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Sean's Blog

One Trail Opens, Another Closes

Here’s a brief summary of 2 rides I went on in late August and early September.  First, I headed southwest to Westfield, to see newly completed bits of bike trail there.

I had ridden down there earlier in the year, when construction had begun on extending the Southwick trail up into Westfield.  I went the same way down – taking trails down through Easthampton, and then riding past this intersection with the blinking lights in the stop sign:

When I rode past here back in May, there were 3 abandoned shoes lying there.  Those 3 shoes were all gone this time… and there were 2 new ones:

(‘new’ in the sense of being new to this location, anyway)

I got to the trail entrance in the south part of Westfield, where in May there was dirt trail and preliminary pavement heading to the south.  Now there is finished pavement going in both directions from the road.  Here is the view of the trail heading south to join the Southwick one:

And here is the new section heading north toward downtown Westfield:

(my bike poses for the camera in the middle, there)

I rode north on the trail, and quickly came to where it ends in the middle of the woods.  There is plenty more length for them to pave yet.  The new section does have a couple of access ramps, though, which head up into quiet side streets.  I went up one of these and then rode up through town via route 10 (and followed that road back to Easthampton).

 

On Labor Day, I took a trip up to Greenfield.  On the way, I rode from Hadley into Amherst on the Norwottuck trail, and checked out the temporarily closed section:

The state conservation and recreation dept. closed it for reconstruction of a bridge that carries the trail over a side street in Amherst.  There was a detour directing trail users onto a dirt/gravel path:

Here’s the new bridge that’s being built, as seen from the road:

and seen from the other side of the closed section:

From there, I headed up through the UMass campus, and through Leverett, Montague, and Deerfield to get to Greenfield (including riding on the nice trail in Turner’s Falls).  In Greenfield, I had lunch at the People’s Pint, so as to enjoy their homemade sodas (as I did once last year).  I made sure to have the Orange Cream this time, as I hadn’t tried it before.

I rode home through a section of Deerfield I’d been though on a previous ride, but then followed an unfamiliar road that goes along the Deerfield River for a bit.  Here’s where the road (and the river) passes under Interstate 91:

Here’s the view to the right of that, looking downriver:

From there I headed through Deerfield center, and headed on more familiar roads down to Northampton, and home the usual way.  Each of these rides was in the neighborhood of 60 miles.

 

Posted by seaking on 09-26-2012 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

The Meadow Is Long

Here’s another bike ride I did this summer.  I rode down to the town of East Longmeadow, which is south of Springfield.  I’d never been there before, so I wanted to take a look.

My ride initially took me through South Hadley and Granby, into Ludlow.  Just before one hits the Mass Pike in Ludlow, there is a municipal beach on a little lake:

Further south, past the Pike, one can cross a bridge into the eastern end of Springfield, which I did.  I then headed a little further east into Wilbraham, and then went south.  I came to this golf course with a nice view at one point:

They had this sign there, the likes of which I’ve never seen before:

(as I don’t play golf, though, it’s possible that lots of courses have such a sign)

From Wilbraham I angle to the southwest and headed to the town center of E. Longmeadow.  It has a 7-point intersection: that is, there are 7 input/outputs in one spot.  Here are a couple of views of that intersection, though to really get a good idea of it you have to be there (and it’s also clearer on maps – just google East Longmeadow, MA):

You can’t really see all of the streets in either of the photos, obviously.

On the map, when I was planning the ride, I saw that there was a bike trail of some kind in the town.  I found it and rode it – it’s called the Redstone Trail, and is about 1.5 miles long.  Here is the northern end:

and here’s the south end:

After riding that path I looked for a place to have lunch, but did not find any place especially interesting.  There is a middle eastern place in the town, but it’s closed on Sundays, which is the day of the week I was there.

I headed northwest, and found this little park with a whole lot of geese (not sure if this was in East Longmeadow or Longmeadow, which is a separate town):

Many of the geese were walking in a series of groups toward the baseball diamond, and then into the diamond:

What’s special about that location for them, I have no idea.

I got up into Springfield, and ended up eating lunch at Bueno y Sano (a great burrito place which I’ve eaten at in Amherst and Northampton several times).

As I neared downtown Springfield after lunch, I headed for my other objective on this ride – checking out the riverside trail there, which I’d never seen, only heard about.

The path is part of a riverfront park that is separated from the rest of the city by railroad tracks.  There are only a few places to cross the tracks.  I went over a walking bridge that is up a few flights of stairs.  Here are some views from the platform at the top of the stairs:

Here’s the actual bridge over the tracks – it’s one level below the viewing platform:

The bridge seen from its own level:

On the far side of the tracks the bridge has a series of ramps to get you to the ground, rather than stairs (technically there is an elevator on the side I came up, but it wasn’t a big deal to carry my bike up the steps).

Once on the path, I rode north to see how far it would go.  Here’s a river view:

At one point, the path gos into its own sort of bridge, and rises:

This path bridge is to go over a set of train tracks that cross the river:

While above the tracks I took this picture (which you may have seen on my Will Bike 4 Food fundraising page):

After that, the path descended to ground level again, and headed up into the city’s north end.  I got off where it ended and rode up into Chicopee.  I soon had to cross the Chicopee River, which is accomplished with this little temporary bridge right now:

This is there for pedestrians and bikes while a street bridge is being rebuilt:

That’s the temp bridge on the left.  Cars have a detour that involves the freeway.

Here is the view upriver:

From there, I headed up through a bit of Holyoke, back into S. Hadley, and home.  My total distance for the ride was 56 miles.

Posted by seaking on 09-22-2012 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 0 Comments

Further Fundraising for Food Foray

Last year I participated in the inaugural Will Bike 4 Food ride, put on by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.  The Food Bank obviously considered that event a success, as they’re doing it again this year (it did raise more than $35,000 for their efforts in 2011).  I’m going to be riding in the event again this year.

I’ll be doing 100 miles again, and while I now know that’s an attainable goal, because I have more experience with long rides I’m challenging myself to finish the ride in significantly less time.  It took me over 10-and-a-half hours last September.  I’m now shooting for riding the 100 miles in 9 hours or less.  With more experience and a lighter bike, I think I can do it.  The route will be different, perhaps with fewer hills, and perhaps with more – that remains to be seen (it does go up into Vermont, which is neat).

I also want to offer an extra incentive to get donations – a partial matching grant, if you will.  I’ve set a goal of $1000 in donations to collect (last year donations to my ride totaled around $800).  If we can reach that $1000 goal, I will kick in an additional $500 of my own money – so the Food Bank will get a total of $1500 from my ride.

You can visit my fundraising page to give online, and find out more about the event.  If you prefer to give offline, contact me to make arrangements.  I’m also happy to answer any questions about the ride – you can e-mail me or post here in the comments.

The ride is in 3 weeks, and should be a blast.

Posted by seaking on 09-09-2012 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking, News with 0 Comments

Bearing East

On July 4th I went biking in a big loop.  I first headed south through the town of South Hadley, then west through Holyoke.  I passed through Anniversary Hill Park, where I had biked a few years ago, only this time I did not come out the way I had entered the park, I passed the tower and walked my bike through the woods on a dirt path, emerging on a side street further west.  I then continued on to Easthampton.

Easthampton was once again this year doing a Bearfest, with bear statues decorated by different artists displayed in front of businesses and in some parks.  Here’s a sampling of the bears I saw:

This one by the municipal building did not use the standard statue:

This one’s a bit creepy (mainly because of the size of the bees):

A few were interesting alternatives to painting the statue, like the Steel Clad Bear:

and the Luminous Bear:

that one came with a warning:

This one seems to be partly carved out of a stone block:

That one was located in front of the old town hall building, which now houses a few arts organizations (and which I think is neat looking):

This one (called The Bear Truth) was the most overtly political message, and the saddest bear I saw:

 

I left downtown and headed for the Acadia Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the line between Easthampton and Northampton.  I had thought that one could bike through the refuge, but that’s not the case.  They do have a bunch of walking trails, though, so I spent some time walking them.  Soon after I entered the woods, I encountered this elevated viewing platform up in the trees:

The partly enclosed platform stands on top of a few wooden pilings, and is mostly stabilized by several guy wires.  Despite being stabilized, it (and the metal spiral staircase that leads up to it) sways back and forth a bit.  The motion was a little disconcerting.

Nevertheless, it does offer a nice view of the Mill River and related wetlands:

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much wildlife while I was hiking around.  I saw the occasional chipmunk, and encountered quite a number of mosquitoes.  Some of the paths were almost overgrown, as well, so my legs got a bit scratched up.  I left the place a little over an hour after I’d gotten there and rode on toward Noho.

On the way, I passed along the northern edge of the Connecticut River oxbow, and went over the mouth of the Mill River on this little bridge:

Here is the oxbow itself, with Mt. Nonotuck in the background (to the south):

From there I headed up into Northampton, and then home via the usual trails.

 

Posted by seaking on 09-06-2012 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking with 0 Comments

Blooming Weirdness Again

I posted last year about the flower on our night-blooming cereus plant, which was open for less than 24 hours.  It bloomed again this year, on almost the same date.

Here is a picture from late June, when we had just noticed that a flower was growing:

Here is the flower one day before blooming (July 7):

 

It began to open in the early evening of July 8:

And here it is fully open in the late evening:

The following morning it was still open:

Later in the day it had closed up and started to fall off.  Until next year…

 

Posted by seaking on 09-04-2012 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Surreal with 1 Comment

Older, yes, but wiser?

On June 10, I headed home from the Boston area.  I had decided not to set the alarm clock in my room, and so didn’t wake up until 8:00.  I ended up checking out at 9:30, and then hopping on my bike to pedal for home.  Whereas I had ridden to downtown Boston on the way out, then taken a bus up to the hotel in Revere, to go home I headed westward straight from Revere.

My route did angle a bit southward, taking me through communities such as Malden, Belmont, and Arlington, until I reached Waltham, where I linked up with the route I had followed before, and started following it backwards.  This first meant a long stretch on highway 117 (angling a bit north now), which took me through Concord and Sudbury.  In one of those towns (I think it was Concord), I saw this pretty little waterway:

In Sudbury, I saw that there was a trail project, which not everyone in the town is happy about.

In looking at some google hits on the subject, it’s unclear whether these signs were leftover from votes the town took earlier in the spring (in which the trail was affirmed), or there was some new vote scheduled later in the year.

I made better time on this road than I had on the way out, which I mainly chalked up to being fresher for riding, since I was covering this stretch earlier in the ride.  Before too long, I was in Bolton, the town in which I would leave 117 and start heading through a series of different back roads.  In Bolton, I stopped to photograph the public library building:

It’s an interesting building – I’m not sure how often I’ve seen a tile roof on a stone building.

I continued to make good time, and stopped off for lunch in the town of Sterling.  The place I picked to eat had a sign outside saying that they served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but once inside I discovered that on Sundays it’s only breakfast all day.  So I had an omelet, toast, and home fries.

Soon after that I traveled back along the small section of bike trail in West Boylston, made my way through Holden and Rutland (in the latter town I stopped to replenish my water supply), traversing Central Mass and getting nearer the Quabbin Reservoir.  I didn’t take any more pictures until I was headed through Gilbertville (a section of the town of Hardwick), right near the Quabbin.  Here’s the library there:

and an adjacent church:

I headed south from there, to downtown Ware.  On the way into Ware, I saw this view:

That would be one of the Quabbin hills.

I had dinner in Ware (a tuna grinder at a pizza place), and then headed on for the last 2 hours of riding.  It started to get dark when I got within an hour of home, so I put my lights on.  Just before home I passed through the Hampshire College campus, and stopped by this bus shelter with an art project in it:

As you can see, the colors of the light change.  I had seen this exhibit on a previous evening ride, but did not have a good camera with me that time.

I made it home a few minutes after 9pm, making my total travel time 11.5 hours.  Interestingly, this is less time that it took me to go out to Boston, and I had even traveled a longer distance coming back, having ridden all the way from the hotel.  The most likely reason for the difference is that, on the way out I had to refer often to the directions and maps I had printed out, while on the way home I remembered most of the turns, and didn’t need to stop as much.

Thus concluded my longest bike trip to date, and my 40th year on the earth.

Posted by seaking on 09-03-2012 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking, Travel with 1 Comment