Friday, March 18, 2011

What's On First - Base Miles

Baseballs Off-Season by Randy11Kat
Full Color postcard printing on Zazzle

The promise of a day closing in on 60 degrees lured me into uncharted territory.

The Blackstone River Bikeway in Rhode Island is 12.5 miles of bike/walking and practically car-free path. It is quite often used as a "train" of sorts where cycling advocates join up and ride together to their jobs from the northern areas of Rhode Island into the cities of Pawtucket and Providence with minimal interference from motorized vehicles. As an added bonus, there are volunteers that patrol the path via bicycle

For me, the most difficult part of the ride was finding the parking lot. I am not familiar with most of these cities and one wrong turn onto a major highway proved it once again. Note to self: Next car should include a GPS installation.

As far as clothing went, I stuck with what worked the last time. That proved to be sufficient and not too hot. I'm used to sweating in a spin room anyway so over-dressing at this point isn't going to be a problem.

The path was beautiful and as smooth as you can ask for given the weather we've had. There was some debris from trees but nothing extraordinarily obtrusive. In fact, the biggest problem was the entrance which still had a snow bank of about 4 feet high and wide sitting smack in the middle of the path, leaving only inches of wet mud on either side as an access. This was not much of a problem to me as I just made the decision to portage the bike over the curb and then jump on and take off. I'm sure it was much more disconcerting to both the couple with the child-bike trailer and the other couple trying to get in with a wheelchair.

The ride itself follows along the Blackstone River and a commuter train line. It's a gem in an otherwise urban area that features some of the old fabric mills that have now been mostly converted to condos. There are picnic tables, maps, and other areas that provide users with a self-guided tour of the river. In other words, it's the perfect place to get started putting in base miles and getting used to my bike.


Photo courtesy TrailLink.com

I must admit that I had some problems getting used to just finding the shifters. Since my Fuji has friction shifters, I found myself absentmindedly reaching for them at the headset instead of on the brakes.

The other things I needed to address; braking, stopping, and drinking, were not as difficult as I had feared although the second time I reached for a drink, I remember thinking that I had to be careful because if I dropped the bottle, it was more than likely going to wind up in the river. The bank along that stretch was, at the most, 3 feet wide with a steep drop-off, which meant any chance of recovering my beloved Fat Cyclist water bottle was... *THUNK*.

You've got to be kidding. Not kidding - it had slipped right through my fingers.

Stopping on the other side of a little foot bridge, I slowly turned around and looked down the path. Not seeing any sign of the bottle, I took a deep breath, and decided to walk back to take a closer look anyway. I love "Team Fatty" and didn't even know if I could replace the bottle until next year. I kept looking for the bottle in the river but lo and behold, it had stayed on the path. It says something for the smoothness of the path that the bottle hadn't rolled into the water. Retrieving the bottle, I vowed to only drink in the grassy sections for the duration of the ride and from now on, only use my bottle at the gym. Camelbaks are easily replaced unless it's a Twin Six Fat Cyclist bottle.

When the path hit a major intersection, I decided to use that as my turn-around point. Still working on using that cycling computer, I had no idea how far I had traveled and just decided that it was high time to head back.

Getting back home and checking out the ride online, it turns out that I was only 3 miles from the end of the current path anyway. Final total for the day was 18 miles and the discovery of a beautiful ride in Rhody.

2 comments:

  1. That does look like a beautiful ride. I am glad your weather is finally letting you get out.

    I can relate to the water bottle mishap. On longer rides I take a Camelbak. Short rides I wait until we get to a re-group stop and then drink. Otherwise I tell stories similar to yours.

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  2. It looks like we're in for snow showers again this week. I guess I'm spending more time in spin classes again.
    I usually use Polar insulated bottles because they have a ring that wraps around the neck that you can slip a finger through for a better grip. I decided to try out the Camelbak Podium because I like the nozzle better than the Polar. I won't make that mistake again!

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