Right on, ride on

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Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Ride

Posted by @teeheehee on September 13th, 2009

Earlier this week I found out that the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail phase one, from Chelmsford to Westford, was opened to the public.

Even earlier on in the week I was in planning with one of my coworkers to get him out more on his bike. Our initial plan included another person, a former coworker of ours, who unfortunately had to back out due to issues with her ankle. Plans shifted from riding out to Concord, to starting a ride from Concord that might include Walden or the Sculpture Park, or even the Nagog Pond Loop (as I’ve been meaning to revisit it all summer.) But, when word of the rail trail opening came in we thought it was be good fun to go and check it out. So today we did just that.

View Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Ride in a larger map

The day’s plans involved me trekking over to a spot on the Minuteman to meet up with my coworker, Bill. He lives immediately adjacent to the trail and uses it quite frequently for roller blading, although lately his knees have been causing him some problems so he’s switched to biking, and now he’s trying to build his range back up. After meeting up with Bill we completed the Minuteman and took route 225, through Carlisle (where we would have met our third rider if she hadn’t had to nurse her ankle,) over some hills, and into Westford where one end of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail (phase one) is accessible.

As noted on Maria’s blog, any place the trail intersects a road there are myriad visual and physical clues to warn a cyclist: white stripes on both sides of the trail edge appear first, later a diagonal white line cuts across the entire path, then there are signs that detail the intersection both posted and painted on the trail, the path itself switches from asphalt to a reddish-colored brick pattern (which I was originally concerned might become a wheel’s nightmare but instead looks rather well plotted,) a yellow post in the center of the path with the intersecting street’s name written vertically in black letters, and finally a stop sign and line.

Unfortunately from looking either direction on the intersecting roads I could see no indication that drivers would know in advance that they are about to happen upon a trail crossing point. There were at least two points where crossing was met with trepidation as a car might suddenly crest a nearby hill and come barreling down the slope dangerously fast – which ended happened once, mind you. I would have liked if the reddish brick was laid completely across the road connecting the parts of the trail, but that would most likely lead to trail users not stopping at all. Hopefully there are signs on the roads at least and I just couldn’t see them.

Nearly the entire 8.4 mile length is shaded by trees. Today was a mostly sunny day in the 70’s, maybe even breaking into the 80’s, so the cover was a welcome relief. I was surprised to see as much activity on a new trail, but it wasn’t as mobbed as the Minuteman (by far!) There were a large number of people walking along the trail, some cyclists (nearly half without a helmet – tsk tsk!) and only a few people on roller blades.

Bill and I encountered a bit of difficulty figuring out what to do when we hit two areas in Chelmsford. The intersections were complex and with the first one we ended up waiting for one direction of car traffic to get a green and trailed the last car in the line; the second intersection required us to use the pedestrian signal, but then we had to locate the continuation of the path (which we found immediately by sheer chance.) At the Chelmsford end we took stock of our location (the parking lot of the Motorola towers, which were built and used to be named for a previous microprocessor company,) then headed back. On the way back I saw much better signs for those two intersections, so perhaps I missed them when coming from the other direction.

I took a slew of photos while riding along the trail towards arriving at the Chelmsford end, then along the entire way back to Westford. Many of the photos include action shots of Bill (yay!) If you’d like to see what the trail looks like I encourage you to check out the photos on Maria’s blog along with these geotagged ones below (click to view the album with the map noting the locations.)

One Response to “Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Ride”

  1. 100psi » Blog Archive » 09.15.09 Says:

    […] about riding both in succession, but because I decided to sleep that day for 12 hours instead 8,  Right on ride on beat me to […]

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