I still had a hankering to go to Harvard and while the Populaire would get me there, I had to get myself to the Populaire. I had planned on riding it until late on Friday, after I printed out the sign-away-all-of-your-rights sheet. I had my water in bottles on the bike, clothes laid out, bars in my helmet with gloves, tires up to pressure. But I just wasn't sure. The main difficulty is the drive to the start. This adds a half hour to the trip on each end, which is significant when you have kids around and a sympathetic partner who you would like to remain sympathetic. The smaller, second issue was money. I had $15 in cash and my wife had none and the fee was $15. I would have to stop at an ATM to get money for emergency snacks on the road and spend even more time getting to the ride. More fundamental was the ride. I generally have fun on these kinds of rides but sometimes, if the pace is too quick or to slow, I find that I burn through energy a wee bit faster than I would if I were riding alone. I find my pace to be perfect, whatever it happens to be. And life has been hectic recently. Even commuting time, by bike and even by car, is a calm time that I have learned to value. And here was a chance to be on my own for 5 or more hours. So I decided to go off on my own and skip the Populaire. The only person who knew that I was going couldn't ride with me anyway so it wasn't as if I would be missed. My friend did say that I'd meet fun people on the ride but what I really needed was relatively quiet time. A smaller group, two or three or so, would have been fine but I couldn't manage to arrange that at the late hour I made my decision. Another small issue was temperature. I was riding my IF, which doesn't have any way of carrying clothes once I no longer needed them. Leaving a bit later meant that I could dress somewhat light for the conditions than I started in and somewhat warm for the latter part of the ride. That ended up working out well for me.
So off on my own it would be. I was a slacker in the morning, getting the boys fed and dressed and playing some. I didn't get out of the house until after 9:30. I took the standard route out to Concord, then followed well known (to me) roads out to Nagog Hill Road in Acton. Following Pamela's route, I took Nagog to Harwood to Harvard Road to Littleton Road to Harvard.
The leaves are just popping out on the apple trees in the orchard on Nagog Hill Road:
I saw a group of riders leaving Harvard as I arrived and assumed they were Populiare riders. I briefly chatted with one Populaire rider who had this nice Seven with a Dill Pickle seat bag:
I had not, up to this time, looked at a map. I asked the Populaire rider about her route, which reminded me of Pamela's route, which I had not looked at since the previous Friday evening. So far I rode on roads that I was already familiar with, if in distant memory, but it seemed to make sense with the week old memories of Pamela's map. I found my way to Burroughs Road, which I use at least several times a year, and then found my way to West Acton. I checked the map on my phone and decided to use School St to West Concord, which was very quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Punting, I took 62 to Thoreau St in Concord and then took quiet and familiar roads back to Trapelo Road at the Cambridge Reservoir.
The ride was 65 miles which I did at 13.8 mph, which felt just fast enough for this early in the season and a ride this long. The roads I borrowed from Pamela were great and it turned out just a refresher for me - the entire ride was on roads that I had been on the past at least a few times. It made for a nice ride and the first time I have been outside of 495 on a bike in a couple of years (excluding the times when I drive my bike outside of 128, which are legion). I am tired today but I could easily do a 20 or so mile ride. (Edit: I got up early on Monday to ride 20 miles, starting at 5AM.)
If you agree with the concept that a person who gets energy from people is an extrovert then I am one. But yesterday was a great day and I hardly chatted with anyone along the way. For a sometimes outgoing guy, I sure appreciated being on my own. I think I would have enjoyed the Populaire but I certainly enjoyed the solo ride.
I rode the IF: