown-Fall River State Forest last weekend. kept running away from it's owner, but you could tell they both knew the area very well. the dog almost ran off ahead on the trails I was riding, waited for me, then barked, waited for it's owner's whistle & call, then checked to be sure I would follow, but it was all over the place, but always stayed a comfortable distance from me, but was a curious sort & no fear of heights!
That's impressive terrain.

rod
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Old 11-13-23, 10:29 PM
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I took the Sam Hillborne out on a grey, cold, windy Monday afternoon. I had dressed for the weather, and was glad of that. I rode the Minuteman from Arlington Center to Lexington Center and back, and only counted 17 people riding bikes on the out-bound leg. Quiet and strenuous short ride.


Maybe tomorrow I can do it all again.

rod
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Old 11-14-23, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
That's impressive terrain
yeah, a fun surprise! had no idea this was in there, until I rode up on it, at the bottom, across the quarry

it was a steep cycle up the right side on the gravel road. I made it most of the way, but confess I did get off near the top when I stalled & walked approx. 300 ft before cycling again to the rocky top. thought it would be fun to cycle the top, toward the ledge. there was a lot of smooth rock. but at a certain point, I was like, um that's close enough, don't wanna have a accident! hehe & then walked it to the edge

I put a thread here w/ a little more info & pics
Freetown-Fall River State Forest

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Old 11-16-23, 05:17 PM
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I've been working with Pete at Battle Road Bikes to incrementally rebuild the Appaloosa that I bought as a Rivendell Web Special a couple of years ago. This bike, which I've described here from time to time, was a one-off prototype build, somewhat eccentrically outfitted (from my point of view) with swept-back Billie bars, V brakes and associated linear pull levers, a 1 x 10 drive train, trigger shifters, 55mm Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge Endurance dual purpose knobbies, no fenders, and the very long wheelbase Appaloosa frame, size 57 cm. Some of these things (e.g. the frame and fork geometry and the tires) seemed desirable to me, some (especially the V brakes) seemed to be regrettable choices, and some (e.g., the 1 x 10 drivetrain and associated paraphernalia, the Billie bars and their associated riding posture) were simply puzzling. Over the last 2 years I've ridden the bike from time to time, giving all this (from my point of view) novelty a chance. The other week I realized I positively hated the modulation of the V brakes, so I asked Pete to replace them with Paul Neo Retros in front and Paul Touring Cantis in the rear, along with appropriate levers and necessary modifications to the front rack. He also added a set of fenders, which I'll appreciate the next time it rains.. I took delivery of the modified bike yesterday, and took it out for a spin on the Minuteman this afternoon, as a shakedown cruise.


Replacing the V brakes with cantis completely altered the complexion of the bike for me. With V brakes, I always felt the bike was plotting my sudden death. With cantis, 10+ years of experience with cantilever brake modulation reassures me that the bike likes me after all. I had a pleasant ride, and was able to pay attention to the upright riding posture that seemed to come with the Billie bars, and the up-and-down Lakovian shifting metaphors that seemed to control the the 1 x 10 drive train. Good ride out to Depot Park, enough miles to form a few opinions.


Near the Bedford-Lexington line, posted by the Minuteman, there stands timeless advice. Warning: Minuteman Commuter Bikeway, Contains Bicycles.


One man's nose is another man's bicycle, just as one man's joke is another man's needless repetition.


Stopped in at Battle Road Bikes, and gave Pete a good report on the modifications. I'll ride the bike in this form until the bad weather comes, and then will either ask Pete for further modifications, or decide to leave well enough alone.

rod

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Old 11-17-23, 05:25 AM
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We have our share of roads marked "Private Road" / "For Residents Only" in Gloucester. Believe it or not, they are all still public rights of way, and the city DPW clears their streets of snow , fills potholes, picks up their trash every week, and maintains their water and sewer lines. I encourage all who bicycle in Gloucester to go to and explore the tip of Eastern Point and the Annisquam Lighthouse, despite these signs.

And, bicycles are the best way to visit our crowded beaches in the summer. Free admission for walk-ons (and no vehicle parking fees). Works in Gloucester --- unfortunately Manchester-By-The-Sea will even charge non resident walk-ons an amazing $10 per person (2023). Members of the Trustees of Reservations can bicycle to Crane Beach in Ipswich for no fee --- non members pay a small fee (I think $5 / bicyclist)..


The Raleigh at Singing Beach on October 17, 2023


Visiting Crane Beach on September 28, 2023
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Old 11-17-23, 04:36 PM
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Went out to Concord today via the Minuteman and the Reformatory Branch.
It was pretty mild, but also very windy. Gusty enough to throw the bike around at some points, like on the bridge over 128.

Speaking of gusts, on the MM on the way out, I had a close encounter with my friend the leaf blower:



Everything is definitely trending brown at Arlington Great Meadows in East Lexington:



Despite the lack of color, its a peaceful scene. Great Meadows NWR in Concord doesn't look much different:



On the Reformatory Branch I crossed paths with many more 4 legged travelers than 2 wheeled ones. Here's a sample of the canines I saw, some leashed, some not:



The all important restroom update:
  • Lexington Visitor's Center: open
  • Bedford Depot: closed for the season
  • Great Meadows NWR: new restrooms still locked, 2 porta-potties in the parking lot

I stopped at Lexington on the way home, and saw these interesting domes on the lawn outside the visitor's center:



They made me think of Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes.
Shelters for all-weather outdoor dining?

Completed my ride home to Arlington on the MM.

28 miles. A good day.

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Old 11-17-23, 05:44 PM
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^^Ha! Looks like you got there a little earlier than I did:



I came down on the Narrow Gauge and MM today, taking the car from Chelmsford to the Great Meadows trailhead on Route 4 in Billerica.

This was the third time in as many days I've been out. Wednesday there was only enough time for about 9.5 miles out and back from Chelmsford center to Route 27. I finally put the road bits back on the Van Dessel track bike, but it's still single speed, so hills were to be avoided by driving to the BFRT. It wasn't quite as dark as the photo makes it seem, but dark enough that I didn't realize my finger was in the frame.



Yesterday I had more time and cranked the same setup all the way to Donelan's in Acton and back, 16.8 miles.



Today's rare excursion on the NGRT and MM was a nice change, but seriously marred by witnessing the aftermath of an accident on the MM in Lexington. A woman in her 60s on the ground, flat on her back, face bloodied, head and shoulder injuries, being attended to by her husband (?) and a group of other cyclists. I don't know how it happened. They were in the midst of calling an ambulance, the victim was in pain but alert and stable, so I rode on after briefly asking if they needed anything.

I likewise reached the visitor center at Battle Green, got off the bike (the Lotus today, because of the unpaved parts, it's on 32mm CX tires) and walked around a little. I don't even remember the last time I was there. Construction for a new roundabout at the northern side was well advanced.



I then headed back on the MM and found the scene of the accident cleared. More traffic than I like by now, both on the trail and at the road crossings, including a trio of irresponsible riders on carbon who made me fear for other users, after what I'd seen earlier.

The Narrow Gauge was more pleasant but once past Fawn Lake, that feeling gets more and more replaced with "wonder what's under those leaves?", the layer is thick enough to hide nasty surprises. This was one of the clear-ish stretches that allowed for one-handed picture taking:


I walked for the very last stretch, past the gate. Back on asphalt, I missed my turn off Concord Road, stopped and got off, and even so still had a hard time finding a gap in traffic to reverse direction. Coming back to where I was parked, Route 4 was likewise very busy (and in terrible shape). All in all, I concluded that it's really not worth the trouble, and next time I'll park at Fawn Lake again. About 16 miles today.
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Old 11-17-23, 10:50 PM
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Took the Appaloosa out for another shakedown cruise, this time intending to see about climbing with the 1 x 10 drivetrain. What I saw was that the bike immediately dropped its chain, possibly when I rolled it backwards in the garage. I didn't notice this until I pedaled a few ineffectual cycles as I rolled away from the driveway. My somewhat distracted attempt to rehang the chain on the crank put the chain afoul of some sort of chain guide that I wasn't familiar with, apparently part of the 1 x 10 setup. Rather than dig myself in any deeper, I put the bike on the back of the car, and drove out to Battle Road Bikes. Pete had a look, and did a repair on the spot. I took a few minutes riding it around the parking lot, making the most of the steep little ramps there to do a little climbing testing. Everything seemed to be solid, and I went back in and thanked Pete.


Shortest ride of the year (but the year's not over yet).

rod
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Old 11-18-23, 11:22 PM
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Took the Sam Hillborne out Saturday afternoon and rode East.


This was yet another instance of the hills-and-traffic drill, a ride through the paved portion of the Fells Escarpment in Arlington, Medford, Malden, Melrose, and Stoneham. Today's ride was augmented by windy conditions. I actually like windy rides, although if a gust ever pushes me over I might revise that. But today's ride was fun, on average. It got dark early, of course, and temperatures fell through the 40s, knocking on the 30s' door by the time I was done.

I took very few photos because of the active conditions, but the photo I wish I'd taken showed a man and his dog, walking in a great volume of wind-blown leaves in the sunny air. Saw this on the River Street bridge over the young Mystic River, and really should have stopped to take it.

The rest was pedaling. And rowdy traffic, illustrating the established principle that Massachusetts drivers' driving skill deteriorates whenever there's noticeable weather.

rod
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Old 11-20-23, 04:57 PM
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Chelmsford DPW was out blowing leaves off the BFRT today. I can vouch for High St to the Westford line, which is what I rode, and it looked like they continued on towards town center. In Westford and Acton, however, no clean-up was evident. The leaves weren't too bad but I was on the Bianchi, sporting 23mm tires, and at times had to pick my line very carefully through fallen pine cones.

Today's was an afternoon ride from my house to West Concord and back, a total of 25.2 miles, mostly to get myself reacquainted with riding in the cold (and wind! 38 deg F, N 13 with gusts of 22 mph, recorded at Hanscom AFB). Triple layers top and bottom, under helmet cap, full fingered gloves. It was just sufficient, but did require holding back on the descents. On the return leg, against the wind, in the even lower sun, I could have used more.

This was taken at the train station, at 2:37. That sun angle is only going to get worse for another month, ugh.



As a side note, I find it takes a special kind of clueless to build a bike parking structure and then separate it from the trail by crushed rock and a curb
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Old 11-20-23, 10:16 PM
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This morning's 27 mile Cape Ann Loop --- started at 29 degF with steady 15 mph NW winds. Warmed up to 34 degF by the ride's end. Enjoyed the briskness, but had to wonder if daily rides are coming to a close for the season?


Annisquam Village Hall, Gloucester. November 20, 2023
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Old 11-21-23, 12:17 PM
  #11024  
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Yesterday I hit 8000 miles for the year. Now on Sundays I’m trying to keep up with my almost 17 year old son on his road bike. He can beat me in a sprint but I’ve got him on endurance.
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Old 11-21-23, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghazmh
Yesterday I hit 8000 miles for the year. Now on Sundays I’m trying to keep up with my almost 17 year old son on his road bike. He can beat me in a sprint but I’ve got him on endurance.
Bravo on the miles, and felicitations for riding with your son!

rod
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