Saturday, June 22, 2013

Exploring new paths

Some people ride their bikes just for the ride itself. But for me, that's not enough. I don't see a point in riding for 200km straight just to spend more time in the saddle. For me, riding is just a tool for visiting new places and seeing new things. These things don't have to be huge, like some steep mountains in Karakoram. They can be just new locations in my neighborhood.
With this in mind, I went on a ride Thursday, after work. I was trying to find out some alternative route from my work in Burlington to the Reformatory Branch Trail in Concord. First, I took left from Burlington Rd and after a few more turns a was on Wilson Rd. Once I crossed Page Rd I was supposed to see a trail going around the Old Reservoir. Instead, all I saw was someone's driveway. It turned out that the trail was slightly to the left, well hidden between the trees.
Unfortunately, riding around the reservoir was not a pleasant experience. The trail is very narrow. In places - so narrow that you can't see it between the overgrown bushes. There are some fallen trees, some muddy sections. Worst of it that I got lost a bit and instead of riding toward the Carriage Drive, I ended up on Page Rd. The Old Reservoir trail is just not for my bike. A mountain bike would be more suitable there but even then, I am not sure I would enjoy riding it.
I continued south and at the end of Range Way I found the beginning of Simonds Brook Trail. Unfortunately, after so many rainy days earlier this month, the trail looked more like a dried river bed. Riding there was difficult at first and when it got better eventually, I ended up at a large opening with high-voltage power lines running through it. This is where I had to change my course since the meadow was too wet to ride there and looked more like a bog. I found some alternate route towards Fifer Ln, which eventually led me to the main road - Bedford St. The second of new trails in the neighborhood turned out to be a poor choice as well.
I rode South Rd west, and just north of Hanscom airfield I found well-marked beginning of Hartwell Town Forest Trail. Since the entrance was so inviting I had high hopes for this route, which could connect me to the Reformatory Branch Trail. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a nightmare. Just after a few turns the nice forest path changes into a heavily overgrown, extremely narrow path, with millions of roots everywhere. Had I used a mountain bike, the situation could have been a bit better, but riding 700x35c tires in such a place was no fun but hard work. I wanted to yell after Max Cavalera, "Roots, bloody roots!". Then, after a short ride into the forest, my trip ended. The rest of the trail was a bog and wading nearly ankle-deep in water, I decided to turn around. On my way back, while still in the forest, I could hear the roaring sound of jets taking off at Hanscom and I wondered how people can live so close to the airfield. Anyway, the third trail was a failure as well.
I decided to take South Rd up north toward the Reformatory Branch Trail and ride to Concord. Once there, I stopped at the Old North Bridge and wanted to cross it to merge with Liberty St on the other side. Not a chance. Just after the bridge the entire path was completely flooded by the nearby Concord River. With so much rain we had recently, this is probably not surprisining.
I turned back and head up north the Monument St. There was a tiny Red Coat Ln on my left and there I found the beginning of Estabrook Woods Trail. This is a path that runs through the forest up north, towards Carlisle. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to continue in that direction. It was close to 7pm and I had to head back home, but the trail looked promising. I am sure I will be back there some time later this summer.
I rode back to Concord center and then took the Battle Road Trail towards Lexington. Again, the little bridge at the beginning of the trail at Meriam's Corner was underwater. I had to find my way around it but fortunately, the rest of the trail did not have any further surprises.
Finally, some time around 7:30pm and after 42km (26mi) I was back home.

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