Month: April 2014

Five Boroughs Bike Tour This Weekend

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The first group of 11,000 waiting for the start

This is my 7th 5 Boroughs Tour and things have improved dramatically over the years. I skipped a couple of years because of all the bottlenecks and often made my displeasure know to anyone who mentioned that ride. Two years ago they fixed things. Hearing that, three of us gave it another shot last May. They used to start all 32,000 of us at the same time, which did not work at all. My first ride, the cannon boomed to begin at 8AM and I crossed the start line at 9:50AM. Things got progressively worse annually.

Now however there is a staggered start with three manageable groups of 11,000. Keep in mind how big and wide are the streets of New York. With a couple of stops along the route, my group finished the 40 mile ride just before noon. Remember it’s not a race, but a ride, and I have to say it’s a really great way to see New York.

Saturday is check in at Basketball City on pier 36 in Manhattan. What a wild time that offers. It’s a huge bike expo with lots to do and people to meet. Saturday is also a good day to be a tourist in the city. Personally I stay away from Times Square, but if you have never been, it’s got to be on your list. Rockefeller Center is another spot for the first timer. We try to see a different part of the city on subsequent visits. East Village, The Bowery districe, Brooklyn, and so on.

If you ever want a great way to see NYC think or riding your bike with 32,000 like minded people.  This is a great weekend and is a wonderful item to add to your bucket list.

The ride is so much fun and so interesting I can’t help singing it’s praises. Crossing the bridges are highlights of the ride. Here is the Wikipedia version.

The tour starts at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and ends with a festival in Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, (the car free route continues from Fort Wadsworth to the Staten Island ferry allowing participants to make a complete 42 mile loop back to Manhattan).

The tour runs north up the Avenue of the Americas, past Macy’s, before entering Central Park. After exiting the park the tour heads north through Harlem on Seventh Avenue, crossing into the Bronx for a short 2-mile (3.2 km) section before re-entering Manhattan via FDR Drive. The FDR portion of the tour runs south through Manhattan under Gracie Mansion before crossing the East River via the Queensboro Bridge into Queens. The first major rest area of the tour is at Astoria Park, Queens.

From Astoria Park the tour crosses south through Queens, over the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn, where it follows the waterfront, past the Brooklyn Navy Yard. After crossing under the Brooklyn Bridge, the route follows up and onto the elevated Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Before 2012 it dropped onto the Shore Parkway; in that year it continued on the below-grade Gowanus Expressway and climbed over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge into Staten Island.

Once in Staten Island the tour makes a stop at Fort Wadsworth for a festival, before continuing the last three miles (5 km) to St. George where most riders take the Staten Island Ferry back to Battery Park in Manhattan. Some New Jerseyans return home over the Bayonne Bridge instead.

The route covers the boroughs of

Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island.  It crosses these five bridges.

Madison Ave Bridge connecting Manhattan to the Bronx.
Third Ave Bridge brings us over the Harlem River again back into Manhattan.
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Queensborough Bridge or 59th St Bridge connects Manhattan to Queens.

 

Looping back under the Pulaski bridge that took us from Long Island city in Queens to Green point in Brooklyn over Newtown Creek
Looping back under the Pulaski bridge that took us from Long Island city in Queens to Green point in Brooklyn over Newtown Creek
We end the ride and a great day, crossing the massive Verrazano  Bridge starting in Brooklyn to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island
We end the ride and a great day, crossing the massive Verrazano Bridge starting in Brooklyn to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island

 

A Bike Is An Invitation To Meet People

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It was one of those days where I wanted to ride, but didn’t feel like it.  You know what I mean?   Providence to Bristol, R.I. is a good default route when that happens.  There are lots of side trips off this path through old towns that date from the War of Independence and beyond to King Phillips War .    In the town of Warren I came across a couple perusing a map.  They were from the Netherlands and asked if I knew if rain was forecast because they were thinking about riding to the end of the path.  I offered  and they accepted a short tour of Warren that took us off the path and into town.  Naturally I got us all off track and we had to ride the busy Metacom Ave to get back to the path.  I complimented them both on their riding skills, being from Holland and all.   I did get them back to the trail where they returned to Providence and I continued the other direction to Bristol, R.I.

On the return there were two guys repairing a flat.  Courtesy dictates that passing riders ask if they have everything they need.  I thought it would just be a routine “thanks, we’re fine”.

“Do you have a pump”?

I never saw that coming because one was an experienced roadie.  The guy with the flat was wearing blue jeans with both pant legs rolled up.   The roadie forgot to load a new CO2 cartridge into his kit.  While we were working on the bike, an older man, maybe 50+ on roller blades stopped to chat.  He lives on Long Island and was doing a 34 mile skate from downtown Providence.  I don’t really know if that’s extraordinary but it seems so.

Today was a really nice international day and I have believe that we don’t meet people like I did today if I wasn’t on a bike.

Cara and Dick from Utrecht, Netherlands
Cara and Dick from Utrecht, Netherlands

 

Flat tire with no pump
Flat tire with no pump

 

Fishing on the MUP
Fishing on the MUP

 

Boston Midnight Marathon Ride

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Saddling up in Southborough MA.

Let me say right from the get go that this is a very very cool event.   Riding the Boston Marathon route at midnight with hipsters,  working stiffs, grandparents, co-eds etc. spanning the gamut of shapes, sizes and abilities is a  really unique and fun thing to do on a Sunday night.

As always, click any photo for big. Click again for bigger.

The Garmin stats are HERE

A few hundred of us gathered near South Station in Boston to load our bikes onto waiting trucks, each of which carried dozens of bikes.  Plenty of volunteers were on hand to check in the riders and give each a wristband that matched the band number attached to their bike.  Participants walked over to one of the four big trucks and handed their steed to another volunteer who loaded the bike carefully, (sort of) onto the trucks.  From there it was a short walk to the commuter rail station to catch the 11PM train to Southborough.  We had four rail cars filled with bikers of all shapes and sizes, excited for the 26+ mile ride back to town following the Boston Marathon route.   The organization for this ride was limited to the bike transportation.  Once riders got to the starting location it was completely up to them when to proceed.  You see, this was an unorganized, unofficial ride.  Nothing more than a bunch of like minded people who thought it would be really cool to ride the Boston  Marathon route in the dead of the night.  While on the train we could see bikes already making their way back to Boston and we were still 30 minutes from the starting point.

At South Station people were randomly approaching others to talk about the ride and whatever other subject was broached.  I took  a long table, and as I began taking notes a couple of young riders joined me.  Both saying the bike helmet acted as an invitation of friendship.  Talking with Casey and Brian, both on their first Midnight Marathon and both working and bike commuting, I commented that it seemed like I was the only rider over thirty participating in this event.  Before I added the period to my sentence, Jim a fifty something sailor, and Steve Miller of Livable  Streets organization joined us and completely put the age theory to rest.   The station quickly filled with helmet carrying cold weather clad bikers and one could begin to feel the vibe of the upcoming ride.   There was a mix of veterans and first timers and the group took on the look and feel of a very hip crowd. After all, what group of people is more hip and as cool as bikers? In case your stumbling on the answer it’s none.

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Brian and Casey joined me at the table to wait for the train and talk bikes and life. Both are university grads in Boston. With over 70 colleges in town and it seemed everyone I asked had a different Alma mater.
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Hanging around waiting for the train.

During this ride I came across a guy who’s right pedal fell off.  When I tried to help out I saw that the threads were stripped and the pedal was being secured by wrapping electrical tape to substitute as threading.   A mother and daughter, obviously novice riders were not getting along very well at all.   One woman spotted a cab at around the 17 mile mark, dismounted and frantically began waiving down the driver.  I didn’t look back to see if she was successful, but did feel bad that she felt the need to bail out.   She was obviously riding alone and my guess is that the mind games of “I can’t do this”  got the best of her.

On the positive side, I saw a group taking a photo at the top of Heartbreak Hill.   Little did they know that it was only the teaser part and they still had more than a mile to crest this demoralizer of marathon runners.  One of the most unique participants was a 20 something guy on a skateboard.  He got my kudos.     There were also lots of fixies and single speed bikes.   Those are the hipsters I spoke of .

Catching up to a group I noticed the attire of one of the riders.  She reminded me of riding in Copenhagen where many of the women bike to work in very nice and classy outfits, and the jackets are quite stylish and unique to Europeans.    As I approached I told her that she looked very hip and reminded me of Denmark.   The young man riding the bike looked over to me and  said “really, thanks”.

Later on I was passing a rider struggling up a modest hill.  “Is this your first time”  I asked.   He replied in the affirmative and said over and over that his wife did this event last year, loved it and talked him into doing it on his undersized department store bike.  I asked why she didn’t ride this year and he said she did.  She is way ahead and is a much better rider, “I’m not very good” was his comeback.   I told him there is really no such thing as good or bad riders and that it was his bike holding him back not his riding ability.   He was doing fine but just did not have the gearing and fit to make this a much more enjoyable night for him.   He did say that he enjoyed this so much and was thinking of upgrading his bike and ride more often with his wife.

When we finally got into the city there were only a handful of us on Beacon St.  Three of us began questioning the route because there was no one else around, and that was unusual.  Shortly a trio of riders approached and when we asked they said this is the route.  Just follow the Green Line.   Since there were tracks in the middle of the street I assumed they referred to the public transit Green Line.

It was suggested to me by a couple of riders to purchase advanced tickets to the after ride pancake breakfast on Washington St. at Downtown Crossing.  I did, reluctantly, online.  After waiting outside in line with cold feet because of the 35 degree weather for 25 minutes without moving even a foot toward the entrance, I decided to take the $11 hit and ride back to my car and home.

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We weren’t waiting for the light but just hanging around chatting. This is Boston where red lights are a mere suggestion.

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The front rider enjoyed this event so much he will be upgrading to a much better bike and begin riding more events with his wife.
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Did the whole thing on a skateboard. I did see him being pulled up a hill by a bike riding friend.
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Maybe this is what he meant when he said follow the green line.
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Downtown Boston at 3AM and it started to get busy. The Marathon was to begin in a few hours.

East Providence to Briston R.I.

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Honorary Midnight Riders

 

As always, click any photo for big.  Click again for bigger.

“Is that a video camera on your head”.

“No, it’s a light.  We are getting ready for the Midnight Marathon on Sunday.

“Really?  Me to”.

We are also training for the Five Boroughs ride in NYC in two weeks”.

“Really? Me to”.  That’s where 32,000 of us will grab life by the handlebars and ride the five boroughs and cross five bridges of New York City.

How could I not induct these two into the realm of A Midnight Rider, when it’s obvious to even the most casual observer how these two fit into the riding brother/sister- hood.  Till this morning it was a brotherhood but I have been enlightened.  Most people I tell about the rides warn of the dangers of riding in Boston… at night….on the marathon route no less.  And the mention of NYC to many bring out their fear of getting blown up or accosted by Yankee fans.  When I hear this I always ask one question.

“Have to been there or done that?”

The two new “riders”  also talked me into buying a breakfast of 2 pancakes and a slice of bacon for eleven bucks.  We’ll see how that works out.  I’ll bet it will be worth it.

I wanted to get more photos of the cafe tour riders but again we all started yacking away at the Bristol Bagel Works and I forgot all about taking out my camera.

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Bristol end of the East Bay Bike Path

 

 

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Dock in Bristol R.I.

 

First photo attempt was photo bombed by a Cafe Tour Rider.  Figures he is from Fairhaven.
First attempt was photo bombed by a Cafe Tour Rider. Figures he is from Fairhaven.

A MIDNIGHT RIDE WITH A MIDNIGHT RIDER

 

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How can I resist this ride.  The Midnight Marathon bike ride   also on Facebook,

The ride is an annual Boston tradition where over 1,000 people bike the same route as the Boston Marathon the night before Marathon Monday. The roads are not closed off but open to vehicle traffic (and bicycles are vehicles!) – The ride is not a race nor is it a paid event; it is however a pretty unique community experience, a fun way to meet people, and a decent workout.

Due to the organic and non-commercial nature of the ride, there is no official support crew during the actual bike ride; that said, due to the community nature of the ride, it is usually very easy to get help.

If you subscribe to Bicycle Magazine you may have seen the feature story this month.  If not  CLICK HERE to read the article.  (both photos on this page are credited to the Bicycle Magazine article).

The Boston Globe made a compelling argument to continue this event HERE

I’ll have to figure out the logistics of getting to Hopkinton, but if all else fails there is an advertised leisurely ride from downtown Boston.  A car at each end would really be nice though.   We’ll see.

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Thirty Miles To The Bike Shop Was A Can-O-Corn

Much of the signage has been used since the 40's when these roads were the major routes between cities.
Much of the signage has been used since the 40’s when these roads were the major routes between cities.

As always, click any photo for big.  Click again for bigger.

56 miles

CLICK HERE for the Garmin GPS

I still use the bike shop that served me very well during my working days when I commuted to the office.   I would drive 30 miles to a lot and ride the last ten. During the winter, I would often park much closer to the office which allowed me to ride year round.   Travis Cycle was just about the half way on the long ride.   Many Fridays, I would drive to the office, ride my bike the 30 odd miles home, and on Saturday I would ride back to get my car. I had a couple of questions about my road bike and I also need to do more riding in anticipation for two bike tours.  A check of my go to weather site, Weather Underground, predicted some really good riding weather.  Sixty degrees with a bit of wind was just too inviting for the first long ride of the season and I decided to make the trek to Taunton.   I was in the traveler mode mentally which translates into riding at the speed of a turtle.  I always get there but am never first.  Actually if I want to keep the theme of “always”, I’m always the last to arrive but with the smell of the roses creating an aura around me.

Many of the roads I ride at one time were the major routes between cities and towns of this part of New England.  Border crossings and mileage marker posts are usually made of concrete painted white.  The signs are usually pressed cast iron with lead frames.  The roads have very little traffic and are not to far from the high speed animal death traps.

I was also getting acquainted with my new Garmin Edge Touring GPS which allowed me to get off the usual route and try out more remote roads.  It worked out fine and added a few extra miles to the outbound ride.  The young wrench was impressed that I was doing such a long ride so early in the season.  I tried to act modest about the miles but inside I was gloating.   As to the bike question.  I was hearing a clicking noise I though could be my bottom bracket. Joe Travis, the owner, asked me which side the clicking was happening.

“The right side I said”.

Joe told me if it was my bottom bracket the clicking would be from both side.  He suggested that the clicking is either my pedal or crank arm.  A little grease should fix that lickity split.  Everything worked out fine and the 30+ miles to the shop was a can-o-corn.  However……………..    I now had another 30 miles to get home.    That’s when I realized why the wrench was so impressed with the long early season ride.    Needless to say, it was tough but that’s where the past touring experience comes into play.   I have had many days like this while touring and found that slowing down and paying really close attention to the little things around, like the birds, dogs, scenery and all that stuff, really melts the miles away.  I dropped out of that zone a couple of times but was able to get back into it easily and soon enough I only had twenty miles to go.  Crap.

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Biking Seventeen Miles to Lunch

 

Eastover Farm
Found this behind the Eastover Farm estate in Rochester Ma.

As always, click any photo for big.  Click again for bigger

33.5 Miles

CLICK HERE for the Garmin GPS route

I can remember people telling stories about driving 50 miles for a cup of coffee or 250 miles to New York City to get a newspaper.  Those were the days when it was really a big deal to own a car.  Doing something crazy like that was an initiation into manhood back in the 50’s.  To translate that into the 21st century, I rode my bike 17 miles to get a liverwurst sandwich.  With tomato, cheese and mustard no less.   Actually I doubt there are many places in the world where one can buy a liverwurst sandwich, so I brought my own.

I was thinking about this post while I was riding and the many times I had done this route. Adding the links to reference past rides would have looked something like this.

See the write ups, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here……

Needless to say, the town of Rochester located on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts is a very popular area to ride because of the bike friendly rural roads.  By the way,  SouthCoast is a local name adopted by the area to pinpoint a more specific area of Southeastern Massachusetts. There is a reason why its spelled SouthCoast, and I remember it making sense, but no one thinks about why any longer.  We just accept the moniker.

Take a look at more of this loop through Rochester into Wareham, MA.

River Road in Mattapoisett, MA
River Road in Mattapoisett, MA

 

Main St. Wareham, MA
Main St. Wareham, MA

 

Mary's Pond Road in Rochester, MA.  A very quiet bike friendly area
Mary’s Pond Road in Rochester, MA. A very quiet bike friendly area

Both Sides And Both Bridges of the Cape Cod Canal

Bourne Bridge Vies
Looking toward the Atlantic from the top of the Bourne Bridge crossing the Cape Cod Canal

As always, click any photo for big.  Click again for Bigger.

Flickr photos are HERE

Garmin GPS is HERE

23 miles round trip.

 

Only two other riders showed for this early spring ride.  Without being shown there is very little chance of finding the access points to walk or bike across either bridge crossing the Cape Cod Canal.   The last words said just before accessing either bridge is “get in the easiest gear on your bike now”.  Both have short but very steep driveways to climb to get to the head of the walkway.

Although the weather called for mid fifty temperatures, that milestone would not be reached till around 2PM.  We finished around 12:30ish and the last 7 miles were into a stiff 15 knot wind.  The wind, even though it’s our friend, was cold and made us put our heads down and dip our shoulder into the resistance.

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Almost to the top of the Bourne Bridge
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View from the apex of the Bourne Bridge
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Head of the Canal at Sandwich MA.
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The Cape Cod Canal looking toward Boston
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The mainland path looking from the Sagamore Bridge

Garmin Edge Touring GPS

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Time: 2:27:15
Moving Time: 1:44:46
Elapsed Time: 3:49:04
Avg Speed: 8.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 12.5 mph
Max Speed: 24.7 mph

 

Today’s ride was a test for the new Garmin Edge Touring GPS.  The device was purchased to be used on my two long tours this year.  The Edge touring passed the easy test with flying colors today.  I downloaded a regular route and let the Garmin take me on a turn by turn bike ride.  Tomorrow I’ll try a couple more navigation items just to begin to learn what the device can do.   I’ll do this on the Cape Cod Canal both sided crossing both bridges ride.   I will be leaving the lot in Buzzards Bay, at the Rail Road bridge at 10AM.    If your a local and you want to ride along.  Meet me there and I ‘ll show you all the secret places the canal route has hidden away.

The rain has ended but the effects of the heavy rains remain.

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