Right on, ride on

Ceci n'est pas une vélo

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Posted by @teeheehee on 24th October 2009

Honestly today’s blog post is more to get me to write something because I know I have been lazy. Nothing particularly new happened, this is one of those oft-told stories of harrowing experience, conversation with a motorist, and acclaim from a nearby witness.

For starters, it was a rainy morning. Often this means I wear extra-vibrant clothes to make myself more easily visible to the armored ones I share the road with, but today I sufficed with a light-reflective courier bag and one reflective ankle-cuff. These, combined with my lights, make me relatively conspicuous.

Except if you drive a blue Honda minivan. But, we’ll get back to that after some more build-up….

This morning I went on an errand to the local RCN building (in Arlington) to drop off a couple of cable converters. It was a light rain, and the temperature wasn’t horrible, so I was mostly enjoying the ride except for the occasional red light when I would stop and my glasses would fog up. Note to self: start wearing contact lenses again until the warmer months return.

I was all done with this chore and beginning to switch to the next one (gathering my costume apparel) when I headed back towards Cambridge and Boston via Mass. Ave. For those not familiar with the area of Mass. Ave. in Arlington and Medford: it’s quite wide, but typically problematic with cracks and wrinkles all over. No problems here, though, vehicles were quite respectful this morning.

After I passed the turn towards Alewife the road feature I call the bike share “line” appeared. Cambridge has done some funky things with Mass. Ave., it seems they couldn’t quite figure out what to do to help cyclists – there’s sections with bike lanes, sharrows, and a line with intermittent bike stencils, depending on what area you’re in. The line is my least favorite, even though the area with the sharrows is practically impossible to ride within as it has quite poor road conditions.


Bike lane

Bike lane


sharrow

sharrow


Bike stencil

Bike stencil


So, it was a short time after passing the turn-off towards Alewife that I was buzzed by her. Blue Honda minivan. One occupant: driver. I quickly read the license plate and committed it to short-term memory, but before long I had quite forgotten it. (Well, it was short term memory. *shrug*)

Then the usual Mass. Ave. thing happened: I caught up within the next light or two, and passed her. This is not unusual, I stop at all the red lights but being a bike with some marked space on the road I stop right up at the light. Other areas where it’s too sketchy to do this safely I’ll hang back behind the last car in line I come up to and take the lane until the light goes “green”. But, good ol’ Mass. Ave. lets me creep up to the front almost every time.

When I caught up to her I leered over and kind of gave her “the look” as I passed her, then proceeded to wait dutifully at the light. Light went green, traffic went into motion, all the vehicles passed me with at least two feet distance (not the legal amount, but whatever,) until blue minivan comes zooming past within a few inches. Again.

Well, it was still Mass. Ave. and there were plenty of lights ahead. I caught up to her just before Harvard Square at the bus stop. I stopped, waved, and she rolled down her automatic window.

“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to let you know that you passed me, twice, with very little space between us. Just inches.”

Now, most conversations I’ve had with drivers in similar circumstances would usually cause me to prepare for the usual response in the next moment: my life being threatened. But, it was not so! I may have found one of the nicest, albeit somewhat daft, motorist of the day! “I’d really appreciate if you’d give a little more room.” She nodded and her eyes told a whole story of unexpected shock. She said not a word.

Maybe she didn’t know that what she was doing was endangering me. She had had a couple of feet of space between her left side and the normal lane lines, but hugged the right anyways despite my presence there.

At that moment the light we were at turned green and I cut the one-sided conversation short. I said my piece, she seemed to take it in. I looked to the right at the bus stop and see a dude in bright yellow, bike balanced in one hand, giving the thumbs-up with the other, and he gave a smiling nod which I gladly returned.


Thumbs up

Thumbs up


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Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Ride

Posted by @teeheehee on 13th September 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.
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Countdown to 30: New Acquaintances and a Metric Century

Posted by @teeheehee on 4th May 2009

When I began my training for my upcoming century ride I recognized in the back of my mind the need for a contingency plan.

I had no idea how feasible it would be for me to build up to and actually ride 100 miles before June. I now think I am in a very good position to do that in the next couple of weeks, but I still feel it necessary to have a “fallback” ready.

For example: what if my bike breaks down? What if I hurt myself training and can’t do the ride? Maybe the weather will turn for the worst and blizzards will strike every weekend until June. (Hey, it’s New England, it doesn’t hurt to consider every weather possibility.) If something happens and I can’t do the full 100, how will I cheat/accomplish my goal and not bruise my precious ego too much?

Here is where I rationalize things and conclude that a one-off solution can be, under the right circumstances, considered a successful completion of task. If it comes down to it a metric century, which is to say 100 kilometers or roughly 62 miles, would “count” as achieving my goal if I found 100 miles to be out of reach.

Well, today I feel very good (and a bit weary.) Yesterday (Sunday) I achieved a major milestone in my training which accomplished my contingency plan by completing a metric century. Actually I managed to do a bit more and clocked in 68.35 miles for the day. Woo hoo!
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Countdown to 30: Nagog Pond Loop

Posted by @teeheehee on 25th April 2009

This week I was not at a loss for weekend ride options.

On the one hand I had a list of Pocket Rides that include some loops at either end of the Minuteman Bikeway. These rides have the advantage of both partial familiarity (Bikeway) and complete newness, plus there are comments about what to expect in hills and attractions.

On the other hand I could join one of the Bikes not Bombs group rides that are meant for training for their 62-miler coming up in June’s Bike-a-thon. I participated in last year’s 25-mile ride, which I rode 35 miles of and still didn’t finish. (I got waylaid in the last mile, twice, and ended up needing to be picked up. To my defense, it was 95+ degrees F that day.) I am still trying to find other interested people to join my team, “BikeMe”, so I have yet to sign up for this year’s ride. I’m also thinking of going for the 62-miler, so these training rides would really help me prepare for that.

It was at about 10AM this morning that I made my mind up, I was going to go with a Pocket Ride suggestion: Nagog Pond Loop. This starts at the Bedford end of the Minuteman and goes for about 30 miles though Carlisle, Acton, and Concord. Nagog Pond itself is in Acton.
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Countdown to 30 starts with 30

Posted by @teeheehee on 12th April 2009

This June I will be turning 30, one of those benchmark years that suddenly makes me no longer a 20-something by simple definition.

Since turning 29 I have been trying to think of things to do that would somehow cap my 20’s much like graduating high school and moving to Boston did for my teen years. Graduating college counts towards that, but I wanted something more recent to feel that I am continuing to grow and define myself.

I lagged through about half of my 29-hood without coming up with something. I said to myself: “Self, I need to have a personal achievement that I can attain before my age becomes evenly divisible by the first five values of the Fibonacci sequence.”

And so at the start of winter I decided it was high time I rode a Century – my first personally propelled 100-miles in a single day.

This, I knew, would be a challenge for me and I’d need to improve certain personal aspects in order to achieve it.
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