The East Bay Bike Path (EBBP) is a Rails to Trails converted Multi Use Path that connects East Providence to Bristol, Rhode Island. The MUP a 16 mile path, also passes through the towns of Riverside, Barrington and Warren, R.I. (The 16 miles is one way.) Every Saturday a group of riders gather to ride the “Cafe Tour” on the EBBP. The numbers vary week to week and this crisp, sunny, still Saturday morning, six riders set out from Fort Hill in East Providence. Everyone rides at their own pace and there is a designated pit stop to wait for the slower riders at the local bike shop in Warren, R.I. that sits right on the path.
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Riding in New England is always a visual treat. Riding New England in the Autumn offers spectacular scenery. Bursts of color that are so bright and diverse that many travel from near and far to witness nature’s change of season. On a quiet still day, those of us on bikes or walking can also be part of the sounds of New England in the fall.
A chilly 46 degree 9 AM start insured that the path would not yet have many people out and about. The first audio cue came as I was crossing the outlet pipe from the pond into the bay. The babble of water squeezing into the 2 foot pipe got my attention and that’s what influenced me to slow down and not only look around, but also listen. From the top of the trees, the distinct peekatchu, peekatchu, chorus began. Next was the Crows warning of impending danger, usually shouted by the lookout in the tree along a country road when a vehicle approached. CAW, CAW. They have not yet learned to say BIKE, BIKE, so CAW made do. They get the message. Next was the angry screech of the Blue Jay. If you have ever seen the Blue Jay in action, you know why other birds don’t mess with them. My wife calls them the bullies of the back yard bird kingdom.
Are you one who likes to take photos of things that intrigue, or inspire you, if so, it is difficult not to stop often, get out your camera and shoot away. Not that long ago a ride on the East Bay Bike Path would be a 35mm three roll photo session. Because I did stop or slowed so often, there was no one at the bike shop meeting place when I arrived. I did make up a little time so I could get to the Bristol Bagel Works in time to sit and chat over coffee. I get my coffee at Dunkin Donuts a block away and that allowed me to be the first to grab an outside chair because of the 20 minute line at the bagel works.
Many, if not most of those on bike trails and paths pay little attention to the surroundings. They are talking with fellow riders, trying to get to the end fast, and many of the younger riders have their headphones on and are mostly oblivious to anything going on around them. Every once in a while, because I am looking, I see someone who is obviously taking everything in. When I pass a slower rider I usually acknowledge them with a “howareya or a mornin” in my best New England dialect, without giving it much thought. Today as I passed a rider on a tricycle, I made it a point to look at her and say good morning. I could see that she was so enjoying her ride that I regretted not talking to her and taking her photo.Thinking about this article, I decide to pull over and get a zoom photo . As she approached I spoke to her saying that I don’t often see people enjoying a ride as much as she obviously was doing. She then said, “I like to ride slow so I can hear the sounds of the birds and nature”. Her next words really got my attention when she said that she used to ride the train on this route to school as a child. “I’m 91 you know”. I asked if I could take her picture, she smiled and said “sure”.
I rode away even more attuned to the sounds of nature listening to the chirps of the chickadees, the distant sounds of the crickets and the calls of the geese and ducks that frequent the bay. I’m sure the 91 year old lady also loves to hear, peekachu, peekachu, from the tree tops.
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