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! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Greenbush and Beyond: Biking off the Commuter Rail

On Saturday my sister and I took the Commuter Rail to the end of the Greenbush line for some biking along the south shore. Having learned my lesson the previous weekend, I planned out the route the night before. I wanted an improvement over paper directions so I used Google Maps bike feature, took a screen shot, and sent it to my iPhone (unfortunately the iPhone Google Maps app doesn't have the bike feature yet - can we have it please?). If anyone knows a better (yet free or very inexpensive) way of doing this that's please let me know!

Part of my interest in doing this route was I had read that "summer weekends you can enjoy [the MBTA's] Greenbush and Rockport Line bike coaches" on the MBTA website. Maybe mid June doesn't count as summer, but unfortunately there wasn't a bike coach and the conductor hadn't heard of such a thing for the Greenbush line.

A little disappointing, but not a big deal as the 7:48 train wasn't crowded. We arrived at Greenbush Station and set out on this route at about 9:00 AM:

**There is a Dunkin' Donuts (hereafter referred to as DD) near Greenbush Station that made a great staging point! 

There was a 15 mile Fun Ride going on at the same time so there were a lot of other bikers out and about. The weather was beautiful and we found ourselves cruising along the shore in no time!

We stopped for a picture opp at the first sight of ocean - Ocean Bluff in Marshfield

The roads were in great condition for the most part, with a few small hills but nothing too daunting. After a nice cruise along Ocean Bluff and Brant Rock we quickly found ourselves in Duxbury.

Brant Rock


We tried to make it all the way out down Gurnet Rd. on the peninsula that reaches out into Duxbury bay, which would have added a good 15 miles onto the trip, but the road was too sandy and when I wasn't lying on my side under my bike it felt like riding over a washboard. After a mile or so we turned around in search a more fun surface.

Shortly thereafter we stopped for lunch at a nice little cafe called French Memories at 459 Washington St. We also grabbed some french fries from the Snug Harbor Fish Company next door. The rest of  their food looked delicious but we weren't feeling salmon or lobster rolls at the moment, and mainly bought the fries so we could enjoy their lovely outdoor seating.

Tasty lunch at French Memories in Duxbury: One pesto sandwich, one egg salad sandwich, some tasty fries, and a cranberry juice (probably not the best choice as it's a natural diuretic I've heard)

We decided to take the straight shot back to Greenbush along 3A. Very doable, not too busy or dangerous feeling on a Saturday. It started to rain, which really put a damper on things (sorry), and we were in a hustle to get back. However, we arrived back at our DD only to find that we had missed a train back into the city by 15 minutes and would have to wait another 2 hours for the next one.

Savoring a nice warm coffee at our DD in order to keep warm and dry!

After waiting about 30 minutes we decided we would continue on 3A to the red line in Quincyand make up for the mileage we lost by not doing the peninsula in Duxbury. This ride made for some nice views until we got through Hingham, at which point it became much less pleasant and much more dangerous a ride. Cars also going fast along this road. We do not recommend this!!

All in all it was a great 50 mile ride. 

Lessons of the trip:
  • Check when the trains are going back into Boston so you don't get stranded!! 
  • If you're willing to carry a backpack, bring a change of clothes if you think it might rain!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boston Bicycle

I have learned a lot more about my home city and the surrounding area since getting a bike about a month ago. Most of what I've done and seen has been cool, but unfortunately I have also had some less cool encounters. I'm hoping to celebrate the good and discuss the improvable with readers here on Boston Bicycle.

Let the games begin!

Side note:
Blog is named after Beijing Bicycle, a funny/tragic film about life in contemporary Beijing (some people think it's too critical - perhaps why it was initially banned by the gov't - but I think it's a useful commentary). I hope my blog will bring honor to its namesake!

Here's the trailer if you're interested!