Monday, September 19, 2005

Turning away from fuel

An interesting article in The Boston Globe about people seeking alternative means of transportation and finding other ways to spend less money on gas and less time driving.
By bicycle, by scooter, by train, by foot, by strategies large and small, more and more fed-up motorists are forsaking their vehicles and exploring ways to avoid being guzzled by gas.
Imagine that-- when prices are not kept artificially low, people are more willing to consider alternatives! Now, if we could only get the prices to reflect the externalities of the environmental impact of fossil fuels and the driving lifestyle...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Crushed by an SUV

I had just left work and was biking home when I heard the sound of plastic hitting the pavement. With a sinking feeling, I pulled over and checked my derriere; sure enough, my taillight was missing. And there it was, lying in the middle of the traffic lane on Walnut Street. I walked over, anxious to pick it up before a car ran over it.

All of a sudden, an ominous dark SUV turned the corner. Oh, oh. As my dismay mounted, I saw its oversize wheel aiming straight for my defenseless little taillight. I watched helplessly as the crack heard up and down the streeet scattered debris every which way. The SUV continued on its course blissfully unaware of what had transpired. Or was it? Methought there was just a little swagger of triumph in the dastardly contraption's retreat from the scene of destruction.

Anguished, I picked up the remains of what was once my taillight, now nothing more than pitiful broken shards of plastic and glass. How had this come to pass? Was I to blame? Surely, I should have tried harder to put a nut on the bolt that was holding it in place. If it didn't fit, I should have used a longer bolt. It was all my fault! I had destroyed the taillight! Or not, maybe I could blame the bike store for not fastening it correctly or the streets of Boston for bumpy rides that would have shaken anything loose.

After a mournful ride home, a quick forensic analysis of the carcass revealed that the plastic fastening point had broken completely. It was not my fault at all, nor the bike store's (though in good conscience we both should have attached the light more securely). No, it was the streets of Boston, Newton, and Wellesley who had conspired to shake and rattle my poor little taillight until it broke. It was the potholes that could not be avoided and the bumps from layers and layers of pavement patches; in short, the callous disregard for proper biking conditions that condemmed my faithful taillight to an all-too-early death.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cape Cod Century!

On my flight home from my Newfoundland vacation, I was really yearning to get back on the saddle and do some more bike touring. I was torn: perhaps a weekend tour the following week would be a good way to prolong the summer and ease me into the routine of the everyday--- or perhaps what I would really need was quiet time to catch up on my sleep, my blog, my pictures. Staying home and nesting sounded awfully appealing, but my freshly-cleaned bike sparkled its beckons at me....

What should drop like the gentle dews of heaven onto this barren landscape of indecision but an invitation to a birthday party on Cape Cod for my friend and colleague Matt? Problem solved! A trip, a destination, and a roof over my head.

I took the commuter rail to the end of the line at Kingston, MA, and biked from there on 3A, 3, the Sagamore Bridge (I really should have used the sidewalk), and 6 to get to the party at South Dennis. The party was fun: we hung out at the beach, and then went back to the house for barbecue, socializing, dancing, and star-gazing. Most of us crashed at the house that night.

Today, after grabbing a quick breakfast, we parted ways. My original plan was to return the way I came, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to avoid the Labor Day traffic heading back into town, Instead, I went against traffic: I took the Cape Cod Rail Trail from South Dennis all the way to Wellfleet, and then routes 6 and 6A to get into Provincetown, whence, after gobbling down a delicious lunch, I embarked on the Gay Express (as I call it) to bring me back home.

Indeed, without intending to, I biked the entire Cape in two days, which, including the distance biked in Boston, amounts to just over a century; that is in itself an accomplishment. It was also my first solo bike tour (ie. self-sustained overnighter) sans the boyfriend. And, to top everything off, I refreshed my bike tan. I hope it will stick around until Knox returns from Nova Scotia.

My house to South Station
Distance:4.05 mi
Pedal time:0:20:22
Average speed:13.09 mi/hr
Maximum speed:23.0 mi/hr

My house to South Dennis
Distance:54.92 mi
Pedal time:3:33:31
Average speed:15.89 mi/hr
Maximum speed:32.7 mi/hr

My house to S. Dennis, Provincetown, and then back home on the ferry
Distance:102.11 mi
Pedal time:6:54:50
Average speed:15.35 mi/hr
Maximum speed:32.7 mi/hr

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Massachusetts Bike Laws

I found this reference to Massachusetts Bike Laws. Some items of note:
  • You must have your headlight and taillight on if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • You must wear reflectors on both ankles if there are no reflectors on your pedals.
  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
I put this link on the sidebar to this blog.