Thursday, December 9, 2010

Biking in Boston in Winter

No snow yet in Boston, but in case you can't tell by the fact that it gets dark at 4:30 (wtf) and is exceedingly cold, the dryness should be a signal to you that... it is winter.

I haven't been on any long bike rides lately but still bike almost daily to get around the city which, combined with the fact that I'm an obsessive hand washer, means that I have incredibly dry, chapped hands.

So yesterday since I was walking by I decided to stop into City Sports and get a pair of gloves. I looked at every pair of gloves in the store I could find and found the cheapest pair - City Sports brand - for $15. Don't try to find a cheaper pair in City Sports because you won't be able to. They're actually "running" gloves but seem to be adequate for biking. Some of the "biking" gloves are very serious - like three pronged mittens with lining, Gore-tex, and the works. So you can have a finger free to change gears. Hilarious looking though probably quite effective, and warm.

These are my new gloves:

There is a "terry cloth snot wiper" on the thumb!

So now that I've got my hands covered (hahaha) I'm wondering about my face. The wind is strong and cold enough/I ride so fast it might make sense for me to break out the ski goggles and neck warmer. Or maybe one of those face mask things. 

OR maybe I could cover my face in Vaseline the way my Granny used to do to us before we hit the slopes as kids.

What do other bikers out there do?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Biking in the Burbs!

My hometown, Dedham, is working on figuring out how to become a more walkable and bikeable community!

They're having an open brainstorm session with the Livable Streets Alliance on November 10th, 7 pm at the Town Hall.  Should be a great opportunity to meet other bicyclists in the area and help make the 'burbs a more bike-friendly place!!! Anyone who's interested is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Twice the something.

Today is the first time I've seen people take a tandem bike on the train.

I'm not sure how to feel about this. I obviously support bringing bikes on trains but this bike takes up pretty much all the space.

On a side note, I've never ridden a tandem bicycle but imagine it would be terrible. 

Have a nice day!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

North Shore Adventures and a Sighting of the Bike Coach!!

It's been a long time since my last post. I actually wrote and published one last week but took it down because it was too negative (basically I was complaining about the MBTA).

At the beginning of this weekend's bike adventure I was tempted to put it back up. My sister and I took the Newburyport/Rockport Line out of the city to Lynn, where we got off to bike to Nahant. The MBTA advertises: Summer weekends you can enjoy our Greenbush and Rockport Line bike coaches. For the second time in a row I tried to take advantage of this (last time was Greenbush) there were no such bike coaches to be found. We made do but I was all ready to lambaste them for false advertising.

There was still space for our bikes but there weren't any of these bike racks to speak of. My bike only fell on someone once.

We got off in Lynn with plans to bike to Nahant.

Lots of people think Lynn is really sketchy. My sister told me though that one of our relatives got lost in Lynn a while back and when she asked an old lady for directions she replied "You're in Lynn - get out by nightfall." Hilarious. Actually Lynn is not that bad - they have some cute restaurants and nice old fashioned streets. I haven't been there after "nightfall" though so I guess I'm not a fair judge.

In Lynn

 From Lynn it was pretty much a straight shot to the causeway that leads out to Nahant. 

Before you get to the rotary you want to make sure you cross to the left side of the street so you can 1) avoid biking through the rotary and 2) get on the paved path by the beach. You do NOT want to bike across the causeway with the cars! 

 This is from the other side looking back, but coming out you want to make sure you get over to the left side of the street so you don't end up in the rotary and on the causeway
Unless you are a resident of Nahant, the only way you can park there is in one of the lots along the beach, which costs money and requires waiting in line. 

Like these guys 

Fortunately drivers there is a Dunkin' Donuts right there so you can get some while you're waiting to park.
 Biking is the other option.

Or running like this group of Marines

 Doro biking out

Some people think the bike path is too crowded, with walkers, bikers, roller-bladers etc., but it's actually fun to see the all the other units on the path. It's an eclectic group to say the least.
Once you get to Nahant on your bike you can swim at Short Beach, which is a lot less crowded than the one along the causeway people drive to. 

Short Beach

You can also go to Seaside's, Nahant's pizza and subs joint, which is worth the trip in and of itself.

Seaside's - really tasty pizza and best Greek Salad ever

In total it took us about 20 minutes to bike from the commuter rail station in Lynn to Nahant. Not the most satisfying workout, but if you're looking for something longer you can keep heading north along the ocean through Swampscott and Marblehead.

The point sticking out to the far right was hollowed out during WWII and used to house Nike missiles! Now it's a park.

Doro and I spent the day there, went swimming and picnicking with some family. The water was freezing! Don't expect Cape Cod temperatures.


On our way back into the city later that day we got to ride on the bike coach! It was pretty packed - all the seats in the bike car were taken. I was really excited to finally see and use it after all this build-up.

The long awaited bike coach - there is a rack there with straps so you don't have to worry about your bike falling over

All in all it was a nice ride and a fast, easy way to make it to the beach. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cool looking bikes

I'm not trying to get into bike promotions or anything but if I were to get a new bike I might get one of these, despite the fact that they are more expensive, heavier, and slower than my current bike. And much more hipster-y.

Public brand bike D3 bike in Powder Blue. Pretty.

Check out PUBLIC's website here.

National MS Society Cape Cod Getaway 2010: Behind the Curve

Lately I've been thinking about normal curves a lot. Not in any profound way but just about how simple yet cool and prevalent they are in day to day life.

Normal curve

People like Michael Jackson fall at least three standard deviations above the mean.

 Michael Jackson

If you go to Harvard Business School you might be considered Ahead of the Curve.

For some reason I thought our Bike for MS - Cape Cod Getaway ride two weeks ago would represent a normal slice of the population, with a few really intense riders way out in front, most chugging along in the middle, and a few people really struggling in the back. This was not the case. I should have realized the fact that it's a 150 miles weeds out most of those who 1) aren't in shape 2) don't have a road bike 3) or combination of 1) and 2) don't consider themselves fairly serious bicyclers.

We were not ahead of the curve. In fact most of the ride we were blissfully behind the rest of the riders, typically by at least one standard deviation.

One key contributing factor was that we were late getting to the start. This was not entirely our fault - we sat in traffic for 30 min. due to 2 broken down buses blocking the road to the event. But our late start leaving Boston and my forgetting my helmet (really??) did not help.

There are a few other excuses we could dig up, but there was no denying a big factor was we just weren't as hardcore of bikers.

The riders with puppies Sibi and Fergus at the halfway point in Bourne, not looking particularly hardcore.

 It was really hot!

Regardless, we had lots of fun and I highly recommend doing one of these bike rides! It was very well organized. There were lots of rest stops with snacks, water and Gatorade (key) as well as police directing traffic so we hardly ever had to stop at traffic lights, which made us feel like celebrities. There were lots of people cheering for us along the way, from their front lawns, at rest stops, or from cars.

We fell asleep at about 8 PM on Saturday, but were up at 5 to hit the road by 6AM on Sunday. Biking along the Cape Cod Canal in the early morning was one of the highlights for me.

Together, Ethan, Jessie and I raised nearly $3000 for the MS Society.

Here's a very rough approximation of our route:

Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Commuting 3.0

Even has a cup holder for your Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee! 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bike of the Night

If only the iPhone had a flash!

My sister and I saw this beauty last night as we were walking down Newbury St. The brand is Hercules, which I have learned was a British manufacturer active from 1910 to about 1963.

Check out these old Hercules ads:

c. 1935

c. 1950

The South Shore Coastal Loop, or To Atlantic City and Back

With the 150 mile Cape Cod Getaway coming up this weekend, Ethan and I decided we should try to log in a good number of miles on Saturday. We'd bought a book called Road Biking Massachusetts the week before and were excited to try one of their longer rides. As the weather forecast called for something in the 90s we wanted to stay as close to the water as possible, so the South Shore Coastal Loop seemed like a great choice. As the author points out, he actually borrowed this route from the Charles River Wheelmen, a great site with lots of awesome ride recommendations, including maps and cue sheets. While it's not the exact route we did, I've included their map (cue sheets here) rather than try to recreate my own or upload a fuzzy picture from the book with my iPhone.

Sorry the route itself is so small - I wanted to contextualize it in relation to Boston. Visit Charles River Wheelmen for the full size interactive map!

We left Boston at 9 AM and were at the Rockland Park n' Ride (free parking!) in a little less than half an hour. We got some energy bars at the local Hannaford (very convenient) and breakfast at the double drive through Dunkin' Donuts. This was a DD that was drive through only - it had a serving window on each side so you could get your DD both coming in and out of the parking lot. Fascinating.

We headed out a little after 10 AM. The roads were quite busy until we got to Wompatuck State Park, which was lots of fun to ride through. There were a bunch of community events going on in the information/office area of the park, including live music and a meeting of the Yankee Siberian Husky Club! The park seemed like a great place with camping, hiking, boating and other fun stuff to do, definitely worthy of further exploration.

What a good pup!!

Down the road a bit, instead of turning from Jericho Rd. onto Hatherly St., we stayed on Jericho Rd. to go out and see the Old Scituate Lighthouse. We stopped here to enjoy the view and have a snack.

Forgot to take a picture here, so using this one from a Boston Globe Help Wanted ad. They are looking for a lighthouse keeper. Seriously.

We hopped back out onto Hatherly, but I wish we had stayed on Oceanside Drive so we could be by the water. Along Hatherly we stopped at a roadside convenient store on the right to refill our water bottles. I forgot to screw the top on Ethan's so when he went to drink it he spilled it all over himself. It was hilarious. Unfortunately karma ensured that a bit down the road, at the intersection where we would turn left onto Gannett, I would hit a sandy patch and fall off my bike. 

Instead of riding Border St. to Atlantic Ave. as this map shows, we did Main St. to Jerusalem. If I'd chosen the route myself instead of following the guide in our book, I probably would have chosen Atlantic too as it runs along the ocean. However, Main St. to Jerusalem was actually a great ride through town and by some really, really swell houses. Really worth seeing.

Soon we were on our way out to Hull and biking along Nantasket Beach.  Neither Ethan nor I had been there before and both feel it is best described as Atlantic City without the gambling. Along the beach there is a strip of ice cream shops, a carousel, pizza joints, an arcade, the works. I had never seen so many people on a beach in Massachusetts before. 

Ethan hated it.

It was also very crowded on the roads, with pedestrians and cars, making for sub-par biking. We rode through as fast as we could. The outermost chunk of Hull was quite different, much less crowded with lots of pretty open space and great views of Boston. Also had a wind turbine, which you can see from across Boston Harbor in places like Nahant. We stopped there for a bathroom break, snack, and water refill, then were off back towards the car.

View of Boston from outermost tip of Hull

Our total mileage was 55 miles. All in all it was a very enjoyable ride, but we have one strong recommendation: 

Instead of parking at the Rockland Park 'n' Ride, go straight to Wampatuck State Park! It's a much prettier place to start and lets you cut out a lot of biking on 228, which was terrible with lots of fast moving traffic and frequent tractor trailers. Doing so obviously cuts down the mileage significantly but you can add it on elsewhere pretty easily.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Rules

I biked from my apartment in downtown Boston to my dad's house in Dedham, MA this past Sunday. It was a great ride - I took the Southwest Corridor Park (map) from Back Bay through Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, on a bike path through a park the whole time. It's a little hard to figure out where to go when it drops you at the end; I kept going straight and a little to the right (West) to ride through the Arnold Arboretum. I could have gotten right onto Washington St. and rode straight to Dedham but had some time and wanted to see the park.

Before I got onto the start of the path in Back Bay I was yelled at to "get on the sidewalk" by a passing car full of young intellectuals. I fumed for about 15 minutes, thinking of what I would say next time, then forgot about it once I got to the park.

Anyway, I wanted to share "the rules" according to MassBike, a Federal Highway Administration program. Sorry if this is old hat to some of you. I think it's new hat to more of us than care to admit.

Bicyclist Tips

Ride Smarter
space2Give Yourself Some Space: You’ve got a legal right to the road, so use it – take the full lane when needed, stay away from car doors, and don’t squeeze between lanes. Two bicyclists can ride side-by-side, but get into single file if cars can’t pass safely.(more)

flowGo With The Flow: Ride in the same direction as other traffic, and ride as straight as you can, don’t weave between parked cars or into crosswalks.(more)

redlightTake A Break: Stopping at red lights and stop signs gives you a chance to relax, chat with the cute biker behind you, and set a good example for everyone one else on the road.(more)

lightLight Up The Night: Lights help you see where you’re going, but it’s more about everyone else seeing you.(more)

walkersWalkers Go First: If you run into a pedestrian, it doesn’t matter who was right or wrong, it just hurts.(more)

helmetGet Some Head Insurance: We hope you’ll never need your helmet, but the one time you do, there is no substitute. Your brain is your most important piece of safety equipment.(more)

And for the motorists (that's probably all of us):

Motorist Tips

Drive Safer
bikes are carsBicycles Are Vehicles Too: The law says bicycles are vehicles, and it’s OK (and often safer) for them to ride in the middle of the lane. (more)

lesscarsBicycles Reduce Traffic: Sometimes it might seem like bicyclists are slowing you down, but remember every person on a bicycle is one less car on the road. (more) OR TAKING YOUR PARKING SPOT (my addition)

squeezeSave The Squeeze Plays For Baseball: Stay a few feet away from bicyclists when passing - don’t try to squeeze past them. (more)

suddenmovesNo Sudden Moves: Abrupt turns can cause crashes, so always look for bicyclists and use your turn signals. (more)

leapLook Before You Leap (Out): Look behind you for approaching bicycles before opening a door on either side of your vehicle. (moreThere's a $100 fine for doing this! I did this to someone once, it was terrible. She fell off her bike and dropped all her groceries. 

bikelaneThe Truth About Bike Lanes: While cars must stay out of bike lanes, bicyclists do not have to stay in the bike lane. (more)

honkThere’s No Nice Way To Honk: Honking can startle a bicyclist and cause a crash, so only honk when absolutely necessary. (more)

That's all straight from the MassBike website, so go visit them if you want more info. I hope this is a helpful start!