The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
On Saturday, Ian and I rode the Minuteman Bikeway from Bedford to Cambridge and back. The entire weekend was gorgeous, weather-wise, with highs in the mid-70s, sun, and light breezes. Taking advantage of this brief pre-winter weather, we got to the parking lot midmorning and found that almost the entire population of the Boston metro area had also decided to enjoy the trail.
Actually, the trail only felt heavily populated compared to our most recent rail trail experiences. In reality, there was light to moderate traffic, considering the bikeway led straight into Boston. At one point it went under a remarkable tunnel/archway/bridge thing that I assume was built to allow trains to stop there for unloading even in bad weather. It proved a popular rest stop for cyclists, especially as the temperature increased a bit towards afternoon.
Here is a picture of the trail in general. Mostly it had some shade but not deep, dense shade, and it passed through a little bit of green space as well as some not-so-green business-oriented space. It was older than the other rail trails we’ve ridden on, and as a result had more bumps due to roots and sinkholes. They also had incredibly irritating road crossings that forced you to maneuver carefully around large gates with small gaps on either end. With my Xtracycle, maneuvering at all presents a real challenge, and a couple times I wasn’t sure I would make it through the gap. That was by far the most irritating aspect of the trail, though, unless you really want mile markers. There were no official markers, but we did see somebody had spray-painted mile markers (either the markers were sporadic or we didn’t notice some of them).
We rode along making pretty darn good time for us, averaging about 13 mph on the way out. Turns out we had a slight downhill grade almost the entire way towards Cambridge, which meant a slight uphill all the way back. Oh well. It didn’t hurt too much — certainly not as much as when we got to Arlington center, where the trail suddenly vanished, even though we knew it continued on to Cambridge.
Following other people on bikes and one strategic directions request (by me, of course; no self-respecting guy would ask for directions, even on a bike — maybe especially on a bike, since how could you get lost on a bike path?!!) led us to walk our bikes on crosswalks across a very busy intersection, down the sidewalk, and onto a side-road where the trail continued. We conscientiously walked the bikes while on the sidewalk, taking seriously the signs that warned $20 FINE FOR RIDING BIKES ON SIDEWALK. We were the only ones who seemed to take the sign seriously, though, because once across the street we had to squeeze out of the way of bicyclists riding two abreast on the sidewalk. Grrr.
Rude cyclists aside, we made it easily to the far end, just past the Alewife T station. Speaking of rude cyclists, Ian and I only noticed TWO other riders who said “on your left” when passing pedestrians — two out of literally hundreds. We diligently say “on your left,” perhaps to excess, but I always err on the side of excessive politeness rather than be perceived as one of “those jerk bicyclists” you always hear about.
We felt fresh and perky after that, so we stopped at REI to pick up a pair of pants I had on back order ($25 for zipper pants, well worth waiting 3 weeks), ate lunch at Fresh City, picked up some groceries at Sudbury Farms, and spontaneously stopped at Bearly Read Books to browse. Bearly Read Books is one of my favorite bookstores; it has recently changed ownership, and the new owners are doing a beautiful job sorting, cleaning, organizing, and brightening the store up. They obtained a new sign and when I commented on how nice it was, we got the full story of how difficult it was to get approval from various local government organizations just to get a new sign. Apparently being in the historic district means you have to follow all sorts of rules about signage. Fortunately, the Bearly Read Books people prevailed and got their beautiful new sign:
This is my kind of bookstore: Floor to ceiling books, and the owner knows every single item in stock and will recommend one to you if you ask (this is how I obtained Time Traveler’s Wife, which became one of my favorite books). You never know what you might find at a store like that. We bought almost $50 worth of books and made our escape before we spent more.