Month: March 2014

It’s So Quiet Out Here

The sultry start of the ride
The sultry start of the ride

As always, click any photo for big.

26 miles round trip.

 

The ride along the East Bay Bike Path in Providence R.I. began with the excitement of the first nice riding day in a long time.   I began with the intention of getting a good workout on this ride.  That didn’t last long at all because when I reached the bottom of the hill that brings the bike path to the bay, the sights grabbed me.  There were only a couple of us on the path this early in the morning. One woman was photographing swans as a lone jogger passed.  I stopped to take a couple of shots of the marshland and also the working waterfront of the East Bay where very big freighters were being offloaded.  The far side freighter was carrying coal while near me was an oil ship riding very high, almost empty.

After the brief stop for the photo ops it was time to hammer.  I was quickly gaining ground on a guy riding a cruiser bike.  I could see he was working hard, but his upright position, fat tires and his spare tire were no match for my carbon fiber bike.  Any other day I would have given an “on yer left” and zipped by with nary a glance.  Today however I decided to pull along side and see if I could strike up a conversation.  He was receptive and we rode together for a couple of miles just talking about biking.   He eventually left the path for his nearby home and I again got into the go fast mode.   I had to slow a couple of times for couples walking as well as dog walkers.  During one of these slowdowns I began to hear the sounds of nature.   A variety of birds seemed to be calling to me.  The caw of a crow,  the Microsoft windows call of the red winged black bird, chickadees, robins and even the call of a lonely goose meandering in a pond.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it was calling for a lost mate.

I continued riding at the slower comfort pace honing in on the surroundings and things seemed to be talking to me.  As I got near trees, birds began singing as if to greet me.  “Welcome traveler”  was what I was imagining them saying.  The sounds changed as I got into the center of Warren R.I.   I heard the familiar sound of a mail truck on the road adjacent to the bike path.  I focused on the sound of the red diesel pickup truck in front of the fire stations just as the low hum of tires on tar entered the scene.   As I rode on those mechanical noises gave way to the quiet and the birds again began to sing to me.  I didn’t want to try to have to remember all these feelings and write them down in a few hours so I pulled over and put everything in the journal I always carry.

As I was writing I heard “hello John” and turned to see the Cafe Tour riders pass by.  This group meets every Saturday at the head of the East Bay Path in Providence and ride to the Bristol Bagel Shop for breakfast.  This day, one had a slight problem with his bike and they stopped at a shop on the path long enough for me to catch up and ride the remaining few miles to breakfast.   The melancholy I had was gone and I was now in the people mode yacking away with different riders of that group till it was time to eat.  I have to say that once everyone got their food the conversations ceased and the riders savored and appreciated the great food that was one of the reasons for the bike ride.  After all, It would be a shame to ride 16 miles to get a great cup of coffee and a delicious fresh bagel and not remember them because we were too busy talking.

I left them at the the bagel shop and made the return ride to Providence at the pace I had originally intended to do the whole ride.  I do have to say however that I don’t remember much about that part but I do remember every minute of the time I was paying attention to nature and talking with the Cafe riders.   And that was a much better experience.

High riding oil freighter on the East Bay
High riding oil freighter on the East Bay

 

The lonely goose
The lonely goose

 

The red diesel truck left running breaking the sounds of nature
The red diesel truck left running breaking the sounds of nature

 

The Cafe Tour riders at the bike shop.
The Cafe Tour riders at the bike shop.

 

Tandem couple on the Cafe Tour
Tandem couple on the Cafe Tour

 

The Bristol Bagel Co.
The Bristol Bagel Co.

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This little guy was not happy that I was near his space
This little guy was not happy that I was near his space

A few more East Bay Bike Path photos

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Ever Ready Fire Engine #2 in Bristol, R.I.
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Judge Roy Bean Saloon
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Clam digging
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Cemetery with 19th century graves
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Bike Path overlook with bird feeder above

 

Willy Wier and The South Coast Bike Summit

The South Coast Bike Summit was a success last night.  A few politicians and bike advocates spoke eloquently about the plans in place concerning bike infrastructure. MassBike and East Coast Greenways were represented and gave enlightening presentations on how the bike culture is progressing in Southeastern Massachusetts.  It was the usual meeting of the mind kind of summit until the last speaker took the podium.  He is a bike traveler and was mingling with the attendees during the reception hour.  He is an author, a radio hose and Adventure Cycling Association Columnist.  Before the official summit began I purchased his book because it was about bike touring.  A few people left thinking this thing was just dragging on and boy did they miss desert.

Willy Wier was introduced just as most of us were pining for coffee or adrenalin or chocolate to keep awake.  Within a minute of Willy’s presentation, everyone was ready to jump  up and praise the glory of bike riding.  Willy, a professional thespian (actor for those tempted to google thespian), tuned from the quiet guy in the green shirt to the guy on a corner handing out twenty dollar bills.   When he finished there was a dash to the back of the building to buy his book. There was not enough to fulfill the demand but anyone can order one online.   He signed my book with with this quote.

Dream- pedal -travel- repeat

After the summit we all gathered at Cork’s Wine and Tapas bar.  A handful of us stayed much too late and to add insult to this, I had a cold, windy 5 mile bike ride home.  I awoke around 7AM so evidently I made it.  But….during that cocktail 4 hours, I had ample time to speak with Willy about bike travel.  Before this I was feeling apprehensive about my 1200 mile tour.  Now I’m looking forward to doing this ride from Jacksonville, Fla. to Austin, Tx and I’m determined to do it in October instead of next March. The mail was delivered as I was leaving the house this morning and low and behold my Adventure Cycling Southern Tier Maps arrived. Do you believe in divine intervention? Ha! Me neither.

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Willy Wier on the right
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Stragglers at Cork’s Wine and Tapas Bar
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Chairman of the Massachusetts Transportation Committee, Representative Bill Strauss a very good friend of bikes.

Bike Summit In New Bedford

A reminder that the South Coast bike summit will be held at Fort Rodman on Thursday, March 27 at 6PM. 

There will be a bike ride to the event leaving Corks Wine and Tapas Bar at 4:15.  This route will take the bikers along West Beach in New Bedford into the West gate of Fort Rodman.  This side is the area most protected by the artillery bunkers one of which housed two 12 inch cannons and one a disappearing 8 inch gun.  We will also pass Fort Taber that was designed by a young engineer Robert E Lee. During the Civil War years Captain Henry Martyn Robert was placed in charge of the construction of the fort. It was around this time, after attending a chaotic church meeting, that he began writing the Robert`s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure. First published in 1876, it remains the standard guide to parliamentary procedure to this day. 

The riders will return via the East Beach route which offers spectacular views of Buzzard’s Bay, the Butler Flats Lighthouse and the majestic Fairhaven  wind turbines.

I will also lead a second ride from Cork’s at 5:30 if there is an interest.   I do require a text message well in advance and I will ride back from Fort Rodman to lead that second group.   The second ride will be on the more direct West Beach route. 

text or call 508-965-1216

Remember that it will be after sunset when we depart the summit.  Light up your bike and bring a helmet if you wish, but the route is very well lit and bike friendly, so you decide. 

Don’t forget your bike lock.

 

139th posing at Battery Cross – 1911 – Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Briars HartImage

 

Built in 1899 this battery on the east side of Fort Taber was named in honor of Col. William Walcott who served during the Civil War. This battery was armed with a “disappearing” 8-inch gun.

ImageButler’s Flats Lighthouse in the New Bedford harbor.

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One of the two majestic Fairhaven wind turbines

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Training Inside Seems Too Easy

I have tours and organized rides this year and am itching to begin riding, which translates loosely into training.  I have been very consistent getting some miles on the stationary bike at the gym but it doesn’t seem like I’m working that hard.  It may be that when I’m on the bike and have music blaring, my head is down, and I float in and out of awareness that I’m riding.  During my years of training as college and semi-pro athlete, I learned how to get into a zone to help pass the time during mundane routines like long distance running and biking. But also during those years I was very strict about my training start times.  For example, in college I would always begin training the first Monday following the 4th of July.   I would increase the intensity gradually and by the time pre season camp opened, usually the last week of August, I was in peak pre season fitness.  Three weeks of very high intensity training getting into game fitness was nothing more than routine.  The walk on candidates who came unprepared were very seldom still around after the third day of camp.  Most couldn’t walk because of the massive lactic acid buildup in their legs.  

On multi day bike touring, the third day is usually the point where riders either keep going or begin to look for ways to opt out and get back home. Getting prepared for a long tour is very much like the preparation of athletic teams.   Besides the many rides of varying intensity during the weeks, there are also some bike events or group rides.  Those are like the friendlies or scrimmages if you will.  It’s a chance to test your fitness and adjust the training to be in the best possible shape for the season, or in my case, the big ride.

The scrimmages for me are the Five Boroughs Bike in NYC in May with 32,000 like minded riders. In June, I will join 300 friends for a short 200 mile supported tour in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In late September the hilly Woonasquatucket Watershed Ride will be the final tune up.  All of this is in preparation for a 1200 mile tour from St. Augustine, Florida to Austin Texas beginning late October using the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier Route 

October is one of two options for a start time.  The other is late March of 2015 and that could be a problem.  Heavy duty training on the road and riding “scrimmage” events doesn’t happen in New England in the winter. Most of the training would be indoor at the gym.  A March start to the tour could put me in the “walk on” category and the third day of that tour could be interesting because training inside just seems too easy.

St Padddy’s Weekend

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Posting no parking signs along the New Bedford, MA peninsular.

The last big training run for the Boston Marathon is the New Bedford Half Marathon. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick took over the logistics of this race a few years ago. I offered my services to post the no parking signs around the peninsular around the south end of the city. I worked alone and got all the signs up in about four hours. It was pretty cool walking my old stomping grounds. After the race on Sunday I again walked the peninsular taking down all those signs. It took a while but it was fun.

After the race we workers were all invited to gather for food and refreshments at Slante Irish Pub formally the Catwalk. Slante is Gaelic for cheers by the way. It was there that I was introduced to the Mayor of Derry, Ireland, Martin Reilly. We spent some time talking about his visit to the states but mostly we talked about the English Premier League. He is a Liverpool supporter and I an Aresenal supporter. The conversation stayed friendly but it got lively especially when I broached the subject of American politics.

The Mayor of Derry, Ireland and amidnightrider
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Volunteering can be very rewarding and fun but it also can be very cool because of the people you get to meet. Today was one of those very cool days.

No Helmet No Wave.

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Today was more than nice enough for the first long-ish ride of the season. Sixteen miles to lunch and 16 miles back. One thing I did realize is that coffee really does a job on my riding. I’m not supposed to drink coffee at all but what the doctor really meant was to cut down I’m sure. After a medium Dunkin Donuts coffee with my egg salad sandwich from Cumberland Farms it took a good 10-15 minutes of struggling to keep up a decent pace. A small size coffee is not a problem but today I had no choice but to order a medium because I had a coupon for a free-bee.

The back roads to Wareham, Ma had very little vehicle traffic. I did cross paths with a some bikers and got the standard snub from the roadies. When I ride with friends, some wear helmets and some don’t. When we pass roadies, (those all decked out in racing gear), us non helmets very seldom get any acknowledgement while those with a helmet get anything from a head not to a baby finger wave. Today I got two sneers from the roadies who didn’t like my stocking cap. I even smiled, waved and said “Hey’ while nodding. Nada from them. We get that a lot so we are used to it. No problem, but I do get a kick out of it.

The road is all mine
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No helmet, no wave
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Stone sign has been in place since who knows when. There is also a water pump and trough there.
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Time To Show Of My Speedo

55F is predicted for tomorrow. It’s time to up the mileage and all that other stuff with a longish ride on my favorite weekday route to Wareham, Ma. It’s around 40 miles round trip with a stop at Cumberland Farms convenience store for an egg salad sandwich. Or as they say in New Befit. Sangwitch. If you don’t know New Bedford is the city where the March 28th Bikeway Summit is held on March 27th.

We were given a 55 degree day on Saturday and people came out of the woodwork. Tomorrow is a Tuesday so there probably won’t be anyone under 60 riding bikes till after 3PM when the schools let out. I’m pretty much free so I’ll be riding at lunchtime.

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Oh, and me in a speedo? Maybe another time.

The People We Meet While Riding

When the temperature reaches the mid 40s after a long cold winter, people get out and do stuff. There were walkers, runners, bicyclist and motorcyclist out today. I decided on the old standby route into Rochester and Mattapoisett, which are located on the south coast of Massachusetts. It was very difficult to get going today and I didn’t get into a rhythm until slogging through 7 or 8 miles. After that it was head down and go, go, go. The slow start kept my average speed way down, but speed was not the point of this ride.

I had just made the turn onto a road that begins the loop back to the start of the ride when I noticed a rider on the opposite side pull over. If I was in the city I would have pegged him as one of the poor souls that roam the area around the bus terminal. I almost kept going when I noticed that he was possibly looking for help.
“You OK”, I asked.

“Just pulling over for a rest” he responded.

I wasn’t sure so I rode back the few feet to look him over and make sure everything was copacetic. It only took a few seconds to realize he only wanted to talk. His name is George Brault and he is 83 years old and has been riding bikes, like forever. He wore a child’s purple helmet without straps. Jeans that had both cuffs contained with an elastic band, and a blue and white windbreaker.

The initial conversation was us bantering about our riding. Soon enough I realized George had some great story telling to do. His first comment was about riding to Scusset Beach on the Cape Cod Canal. “That’s 55 miles” he bragged. Then he told about some of the bike trails he has done recently and a tour in Vermont he did with his 55 year old son. He then looked at me and said. “Don’t you wear a helmet?”

“Sometimes” was my reply.

He then asked about my riding and listened intently until I said that I like to tour. That got him to tell me a story about his Army days in 1950 Italy. He had 30 days of leave owed to him and decided to see the country. He bought a bike pretty cheap, packed up some of his Army gear and set out on the Mediterranean Coast. He wanted to ride south to Rome but along the way he met a young girl who was riding home to Florence. She invited him to ride with her and he agreed. He spend much of his leave riding his bike across central Italy and when his time ran out, he gave it to a stranger and bought a train tickey back to his base. It was fascinating listening to George’s stories and when we parted I felt so luck to have met him. As I was riding off I thought of turning back to get a photo of George but decided to let it go this time. It would be nice to run into him again when we are both on our bikes.