Category: Blog Friends

Are You Five O?

Cover photo:  The New York Five Boroughs Bike Tour starting area. (If you see windmills and lighthouses,click this post’s title to go there)

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

Unintentionally, when I was a bike commuter, I looked like a cop.  My bike looked like the Trek the police used.  I wore a blue windbreaker, black helmet and navy cargo pants with lots of pockets. You know the type. I also had a good sized trunk bag attached to the rear of my bike.  In the beginning I carried a back pack with my work clothes before switching to a single pannier.  When the weather got cold (I was a year round commuter), I donned a balaclava or a simple face mask. Sunglasses always, they added to the look. I was asked a few times if I was five-oh.  Usually while biking through the not so good sections of Taunton, MA.  My response was always, “do I look like a cop?”  Never denying nor acknowledging their question.

Do I look like a cop?
Do I look like a cop?

My office was 40 miles from home which allowed me to be what us cool bike riders call, a bimodal commuter.  A thirty mile drive to a safe parking spot followed by a ten mile bike ride on mostly back roads and off road paths.  The following are some of the crazy encounters I experienced during my six years of commuting by bike.

The early morning ride would take me on some busy roads but I was early enough to beat most of the traffic.  The worse part was that I had two high schools on my route.  Fortunately I got by both of them before 6:30 AM. We all know how kids drive around their high school.  There is an overabundance of testosterone that increases exponentially as they get closer to the school.  The other morning group was the blue collar drivers on their way to work.  This group always gave me plenty of room either thinking I was a cop or possibly I had lost my license for DUI. (Driving Under the Influence).  Whatever their reasoning, it was no problem sharing the road.


At the half way mark of the ride I would leave the main streets and detour though the old state asylum.  These days it was where the accused went for their 30 day psych evaluation. It also had a juvenile detention center and a couple of other state agencies.  Back in the asylum heydays the place was overrun with squirrels.  Probably because there were so many nuts there. OK enough of that.  One day as I approached the entrance I spotted a young man leaning over his bike looking at his chain.  He was smoking a cigarette and really concentrating on the task he was performing.  I carry basic repair tools on my rear trunk bag so naturally I approached this possible rider in distress.

“Everything OK?”  I asked

“I have tools if you need them”.

This twenty something guy, in a shady part of town, with a 1980’s vintage bike, looked up at me, his eyes bulged, he gasped then ate his cigarette.  As I approached I got a whiff of some good hydro pot, smiled and said, “just out for your morning tea. Good for you”, and rode off.

Another part of my route took me through an abandoned hospital that housed severely handicapped children and adults.  Any one would be hard pressed to find an unbroken window or door on any of the many buildings. It was also a magnet for homeless people and cats.  There was a 24 hour security roving patrol and over the years I got to know the guards who would often stop and chat as I traversed their turf.   On this particular day the security car pulled up with a young guard at the wheel.  He was new and asked me questions as he drove along side of me.  I told him I was a regular and mentioned a few of the guards I knew by name.  He was unimpressed and asked me what I was carrying in my pannier. I’m sure he was thinking terrorist since this was several years after the Twin Tower incident.  I stopped, dismounted and said “your welcome to look” while holding up the pannier.  He got out of the car, snatched the back bag and undid the clasp.  As he opened the bag to look inside I couldn’t help myself.  I clapped my hands and yelled BAAAM!.  I though his reaction was funny and never expected him to sound like a fourteen year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  I grabbed by bag of clothes off the ground where he dropped it, mounted by bike and rode off nonchalantly to work.   I was told that he compounded the incident by telling my friends, his coworkers what happened.  They got a kick out of it.  Indoctrinating the new kid, ya know?

Because I rode that hospital area every day, when something is different, it’s and attention grabber.  On a nice summer morning I was meandering to work when a set of traffic lights an a side street caught my eye . This was one of those delayed reaction things. After riding for almost a minute I couldn’t put that aside.  I turned back to investigate and saw there were a lot of improvements to a couple of the abandoned buildings.  One had been converted into a market, there was cornfields where there was once overgrown five foot tall weeds.  There was a park and the streets were swept clean.  One of my guard friends drove up and told me they were going to shoot a movie there.   It turned out to be “The Surrogates” with Bruce Willis and Vin Rhames.

Shooting began a few weeks later and I tried to ride my bike close to the shoot in progress.  A new guard stopped me from getting anywhere near the area.  I did notice however that everyone was wearing over sized orange colored badges hanging around their neck.   At work, I cut a piece of cardboard to the approximate shape, colored it with and orange marker and on my way home rode up to the action like I owned the place. No one questioned or stopped me.   I actually ended up getting  a part as an extra and made the final cut.  Me and my bike no less.

While in New York City for the Five Boroughs Bike Tour, I managed to stumble upon another movie set and yes, I got myself a part as an extra.  I’m in the crowd watching the shooting victim on the steps of the New York Supreme Court building. The answer to your two questions, no, I didn’t get paid and no one can get within a country mile of any big star on the set.

I'm in the crowd of protesters.
I’m in the crowd of protesters.

In conclusion.  The pace of riding a bike allows us to experience so many things we miss when we are in a car.   Meeting people and doing things is so much more fun than listening to XM radio while drinking coffee driving 70 MPH on the highway.

FBC- Fairhaven, MA 9-11 Memorial Ride Under The Full Moon

9-11 Memorial Ride
9-11 Memorial Ride

FBC Fairhaven joined the New Bedford Bike Committee and Yesteryear cycle for a 9-11 memorial ride.  An eleven mile spin from Yesteryear to the 9-11 memorial ceremony at the Acushnet, MA fire department.  The department has memorabilia from all three 9-11 sites.

Click the link below for the full story and photos.

FBC- Fairhaven, MA.

On The Roads Again

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It has been quite a while since the road bike got some use. The temperature today again hovered around 50F which is more than good enough for a road ride. After being a member of Strava for a few years, I posted my first ride today. I am also a member of Garmin connect, ride with GPS and Map My Ride. I still don’t know where I will end up, but I have some good rides posed on Garmin, GPS and Map My Ride that friends and local readers of my bike blogs use as references.

Around the midpoint of this ride a fellow biker pulled up alongside and struck up a conversation. His timing couldn’t have been worse for me because it was at the base of what we call Lance’s Hill. It’s know as that because it resembles a pretty famous picture taken from a distance with a telephoto lens of Lance climbing a hill on farmland. It’s not usually a difficult climb except that today was my first day on the road bike in months. Mark was his name and he was younger and a stronger rider. He rode this hill easily while even though I kept up, it was a struggle. This happened a couple of times and if I lagged behind, Mark would slow and wait for me so we could talk some. Our kits would be a dead give away for any who saw us. Mark was in full kit of shirt, shorts, leggings and helmet. I was in my commuting outfit, with a medium weight polar fleece and a stocking cap.

It looks like two days of riding this week with a couple of inches of snow on Wednesday to again send me into the gym on the stationary bike. But….we can all see the light waaaaaay off at the end of the tunnel. Way off.

Crossing the River Rd. Bridge in Mattapoisett, Ma.
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Rochester Ma ice cream shop, closed for the season.
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Springlike Weather Brings Everyone Out

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It has been a difficult few weeks, but a day of heavy rain and two days of mild weather cleared the paths and roadways enough for people to get out and use them again. They were out in numbers on the bike path today and I’m sure the streets got their share of roadies. Tomorrow will be another nice day which will find me on the East Bay Bike Path (EBBP), in Providence, R.I. The biking felt good and there is no doubt that the past two weeks on the stationary bike made that possible. As long as there is no snow, the miles will begin to add up very quickly.

Here are a couple of shot from today’s ride.

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Maybe They Just Don’t Care

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Residents have been advocating that the town of Fairhaven, Ma clear the MUP (Multi Use Path), or as it’s more commonly know, the bike path, for three years now. More and more residents have started to make noise about this issue. It seems that because people consider this a recreational path there is no need to keep it accessible to the public. The Phoenix Bike Trail, a rail to trail project, has been around for over 10 years. It has been plowed of snow in the past by the town Department of Public Works (DPW), a selectman, a town policeman and a private citizen on a riding lawn mower with a plow attached. The last three are a testament to the popularity and necessity of this route.

The main grip is that this MUP is the only alternate route to the busy and shoulder-less, US Route 6, part of IKE’s Grand Army Highway System, for those residents on the east side of town. For days and sometimes weeks after a snow storm, town residents are forced to walk this busy and fast highway. Most walk with the flow of traffic which means they have their backs to the oncoming traffic.

The Fairhaven DPW consistently uses the bike trail as a shortcut to the town yard. Trucks equipped with snow plows use this shortcut but are not allowed to drop the plow and clear some of the snow. The latest excuse is that the plows will tear up the pavement. Even the most casual observer knows that during the first pass of snow clearing, nothing comes in contact with the blacktop. The first pass always leaves an inch or two of snow. It takes multiple passes and also salt/sand to get any road down to the pavement. None of that is necessary in this case. All of the path faces south, and all of the path in the winter gets a full day of sun as the trees are bare of leaves. Getting the snow down to an inch or two, one pass of a plow, would be more than enough of an aid to the natural melting and clearing of the path. One day of sunshine would make the MUP passable and prevent people from taking the risk of walking on a state highway. Most of all twelve year olds would not be forced to ride their bikes on this dangerous, shoulder-less high speed road.

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So Close, Yet….So Far

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Just when things are beginning to clear on the alternated routes through town, we are getting blasted with another major snow storm. It’ wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that the elected members of the DPW will not allow that department to clear the MUP during the winter. Spring, summer and fall the town sends trucks and tractors of all sized to maintain the path. In the winter however, those same pieces of equipment are too big for the path to handle. The excuses for not plowing? Choose one below and if that doesn’t stick, Choose another

The Plow is too big.
The Path is too thin.
We tried it and the backhoe tipped over
The plow will tear up the grass on the side.
It’s for the cross country skiers in the winter
We don’t have the proper equipment
The town can’t afford it
Town Finance committee won’t fund a special piece of equipment so nya nya

The good news is that after the storm, the temperatures will gradually rise to the high 40’s over the course of a few days and all the new stuff will be gone by next weekend.

Part II


It began snowing pretty heavy and we decide to cancel our dinner date with friends. I cooked up some leftovers but not before taking two of my buddies for a walk on the MUP.

Baxter our 11 year old lab
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Lucy our 7 year old Welsh Terrier
Lets Play

The almost clear path is no longer
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Lucy often help me bring Baxer home
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Everything Is Sold Out

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I couldn’t wait to hear from any of my usual riding partners on what to do this summer. I have done the NYC Five Borough ride many times and usually sign up on the opening day of registration because it fills up quickly. This year I waited almost a week before deciding to take the plunge. Two friends from town registered this past Monday and I was really surprised they got to to that. Yesterday I got an e-mail from PTNY and along with the instructions for ride packet pickup, they have closed the registration. 32,000 of us signed up.

My summer tour, which is also sold out is destined to be quite a hoot. I have wanted to ride the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail connecting Cumberland, MD. to Pittsburgh for a few years but the logistics always made me choose another place to ride. Most times my tours are unsupported with a friend or two. This year I am going fully supported on a week long tour that encompasses three states. The ride starts in Weirton, W.Va. at the western terminus of the Panhandle Trail, crossing the border into Pennsylvania and connecting to the Montour Trail. From the Montour Trail the ride will connect to perhaps the most famous rail-trail in the world – The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), for the journey southeast to Cumberland, Md. – See more at: http://wilderness-voyageurs.com/rails-to-trails-conservancy-greenway-sojourn-reservation-2014.html#sthash.6JtfNiBx.dpuf

Summer Bike Tour Is Booked

I did a bike tour with Rails to Trail a few years ago and didn’t think much of it. Read it HERE. The route was very blah and there was really nothing to see or do between the overnight stops.

This summer’s tour is on a trail that I have been wanting to ride for years but always changed my mind and rode somewhere else. I made the plunge and signed up with Rails to Trails for the mid June Sojourn. It’s three different trails in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The price was right and I booked a couple of B&B’s to break up the 6 days of camping that were offered.