Monday, October 21, 2019

Circling Wachusett Foliage Ride - October 16, 2019


Wednesday, 16 October 2019, Circling Wachusett Foliage Ride
Ride Leader: Clyde Kessel
41 miles, 10:00 am start from West Sterling Athletic Field, Sterling, MA

Riders (17) :  Clyde, Bernie Flynn, Beth Rosenzweig, Betsy Harper, Bob Apsler, Bruce Lederer, Ellen Gugel, Everett Briggs, Francie Sparks, Gary Williams, Gene Ho, Gerry Sheetoo, Herb Kavet, Jerry Skurla, Mike Barry, Rick Lawrence, and first timer Ted Finch.

We had a good turnout of riders who were prepared and able to do this challenging ride.  One rider, who was unable to maintain anything close to the standard WW pace, quickly dropped out to ride at their own pace.  Another rider, who wouldn’t have been able to keep up, arrived with an eBike and fit into the group very nicely.  The weather gods were kind enough to delay the rain 'til evening, so there were no worries on that front.  It did cloud over and get a bit breezy, so warm cycling clothes were de rigueur.  This ride leader is not fond of YAPGP (yet another pointless group photo), so we did not make the customary stop in front of the silo at the top of the hill.  We saw a deer in the woods and lots of colorful foliage.

Traditionally, this ride makes a very sharp right turn at the bottom of the Bolton Road hill to go up to the ski area.  We skipped this turn and a number of riders expressed their appreciation.  At that point, Bob and Everett left the group and rode up to the summit of Mt. Wachusett.  The rest of us forged ahead on the low road.  At mile 35, most of the group split off to go directly to their cars, while three of us opted to go into Princeton for lunch.  This involved climbing Merriam Road, the steepest hill of the day, which brought us to the highest point of the entire route.  So, the last four miles took us from the highest point to the lowest point.  That means fast, and cold, since we had eaten lunch outdoors in Princeton and had gotten thoroughly chilled before starting the final descent.

A big thank you to Mike Barry for sweeping,  to all of the arrows who were VERY patient for the first part of the ride, and especially to Richard Vignoni for the wonderful route.

Report by Clyde Kessel.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Doug's Annual Bonsai Rides - October 9, 2019


Wednesday, 9 October 2019, Doug's Annual Bonsai Rides
Ride Leaders:  Doug Hobkirk & Clyde Kessel
34 or 40 miles, 10:00 am start from Bonsai West, Westford MA
Riders - 34 mi (5) :  Doug, David Fay, Merle Adelman, Sally Chapman, and Wing Chow.
Riders - 40 mi (6):  Clyde, Geoff Allard, Gerry Sheetoo, Rich Taylor, Rochelle Holman, and first-timer Richard Brown.

The short ride group left shortly after the long.  David had just done a 53-mile ride (his longest ride ever - congratulations!) and his legs did not need serious climbs, so he returned on his own.  Wing ("I arrived late") joined us for a few miles and then blasted ahead to do the longer ride.  He didn't connect, so he caught us again as we rode across Westford.  Merle was a freaking monster - if only we could have transferred some of her vigor to David, he could have continued.  I would like to have been able to talk to him more.

The foliage colors were wonderful and the sun appeared briefly while we were on Martin Pond Road (my favorite road - I built this route around this road).  A large blue heron took off and flew over us near the 4H Fairground - what a delight!

I bored people with my ride anecdotes about a bagpipe player, wild bamboo, and my perception that several miles felt to me like we were in a wilderness (despite there being a paved road!).

Lunch was excellent.  There may have only been three of us who stayed for lunch, but we were an outstanding three!  And Kathy, my much-too-good-for-me wife, added hot cocoa and brownies.

 Thank you Clyde, Kathy, and Helen.  And special thanks to Michael Levin for allowing us to use his "museum" -  Bonsai West.

Report by Doug Hobkirk.

In years past, this ride has been plagued with problems:  broken hips, exploding bikes, two Clydes on the same ride, European visitors getting lost, entire groups getting lost, entire lunch getting lost, and so on.  We seem to have turned a corner though, as this year the ride went off without a hitch.  (Come on, a dropped chain does not count).  The forecast was for some light rain, but it didn’t happen - we stayed dry for the entire ride and the after-ride lunch.

The long group set off very close to 10:00 am (it was kind of chilly and rain was in the forecast so no one wanted to dillydally).  We followed a somewhat modified version of the route which kept the mileage the same, but avoided the (wet) gravel road, the (wet) forest path, and the construction on Rte 113 near Dunstable center.

We never needed a human arrow because the group stayed close together.  I do thank Gerry very much for being the sweep.  Even though the group stayed together, having a designated sweep (wearing a unique jersey) is a big help so the leader can see that everyone is nearby.  It was also very helpful that various riders would call out that everyone had made it through an intersection.

The long group maintained a 14 mph average and arrived at the finish just as the short group were putting their bikes in their cars.

The lunch in the bonsai garden was, as usual, lovely and relaxing.  It is kind of sad that only three people stayed to enjoy it.

Report by Clyde Kessel.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Witches and Pitches - September 25, 2019


Wednesday, 25 September 2019, Witches and Pitches
Ride Leaders:  Lindy King & Roy Westerberg

42 or 28 miles, 10:00 am start from Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton MA

Riders – 42 mi (20):  Lindy, Bernie Flynn, Beth Rosenzweig, Bruce Lederer, Butch Pemstein, Dick French, Frank Aronson, Gary Williams, Geoff Allard, Gerry Sheetoo, Jerry Skurla, John Aslanian, Kaz Zelny, Ken Hablow, Marc Baskin, Maria Noya, Ray Komow, Rochelle Holman, Rudge McKenney, and Wing Chow.
Riders – 28 mi (8):  Roy, Bob Wilson, Don Mannes, Margaret Coughlin, Pat Brennan, Rich Taylor, Selig Saltzman, and Susan Sabin.

It was a beautiful, mild day, considering it was the first ride of fall.  I had received a phone call alerting me that there was traffic en route to Groton and riders might be late in getting to the start.  So we chatted, waited, had the requisite safety speech, and divided into two groups - for the long and short ride options.

Roy had graciously been volunteered as co-leader and handled the task expertly.  He was also of great assistance at the start of the ride.

It turns out our group on the long ride had many spirited riders.  At the outset, we decided to make a brief stop in Hollis at mile 10.5, for restrooms and adjusting attire, and then another one at around 30 miles at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Brookline, NH.  The scenery en route to Hollis was exquisite and as the hills went up so did the temperature and wind velocity.

We rendezvous’d with the short group and one of our riders turned back due to health concerns - "just being cautious" he alerted us.  So our group continued onward through Amherst, NH, where we switched directions and turned onto Witches Spring Road with a nice tailwind.  Once we made our way onto Ponemah Hill Road - gorgeous horse farms here - there was talk of the hill:  was it 9 or 11 or 13%?  In any event it was a good one!

Soon after, we encountered the only traffic light on the route, in Milford, NH, and then several hills en route to Rte 13 in Brookline, NH.  It was a busy road but we flew down it, all the way to the Dunkin’ Donuts.  Soon after arriving there, we were joined by Gary Williams who had been trying to find us all morning after being stuck in traffic getting to the start - he was glad to finally have companions to ride with!  It was a good stop and several photos of the group were taken by our photographer, Maria.

From there we breezed, via Pepperell, back into Groton with a nice tailwind.  Once back at the start who should appear but Jerry Skurla who had several delays and did the route on his own!  All in all it was a very nice fall day with great company, and another bucolic ride completed.

Thanks to John for sweeping.

 Report by Lindy King.

On a beautiful, sunny, but somewhat brisk, early fall day, seven of us set out a minute or two behind the long-ride group.  Since both rides followed the same route for the first ten miles, we saw the other group occasionally, and we all met up in Hollis center.  Two of our members departed early, but we gained one, leaving six who completed the rest of the route.

Lindy had laid out a beautiful route over mostly rural roads with light traffic, including about a mile on hard-packed dirt.  Early signs of fall foliage color were evident in many places.  We mostly stayed pretty close together, and only needed arrows occasionally.  We proceeded over the route without incident.

After the ride, five of us had a pleasant lunch and conversation at Salt and Light.  Susan observed that this was the first post-ride restaurant she had been to that had cloth napkins!

Thanks to those who arrowed, and to Selig for sweeping the entire route.

Report by Roy Westerberg.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

ME Seacoast rides - September 18, 2019


Wednesday, 18 September 2019, ME Seacoast rides
Ride Leaders:  Ken Hablow & Susan Sabin

60, 57, or 38 miles, 10:30 am start from Odiorne Point Boat Launch, Rye, NH

Riders - 60 mi (1):  Ron Cater.

Riders - 57 mi (13):  Ken, Barbara Martin, Bernie Flynn, Curt Dudley-Marling, Gerry Sheetoo, Jack Donohue, Julie Dodd, Kathy Horvath, Lindy King, Richard Lawrence, Rochelle Holman, Rudge McKenney, and Russ Keene.

Riders - 38 mi (6):  Susan, Bob Wadsworth, Doug Hobkirk, Gary Williams, James Hsia, and Selig Saltzman.

 It was a glorious day as we set out from the Odiorne Point Boat Launch in Rye, NH, on the 60 mile route.  It was comfortably cool, sunny, with a brisk northerly wind which was fully appreciated on the southerly return from Ogunquit.

 After a quick spin through Newcastle, then through Portsmouth and across the bridge into Kittery, we started our ride along the coast to Ogunquit.  With a very compatible group, we did not need arrows or a sweep.  We made our mandatory stop at Nubble Light, then continued along the shore through Cape Neddick to Ogunquit for a short lunch stop.  Since Ron Cater was the only one who wished to climb Mt. Agamenticus, we let him go ahead and the rest of us short-cutted the road to the mountain and continued on a very serene and quiet inland return.

 Report by Ken Hablow.

 Photo by Barbara Martin.

This is a story that begins at the end . . . . .

After our very beautiful ride, for which nature and Ken may take full credit, Ken and I compared notes by email.  It seems that he and his group finished before me and my very small contingent - so I feel the need to explain!

After arriving at Nubble light, Gary (who had a time commitment) left us to return to Rye on his own.  Bob and Doug, who had started wth Ken's group, joined Selig, James and me and our little group headed out for the return to NH.

Back in Kittery, we decided to eat at Warren's, just before the bridge to Portsmouth.  The food was great, but the service amazingly slow.  We left the restaurant sometime before the dinner crowd descended and then proceeded to get lost.  It took a few consultations for us to agree to backtrack to the point at which we knew we would be on track.  At that point (having added an extra mile to our total), we finally re-started and finished the four or five miles back to the boat launch in Rye.

It was a gorgeous day and ride and, for me at least, the late return took nothing away from the enjoyment.

Report by Susan Sabin.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Deer Island - September 11, 2019


Wednesday, 11 September 2019, Deer Island
Ride Leader:  Tom Allen

37 miles, 10:00 am start from Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA

Riders (12): Tom, Frank Aronson, Geoff Allard, James Hsia, John Raftery, Margaret Coughlin, Rich Mandel, Rochelle Holman, Selig Saltzman, Susan Sabin, and first-timers, Adam Walpert and Bernie Mango.  (The majority of the above remoted to the start; prize goes to Rochelle, who rode 20+ miles from Westford.)

It started as a moderate and pleasant day that turned breezy and warm - a pretty close to ideal biking day for this time of year.  We set out through Cambridge and Somerville streets and found the Somerville Community Path, the first of approximately ten off-street paths that stitched our urban ride together.  We then rode on both sides of the Mystic River, on more bike paths, and took a new bike and pedestrian passage under Rte 16 to Everett.  Passing Night Shift brewery, we then found ourselves on the Northern Strand Bikeway which took us to Revere.

The ride through Revere was a bit drab, but traffic was not especially hostile.  We then reached Revere Beach with its ocean vista (see photo).  Proceeding south along the beach and on into Winthrop, we were treated to more water views and a noticeable headwind.  We paused at the Judge David Mazzone Memorial to his rulings that mandated the Boston Harbor clean-up project.

To continue on the multi-use path around Deer Island, we were obliged to take a minor detour, but were quickly back on track.  Heading back through Winthrop we came to East Boston and took the East Boston Greenway and Connector, past Constitution Beach, and took an easy one-way street across East Boston to the bridge to Chelsea.  We took a small detour into a rustic neighborhood (cobblestone street) and then to the Admirals Hill neighborhood and Mary O'Malley State Park, with views of the Boston skyline and a very close-up view of the Tobin Bridge.

We then traversed the produce market area of Chelsea on a newly paved section of Beacham Street (formerly know as craters-of-the-moon) to the new Encore Casino.  That project has included bike lanes on Broadway extending across the Alford Street bridge to (and through) Sullivan Square.  Until that was completed - just this summer - this portion of the ride would not have been feasible.

Five of us had lunch at Mike's in Davis Square.  Margaret volunteered to lead others back to the start at Danehy Park following the GPS route.

Thanks to Rich for sweeping most of the ride, and to Rochelle for filling in after Rich split for home.  We stayed mostly together, minimizing the need for arrows.  Rochelle and a few others were diligent about providing arrows where needed.

Report by Tom Allen.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Cape Ann Artists ride - September 4, 2019


Wednesday, 4 September 2019, Cape Ann Artists ride
Ride Leader:  Selig Saltzman

32 miles, 10:00 am start from Fisherman’s Monument, Gloucester, MA

Riders (8):  Selig, Barbara Jacobs, Gary Williams, Geoff Allard, Jack Mroczkowski, Judi Burten, Pat Brennan, and Ted Nyder.

After waiting a few minutes past 10, but with no late arrivals, a small but elite group proceeded.  The temperature continued to fluctuate, but threatened adverse weather did not materialize.  We passed the imposing City Hall, the sea serpent statue at the art museum, and the Fitz Henry Lane statue and house.  On Rocky Neck we stopped at a house, the subject of Hopper's " The Mansard Roof. "  We proceeded to the end of Eastern Point and then to Brace Rock, the subject of a Lane painting.

After regrouping in Rockport center, we continued around Cape Ann, seeing stone animals, a metal giraffe, and a view of the NH coast.  Our next dead end was in Annisquam, with views of Wingaersheek, Crane, and Plum Island beaches.

Because the group was small and stayed together, arrows were seldom necessary.  Due to the relatively late finish, only the ride leader went to lunch.  One rider, Geoff, remoted from West Roxbury by bike and train.

Report by Selig Saltzman.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

North Shore rides - August 28, 2019

Wednesday, 28 August 2019, North Shore rides
Ride Leaders:  Jim White & Karen Saltus
33 or 49 miles, 10:00 am start from Rusty Can parking lot, Byfield, MA

Riders - 33 mi (11):  Jim, Dave Balaban, James Hsia, Margaret Coughlin, Mike Barry, Neil Martin, Patty Grasso, Paula Bossone, Rich Taylor, Ron Marland, and first-timer, Tim MacDonald.
Riders - 49 mi (7+)  Karen, Chris Vela, Frank Aronson, Frank Hubbard, Geoff Allard, Jerry Skurla, and Rochelle Holman, with a brief appearance by Everett Briggs.

Eighteen cyclists came to Byfield to ride on a near perfect August day - but with a potential for rain after 1:00 pm.  Jim White (assisted by Paula Bossone) led the 33 mile group of eleven cyclists and Karen Saltus led the 49 mile group of seven cyclists.  Both routes followed the 2019 NSC Century options, except that they started at the Rusty Can restaurant.

The 33 mile group stayed mostly within eyesight of each other and hardly needed human arrows, but thanks to those who did arrow.  Paula led the group as Jim, the official ride leader, felt it was best to be the sweep, as he is adept at fixing flats and other mechanical mishaps - fortunately we had none.  Tim left the route early, due to an appointment.  Ron did not wish to pause at the first pit stop at the West Newbury Town Offices and we never saw him again.  Since the rides were arrowed, people had the option of riding independently.

When we reached Highland Road in Newbury at about 12:30 pm, the skies had darkened and we felt some light sprinkles.  Paula and I agreed that we had two optional short cuts to return sooner if needed.  We gave the group the option of shortening the route, but it was unanimous that, from looking at the radar on their phones (of course), the risk was low and we finished the complete route with mostly sun the rest of the way.  Eight people stayed for lunch at the Rusty Can, where we enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere and good BBQ.

Report by Jim White.

It was a gorgeous day and more than once I heard, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”  Shortly after leaving, seven riders turned onto a road at the same time as a rider coming from the opposite direction.  It turned out to be Everett - and then there were eight riders.  However, almost immediately, Everett and Frank Hubbard left the rest of us in their dust - and then there were six.

 We rode along the Merrimac River, down quiet, beautiful roads.  “It doesn’t get any better than this!”  We cycled past marshes, lovely gardens, and through quaint towns.  We stopped for a quick snack and Everett came up behind us and then quickly disappeared ahead of us.  One rider left to get home early - and then there were five.  Shortly after, Geoff left to catch the train back to Boston - and then there were four.  We rode into the parking lot together, but Rochelle had to leave to meet a friend.  And then there were three who enjoyed a wonderful lunch with new friends.

The leader, who forgot her phone handlebar mount because she was packing for a two-week cycling trip in Quebec, wishes to thank the riders who kept her on the route, as well as the North Shore Cyclists for the easy-to-follow arrows.  Thanks also to Jimmy for a fantastic route!

Report by Karen Saltus.