Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ashland to Concord

Sunday Ride, Which One?

So Sunday I had a choice:

  • I could either do the Naragansett Bay Wheelmen's 75 ride from Whitman, MA to Mt. Wachusett and back, or...
  • I could do a 45 mile ride from Ashland to Concord and back.
The Cycling Site

I like the NBW club rides, however the longer rides require such a large time commitment. I need to balance my biking time with family time.

I had subscribed to a local biking site, The Cycling Site, that alerts you to upcoming local, sometimes impromptu, rides. A rider from the Phat Tuesday ride group, Bill Snapper, is putting this site together in his spare time. His vision is for it to become a "Social Networking" site for cyclists. You join the site and you can opt-in to email notifications about rides that are posted.

That is how I learned about the 45 mile Sunday ride. I opted to go on this ride because it would get me back home by early afternoon. I arrived at the meeting place early, as I usually like to do, and nobody was there. Eventually Bill and a couple of other rides showed up. These was only going to be 4 of us on this ride (as opposed to the probable 100+ on the NBW ride). At 10:00 we headed off to Concord.

Riding Blind...

This was one of the few times where I was with a group of riders without:

  • A map
  • Painted Arrows, or
  • The route preprogrammed into my GPS.

I guess I tend to over prepare and it is good to step outside ones comfort zone once in a while.

Scott on the left, Bill on the right. At an unscheduled bathroom stop on the way to Concord.


Downtown Concord was interesting to ride into. It was buzzing with activity. Everywhere you looked there was people going from shop to shop and tons of bikers. I was told that normally there is a lot more bikers buzzing around the center of Concord as there is a strong bike culture up there. We even came upon a charity bike ride (I forget the name of it).

Me in Concord. What's that parked behind me?

BMW Vixen Motor Home?

By far the oddest site was the BMW branded motorhome we came upon. After some research I discovered that it was a (BMW?) Vixen TD. I think the only reason why it had a BMW badge was the fact that the manufacturer used a BMW turbo diesel engine in this model. Interesting story behind this vehicle. Odd that it has a BMW Roundel.

Interesting looking Motor Home.

Is that a BMW Roundel on it?

There's a Roundel on the back also!?!

Headed Back

Passing some farms on the way back.

The ride back was a little more leisurely than the ride to Concord. Most of the roads along the entire route were back roads and free of traffic. That's difficult to do when Framingham is one of the towns you have to pass through and you have to cross Route 9 and Route 20 on top of that.

It was a good ride and it was nice to make some more connections into the biking community. I see a lot of potential with Bill's Cycling Site.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

To Medfield and Back via Norfolk


It had been three weeks since I had been out for a ride. So it felt good to get out this morning. It was chilly so I finally gave in and broke out the long bike pants. I'm glad I did. There was just enough of a chill in the air to justify them.

Prior to heading out I decided to do a lap around the neighborhood behind me. It turns out it is roughly a mile loop that has a good climb. Perfect for warming up. Maybe I'll take advantae of this loop and do laps sometime. It is getting to dark to go for a ride after work, but maybe riding laps in the dark in a one mile loop in a residential area could be a good alternative.

Funny Sign

Every time I pass by this house in Medfield I am amused by the sign on the fence:

I don't know about you, but I see the fence...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bicycling Magazine - The Big Question!

The Big Question

Bicycling Magazine has a feature called "The Big Question". Every month they post the answers to the question of the month that readers have responded to via their web site - The Big Question).

I have been posting answers to these questions for the better part of the summer. Yesterday, the latest issue (November 2007) arrived in the mail. I quickly jumped to the Spin section where the Big Question is published has was happily surprised to see that one of my answers had made it :-)

Marty's Answer to the Big Question.
I finally made it into Bicycling Magazine :-)

Really, I've Done This...

People might think I am joking about blogging from the paceline. But I have really done it. It was easier to do after I fashioned a handlebar mount for my phone from a plastic belt clip and some double sided Velcro straps.

The 2006 High Point to Cape May, NJ Ride

The first time was in 2006. I was going on a long ride with 3 other riders on a top-to-bottom tour of NJ that went from High Point to Cape May over the course of 3 days. It was the culmination of a few years work by my friend, Mike, who have a major part in mapping out this bike route for the NJ Department of Transportation.

In 2006 I was still experimenting with blogging and I wanted to find a way to keep people updated on our progress. I had put together a blog on my web site using blogging software provided by my hosting provider. I also mashed in a number of other web apps like Flickr and Google Maps.

Anyway, there is the main blog section, which the 4 of us contributed to as we prepared for the ride. Then there is the "mo-blog" section which is actually a feed off of and Flickr where I was able to post pictures (and commentary) of our ride taken with my cell phone camera, as we were riding. It was cool.

Although there were only 4 of us, we had a good number of people interested in our experiences along this route. Mike's co-workers were very excited about this ride and were happy to be able to follow along online (as were our families). We even had a publicity photo shoot for his company, The RBA Group.

The site looks a bit clunky now and there are some bugs in it, but I still want to preserve that blog as originally created, warts and all. It still gets hits when people search for "High Point to Cape May bike route".

This Blog...

Now there really isn't a need to post to my blog from my bike as I ride my more routine rides. Typically there isn't a built in audience waiting for the next picture upload while I am riding like there was for the NJ ride. So now I just take a picture and upload it at a later time when I am updating my blog. 99% of the photos you see on this blog have been taken with my cell phone camera.

The Future ...PMC? ...Video?

If I do the PMC in 2008, I will most definitely repeat the on-bike blogging experience as I take on that ride. Now if I could figure out a way to do the same with video...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2008 Specialized Langster London 56cm

[Update: The original auction on eBay has since expired. So instead I changed the eBay ToGo component to list all Specialized Langster's for sale on eBay.]

I was browsing around Craigslist and eBay for a potential winter bike when I came upon this bike. (I can't decide whether to go Single Speed, CycloCross, or just "roadify" my 1990 Specialized Rockhopper.)

This is a beautiful bike and way too shiny to use for a winter bike. I also though the new "eBay ToGo" feature was cool too. It is also above my imagined budget for a winter bike ;-)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

To Tower Hill (RI) and Back

Early Morning Ride

It was going to be hot today (and it was). I also had a full schedule today, part of which included my daughter's first day of Town Soccer. So I figured if I was going to get a ride in, I better get it in early.

Pre ride breakfast. Not the most ideal right before a ride, but it was better than riding on an empty stomach.

Tower Hill Road, Rhode Island

Tower Hill Road is a quiet, secluded, ~2.5 mile long road in Cumberland, RI that I like to tackle once in a while. It is so secluded, that I didn't see a car in wither direction during my entire ride on it. Over the ~2.5 miles it goes from ~215" elevation to ~500" elevation. The most difficult part is the beginning. There are two really short segments right at the start that have 12% and 13% grades. After that though, it is just another climb that rolls upwards. Once you reach the peak of this road you do feel a sense of accomplishment.

The Reward

The best part of climbing 300" over 2 miles is now you get to go down. West Wrentham Road in RI is a nice road to go descend. It is wide, with wide shoulders and plenty of visibility. Of course there's that pesky traffic light at the end. However at that point the grade flattens out and you have usually shaved off most of your speed at that point anyway.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Sun Sets on the Phat Ride

It's Getting Dark

It was a smaller group tonight. I'd say roughly half the usual. We are approaching the Autumnal Equinox and the days are quickly getting shorter. i think tonight may be the last Tuesday evening ride for the season, unless we squeeze one more in.

The Sun Sets on the Phat Ride as the group bikes past the Diamond Hill Reservoir @~6:50 PM.

Hanging in There...

The lead group was more spread out this time as opposed to last weeks massive lead group. I was able to hang with the core of the group, but not with the breakaway group. We all got a little stretched when we came upon a car accident on Rt 120 and had to slow down and detour around it. Even so, we still averaged 20+ mph rolling into the halfway point.

Now it's time to make the most of the cool weather on the weekends.

My Phat Ride Stats
Date Distance Time Avg Mph MAX Mph
June 12, 2007 25.24 1:23:38 18.1 36.2
June 26, 2007 25.25 1:24:51 17.9 36.3
July 10, 2007 25.20 1:21:14 18.6 35.7
July 24, 2007 25.26 1:22:17 18.4 37.9
August 7, 2007 25.26 1:22:24 18.4 35.7
August 28, 2007 25.26 1:18:35 19.3 37.2
September 4, 2007 25.25 1:19:03 19.2 36.8

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day with My Daughter...


Biking With Catherine

Today I took my daughter Catherine over to the Milford Section of the Upper Charles River Trail. We parked at the Louisa Lake parking area on Dilla St. in Milford and biked east from there all the way to Route 495 (~1.2 miles). There we stopped and had some snacks on some stone benches. We chatted and watched other bikers past going in either direction.

On the way back we had to climb up a big hill (for a 5 year old). I thought I was going to have to push her a bit but she was determined to pedal up it. She was struggling 3/4's of the way up when I hear her chant "Pedal pedal pedal..." as she pushed herself to the top. I was a bit proud of here at that point :-)

On the way back we stopped again and hung out on a big rock. A nice change of pace from my normal rides :-)

My Old 1990 Specialized Rockhopper

I was riding my old 1990 Specialized Rockhopper with the big fat Maxxis Hookworm 26" × 2.5" tires on it. They are big, fat, heavy, and a bit silly. However, they are also fun tires to have on a bike :-). Eventually I will make this bike into more of a commuter bike that I can feel comfortable leaving at the train station. In the meantime, it makes for a great bike for the Rail Trails.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

To Blackstone River Path and back via Southwick Zoo

A Half-Century Plus! (or "Almost a Metric")

The wife and kids were out of town for the day so I was free to ride as far and as long as I wanted. I couldn't find any local club rides, and even if I did, it took me a while to get moving this morning. So I got on my computer and mapped out a route for my self combining a couple of well known routes with the Blackstone River Bikeway's Rhode Island Section. I haven't had to pre-map out a route in a while as I am getting to know the area pretty well. However today I was going to bike along the Interim Road Route of the Blackstone River Bikeway and it goes straight through the heart of Woonsocket. I get confused driving through that city.

Blackstone River Bikeway [BRB]

In the past I've biked down to the Chemawa Golf Course in North Attleboro. Looking at the map I had noticed that it wasn't to far to go east from there and pick up the BRB in Valley Falls (just north of Pawtucket). I had not been this far south on the trail before. In the past I was prevented from going further south than Martin St. because of the construction there. I heard that the construction was completed and the trail was open all the way through.

Heading north along the southernmost completed section of the Blackstone River Bikeway.

The still scenic Blackstone River (It gets less scenic as you approach Woonsocket, less water and more muck.)


In the past the bikeway ended at Manville, RI. Today when I got to Manville, there was more trail. It was semi-open and still under construction. I when quite a way before I was forced to turn around (The trail ended abruptly).

New section semi-opened and, as you can tell from the raised manhole cover, still very much underconstruction.

The unfinished path abruptly ends. Time to backtrack.

Back to Manville...

First stop in Manville for more Gatorade. This store even had a couple of sets of 16" rims and tires for sale.

Blackstone River Path on road Interim Route

Woonsocket in an interesting city. I had less trouble biking through it than I had anticipated. Everybody must have been out of town because there was hardly any traffic during the early part of the Sunday afternoon when I passed through. Lots of triple deckers followed very quickly by a lot of large (old money) homes.

Time to Head for the Hills

As I crossed over the border into Blackstone, MA I found all the traffic that was missing in Woonsocket. Wierd. Anyway, I was approaching familiar territory and I was starting to feel the miles. I pressed on.

I guess Spiderman's and Superman's families get along so well that they can share a home in the Blackstone Valley!

Last Gatorade stop in Mendon. I stopped here on the NBW Club ride I did this past May.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

To North Smithfield, RI and back (via Uxbridge)

Pushing Westward...

It has been a while since I have biked in the lands west of Rt. 495. There are a lot of very scenic, low traffic roads out there. In the past I have biked across the northern portion of Rhode Island west of Woonsocket. Today I decided to just dip into RI, buy some Gatorade, and jump back into Massachusetts.

It was a good ride overall except for some of the windy parts. I hate riding into headwinds. I passed a disproportionate number of "road houses" and billiard halls along Rt. 146a in Uxbridge. I rode along one of my favorite back roads from Uxbridge into Mendon. It parallels Rt 16. It is nice and quiet, shady, and scenic. There are also a couple of very interesting homes along this route.

Trying a new way back across Rt. 495

I decided to try an alternat crossing in order to get back east of 495. I crossed a little further north than usual on farm street in northern Bellingham. That road was nice but getting to it sucked. More hills and traffic than the usual way I go. So, I guess in the future I will stick to taking Rt. 140 into Bellingham center and making my way home from there.