Being my first trip to Boston and the ‘States’ you would have though I would have been excited about sampling my first Dunkin’ Donuts, watching the Red Sox smash one over the green monster, visiting the mansions in Rhode Island, learning about the revolution on the freedom trail, eating copious amounts of lobster, or slurping clam chowder from a paper cup whilst watching a sunset in Menemsha on Marthas Vineyard but, because of my lack of knowledge of what Boston MA was all about, all I wanted to do was hire bike to go out cycling…….. That’s what I know.
I managed to get out twice over the holiday which, matched with the occasional morning run, was perfect. One out of Concord where we were staying, and another on Martha’s vineyard where we had booked beach cottages for a day.
First ride out was a little treat for my birthday, a 42 mile loop around Concord that I found on Ride With GPS. Quite impressed with this site, it’s a route mapping social network/club site where users create and share rides. You can also dip in as a non-member and download guidance files for your GPS, which is exactly what I did for this unfamiliar territory.
To get out first I needed a bike, luckily at the end of the street we were staying in was a great shop. ATA cycle won best pro shop in the 2015 interbike awards and have some amazing kit in store. Strictly speaking they don’t do road bicycle rentals, only hybrids, but I thought I would ask them anyway. Being my normal persuasive self I managed to tease their customer loan bike out of them (the one they give out when your bike is in for repair). It was a 2006 Giant TCR C2 with 2008 Ultegra group, Race face Cadence chainset (now this was awesome), Fulcrum wheels, and Easton finishing kit.
Unless you know Concord MA the map below will mean very little, but it’s where I went! The first part of the loop heads anticlockwise north out of Concord, up to Carlisle, through the Great Brook Farm State Park, through South Chelmsford, onto the Bruce Freeman Trailway then south toward Acton and back into Concord centre. From there it was clockwise south past Walden Pond through Baker Bridge, east toward Sudbury through the Great Meadows Nature Reserve, North to Nine Acre Corner, and finally back up across the Concord turnpike to town centre.
The route was very pretty and I’m quite in awe of the scenery to hand in New England. There were tall pine trees, expansive ponds and wetlands, fields and farms, and plenty of wild life! How often can you say you see wild turkeys and peacocks whilst out on the road??
Pretty riding environments lead me onto the next outing of my holiday, and it doesn’t get much prettier than Martha’s Vineyard.
Seeing as the main reasons we were on the Vineyard was to chill out and for my wife to show me where she spent most of her summers growing up (alright for some eh Charlie?!) I couldn’t really push it to a whole day hire. Luckily for me the beach cottages we were staying at in Menemsha had their own hybrid hire bikes. A Jamis Citizen was my weapon of choice.
The Jamis needed some maintenance, standard sticky brake cables and a squeaky chain, but there was air in the tyres and I was off! Heading off the cottages grounds I found a gravel trail cut through that suddenly turned a bit unused but pressed on to head back through to the main road. I could now press on round to the lighthouse in Aquinna. Being the competitive type I had the saddle up at the optimum height and I was trying to go aero on a hybrid. If you can imagine a guy hairing toward you at 6:30am, elbows out, shirtless, wearing flip-flops and Tommy Hilfiger shorts, with his head between the rise on the handlebars…… that’s me on Martha’s Vineyard!
After a good old push on a bike that really wasn’t that fast, I was home. There were some pretty good climbs and some great views. If you are a cyclist and going to the vineyard, I can recommend putting a day by and touring the whole lot. Its beautiful, but watch out for the poison ivy!
I may have only had the chance to spend a couple of days cycling in America, and also in only a very small part of it, but I can thoroughly endorse it. The scenery was amazing, the roads were good, and people were more than polite to me. I wasn’t made to feel like a second class road user by drivers, there was a lot of giving way! I can’t wait to head out in the states again.