Monday, May 27, 2013

Lilacs and Snow

Nancy saying hi to our neighbor's horses. They were pretty much indifferent.

Snow-like petals drifting down on us as we climbed the Roxbury Mountain Road

View of snow on the ridge of the Greens across the valley

A small patch of snow left from two nights ago at the crest of the Roxbury Gap

Entering the Devil's Washbowl

Enjoying the route

Lilacs in full splendor

Making our way down to Moretown Common en route to Red Hen

Today we took advantage of the great clear cool weather and went for a ride. Our route was down Waitsfield Common to the East Warren Store and then up and over the Roxbury Gap. We had just come through two days of unusually bad weather that included snow at the higher elevations. I was hopeful we might see some up close and i was not disappointed. The Roxbury Gap is not supper long, but you have to work to get to the top. The reward is a great view back across the Mad River Valley.

We flew down the Roxbury side of the mountain and then headed north on the back roads that wind their way north. This area is lovely and a distinct contrast to the feel of the towns just over the mountain; there is a rugged pioneer vibe that is accentuated by the sensation of remoteness.

The last stretch of road we travelled before meeting the Moretown Mountain Road is called the Devil's Washbowl. It is an amazing road. It is not easily passable for vehicles, it is closely hemmed in by dense forests, and it features beautiful twists and turns that enhance its mystery. I'd love to know the history of this road and where it got its name.

The rest of our trip was enjoyable as we rode back into the Valley over the Moretown Gap and made our way to the Red Hen Bakery, after a short visit to see my sister's family's house project just getting under way.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wet walk on Pine Brook

We have the great privilege of being able to walk out our door and do a loop along the dramatic and beautiful Pine Brook.  We do this walk in all seasons and are always renewed and refreshed by the experience.

Its been raining steadily for the last couple of days so we wanted to get out and see the brook in its swollen state and were not disappointed. Its not flooding, but its high. There are islands now that are mostly contiguous in drier days.

There is a small network of paths and we know a few friends and acquaintances who do parts of this walk as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

After work ramble

 Ignore the power line and this could be 1850

 A nice set of options

Lucky we are here in Vermont


I could probably do a whole blog just about buildings seen on my rides

The view looking down to Montpelier. It was a great ride down the hill

I finished work at about 5:00 in Montpelier and knew I wanted to go for a ride. Usually I park at the park-and-ride in Middlesex and ride into town in the morning, and then back again in the afternoon, but ran short of time this morning. 

Not being quite sure where I wanted to go, I headed up Rt. 12 and then was drawn across the Wrightsville dam onto Horn of the Moon road. From there I just travelled up and followed my nose. It was a spectacular afternoon and it felt good to be moving and climbing. Eventually I was rewarded with gorgeous views at the top of one of the roads I took. 

Heading back towards town I was taken with the view of Montpelier from high above. It looked like a little european village all tucked into the valley. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Milton to Falmouth

The first actual sign I noticed confirming that I indeed was on the Claire Saltonstall/Route l Bikeway. 

A lovely farm with spring color abounding. The owner gave me a wave

Entering the gauntlet that is Bourne Bridge deathwalk sidewalk

View northwards towards the bay

Yes, thank you, I think I will

Intersection of auto, rail, sea, and cycle

The Sagamore train bridge lowered for a crossing

The evening calm on the back roads. I relaxed here and enjoyed this portion of the trip a lot

On the Shining Sea Bikepath headed towards Falmouth

Pausing in the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole

The trip from Boston to the Cape is familiar as Nancy and I often travel there to visit her parents in Falmouth.  So, deciding to do the trip by bike, I was curious to fill in the picture a bit by travelling through the various towns of the South Shore, an area I've mostly just cruised through on the highway.

After a little research and soliciting suggestions for routes from the New England Randonneurs email list I decided to follow the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway, or Bike Route 1, which travels from the Charles River to Provincetown. There are maps and downloadable GPS routes available. I wrote out a cue sheet with approximate mile markers.

My trip began in familiar terrain in the town of Milton, heading through the Blue Hills and down towards Randolph. Riding along Rt. 28 was not particularly pleasant, but things improved as I moved on towards Avon. Not really knowing what to expect, the journey became a mix of suburban neighborhoods, travelled roads, and the occasional side street.

A litte research reveals the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway to have been created in the 1970's and named in honor of state senator William Saltonstall's daughter, who was killed in cycling accident. Even before his daughter's death he had been an advocate for bicycling safety. And he was a Republican.

I noticed the first bikeway sign as I turned onto East High Street in Avon. Not having realized it was a marked path, I was pleased to see I'd be following an actual route.  It turns out that this route was well signed when it was created, but has not been maintained in the intervening years, and my experience bore this out. I was glad to have my cue sheet and the map to clarify the route since signs appeared somewhat at random. One would not be able to navigate this trip via the signs alone.

With a few exceptions, I found the ride pleasant enough, but not particularly interesting or memorable. I guess I'm spoiled by long solitary Vermont rides and was maybe romanticizing the country lanes I might encounter along the way. Romanticism had to give way to reality; like many of the roads along the way, Long Pond Road out of Plymouth would be a nice drive in a car, but with lots of blind corners and narrow shoulders it was a bit stressful on my bike.

Arriving the the Bourne bridge was a bit puzzling. The (outdated) map indicated that one simply rode through the roundabout and then took to the sidewalk to cross the bridge. In the years since the map was created, the old roundabout has been replaced by a massive clover-leaf  entrance/exit and it took a number of dead-ends for me to finally figure out the secret path was a little walkway next to the Friendlys to the left of the on ramp. It looked a little neglected and lightly used.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised: I'm comfortable in traffic and not easily spooked around cars, but crossing the bridge was not pleasant. I decided to walk my bike the distance, given the raised walkway, the speed of the vehicles, and proximity of the concentrated oncoming traffic only feet away. It was a gauntlet of sorts and it would be the rare sightseer that would casually meander up there.

My journey took a turn for the better as I bushwhacked across the train tracks and got myself onto the canal service road/bikepath. Suddenly I was free of cars and could enjoy the sea birds and riding in tandem with vessels moving against the tidal flow next to me. A heron took flight and joined me as well for what seemed like minutes.

I can never see a train without my heart racing a bit and so was happy to see the Mass Coastal chugging down the tracks on my left. This in turn led to the canal train bridge being lowered, so I got to watch the whole process close up.

From there I rode the familiar and quiet back roads to the head of the Shining Sea Bikepath and felt the best I'd felt all day, now that I could relax a bit and just move. Without having to work out directions or negotiate space with cars I was unencumbered, appreciating the power of the generator hub-powered lighting as evening came on. I find moods change periodically on longer rides and my experience certainly was levied by the quiet roads once I hit the cape.

Approaching Falmouth I calculated that were I to pedal straight to the Turner home, I'd be finishing off just shy of 90 miles for the day, so, since I felt good and didn't want to settle for a ride of "almost" 90 miles, I continued into Woods Hole, picked up a bottle of beer, and then biked back to Falmouth.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What exactly is in that bag?

Riding home today up a really steep back road I got to wondering about exactly what I had in my handlebar bag. Much of the time, my bike IS my car, and like a car, it tends to accumulate a certain amount of random extraneous stuff.

So when I got home I took everything out of the bag, laid it out, and took a photo.

Here's what I found:

The contents, roughly clockwise from the yellow jacket:

  • A light rain/wind cycling jacket
  • Thin long sleeve wool shirt from Rivendell
  • Wool Ibex cap
  • Random receipt
  • Bag of mixed greens for dinner
  • Plastic bag holding my empty plastic food containers from today's lunch. There's an apple core in there somewhere too
  • My handlebar bag itself, which was holding all this stuff
  • Inner tube
  • Disposable latex gloves for changing flats and other messy repairs on the road. I always seem to ignore that I have these and just get my hands dirty. Don't know why. 
  • Package of salami I picked up on the way home from work
  • A screen protector for an iPad that I bought today
  • Receipt for screen protector
  • Stainless coffee mug 
  • Old hardware store receipt
  • Comment card from a public event last September that I wrote but never turned in
  • A pamphlet promoting discounted helmets that was given to me recently
  • A small bungee cord
  • 2 zip ties
  • Plastic bag with tp and a couple of ibuprofen left over from last summer's brevets
  • My wallet
  • Small toothbrush and nearly empty toothpaste tube. They're mine, but I'm not sure how those got in there...
  • Very small "bug" LED light
  • Quart of yogurt also picked up at the store
  • A fork, from lunch
  • Saddle cover, in case of rain
  • Mini bike pump
  • Energy "blocs". I bought these last summer, never opened the package. I was out yesterday riding around and wishing I had a little something to perk me up, so last night I threw this back in my bag, but I'll probably never consume them. I'm not really into synthetic food.
  • Sunglasses
  • iPod
  • Another latex glove
  • Eyeglasses case
  • Circle of plastic that I put under coffee mug lid to keep coffee in (and a rubber band to keep the top on, all put in a plastic bag)
  • Another plastic bag
  • My tool kit (contents include patch kit, allen set, assorted wrenches, tire levers, some nuts and bolts, probably a couple other odd items)
  • Cycling gloves
  • Pen
  • 2 "collision cards" that are intended to be used in case of an accident. I'm a little superstitious about those and I'm not sure I really want to hang on to them, but probably will.
Thats 40 odd items, depending on exactly what you include. This isn't necessarily typical; more frequently I'd have more clothes and less groceries. Like a car, its good to clean up once in a while. I kept all the junk out when I packed the bag back up. Here's the bag packed back up:

So, what have you got in your bag? You might be surprised. I was.

Do tell.