Friday, July 13, 2012

Around Hanscom AFB

I finally decided to move my muscles a little bit more. Usually, I just ride my bike to work and then back home and unfortunately, I don't have time for much more than that. But since I really missed riding on my other bike, I had to do something about it.

This is how I decided to ride around the Hanscom AFB by visiting three towns on the way: Bedford, Concord and Lexington. The beauty of this route is in its variety. It takes you through the centers of these three small towns, through a wildlife refuge and some historic landmarks. And the best of all - despite the length of over 20 mi (32km) this route is appropriate for novice cyclists as well. There is not much vehicular riding required as most of the route leads through some unpaved, dirt roads and forest paths. This makes the ride much more enjoyable.
I left my work and took Rt 62 towards Bedford. I planned the first stop to be at The Bikeway Source store. I didn't necessary have to stop there but since I noticed earlier that I was very slowly losing air in the rear tire, buying an extra tube was probably a good idea. The air loss was small but I just wanted to be prepared something unexpected should happen, since I was traveling with a patch kit only. Better safe than sorry.
Once I left the bike store, I could leave the street and merge with a forest path - The Reformatory Branch Trial. It is definitely better to ride through the forest than take the street. It is quiet here as all racing guys on their Cervelos and Serottas stay away from dirt roads.
You would think that it is just another simple forest path, boring and uneventful. You would be wrong. It is barely noticeable in the picture below, but many parts of this path are very wavy. There are many small humps in the road so once you ride at considerable speed you feel like being on a roller coaster. Fun!
Then the trial crosses Concord Rd and becomes much narrower.
And eventually, it widens up and you can see the picturesque Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Which is essentially a one huge swamp.
But once you continue a bit further, you will see some really spooky looking marshes on your left and right.
Then, then trial ends and you enter Concord center. From here, some street riding is needed on Lexington St to reach the next car-free section of our route.
Once you get to the historic Nathan Meriam House (the intersection with Old Bedford Rd), look for the path to your right that will take you through the Battle Road Trial. If by now you have emptied your water bottles and your bladder reminds you of its existence, visit the back of Nathan's house where Nathan has restrooms open for public. Thank you Nathan.
The Battle Road Trial starts with a little, cute bridge over this stream. The trial is educational, with multiple historic landmarks, information panels, etc.
It runs through multiple boardwalks over the marsh. You are supposed to dismount here and walk your bike.
 There is even a historic farm. Do I see a grain silo there? Just like in Indiana.
Some of the landmarks are nicely restored XIX century houses like this one of Captain William Smith.
The trail ends at Old Massachusetts Ave where I was supposed to merge with the "new" Massachusetts Ave but I managed to get a bit lost. My printed map was not detailed enough and I took some wrong turns. After a few minutes of riding in circles I finally figured out where the Mass Ave was and I entered Lexington. From there, I took the Minuteman Bikeway home. The whole route took about 2 hours to complete while riding at a very leisure pace and taking too many stops.
As you can see in the photo above, my bike is a slightly modified Lemond Poprad. I will write more about the recent additions later. The main one is the lightweight Tubus Fly rear rack, which lets me carry some more junk as needed. I use a simple stuff bag and a bungee strap instead of panniers. It is lighter this way. The red triangular frame bag is a temporary solution to keep my camera around. I will toss it once I find a decent small handlebar bag but so far I've not been able to find one I would like.

That's it. Time to clean the bike as it got really dusty on those dirt roads.

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