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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

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Metro Boston: Good ride today?

Old 01-11-24, 10:47 PM
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Tired of joking about it, I made an appointment with Jim at Battle Road Bikes to have him give me a hands on tutorial on how to change tires in the through axle/disc brake world that the Seven inhabits. Jim walked me through the process for both front and back wheels, and had me actually change a tire on the front wheel to see how the different rim shape affects the process. This was a good, practical tutorial, and by the end of it, I was confident that I could deal with a tire change in the field on that bike.


All the low places were filled with water. Vernal pools, here we come.


Jim had told me about the North Lexington Brook overflowing its banks the previous day and flooding a section of the Minuteman near Revere Street. I rode in that direction, but discovered that my drive train had suddenly gotten rackety. Assuming that this was some result of my entropic bike tinkering on this unfamiliar machinery, I high-tailed it back to the bike shop, where Jim was able to fix it with dispatch, after which I headed home.

A walk around Fresh Pond later that day afforded a view of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway, under water.


Duck boat tours, anyone?


rod

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Old 01-12-24, 04:28 PM
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45 degrees and bone-dry roads, except for some runoff, so I went out for a mid-day ride. I wanted a good workout in the short time I would have, so I picked the single-speed Van Dessel, but lowered the gearing to 49x16, as I was in the mood for something a little more hilly than the usual BFRT rides. I settled on a clockwise loop from my house to the Chelmsford/Carlisle cranberry bog, which would involve some short climbs of less than 4% grade. Route 4 out of Chelmsford center is busier (and bumpier) than one might hope for, but just after lunch was a good time for it, and the rest of the route was on quieter roads.

The "by-16" in question is a cheapo freewheel, of which I was reminded almost immediately after setting out uphill. It likes to skip a pawl or two under a real load. Not much of an issue while seated, but out of the saddle was out of the question! I slowed to a crawl a couple of times, but did manage to mash my way up each hill. This provided confidence for the last uphill stretch back home, which I had been concerned about. In the event, I even took a slight detour that adds considerable vertical feet, but does so in manageable bites rather than one long slog. I think this modified route might become a favorite, but with a different rear wheel next time.

I was also testing a shorter stem with more rise to go with my bullhorns (pursuit bars, really), and that turned out to be just about perfect. I still only have cross levers for the brakes, so no braking from the aero position, something still to fiddle with.



One photo to show for it. 13.5 miles and 590 vertical feet.
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Old 01-12-24, 06:01 PM
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Non-bicycle priorities were looming this afternoon, but I did manage to take the Seven up the Mystic Valley Parkway and check on the scene at the Mystic Lakes. I rode N, then doubled back at the Aberjona River.


Ra!


Moving lots of water around at the dam.


Peligro -- Aguas Poco Profundas! Me, I worry about that even when I'm not about to jump in.


Serenity.


rod

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Old 01-13-24, 10:53 PM
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Took the Sam Hillborne out Saturday afternoon and rode East.


Saturday morning, of course, had been full of downpours and great winds. Those had blown out to sea, mostly, and unseasonably warm temperatures prevailed, although they were supposed to drop later in the day. This posed a heat management problem that I only partly solved by creative use of layers and zippers. The winds grew stronger as the day progressed, and posed the greatest challenge of the ride, especially the gusty headwinds that offered to stop forward motion altogether; my legs and the bike's stability managed to keep me moving straight ahead. The wind and the local drivers were an interesting mix; some drivers actually seemed to improve in the adverse conditions, others went full-on squirrelly. No karmic entanglements ensued. I climbed and descended the hills as I came to them, through Arlington, Medford, Malden, Melrose, and Stoneham, traffic or no. It's good practice.

Crossing from East Arlington into West Medford, I saw a demonstration of how the Mystic River got its name.


We're still in the season of premature darkness, and my experience of that was that the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and here and there rain and what might have been sleet made a nuisance of itself. Nothing like a headwind to make a hill steeper. Some fun!


rod

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Old 01-15-24, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
A walk around Fresh Pond later that day afforded a view of the Watertown-Cambridge Greenway, under water.
Duck boat tours, anyone?
whoa!
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Old 01-15-24, 04:57 PM
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Took the 1987 GT Karakoram rolling with Nokian W240 47-559 studded tires up the Minuteman as far as Lexington Center, looking for ice in the 31°F Winter weather..


I found some in Arlington, just beyond the Forest Street overpass. Various kinds of bikes and scooters were getting over the semi-frozen meltwater patch well enough, but this may be a different story after dark, when what was slush this afternoon in the sun becomes unseen black ice. If you're on the Minuteman tonight, be alert for this hazard.


A grander raft of ice was floating on top of Peepers Pond. With the cold that's coming, this could turn into something substantial. At the moment, it was simply pretty.


In other ice news, a woman walking along the Minuteman in East Lexington was chatting with workmen who were restoring the admirable backyard ice rink. It suffered from lack of ice last year. Perhaps this year will be better.

The Mile 4.0 Cairn Builders appear to have given us a covey of quail, or something similar, a mother and offspring (including a runt).


rod

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Old 01-16-24, 07:15 AM
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No pictures but I went on a chilly early afternoon ride on the BFRT yesterday, Chelmsford center to Route 225, which is just over 10 miles out and back. Legs and feet were comfy but I could have used a third layer up top. That along with the "glitter" of black ice on many of the shadier stretches made me decide that I should now just wait out the frost and snow. Plus my tires were caked in road salt just from crossing back to my parked car, so I had to give the bike a rinse and dry at home. Time to retreat into the basement and build a wheel or something...
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Old 01-16-24, 12:52 PM
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fyi - Tewksbury be like ...
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Old 01-19-24, 03:33 PM
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Took the icebike (Winter avatar of the 1987 GT Karakoram rigid mtb shod with 47-559 Nokian W240 tires, 240 carbide studs per tire for ice, and an aggressive tread for plain old snow, along with full fenders) on a ride out the Minuteman in the 27° weather, looking for ice.


I found plenty of ice to ride on (and some to be wary of)...


... but I left the pond to the kids.


I noted that substantial progress appears to have been made in the restoration of the backyard skating rink.


The seasonably-licensed charitable appeal has been issued.


rod

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Old 01-22-24, 03:47 PM
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Unlike Rod, I don't like riding on ice and snow at all, and so this last week was spent completing my selection of gears for the track bike, and working out chain lengths for each. I now have three otherwise identical 1/8" KMC chains color-coded and cross-referenced to my gear chart, ready for racing season. Fascinating stuff, right?

Today, however, promised and delivered a 25 degree F temperature rise, from 12 in the morning to 37 in the early afternoon. To bring in milder temps, but also snow and rain, for the rest of the week until at least Saturday. So, today was the most favorable forecast for getting out on the (salty, but clear and dry) roads. I figured I would be able to set out just after lunch, without having to fill my bidon with hot water against the frost. Before lunch, however, I went out on skates! Our house basically looks out over a popular skating pond, and a very shallow and thus quick-to-freeze one at that. It had been mobbed with kids all weekend, but was deserted today. I'm terrible on skates and prefer not to have an audience, so I grabbed the duffel bag with my beat-up old pair of figure skates and headed over for a slightly wobbly 20 minute skate. It was fun, I managed to stay upright, and as I was leaving, had a lovely chat with a young family who had just arrived and were putting their skates on. I made friends with their little dog and watched their 3.5 year old daughter step on the ice with considerably more confidence than I had mustered.

I can't recall if I've ever skated outdoors and ridden a road bike within just over an hour; it's probably a first. The bike was the Bianchi and the all-road route was one I've described here before, from my house to Chelmsford center, out on Route 4 to Concord Road, and thus in a clockwise loop around the Chelmsford/Carlisle cranberry bogs. First stop at Fiske Road in Carlisle, just over mid-way.



I stopped to have a few sips and text my wife, but also because I had just taken the 90 degree turn onto Fiske kinda "hot" for the time of year, only to find a stray patch of snow right in my path. On my 23mm Michelins. I narrowly avoided wiping out by straightening out to plow through it head-on, but that was only possible because there were no cars around at that moment. A close call, and a stupid risk to take.

Back on the Chelmsford side, I had to stay on the road (Acton Rd/Route 27) this time, as the BFRT doesn't get plowed. I suppose these signs must be popping up elsewhere in MA now; we have one on our street, as well. Only in one direction though They seem to be working about as well as these things always do.



I only stayed on the sidewalk until the next driveway, as traffic was very light. Left turn onto Maple Road, where I stopped to peek in at the BFRT crossing. Sure enough, the domain of skis, and maybe MTBs on Finland's finest studded tires



Maxwell's, the garden center/pet supply business right there (formerly an Agway), is reportedly for sale; the owners are retiring. This has caused considerable hand-wringing in town, particularly as their greenhouse hosts a very popular farmers market every Saturday in winter. It didn't occur to me until a cyclist friend brought it up, but this would be an ideal spot for a bike shop, with room to either offer coffee and snacks themselves, or to invite food trucks in. Heart Pond beach is right behind it, so this section of the BFRT is as busy as it gets out here, plus there is an elementary school across the street. The only bike shop we have in town, unimaginatively called The Bike Shop, is tiny, and out near (but not on) the much less popular Chelmsford to Lowell section of the trail. But such a move would be way above their means, I'm afraid.

From here it's a little under 4 miles to go home, although with probably half of the total climbing left. I got home around 2, dashed inside for my watering can, and gave the bike a warm rinse and wipedown. During which I noticed that I should really look into replacing those Michelins, not so much for wear as for cracks in the sidewalls. They were an inexpensive and quick solution back in 2021 when I got back into biking but I think I've gotten my $40 worth of use out of them.

13.1 miles and 560 vertical feet.
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Old 01-22-24, 10:15 PM
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Took the 1987 GT Karakoram with its Nokian ice shoes up the Minuteman again Monday, turning around at Lexington Center.


Lots of snow and ice in Arlington and Lexington, and I'm reminding myself to just float across the ice on those studded tires, something I have to relearn with each new cold season. But it's coming back to me.


I've been seeing several different recumbent tricycles on the Minuteman lately. Those things are built somewhat low to the ground for snowy, icy conditions, but people use 'em anyway. And it kind of relieves the monotony of the electric unicycles, mountain e-bikes, and standing, seatless bicycles that have some phylogenetic relationship to ElliptiGOs.


To each their own Winter joy.


rod

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Old 01-28-24, 12:23 AM
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Having squinted at multiple weather forecasts on Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon I took the Sam Hillborne and rode East.


This was yet another iteration of the hills-and-traffic drill through the paved roads of Arlington, Medford, Malden, Melrose, and Stoneham, that weave their way between the Coastal Plain and the Fells Escarpment. I ride it roughly weekly to keep my wits sharp in traffic and my legs and lungs ready to climb hills. Reading the weather forecasters' runes convinced me that ice on roads wouldn't be a factor that day, so I wasn't compelled to take the GT Karakoram with its studded Nokians, and could ride the comfortable, speedy Rivendell shod with Rene Herse Barlow Pass Extralights on clean, dry pavement..

We're still in the Dark Season, and as it often does this time of year, night fell when I was still on the road. I stopped to photograph the Sheridan Avenue Light Show, in Medford.


A bit later, two old trees stood in the darkness and discussed the coming snow.


I cranked hard, made good time, and prepared myself for another round of riding on the carbide studs.

rod

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Old 02-02-24, 05:53 PM
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Took the Seven out for a late-afternoon spin up the Mystic Valley Parkway...


... which turned into an early evening spin. Who goes there?


This bike lends itself to gliding through the dark. I had "Relax Your Mind" playing on my inner juke box. Roll, mandala, roll. A short, peaceful ride.

rod
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Old 02-03-24, 11:00 PM
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Saturday afternoon I took the Sam Hillborne and rode East on a cool, bright, blustery day.


I was out on my Eastern hills-and-traffic drill, and the traffic certainly cooperated by showing up in droves. Stayed safe amongst the herd, and made good time. Climbed hills as I came to them, and found my legs had a lot to say to the bike's pedals in support of that, more power in higher gears than usual for some reason, something that had started while riding the Seven the previous day. As the ride continued, there was a bit of sunset color, seen from Melrose.


Sometimes the traffic is on the hill (Melrose, in this case).


And sometimes the hill stands alone.


Quieter that way.

rod

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Old 02-05-24, 11:39 PM
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Monday I took the Seven for a late afternoon spin up the Minuteman to Lexington Center, with temperatures falling from 40° down to 35° in the course of an hour, making me glad of the long johns.


The vernal pools in Lexington are ice bound. At this place and season, the bike has a degree of camouflage.


Although I hadn't been looking for it, I'm always gratified to see a display of sunset colors on one of these rides. Went well with the bird calls, some unfamiliar, that I was hearing.




Peepers Pond is having an H2O Phase Diagram identity crisis. No skating or swimming till it sorts itself out.


Pedaled on towards home. Somewhere in Arlington, it was time to turn on the headlights. As I pedaled, I noted the effect of the noise cancelling design of the 44mm Manastash Ridge Extralight dual-purpose knobbies. The bike continues to roll well, I'm coming to understand how to ride it.

rod

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Old 02-07-24, 10:11 PM
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Took the Seven out Wednesday for a sunset ride on the Minuteman, cold and fast. Sam thought the bike was "shiny". "Takes one to know one, Sam," I said.


Sunset colors were promptly on display in the Western quadrant. No need to go looking for them.


The recumbent tricycle corps were once again in attendance.


Night fell with a timely thud, and Mill Brook ran along beside the trail, playfully sparkling with reflected light. It waits all day to do that.


This is my first season to encounter the combination of brifters, ski gloves, and mid-30-degree weather, my cold fingers outstretched and working the paddles.

rod

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Old 02-08-24, 04:17 PM
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Always good to read what you're up to, rholland1951 . It's appreciated, and deserves more than just clicking the Like button.

I've been riding pretty consistently during this winter of mostly dry roads and above freezing temps, but haven't posted much about it. Mostly short rides that I can fit in when I have downtime at work. My longest ride so far has been 21 miles, and the total is just over 150.

Knowing that the BFRT was still unridable (I had checked it out yesterday), today I decided on a loop of less familiar roads here in Chelmsford. Mindful of potholes this time of the year, I picked the Dawes with its wide-ish cyclocross tires. I started with a very brief workout at the outdoor gym (Fitness Court) by the ballfields on Route 110, something that I've been meaning to integrate into my rides. You couldn't pay me to go to an indoor gym, it's just not for me, never mind the cost. But free and public, why not? The equipment was perfectly clear and dry, and I was alone, but I didn't want to tire myself out, so I only did a few box jumps and lunges, maybe 5 minutes total. Enough to get a feel for it. I'll need to have more of a plan and make this a fixture of my week for it to have any effect.

From there, it's a quick turn up the hill to get to Billerica Rd/Route 129, past town hall and elementary school. I took Turnpike Rd for its full mile-and-half straightness, the water tower indicating I had reached the highest point around, where a gentle climb turns into a much steeper descent towards a stop sign at Mill Rd. That sure gave the old Weinmann center-pulls something to do. The road crosses over the mill stream a little further on, and the scene seemed picturesque enough for a quick shot.



The Dawes has a rear rack, and I had brought along a U lock and a grocery bag, thinking I might as well pick up a few things, but when I got to the convenience store, I realized that I hadn't brought my wallet. Onwards then, back towards town center, but not without getting some mud under those knobby tires at the Warren-Pohl land. The trails in the full sun were already bone dry and fine to ride, but shadier parts proved more challenging.




That's lumpy frozen slush by now, beyond my skills except for flat stretches like this one. I was stubborn though, set out on the loop and completed it, much of it walking, or at best scootering with one foot out of the straps.

My last few rides had all been single-speed at 50x16, so the final climb home seemed a breeze by comparison, on the 38T middle chainring. 9.6 miles and about 500 vertical feet, plus my unmapped goofing around in the mud and ice.
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Old 02-08-24, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by EVlove
Always good to read what you're up to, rholland1951 . It's appreciated, and deserves more than just clicking the Like button.
.
Thanks! I feel the same about your contributions here, EVlove . You've enriched the scope of this thread.

rod
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Old 02-09-24, 04:22 PM
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I too have enjoyed the ongoing dialogue here. As for me, today I got out for a ride for the first time since early January.

During that hiatus, I got caught up on bike maintenance. The Fuji and my wife's Trek each got a general cleaning and lubrication. I gave the Cannondale hardtail MTB's innards some attention: repacked the hubs and replaced the brake fluid. I've never done the latter before, but a bleed kit purchased online and some YouTube videos made for a successful first attempt.

The Checkpoint, on the other hand, got more visible and tactile updates: new bar tape and tires. For the rubber I went with Panaracer Gravelking SS (SemiSlick) 38mm. These are (distant? close?) cousins of the Rene Herse all-road tires, which are also made by Panaracer. Mounting tubeless tires was another thing I'd never done before. I was a bit leery to tackle this without a compressor (I have a small 120V inflator.), and initially couldn't get the beads to seat on the first tire. Then I tried squeezing the tire onto the rim with a come-along strap to reduce air loss. It worked great! Maybe 30 seconds of inflating and the beads popped into place with a satisfying SNAP. This is what I mean:



Even without sealant both tires held air for several hours. With sealant added they are holding air just fine.

So, today I took the Checkpoint up the Minuteman to Bedford Depot Park. Great weather and very quiet. Here's a beauty shot at Arlington's Great Meadows that shows off the updates:



So far I like the new tires. Very smooth and responsive on pavement. Seem to roll better than the stock Bontragers.

As I approached Bedford St a vehicle, which turned out to be minivan, was bearing down on me. I stopped and pulled over the the shoulder. The occupants were an older couple who appeared to be lost. Fortunately there's a pass-through to the Lexington DPW lot right there and the driver was just able to squeeze through and get off the bike path. Whew! I hope they got wherever they were headed OK.



Did say it was quiet?




I had Depot Park to myself:



The bike is clean as new right now, but an upcoming ride on the Reformatory Branch will take care of that, and also provide a dirt/gravel test of the new tires. I'd really like to do the RBT + Battle Road loop soon, but the last time I tried, in the fall, the trail maintenance closures in Minuteman Historical Park made that problematic.

I had a great ride home and it was really nice to be back in the saddle.

Some notes:
  • restrooms at Lexington Visitor's Center were closed at 2:30 (probably because the Center is only open 10-2 this month)
  • there's post fire construction going on at the site of the Bike Stop. Looks like a new second floor had been added.
Tom

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Old 02-09-24, 05:31 PM
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bike_tom , good to hear you're rolling again. Thanks for the bike tinkering report, it was instructive. The old couple driving on the Minuteman is a story that gets reenacted from time to time. Occasionally the drivers get a little frantic, which can be worrisome. Wonder where these two got on the trail? Did they turn in from the Bedford Street intersection? There are a couple of intersections in Arlington where that happens, not sure about the Lexington experience with 4-wheeled wanderers...

rod

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Old 02-09-24, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rholland1951
bike_tom , good to hear you're rolling again. Thanks for the bike tinkering report, it was instructive. The old couple driving on the Minuteman is a story that gets reenacted from time to time. Occasionally the drivers get a little frantic, which can be worrisome. Wonder where these two got on the trail? Did they turn in from the Bedford Street intersection? There are a couple of intersections in Arlington where that happens, not sure about the Lexington experience with 4-wheeled wanderers...

rod
Hey Rod. Glad you enjoyed the maintenance report. I find working on the bikes satisfying, especially in a warm basement on a cold winter day. (not that we've had much of a winter this year...)
I wouldn't want to try and reseat one of those tubeless tires in the field. Of course, if the sealant failed to plug a big puncture, one would first try a plug. If that didn't work you would put a tube in. That assumes you can get the tubeless valve out! So far never had to deal with that.

As for the lost driver: I am pretty sure they turned onto the Minuteman at the Bedford St crossing. Don't recall if there are bollards there to prevent one from doing so. As for Arlington crossings, I think such incursions happened a lot when the light was first installed at Lake St and the MM was widened at that spot a few years ago. It sure made the MM look like a street. (GPS: "Turn left at the next light!") As you know, there are several bollards and barricades there now on both sides of Lake St.

Tom

Edit: My photo shows there were no bollards at the Bedford St crossing today.

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Old 02-09-24, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bike_tom
Hey Rod. Glad you enjoyed the maintenance report. I find working on the bikes satisfying, especially in a warm basement on a cold winter day. (not that we've had much of a winter this year...)
I wouldn't want to try and reseat one of those tubeless tires in the field. Of course, if the sealant failed to plug a big puncture, one would first try a plug. If that didn't work you would put a tube in. That assumes you can get the tubeless valve out! So far never had to deal with that.

As for the lost driver: I am pretty sure they turned onto the Minuteman at the Bedford St crossing. Don't recall if there are bollards there to prevent one from doing so. As for Arlington crossings, I think such incursions happened a lot when the light was first installed at Lake St and the MM was widened at that spot a few years ago. It sure made the MM look like a street. (GPS: "Turn left at the next light!") As you know, there are several bollards and barricades there now on both sides of Lake St.

Tom
Yah. Mill Street is another automobile on-ramp for the bike path... ;-)

rod
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Old 02-10-24, 11:28 PM
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Took the custom Seven Evergreen SL out Saturday and rode East.


I figured it was time to see what was what for this bicycle in the hills-and-traffic drill, and I wasn't disappointed. The Seven climbed hills like a mountain goat, descended like an incoming missile, skipped briskly over broken pavement, and slithered through traffic like a wet otter. The brakes worked, too. Yippee!

While the bike rode through hills and flats congested and empty, rough and smooth, in light and darkness, I didn't take photos of any of that, I was too busy pedaling, steering, shifting, braking, and keeping an eye on all comers.

I did take one photo, aside from the traditional one of the Kurukulla Center's backyard. Seeing this forthright speed limit sign on the Northern Strand Community Trail, in Malden, reminded me of the heartburn I suffered when ABAC voted to endorse a 15 mph speed limit on the Minuteman. While this still seems to me to have been wrong-headed because essentially unenforceable, somehow it also seems no longer worth any significant degree of snark. (At this point, somebody say "e-bikes!")


Speaking of e-bikes, I was riding through Malden behind a kid on a Bluebike with pedal assist. In a particularly congested stretch, as the line of cars slowed to a stop, he nonchalantly jumped the curb and continued on his merry pedal-assisted way on the sidewalk. Not what those contraptions are for, sez I... nor the sidewalk, neither.

rod

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Old 02-11-24, 04:43 PM
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It hit the mid 40s today on Massachusetts' North Shore ... time for a ride to visit all the spots I love on the Raleigh Sports ...



At Singing Beach, Manchester-(By-the-Sea)
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Old 02-11-24, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bharrisonb
It hit the mid 40s today on Massachusetts' North Shore ... time for a ride to visit all the spots I love on the Raleigh Sports ...



At Singing Beach, Manchester-(By-the-Sea)
That's a beautiful route, and a harmonious bike to ride it on!

rod
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