Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Early morning Lincoln Ride

I got out for an early morning ride to Lincoln.  It was a beautiful morning, if a little stormy looking.  There was no rain on the radar so I felt safe getting out.  Contrary to my Sunday morning ride, I saw a fair number of riders early - in fact, I was passed by three people in the first 45 minutes. I saw several others on the road during the course of the ride.

Lincoln, MA 6:15AM:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nagog Hill Road Ride, Early AM

I had the chance to do a decently long ride out past Concord this morning.  The loop took me through Great Brook Farm Park, South Chelmsford, Nashoba Valley ski area, Nagog Hill Road, Strawberry Hill Road, and the bike path.  I was out of the house before 5:30 AM and was back home by 9AM, including a quick stop for an expresso at Ride Studio Cafe on the way home.  It was a 49 mile, 15.2 mph ride, my fastest long ride of the year.  All on 3 bars (2 Kind, 1 Trader Joe's fruit bar), 2 24 ounce water bottles, no breakfast.

On Maple Street in Carlisle, the humidity of the early morning is still evident:

Great Brook Farm Park at 6:30.  The road in the shade was still damp but the sun was already very bright and warm:

One of the orchards at the summit of Nagog Hill Road at 7:15AM:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bicycle accident in Cambridge, Dec. 2011

I originally posted this to my Google Plus page (limited access) the evening after I witnessed the accident:

Things to make you sick: bike commuter rides in bike lane to right of cars, all stopped for light.  I thought she was moving too quickly for the conditions. A van takes a left between two of the cars in front of me to get onto a side street. I heard the cyclist scream, saw her veer to the right to avoid the van and crash into a building and mailbox. Many witnesses and police in unmarked car were at the scene before I could park and get out of my car. Bicyclist was sitting down, holding her leg. It happened fast enough so that even though I saw the van coming in and the cyclist coming fast on my right, by the time I opened my window to scream a warning it was over. I hope she is OK.

I don't know if police cited the driver or the bicycle rider or no one.  I thought the driver of the van was proceeding at a very low speed and with an abundance of caution as his van passed through the line of stopped cars.  I also thought the bicycle rider was riding quite quickly for the conditions - a bike lane between stopped cars and the curb.  I know I would have not tried to make up time in those conditions.  My perspective might have been limited in that I only saw the rider briefly as she accelerated into the intersection and the van moving through the line of traffic I was stopped in.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Early morning ride on the hottest day of the year

I was out of the house by 5:15AM and did not see another rider for the next hour.  The ride was 23 miles, taking me to Concord by way of 2A, to Bedford on 62, and returning home on the bike path. The bike path was idyllic.  128 was already packed.

The temperature and humidity wasn't all that bad so early in the morning.  I took it easy - my computer reported a 15mph average speed - and I wasn't really sweating once I stopped riding.  It was humid, or something was in the air.  Look at the picture of the bike path bridge over 128.  Notice the shadow of the top of the left side of the fence on the right side of the fence.  You can also see this in the air above the path.  It seems to be either humidity or particulates in the air, or both.  I have seen this effect before.  I'd like to ride on a very dry morning to see if it visible then.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hill ride with dirt sections in the Berkshires

I did this ride in October 1997. I was riding a 1984 stock Trek 520 with 1 1/8" tires:

GMap link

It is possible to do these hills on any sort of equipment, as long as the roads aren't a mess from recent rain. The dirt section runs from about 8.5 miles to nearly 10 miles. It is a steep pitch relative to the paved roads in the area.

Bike: Trek 520 1984

The Concord Ride

I don't do this often but it was my first ride after I moved here and still a favorite. It's short so I usually do it from home, although not often the whole loop:

Ride around Concord and Carlisle

West Street was in extremely poor shape so I occasionally use Heald Road to South St. The roads are rolling and generally quiet and the scenery is pleasant.

Bike (the first time I road this): Lemond Alpe D'Huez 1997

Riding north and west of Concord with Bobby & Hillary

This was my first long ride last season (2008) and we did it somewhat quickly. I usually start this ride from Arlington, making it nearly 60 miles and is a very nice route at that distance. The ride is best cutting through Great Brook Farm Park, south of Littleton looking at the hills of Harvard to the west, and the always enjoyable ess curves of Strawberry Hill Road. There are places to pick up food (at least a bar and fluids) in South Chelmsford, South Acton (Central St and MA 111), and in Concord (I'm a fan of the Main Street Grill).

Here is the route.

Bike: IF Club Racer 2007

Conway, Shelburne Falls, Ashfield

This hilly loop is worth your time and effort. The route first descends to the Deerfield River at Bardwell Ferry then ascends through bucolic farm country to Route 2. Food is available in Buckland (across the river from Shelburne Falls) at McCusker's Market. The ascent to Ashfield is moderate, although there are steeper options. I have done this loop several times. This version is from 2004 when I rode with my then boss. He was having a hard time of it - he refused to drink enough (it was a cold day) and cramped up. The descent from Ashfield back to the car can be fast. In the 2004 version, my then boss drafted me and we made great time after we stopped at friends' house and tanked up on water. Traffic usually is light on this section of Route 116 earlier in the day.

The Bardwell Ferry Bridge is worth riding these hills to see in person.

Bike: Lemond Alpe D'Huez 1997

One less minivan

That's what the license plate says.  I think this bike belongs to Carefree with kids.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day, weekend rides

I had the chance to enjoy a few rides over the weekend, including Friday:

  • A commute to work on Friday
  • A longish route to Londonderry, NH with a quick cup of expresso at RSC
  • An early morning (5AM), cool (52 degrees) ride to Concord and Bedford, getting home just as my older boy was getting out of bed - everyone else was still sleeping

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A new cyclist

While on the river, we watched bicyclists ride past us.  This gave our older child the idea that bicycling would be a fun idea.  He has used this balance bike, a Smart Gear Balance Bike, before but he was probably most comfortable riding it today.  He showed us how he could turn by looping through traffic cones on a side street.  He was loving it and so was I.

Bikes for the family

 We saw this pair of bicycles and three helmets along the river today.  We later saw the family ride off.  It looks like a great urban transportation system.  That is a Public 3 Speed Mixte and a Trek single speed.  I think the front child seat is too dangerous for my tastes but I have a friend who carries one of his children in a similar seat safely.  I think either of my boys would be too heavy for this set up and I am happy with the rear seat for them.  And they seem happy in the rear seat as well.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

ANT Bikes in the wild

Another blogger had noted that she sees several ANT bikes around Cambridge and Somerville.  I have seen a few and happened to ride with an ANT owner a few times while commuting last year.  This person commuted on a single speed ANT and had another ANT, a road bike, as well - and he doesn't live more than a mile from me.  Despite that, I would hardly call them common, at least on the paths that I travel.  While riding with the family today, we happened to stop at a playground along the bike path.  I saw a cool bike passing and mentioned it to my wife, who said that was the bike she wanted.  What was it?  An ANT:

The bike is beautiful, with an amazing finish (ANT's powder coat finish seems much nicer than the powder coat on my Surly - no surprise there) with very nice welds.  The wheels are 650B:

With a dyno hub and a front drum brake:

The rear hub was a 3 speed Shimano Nexus with a roller brake (which my wife is interested in).  The owner was gracious and was also stuck at the playground so I had a chance to look at the bike closely - in between running after my younger boy on his various excursions.

It seems the owner has the same conundrum that we have - what kind of gearing works best for someone who lives at the top of the hill in one of the northwest 'burbs.  I'd like the think that the Nexus 8 speed hub would work for us.  Using Sheldon Brown's Gear Calculator, I figured out that the 8 speed hub had a lower gearing than my 30/39/50, 12/32 gearing on my Surly.  The 30/32 combination gets me up the hill to our house fairly easily with either a boy in the bike seat or a boy in the Burley or both!  So, perhaps, the 8 speed is the way to go.

Riding with children

While we love to get out with our boys, it always entails a decent amount of work to get out of the house.  This includes packing enough food, spare clothing, and diaper changing gear.  Traveling light is nearly impossible - for a long weekend or a week at the Cape we pack the back of our wagon to the ceiling and carry more in a roof box and a bike or two on the roof racks as well.  It seems to be the same on bicycle.  We managed to fill two Ortlieb front panniers with food and a couple of locks.  We also filled the back of the Burley with hats, spare clothes, and spare toys.  And we had all of this just for a trip to the rail car at the end of the bike path and a picnic near there.  I knew we looked over packed and this was confirmed by three heavily laden bicycle tourists we saw in Lexington, who said we looked like we were going as far as they were.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Astra Mixte - curved seat stays

My wife and I are interested in a mixte for commuting and perhaps another for hauling the boys.  We are scanning Craigslist and ebay for an inexpensive mixte that we won't worry about riding in the rain and leaving outside for 8 or 9 hours.  The boy hauler might be something newer or new.  I generally like the Linus Mixte but haven't had a chance to test ride one yet.  I also asked an LBS for a quote on a Soma Buena Vista built up with Shimano 105 components but never heard back from them.  A Soma may or may not be in the cards for us.

When you are looking for something, similar things seem to appear everywhere and that's been true of mixte frames.  This one, cleaned up, illustrates what we are looking for, although flat bars might be preferred.  The interesting thing about this old French Astra are the curved twin seat stays top tubes/seat stays.  I can't say I love the lines of the frame but it does seem to make it easier to get on.  I wonder if there is any loss in strength from having the stays attached to the seat tube lower than a standard mixte (if there is such a thing).  Does anyone know if this is the case?

Friday, June 1, 2012

One more ride

I had a fast ride (fast for me), on Memorial Day.  Arlington Center to Concord mostly on Mass Ave and 2A but with the Lincoln/Mill streets cut off, Lowell St to Carlisle, 225 to Bedford to the bike path to Mass Ave.  32 miles in under 2 hours.  I will cut 20 minutes off this time if I get in shape this summer, Whether I can get in shape or not is debatable.

First commute of the year

Sad but true - today was the first time I rode my bike to work this year.  It was a mostly uneventful ride which is always desirable.  The only disconcerting thing were the number of  cyclists that raced through red lights.  Waiting for a light on Beacon, a  cyclist, who I just passed, thanked me for announcing my intention.  I thanked the  cyclist for stopping at the red light.  As I said that, I witnessed another cyclist racing through the red light.  Nice work. I'd say that half of the cyclists that I saw at lights today ignored the red lights.

Rivendell Rambouillet commuter

This is a friend's Rivendell Rambouillet commuter.  I'd love a bike like this for his long commutes.

It has a nice place to spend the day while he works: