Category : Biking

2005 July 3

What happened to June?

It's been a long time since I've posted. I've got a whole bunch of stuff I meant to write about, like my crazy week at work. First time I was on call, and people kept apologizing to me, "it's not usually like this", and "man, you drew the worst week ever". But whatever -- the weekend has been quiet at least, and I've got some sleep now.

I've been biking a lot again this year (687 km so far). Mark Weber and I are riding the Fells mountain bike loop tomorrow if anyone wants to join. I've decided I'm not doing the Pan-Mass Challenge, not because I wouldn't love to ride it, but because the fund-raising commitment is simply too steep. Psychologically, I just can't armtwist 40 of my friends into paying $50 each so I can do a bike ride. Not that there's anything wrong with the Jimmy Fund, but it's just not my charity. Does that make sense? I mean, I don't think I'd hesitate to browbeat you all into giving money to say Medicins Sans Frontières or the Trust for Public Land, but I can't really muster the same energy for the Jimmy Fund. . . . You should still support Andromeda, of course. I have. Don't make me come after you.)

I want to ride the CRW Climb to the Clouds century on Sunday the 17th. Either 60 or 100 mi with a 2000-ft climb up Mt Wachusett in central Mass. This is fairly crazy, but I feel sure I can finish. Any chance I can talk anyone into joining me? I'm willing to do the shorter distance if it means more company. (If anyone wants to "sponsor" me, Medicins Sans Frontières takes donations by credit card. Particularly valuable is a regular monthly pledge. For full guilt value for your dollar, make sure you tell me about it.)

I also want to finally do the ride to Provincetown I've been talking about for a couple years now. The plan that seems most plausible is one-day, 110 mi, starting from Forest Hills. I hope to get someone who's not interested in the crazy bike ride and talk them into taking the ferry and meeting us in P-town with some overnight bags. Then we can all poke around the Cape a bit and take the ferry back the next day. Late August, second week of September? The plan is still inchoate.

Last weekend I was home to visit my parents. My father built an 8-foot dinghy over the winter -- technically, the design is a pram -- and we finally got it in the water. There was no reason, really, he couldn't have got it out earlier, but I think he was waiting for me. It's a beautiful little boat, with both rowing and sailing rig. The boat itself is a kit from Chesapeake Light Craft, but the oars are from Milton Fancy & Sons of Mahone Bay, the mast and spars are Nova Scotia pine planed to order directly from the lumber yard, and the sail was made in Lunenburg by North Sails Atlantic. (I love having sail from the town that ruled the waves in the Golden Age of Sail.)

The rig is weird. It's called a standing lug -- it's a trapezoidal sail instead of the more common triangular bermudan rig, and the first hour I was out there I flailed a lot and missed a lot of tacks. Plus there were a few issues with the boat design, such as the tiller being too long so it got in the way when I was trying to switch tacks. But eventually I worked out the rhythm of the boat. Beautiful little thing.

Sunna at sail in Herring Cove

I also did a few miles of rowing -- same boat, with the mast and rudder removed. This made the dog happy. Riley loves going out on the water, and got purely frantic when I took it out sailing and wouldn't let him come. (Allowing the dog amidst all the ropes and confusion of me trying to sail: not to be contemplated.)

So there we are, me at the oars, dog at the prow, nose to the wind, heading out into the Outer Harbour. Good weekend.

I'm having a barbeque Friday evening, July 8th, 7pm. If you're reading this, you're invited. If you didn't get an invitation, let me know. It pisses me off that I can't trust email to get delivered anymore.

2005 April 23

Rained out

We checked all the forecasts for today, and they all said some variation on "chance of showers". Well, we have rain gear. We're tough. You don't get to pick your weather. fanw and zsquirrelboy and I decided to go for it.

The rain started about ten minutes in, got serious five minutes after that, and did not let up. We rode around Fresh Pond and out Concord Ave and by the time we got to Belmont Hill we were drenched. The rain was steady, soaking, and unrelenting. My shoes squished, my shorts were saturated, and my gloves (actually, zsquirrelboy's, who was prepared enough to have brought two pair) were sodden. I insisted on doing the Belmont Hill climb since we'd gone and made it there, but after that we bailed on the remaining two thirds of the ride and took Pleasant St back to Arlington Centre. All told we were an hour and half out in the rain, and it didn't let up until a safe half hour after we'd been chased like rats back to our boltholes.

But, things I learned:

  • My rain gear is actually pretty good.
  • It's not good enough for that.
  • Belmont Hill makes me break a sweat, but I can still climb it in reasonably good order.
  • I need gloves.
  • Bike shorts still wear reasonably well when saturated.
  • It took a long time to bring my legs back up to normal room temperature, even with hot water in the shower. But it didn't actually bother me that they were physically cold; while I was riding I hardly noticed. I was wearing four shirts and a jacket so my core was quite warm.
  • I am not defeated.
If it is not actually raining tomorrow, and if my frisbee game is cancelled for field conditions (as I expect it will be), I'm probably going to want to go back out. Check your email in the morning for the plan, or ping me if you're not on my list.

2005 April 20

To Walden Pond

To mark the new year, I've reset my odometer. 2004 total: 1546 km, just shy of 1000 mi.

Got back on my bike on Saturday, for my now-traditional Patriot's Day Paul Revere ride out the Minuteman and Battle Road to the Old North Bridge. This year I had company (ukelele, chrysaphi, narya, and fanw), and we got a completely beautiful day for it. Warm sun, cool breeze, rivers in flood, crocuses and skunk cabbage pushing fresh green out of the mud.

I was a wimp this year and didn't touch the bike all winter. I was nervous at how much condition I might have lost. After riding, I don't actually know -- all I can say is I can still handle a 60-km loop just fine. Which is good by me -- last year this ride was a big deal. I'm still a bit stiff, but I think that's more the fault of trying to play ultimate Sunday than the bike ride on Saturday.

Weather permitting, we're going back out for another ride this Saturday (Apr 23). The plan is a lakes tour -- starting from Davis, around Fresh Pond, out Concord Ave and up bad boy Belmont Hill. Then over to Totten Pond Rd, around beautiful Cambridge Reservoir, and out past Sandy Pond to Walden Pond. Home via Concord, part of Battle Rd that we missed last week, Mill St and Marrett Rd to the bike path. Optionally we could add five miles from Arlington Centre by finishing with a loop around the Mystic Lakes.

I don't know the exact distance that adds up to, but it'll be comparable to last week but a bit more rolling. And it includes Belmont Hill.

We'd love more company. Anyone interested, let me know!

2004 June 25


I rode out to Marblehead on Sunday.

Route 60 to get there isn't much fun until you get to the Lynn boardwalk, but once you're there there's a beautiful mile-long detour out to Nahant along the causeway beach. Then ride the bayfront promenade through Lynn into Swampscott, and the roads into Marblehead are pretty. On a sunny Sunday afternoon Marblehead itself is gorgeous and to die for. Empyrean blue seas beyond multi-million dollar mansions, with granite islets and white sails in the bay; the towers of Boston on the horizon in one direction and the endless Atlantic in the other. Fabulous.

The Rubel Eastern Mass map shows a path from Marblehead to Salem; this is nice as far as it goes, but it ended on me sooner than I expected and I had to ride a grungy industrial avenue into Salem. The biking didn't become really pleasant again until I was well inland along the Lynnfield road. The only climb worth mentioning on the route is Prospect St in Wakefield; and then it's a pretty straight shot down Washington Ave into Medford. As usual, I got lost trying to get from the end of Washington to Boston Ave -- it looks like there ought to be a better way than following Mystic Valley Parkway, but I can't seem to find it.

The whole route turns out to be 85 km (53 mi), including riding out to Nahant and the loop out Marblehead Neck itself -- almost 25 km longer than my previous longest ride. Four hours and twenty minutes in the saddle, but with breaks I took closer to six hours to finish. I was sore on Monday, but I fucking made the ride. Oddly enough, my lower back was hurting more than my legs. And I should have had sunscreen on my arms.

Date Route Dist Time Avg Spd Year Total
2004/06/20 Marblehead 85.7 km 4:20:40 19.7 km/h 609 km

2004 May 23

Lincoln, Weston

Boston has the best suburbs of any city I know. Once you get past the zone of urban density -- the transition is somewhere in Arlington, going west from Cambridge, you get into an amazing tangle of winding, hilly country roads, mostly fairly narrow. All of them are forested, with old trees, and generally lined with houses built village-style. That is, every one was built individually, at different times by different builders in different styles. The lot sizes vary; the setbacks from the road vary; the house sizes vary. And of course, some of them are centuries old. There's some twee Ye Olde Signage, but for the most part, the area earns its character honestly.

It's a beautiful area to go biking in.

Andromeda and I did a 60-km figure-eight loop out to Lincoln and Weston, two of the most expensive of Boston's bedroom communities. I don't think I'm entirely stacking the deck by talking about how beautiful the area while using them as my example, because the whole area is like that -- Lexington, Concord, Bedford, Waltham.

Date Route Dist Time Avg Spd Year Total
2004/05/23 Lincoln -- Weston 60.2 km 3:23:37 17.7 km/h 292 km
I believe this is the longest one-day ride I've ever done, and I'm glad to say I seem to have survived. I could even have kept going, except that my jeans were chafing rather badly. (I know, I shouldn't have worn jeans, but the day was cool enough that shorts didn't seem like a good idea. Maybe I'm actually reaching the point where I have a need for Shiny Bike Clothes.) Anyway, in April of last year, the 49-km ride to Bedford and Concord hurt me a lot more than today's ride did, and this one was 20% longer. I've definitely gotten stronger.


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