Nice winter so far

November 16, 2009 | Leave a Comment

I know it technically isn’t ‘winter’ until Dec. 21, but so far this season has been good for cyclists. I’ve only had to use the clunky mountain bike a handful of times, and I can generally even park outside all day! The mornings have been reasonably warm, but sometimes it is much colder at 6 pm when I head home, and I sometimes regret the decision to wear shorts. Regardless, this weather should motivate us to keep riding, not only for our minds and bodies but also to show resilience and solidarity. Don’t let cycling be just a seasonal sport. Show Mother Nature who’s boss!

But it would be cool if the Charles River would freeze again.

Keep riding

October 9, 2009 | 2 Comments

I’ve learned a few lessons in dealing with weather forecasts this summer and fall. Deciding on whether or not to ride my bike used to come down to the hour-by-hour forecast on; is it raining now, and will it be raining around 6pm. This approach didn’t prove very useful through the relative drought of a summer. Yes, I am from the desert of Idaho, and even I think it was strangely dry. Too many people say the weather was crappy for all of June. It was not! It was perfect! It was often cloudy, but it was nice and cool and it only rained like one day!

Anyways I’ll be sucking it up and riding my fendered mountain bike in the rain, because although I live just under a mile from BC, the shuttle bus in the evening takes longer than walking. It has been months since I’ve ridden in a motor vehicle (other than the occasional bus, and my car to go grocery shopping on Sundays) and I couldn’t be happier. And I’m looking forward to the challenge of bike commuting in the winter. Knowing that even the best cyclists, riding in the bike lanes, can be struck by otherwise considerate motorists, makes me happy that I don’t have to use heavily trafficked roads. Other than Beacon near the reservoir, which has a sweet buffer layer along most of it.

Oh what a great city

September 25, 2009 | 1 Comment

My annual vehicle inspection is due this month. One of the many joys of owning a car here is having to take it in each year and pay someone to scrutinize it and tell you what stupid little things need to be fixed. I always find it funny how long the lines are at the end of each month, as the procrastinators realize that their inspection is soon due. I’m afraid I might fit that category this year, with under a week to complete mine. It’s not my fault,though; I haven’t driven my car in over 2 months. My girlfriend is using it daily for her commute, so she has to deal with the inspection.

So the right mirror was conveniently destroyed last night. I’ve heard of this problem in the neighborhoods of Brighton and Allston, and have seen rows of parked cars in the morning with smashed mirrors on the sidewalk side. Oh, those silly drunk revelers, who find fascination and excitement in the most douchebaggy activities. It makes me wonder: Do people walk around and look for inspection stickers that are about to expire, then proceed to smash away at those cars? There’s terrible irony in this. It’s one thing to destroy someone’s personal property like that but to additionally make them scramble to repair the damage before the deadline? They must be laughing to themselves.

This seems like something a vigilante cyclist might do to reduce the number of cars on the road. Very clever.

Don’t remember where I found the original route data (transposed here) but I loaded it up onto my Garmin Forerunner 205 and headed out, not at all knowing what to expect from the roads out there (Google street view gives up once you pass I-95).

Decidedly, I wasn’t quite in the proper shape for completing the whole ride, so I took a shortcut and ended up taking this route. The ride was generally good, despite that the planned course led me to a private road and an unpaved Sandy Pond Rd which was actually shown to be paved on Google Street View! Got a nonplussed look from a farmer as I rode down another dirt road longcut. Finished it off by taking nice smooth and wide Beacon back into Cleveland Circle.

This was my first venture to riding in the hilly west-of-Boston area, and I found about 5/6 of the roads to be amazingly smooth and the other 1/6 to be terrible. Extremely low traffic on most of the roads made it enjoyable. There’s no way I’d ever ride out there without some sort of pre-planned route on my GPS, though. The Forerunner is a great tool for experiencing new rides without getting extremely lost. Or just finding my way to somewhere in Boston.

I know this is a pretty boring post, but I just wanted to let the internet-cyclists out there know that Sandy Pond Rd. is currently unpaved (just temporarily, it seems). Also, don’t ride out there because I want it to myself.

View Interactive Map on

Raining pretty hard this morning, so I took the T. The gf needed the car to drive to work, and my bike is just a little too nice to subject it to rain and dirt. There’s nothing like taking the green line B train a measly 1.7 miles to BC to make me realize how much better it is to commute by bicycle.

I live just steps away from the Warren St stop on the green line, which I thought (when moving into the place last year) would be great for being able to easily head outbound to work at BC, or inbound to downtown on weekends. Turns out, as many of you probably know, the green line B is next to useless if you need to get somewhere in less than 40 minutes. I can’t imagine depending on it every day.

So I headed to catch the train, but before I reach the corner a train pulls out and leaves. Whatever, it happens, I’m probably gonna end up waiting 10 minutes now, good thing I brought my iPod.

Okay, it has been 15 minutes now, and exactly 6 inbound trains have passed, and sweet I can see an outbound train on its way. I stepped out from the awning of the nearby apartment I used for shelter from the rain. Cool, the train is running express, and it doesn’t stop. Back to the awning I went.

10 minutes later comes the next train. This one will surely let me on. It does. Then it carries me up over the hill to the next stop, Washington St. Then the dreaded “this train is being taken out of service”. What? Well thanks for carrying me 1/5 of a mile, so now I’m just far enough away from home that I won’t walk back and just resort to riding my mountain bike in. In my opinion, being a little wet from a bike ride is not as bad as standing¬† in the rain waiting for a train that may never come.

So I step onto the platform with the dozens of other people who have been carried just 2 or 3 stops from their origin. The ‘disabled’ train heads backwards down the tracks, so I figure it will take forever for another one to arrive. They can’t really pass each other, can they?

Takes about 10 minutes until another train comes. Express to Boston College, right on. Halfway there I hear the “this train is being taken out of service” message again! Luckily, it seems it was just a mistake, or maybe it was a really cruel joke.

Finally arrive at the BC stop, then proceed to hike the 1/2 mile across campus. What a terrible location for a train stop. And a terrible design. There is no real way to cross Commonwealth on foot there without jaywalking.

Total time to travel 2 total miles from apartment to BC: 45 minutes. That’s an average of 2.7 mph. I’m pretty sure I can walk that fast.

Total time to travel those 2 miles on my bike: ~8 minutes. 15 mph.

I’m going to get fenders.

Our first (and only, so far) long road bike ride was during our camping trip near Old Orchard Beach, Maine, last year. The route (see map here) (and original source route here) started at our campground, ran along the beach, through Saco, and made a big loop among rolling hills and farmland near the Saco river. It was an excellent ride with almost no vehicle traffic, and I’d highly recommend the route.

Hey, good day to you, whoever is reading this. I’ve been biking in Boston for the last year, and have been a subscriber of BostonBiker for most of that time. I’ve lived here for just over a year, and I’m becoming more and more interested in the aspects of biking in the Northeast.

My name is Matt, and I grew up in Alaska. After those 18 years, I left to spend 5 years in Boise, Idaho. Now I’ve moved East to graduate school at Boston College, meanwhile experiencing all that comes with urban living in New England.

I was a big mountain biker for most of my life. Boise Idaho, for those of you unfamiliar, is a pretty excellent city to live in for a mountain cyclist. An extensive trail system begins right at the edge of town, a mere mile from the downtown area and university. On one ride in the upper Boise foothills, I found a nice large fallen tree to play with:

Style points
You might see that I’m riding a rather cheap Specialized Hardrock (Sport). I hadn’t yet invested much money into bikes, which is probably a good thing based on how they are treated on those trails. And I had a couple stolen. But I liked heavy bikes, since they gave me a good workout climbing those steep dry hills. I brought the Specialized with me to Boston, but without convenient mountain riding nearby, the bike wasn’t too useful. I then found a used Cannondale R700 with pretty good components. The speed of a road bike instantly hooked me.

Old Orchard Beach boardwalk, Maine.So now I ride in and around Brighton, mostly commuting but sometimes finding my way along the Charles, into Boston downtown, and up and down the hills of Newton. I love riding bike.