Sunday, May 30, 2010

US/Turkey in Philadelphia.

The final send off game to the World Cup in Philly was great.  Turkey took an early lead but a handful of halftime subs turned the game around for the US and a 2-1 victory.  It's good to enter any tournament on a winning note.

 Philadelphia is thin city which also translates to a fun city, which also translates to good looking people.  "Ah if only I were five years younger" was my Friday night theme making the rounds of the Pubs.  Like being the only sober person in a bar, watching the mating rituals of the 20 somethings was very entertaining and nostalgic.

We spent a good part of the day walking around sightseeing and generally checking out the city before settling in at Fado Irish Pub on Locust St. in Center City for tapas.  The traditional Irish pub fare was so good that we returned later in the evening for dinner.  Some of us did manage to drink too much which for me is like 5 or 6 beers.  That was simply a warm up back when.

Walking around the tail gate area, we were surprised by the number of Turkish fans.  It was brought up that in the Northeast, any visiting team will have a few thousand supporters drawing from the big cities. 

Security Bike

The sights of McFaddens Pub at the Phillies Stadium

Ok you get the point.  Back to the game.

We will be traveling to Boulder for the opening round of the World Cup and there will also be quite a bit of riding. And eating.  And drinking.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

US Soccer Send Off Matches

Game 1  v Czech Republic in Hartford, Connecticut.

We decided to take the more direct but much more scenic, Rt. 6 through Providence, RI to Hartford.  An alternative motive is that we had considered riding our bikes the 110 miles from home to the stadium.  The rolling hills of Connecticut looked very difficult. It was hill after hill after hill for around 30-40 miles, and accomplishment for sure but fun?   I don't know?.  

Rt 6 is a secondary road that has it's places that bring you back in time to the slower days when less cars were on the roads and people were not in so much of a hurry.   One place got our attention, The Aero Diner,  and we decided to stop for lunch.  The food was pretty good but it's not for anyone who is weight conscious, and that was very much evident when the regulars began arriving.  Besides the waitresses we were the only two people under 250 lbs.   I say 250 because of the women.  The men were much heavier than that.  Like most places,  like minded people tend to gather and I won't stereo type the whole area.  But for the regulars at Aero Diner for weekday lunch, I'm comfortable stereotyping.

The Czech game began at 8pm so we had plenty of time to do some sightseeing around the downtown area of Hartford.  We didn't know where to start so we relied on the old standby tactic of finding an outdoor cafe and people watch.  We did and two martinis later the amount of people walking by seemed to double.  They began to look more attractive too. Hmmmm?

Our hotel was within walking distance of the stadium which really is a bonus both before and after the match.  We were the first back to Margarita's Bar and Grill while the "drivers" were fighting each other to exit the lots. Even though the US got crunched, we all  knew that the coach was giving the fringe players one last look before the final cuts. The last match before the team leaves for South Africa is Saturday in Philly and we are  traveling to that one.  It should be a humdinger with both Turkey and the US fielding their first teams.

The American Outlaws warming up for the match

English tv reported interviewing the Outlaws

Bike cops keeping us safe

Czech players in pregame warmups

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Last Ride

Brandon my riding partner will be moving to Austin within the next few days.  Today we drove to Little Compton, RI to do our last ride together.  Over the past couple of years we have lots of miles, locally and touring.  It was a bittersweet day where the riding was excellent, but knowing this would be the last one, it was also kind of sad.  On the bright side it adds another vacation spot with one son in Boulder, one in Atlanta and soon one in Austin.  Free food, shelter and drink,  sort of.

West Main Rd. is a pretty much straight shot to Sakonett Point but it was also twenty miles of rolling hills. We worked this ride but it was also a really nice bike friendly and low traffic route.

At Sakonett Point, where this part of the continental US ends, we got off the bikes and checked the place out.  The ocean was acting up this day with some pretty good waves.  This place seems very upscale even though it's way out on the edge, so to speak.   It's a good spot for celebrity types of any genre can hide from the public.  A very exclusive inn Stonehouse 1854 also has a really ecletic reataurant that is one of our favorites.  We only stayed a few short minutes because there was a lot of activity preparing for some sort of function.

A few miles further brought us the turn for the Commons which is kind of like downtown Little Compton.

Rhode Island's only town common is located in Little Compton. This is most likely a result of the town having been originally laid out by settlers from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies. Land for the common was designated in August of 1677 and has been used ever since as both a religious and civic center for social activities in the town.
 We lunched at the Commons Restaurant which also boasts a couple of really good looking waitresses.

Surf's up

Stone House

Turn Right for Lunch

Little Compton Commons

Wilbor House

The last mile of the last ride.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The last commute through downtown Taunton Ma. 

I'm sure when I think of work commuting will be what comes to mind.  The final commute ended with a bang, so to speak.   I have been riding through an old abandoned state school for the handicapped for a few years.  I got to know the security guards who drive around the place and even got to watch and take photos of a movie set. "The Surrogates" with Bruce Willis.   If you ever see the movie play close attention to the part when Bruce picks up a baseball.  Look behind him and watch for the extra riding past on a bike.  Just say'n.

That was off track a bit, but I couldn't resist the selfless promo.   Back to the bang thing.  On this last day of the commute I spotted the security car and it was empty. Since most of the guards are older and many smoke, I gave the area a good looking over. (looking for a body actually or a downed guard).   I was thinking about going around just to check when the car pulled up along side of me.  I was in the middle of the closed street and moved left.   This guard was young.  Maybe 22 or even younger.

"{May I ask what's in the bag?"  (my pannier), he asked.

"Sure" I responded.   And said nothing else.

"Whats in the bag?

"A grapefruit, some blueberries and a newspaper"

"A big bag like that for just that stuff?"

I had taken my dress up Friday clothes to the office on a rainy day earlier in the week and needed the pannier to bring them home.  I told him that if he was concerned he could call and any of the other guards would verify that I was a daily sight.   I also mentioned that if it would make him more comfortable he could check the bag and he agreed.  We both stopped and he got out of the car.  I handed him the pannier and he unlatched the clasp.  As he began to open the top I clapped my hands and let out a "brrrrr".  It was a cool morning and I was a little chilled.   When his feet finally came back down to the ground  I apologized for startling him and said that a chill came over me and I reacted spontaneously.  He gave my pannier back got in  his car and tried to act nonchalant.   Little did he know that I could see his heartbeat throbbing in his neck.   I know he will be on the lookout for me all week, but alas,  I don't work there any more. 

Sunday morning is always a good time to get on a bike and ride.  I started out on one of the usual routes but at a fork were I always have gone right,  I went left this time.   The new Felt bike is such an easy bike to ride that I gave it nary a though to increase the miles and try a different route.  Naturally I took a couple of wrong turns that had me going further and further into the unknown.  I finally decided to simply backtrack till I could determine which way was up and started the loop back home.

I stopped for an orange at a country store and ended up chatting with an old time rider for a good spell.  He began bike riding in the 50's and got away from it a few short years ago.  He still has his high tech Raleigh something or other in his barn from the mid 70's.  We never exchanged names but it was really interesting hearing his biking stories from the 50's and 60's.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winding Down

Since it is bike to work month and week, I decided to get at least a couple more commutes under my belt before retirement.  The morning rain had ended, the streets were still damp and the humidity was rising which made for a quietly erie bike.  

The park n' bike lot is right off busy rt140 in Taunton Ma.  The first part of the commute is along the secondary roads and over the railroad tracks.  Three miles into the commute is the high school that lies just outside of the center of town.  Riding through the center and the rotary can get tricky. Another half mile brings me again to the quiet secondary roads. Traffic has calmed considerably and from here its an up gradual grade.

A private road takes me though the aslyum that is still being used for youth detention, thirty day observation and those that occasionally have to be institutionalized short term. 

A short spin more brings me to the Paul A Dever School, an old institution for the mentally "retarded" as they were called at the time.

The buildings have a cold, institutional feel to them, typical of 1950's era architecture, and have a monotonous, "efficient" design... all the dormitories seem to have been built exactly the same

This is my sixth and last year commuting to work.  When I think about those things I will miss about the job, the only thing that constantly pops up is the bike ride. I can remember vividly the stress of planning and thinking about my first commute, and like touring, all that worrying and other negative thoughts were gone within the first mile.

I'll do a few more rides to work before June 4th and on that last day I will surely ride toward sunset.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sconticut Neck, Fairhaven MA.


A 10 mile ride brought us to  the point of the peninsula.  It's called Sconticut Neck and it's an area of house on stilts and platforms to stay above the ocean tidal surges.  Some have to be as high as 20' to conform to code.   Hurricanes have taken out houses in the past and probably will again.  During the ride on Tuesday, I regretted not bringing my camera.  Today is makeup day. 

I also made a decision on a new bike and bought a 2009 Felt Z45. The cash came from the tour cancellation and the bike is my retirement gift to myself.

The New Felt

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Night in Mattapoisett

We only ended up doing 10 miles but we did lots of talking.  Brandon is leaving for Texas in a few short weeks and I decided to cancel the bike tour this summer, sell two of my bikes and buy a real nice road bike. I was considering joining a group tour or  riding in Canada and upstate NY.  The fire that was there was put out when Brandon got the job in Austin.  A new bike would be a nice retirement gift also.  I have already talked with Travis Cycle and have a bike picked out.

We rode the MUP to Mattapoisett and spun around town for a while.  We did have to spend a little time on busy Rt. 6 but everyone gave us plenty of room.   We stopped for a coffee a DD (double D) before returning through the Reservation Golf Club property.  It's kind of crazy that the road splits the course and one hole requires a drive over the road and oncoming traffic.

Tour Changes.... Again.

Brandon is taking a job in Austin, Texas and will be leaving on June 1st.   That puts a really bad kink in the summer tour that were were to embark upon on July 12th.  I don't enjoy riding alone and figure if I'm doing something for fun, like bike touring, I should enjoy it.   With that in mind, I'll be looking at other things.

Even though the original ride around Lake Ontario and Upstate NY is not out of the question, I am leaning heavily toward a fully supported group tour of the Erie Canal.   Big groups are ok and Brandon and I rode a while with the Erie Canal gang in 08.     I did do a group tour last year and left them after two days.  I didn't like it at all because of the route, and too many of the regulars, who tour every year with Rails to Trails, were very demanding and annoying.   I felt bad for the organizers and workers for the gruff they took. The Erie Canal parallels bike rt 5, which makes it easy to ride alongside the tour but not with them, if that strikes your fancy.

June 4th is my last day of working, so I have no issues with dates.  That's a nice feeling.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bikes and Car Bombs in NYC

One of the things we learned two years ago in Staten Island is how bad the bus service can be.  We fell for it again this year and waited an hour for the fifteen minute interval 44 coach to the Staten Island Ferry.  Again, two buses showed and the first bus picked up passengers at every stop, while the second followed empty.

This year we decided to hang out in West Village.  Greenwich Village to the old timers reading.  It's very eclectic and a pretty cool place to hang out and shop.  Our guide Gwen mentioned that many of these Brownstone Buildings have been featured on the HGTV in the show "Selling New York".   The going rate for these places was in the four to five million dollar range. None of us knew the village well enough to pick a dinner spot.  We did stop for a martini (or two) while "people watching".  West Village is definitely a people watching area.

Gwen had to get back to Queens for a dinner date which left us three tourist on our own. We decided to visit Times Square.   Margie got herself into a couple of group hugs and we were looking around for a place to eat.  That's when we noticed the excitement begin to build.  There were cops everywhere and what looked like a car fire.  Next the firemen showed and hundreds of tourist followed the cops and firemen to take photos of a burning car.  We didn't find out till turning on the news around midnight when we got back to the hotel that the car was filled with explosives.   No one had any idea what was really going on till the firemen put our the fire and saw what was in the car.  Eventually, that area of Times Square was evacuated.  We found an outside restaurant in Rockefeller Center and had four appetizers and six drinks. (two each).  $180 with the tip. Hey, we're on vacation right?

New York knows how to move people.  And New Yorkers know how to wait to get moved.  We three were exhausted and just wanted to get back to the hotel for some sleep.  We needed to arise by 5AM to catch the ferry back to Manhattan the following morning for the ride.  This night we had to wait till 10:30 for the next boat to Staten Island.  Topping that off, the 44 bus, our nemesis from earlier, was running late.  We opted for a car back to the hotel.  Another $30 bucks.  The ferry provided free parking on the Staten Island side and it's a 10 minute drive from the hotel.  If we go back, and stay on the Island, we won't be using the bus.

We had learned three years ago, not to go the back of the starting line.  It could take 90 minutes from the time of the official cannon start to cross the staring line even then it's stop and go all the way to and through Central Park.  We now ride our bikes up 8th Ave to Park Ave and enter Central Park there.  On the way we stopped for breakfast at Starbucks and still got to Central Park by 8:30. 

The city has built lots of bike lanes and installed traffic controls that take into account the bikes. Rich after this photo the bike lane light changed to red and there was a car in the left turning lane.  I stopped and Brandon came screaming up and slid into me and my bike during his power braking.  He started yelling, "what are you stopping for?"   It needs to be understood that till then we had been rolling through the lights because the traffic was so light that early in the morning.

The follow are random shots from the 40 mile ride through the five boroughs and over five bridges of NYC.  It was a really good day.