Right on, ride on

Ceci n'est pas une vélo

Countdown to 30: Century: Monument St and Dover/Sherborn Loops

Posted by @teeheehee on May 25th, 2009

At last. At long last. The training, the preparation, the nervous anticipation; it was all for something.

On May 16th I set out at 9:30AM to ride 100 miles. Six weeks prior to that day I began my training in earnest, building on a physical foundation that the last two+ years of riding my bike around Boston had sculpted.

I followed a plan I found which recommended performing long rides on weekends, increasing the distance each week until two weeks out. Since I did plenty of riding around during the mild winter we had this year I was able to start part of the way into the program.

First was a (roughly) 30-miler. The following weekend I went on a ride of opportunity: in the middle of the night I did a modified 50-mile route the Marathon was set to take several hours later. The next weekend I punched in 57 miles going around the Nagog Pond in Acton. Next up was a Metric Century achieving 68 mile ride that I stitched together from two smaller routes. Having done more than 65% of the total distance I planned the next ride to be a shorter 50 miles to Walden Pond and the DeCordova Sculpture Park, which is a much recommended way to ready oneself for…

a Century Ride:

View 100 Mile Ride, Monument St and Dover/Sherborn in a larger map

Difficulties of the Day

All of the routes I took in my training started and finished at my apartment. There is a comfort to riding around the places I know best, and I wanted to feel that way when completing each ride. Perhaps it is a small psychological trick which helped motivate me to keep on with my plan; edging out every little bit of negativity which may have made me stagnate and miss my goal.

Pretty much the whole day it threatened to rain, and at times I felt raindrops that cautioned more may fall, but nothing really developed from it all. Instead it was calm, warm, and fairly grey all day long. Having suffered from a sunburn two weeks before I made sure to apply sunscreen twice, once in the morning and once about halfway through the ride. Also, my GPS failed me. It has taken me a while to deal with this and get off my duff to manually map the routes and geotag my images, and so this write-up is now a week past due.

The ride embarked from my apartment and followed the Minuteman Bikeway to Bedford, where the first real route of the ride began:

The Monument Street Loop

Actually, this route was mostly a jaunt into Concord and back and was only supposed to add ~ 12 miles. When I reached Concord I had already managed to miss a turn, and so a couple more miles got added on. As I rolled into the center of town I hit the quarter-way mark of my ride, and so I took the opportunity to eat one of the two peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches I had packed for the trip.

On the way back to Bedford I took a dirt trail, something that was an option on this PocketRide I had selected. It was the same dirt trail I encountered on a previous PocketRide and the first time I took it I liked it so much I had hoped to find a way to incorporate it in my century attempt, and so I did. (Advice: make your first Century what you want it to be, it makes it all the more worth it.)

I continued and made it back to Bedford, hit the Minuteman again and rode to Arlington center. There I applied my second coat of sunscreen and then began the second major route of the ride:

The Dover/Sherborn Loop

Now, the PocketRide Dover/Sherborn Loop has two options: 57 or 70 miles. Originally I had planned on doing 70 and therefore needed only a minor route to add on (Monument Street Loop.) I was surprised when I arrived at Arlington center to see that I had over 40 miles done, and I realized that the 57 miles seemed the more sensible option.

Very early on during this portion of the ride I came to dislike Belmont, again. The first time disliking the town was when I went on the never-ending hill known as Prospect Street, which seemed to drag on for at least 10 full minutes and amounted to being the most grueling, exhausting climb I had ever done. On this trip I was introduced to Concord Ave, which climbed nearly the same height as Prospect did but in what probably should have been 90 seconds of awful, agonizingly steep torture. I admit, 45 miles into my day I was not up for such a difficult climb and had to stop to rest – twice, before cresting it. Afterwards I felt drained, and I seriously questioned my abilities the rest of the day because of that intense, but brief, challenge.

Overall this loop was most impressive because of all of the extravagant homes that I passed by. There were a couple of big-name colleges I passed by as well, but seriously these homes were large and bespoke wealth that I just wouldn’t know how to handle (but entertain myself by pretending I could.) Definitely some money out in those parts.

There were two more points where I screwed my directions up a bit on this second half of the ride. The first was simple, and short, and added on maybe a mile or so while correcting and had included a bench to sit on during my corrective detour. The second deviation happened in the last 15 miles and required me to use my backup map to bail me out.

All was made perfect, though.

When I was done with Dover/Sherborn I had but to complete my journey. I made my way back to the Minuteman and from there to Alewife to finish the day by doing some more city riding. In full glory I turned on to Coolidge Road and broke 100 miles (and tacked on .08 more as I rolled up to my apartment.)

Pre-30th Birthday Century Ride: complete. 100.08 miles.

It was amazing. I guess now I have to figure out what to do before I turn 31.

7 Responses to “Countdown to 30: Century: Monument St and Dover/Sherborn Loops”

  1. Jas Says:

    and thanks for the tale and pics.
    love that rubber duck – i mean Precious. a fine companion for a fine ride. very cool.
    …and happy birthday!

  2. Mom Says:

    Hey Dan – I finally got a chance to read your log of the trip, and it gave me insight into all your prep and the ride itself. Great job! I have to tell you – I love that you have a duck named Precious – what a wonderful riding companion – very Boston. Have a terrific birthday! Love, Mom

  3. Sarah Says:

    Pretty nice post. I just found your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked reading your blog posts. In any case
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

  4. Right on, ride on » Blog Archive » Bulgarians Don’t Like Peanut-butter Says:

    […] Countdown to 30: Century: Monument St and Dover/Sherborn Loops […]

  5. Emma Says:


    I live in Carlisle, MA and I often travel on both Monument and Lowell roads. I understand that these are popular routes for bikers as they are scenic. These roads are also heavily traveled by the people of these surrounding towns, and the roads are narrow and old. They were never meant to handle the traffic they do, and are certainly not large enough to handle the volume of bikers. I have found that you people on bikes are incredibly rude and inconsiderate. You do not move to the side, and you ride two and three abreast. It is very dangerous, and you have no regard for the consequences for the vehicles trying to get around you. Please take your bike rides and your spandex-covered selves elsewhere. You are not welcome on these roads.

  6. teeheehee Says:

    Emma, thank you for visiting my site. I appreciate your concerns with congestion on the roads you frequent. I hope you come back to visit and read this response, I may not convince you to reevaluate your position but perhaps you will understand mine.

    When I ride I follow the laws and the spirit of transportation on a shared resource. I endear myself to improve the image of cyclists as I know there are many who ride with less concern for others or the environment they ride in. Because of this every time I ride I am at an immediate disadvantage: I have to fight the image of ignorant cyclists who ride in a dominating way in areas that require more sensitive habits, such as where you live; I have to fight the image of self-centered cyclists who break laws when charging through Boston streets; every time I ride I do so with the knowledge that through no fault of my own I bare the faults of other people who may share little of my values. I am rarely taken as an individual, and this I think is unfortunate.

    When I ride I try to be both courteous and gentle. This is me, this is a representation of my character, and my behavior is the same both on and off of my bike. This is true for other cyclists – taken as individuals they will behave the same on or off their wheels. This is true for drivers, they are nice or not so nice when they are behind the wheel or standing next to you in line at the grocery store. I am not “you people”, I am Dan, and I appreciate being addressed as an individual as this is a kindness and as I learned it the only appropriate way to talk to someone. I try to be a positive representitive for whatever group I may find myself being recognized as a part of, but my actions should be taken as those of an individual when making an argument about my behavior. When I travel abroad I do not act loudly or imposingly as I do not want to make a poor impression of Americans on foreign soil, and know full well others who have been there before me may have made my visit easier or harder due to their behavior; even with this group image I can only truly represent myself.

    I am not one to hog the road, and I too do not appreciate the disregard some show for other travelers when using a shared resource (regardless of their means of transportation: walking, cycling, driving, rollerblading, etc.) The issue as I see it affects me, too. I hold several pet peeves with other cyclists, and when I drive I find myself amazed at the disdain other drivers show to each other, the issue is one of human character and not the means of transportation. I hope you, and other readers, acknowledge that.

    The areas outside of Boston are precious and generally quite calm, and should remain so. There are times and places where the conditions are not conducive to being completely passive on the road, and to ignore that sacrifices my safety. It is rare that I have to impose myself in a way that forces other people to change their behavior on the road, and I am quick to pull to the side to allow cars to pass as soon as it is once again safe to get out of the way. This does not mean, however, that I will put myself in danger to convenience others.

    Please, take care when making accusations that do not fit the target you intend. Saying that I am not welcome on these roads is an insincere attack and smacks harshly on the face of American freedom. I understand this is how you feel, and I appreciate your candor and honesty. I simply cannot share this point of view, however, as I know that my personal impact on traffic and the environment is generally positive or, at worst, minimally negative. This is not true for all who ride a bike, but is far less true for those who drive unnecessarily fast or aggressively, either. I get the impression you consider yourself a safe driver who is looking for respect and feels disenfranchised; please, do not make the mistake that I am the reason for your anger unless I am there in person, and even then I find it best to politely engage in a dialog to understand one another’s view as there are often reasons which may not be apparent behind the behavior which raises problems. It is sad that most often it is a misunderstanding of intent or law which causes so many aggressions between people.

    As for spandex, it’s the best material for whisking away sweat. I think this is a common, silly, anonymous attack on something visibly separable to poke fun at purposeful clothing that people wear. I try to wear what is appropriate for my task – at work I wear something for the corporate environment, and so when I ride it is sensible to don something that helps cool me and cover my lower backside when hunched over. I can’t imagine why clothing comes up so often as a reason to have issues with cyclists; plenty of people wear baseball/football/hockey jerseys and hats who do not participate in the sport while wearing it, yet are not verbally attacked for their fashion. Are swimmers to be mocked for wearing a slick bathing suit? (No, but they sometimes are, and it is for the same reason: to make people feel bad for looking a little different.) I can understand and appreciate your other arguments, but this one is plainly rude, and I would request that if you have an argument to make that you leave out bully tactics as it nullifies the rest of what you have to say. You might as well have a hang up on the color of my skin, or the profession I work in, or the style of my hair. Your actual argument has some traction for me to work with, and I want to engage in a dialog, but this coupled with the “you people” denigrate from your position. You are angry, but I am not doing anything obscene, so I am not the real reason for your discomfort.

    The post you wrote this on was one proclaiming an achievement in personal endurance. I celebrate the accomplishments we make as a race and as individuals. The greatest flattery is in understanding someone and appreciating them even if you disagree with them. I will continue to do my best to avoid inconveniencing others while I live my life, but having said that I will not stop pursuing my own happiness, I will not stop being American, I will not stop being as human as I can be. Thank you for reading this if you did, and feel free to reply if you wish.

  7. Right on, ride on » Blog Archive » Jury duty, and an accident Says:

    […] circumstances if confronted with the metal beasts that wander the paved lands. I have trained to ride longer distances and endure the many small-pains that come from many hours of riding. On the rollers I acquired just […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.