Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Day in Fairhaven, MA

 Halloween began with dinner at the neighbors. Some came in costume, some did not.
We all had to get back to our homes for the onslaught of ghouls and goblins. 
Even hippies showed for this party.

An extraordinarily nice day on the South Coast shores of Massachusetts.   One hundred and fifty plus trick or treaters visited our home for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat bars.

 Looking toward the Atlantic from Fairhaven, MA.

 Phoenix MUP, East Fairhaven, MA.

 Phoenix MUP

 A Midnight Rider with friends.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Foggy Bottom

It was one of those mornings you would expect in a horror movie.  With Halloween so close, it's only apropos. Yes, there was a foghorn blaring from the middle of the harbor.

The warming trend will continue for a few days, even reaching into the low 70's.  It almost feels like summer is approaching.  But those of us who have been commuting for years know what's really about to happen.  Until then, we will all enjoy any respite we may get.

The city is tearing down the pedestrian overpass and converting the highway to a divided boulevard. That will do good things to calm the traffic and make the area more pedestrian and bike friendly.

The book needed to be returned and there was still a few chapters to read.  This is the scene that kept me company while reading at the boat ramp access area.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Full Moon and Starlit Sky

Today's commute was one of those rides that felt extra nice.  It did require some extra clothing to keep the 45F temperatures at bay.  Three light layers, a gator, stocking cap and gloves did the trick.  It's not yet long john weather, but that's not far off either. Riding the MUP toward a full Harvest Moon at 5:30, under a bright star filled sky, brings a smile and warm feeling. 

There was a knife murder outside the front door of the shelter on Wednesday night during a break in the AA meeting held there.  The word is that a 20 something guy who had just finished his sentence in the county lock up heard that his ex was at the meeting with another guy.  Ironically the father of the accused is doing life for murder in the State Penitentiary.

The new breakfast program, which just finished it's 4th week, is now serving breakfast to over 100 people a day.  Set up begins at 5:45 every morning and it's the bike commute that is the motivation for the 5AM wake up. A cafe style breakfast is served from 6:45 to 8:00 daily.  Pancakes, French Toast, sausage and eggs to order, offer the clients a good nourishing breakfast that will help get them through the day with one less thing to worry about.

The brilliance of the colorful leaves is fading.  It's breezy and chilly mostly, but riding around town every day to the shelter and doing errands is still the bee's knees.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Woony River Ride: Woonasquatucket River Greenway Bike-a-Thon

Distance       41 Miles
Ave Speed  10.2 MPH
Max speed  30.5 MPH
Pedal Time    3:48

It's inconceivable how difficult this 40 mile ride could become.  Sustained winds of 35-40 MPH with gusts of 60MPH.  Lots of gusts. The inaugural ride, mid October and wind approaching hurricane velocity kept the number of riders in the 30s.  Twelve of us did the longest option, about the same number did the 20 mile and the 10 mile family route.  We ended the ride in downtown Providence R.I. with a barbecue generously provided by a local restaurant.

The ride began with a bang when two of us, riding the city streets of Providence  turned onto a street between two high rise buildings.  The wind created a tunnel effect that literally stopped my forward progress and forced me to track stand for a few seconds.  My thoughts were that this was going to be a looooong ride.  It wasn't a bad ride, but not a fun one either, because of the wind.  The best description was that it was challenging.  I look forward to doing  this again next year, and hopefully the weather will cooperate, because this is a wonderfully scenic ride

The first few miles were in the company of three riders, but they soon left me as I  lagged behind to take pictures. The majority of the outward part of the ride was uphill.  Add gusting headwinds and no downhill sections to speak of to the equation and it's understandable that the first 20 miles took two and a half hours. The natural bonus was that the return trip, mostly downhill with a tailwind took 1 HR 15 MINS.

My early miles riding companions.

Soon they were nothing but a speck in the distance

Then nothng

The ride was mostly country roads of northern Rhode Island with a spattering of urban riding in Providence and North Providence. Traffic was very sparse and the foliage was spectacular at times.

To see the full photo collection of this ride.  CLICK HERE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hats Scarfs and Gloves.

Bike can also be used for shopping

At 5:15 AM the bike ride to work is on the low side of cool.  Not cold yet, but it makes one say "brrrr" none the less. Those were the signs to get the winter stuff out of the attic. It's time to trade in the wool cap for a stocking cap and scarf. The fingerless riding gloves for full fingered gloves and the light socks for woolen. Soon the ride will require a face mask and long johns.  For the experienced winter commuter, this is nothing more than dressing for the weather.  Those new to bike commuting may be thinking of hanging up the wheels.

Before that happens, try a couple of cold weather rides.  Not necessarily the regular commute, but a ride to the library or market.  Maybe it will become apparent that winter is not a time to stop biking, but simply a time to change how we bike.

Monday, October 11, 2010

West Island

Miles         17
Max speed 16MPH
Ave speed  9.9
Pedal time  1hr 43 mins.

Wifey and I did this ride together three years ago and it's about time for a redo. Temperatures in the low 70's made this Columbus Day a nice time for a bike ride. Also, being the hiking representative of the clan, she doesn't ride that often and this ride allowed for a bit of training for next weekends thirty five mile fund raising ride.

We rode to the south beach section where there still stands the coastal watch tower.  During WWII the civil defense would man these looking for German U-boats.  Not unlike the movie, "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming".

We came across a very unique and groovy looking building.  The property is a summer retreat and the owners did some very creative building designing.

On the return trip we came upon a few bike riders and formed a critical mass ride.

Watching for U-boats

Creative building design

Their own little island connected to West Island

 Wigwam Beach

Critical Mass.  Fairhaven style

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pope's Island Rowing Regatta

Click any photo for big. Click again for bigger.
Pope's Island, sits in the middle of the Acushnet River between New Bedford and Fairhaven MA.  The western connector is the New Bedford/Fairhaven bridge and the eastern is the causeway connecting Fairhaven.   The rowers put in at the top right hand side of the island above.  They rowed left under the bridge and looped around the island returning in the channel created by the boats in dock and the moored boats that are show in the center right of the photo.

It's another first time event for the City of New Bedford and it's another feather in the cap of the mayor who has done wonderful things to make the city a destination.

Unloading 8 scull. 

Women's 4 scull

Community Row of Boston

Careful, careful

Lots of spectators came on this mild but windy afternoon.  Most were part of the regatta, participants, friends and families, but many were locals who came to see what this was all about.  It took a while for the novice audience to realize that there would be no head to head races.  The boats had times to put in, warm up a bit, then start the time trial.  The course was a 1.3 mile loop and boats competed in various divisions.  Although the bulk of this regatta was high school aged, there was a decent representation of the other divisions. 

Team gathering

High school team unloading boat.
Once we learned how to watch, wifey and I walked over to the New Bedford/Fairhaven span to see the final quarter mile of the sprint.  We not only got a good view, but also was able to ride the bridge as it opened to let a couple of small boats through.  It's a swing bridge by the way, so riding is was not an ordeal.

New Bedford 8 Rowing Team

New Bedford 4 team

Buzzards Bay 8 team

Walking on the swung open bridge.

Bridge Tender operates the opening from here. 

Standing in the middle of the road with the bridge swung open

Notice the cars in the background waiting for the boats to pass

Walking across the bridge

Bridge swinging back toward the road on the left. 

Just like the TV show, "Undercover Boss",  the mayor was walking around the place looking just like any other tourist.  Mayor Lang often attends events and festivals in this fashion.  He is not big on pomp and celebrity attention.  

 Mayor Lang (hat) incognito

It was a nice way to spend a part of a fall afternoon and another benefit of living on the ocean. 

Wifey is ready to go home.

On the way home we came across a group of swans we have watched grow into teens over the summer. They have recently left the parents but still stay together. It won't be long and they will separate and each go their own way.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Feeding the Homeless

There has been ample help at the shelter for the new daily breakfast cafe.  I tried to make eggs to order using pans, but they were too cheaply made to use for bulk cooking. Even using oil, they had to be washed after every order as opposed to being wiped down.  From now on everything will be cooked on the grill.

Biking at 5:15 AM is not bad this time of year.  It's been drizzling for the commute and tomorrow has heavy rain predicted.  I'll decide on bike or drive then.

I have been averaging just around 440 miles a month riding since retiring.  The upcoming weather will certainly put a crimp on those 30-40 mile late morning rides soon. I may do one of those Thursday or Friday when the rain finally clears out.

I didn't do a bike tour this year but really didn't miss it.  I am however researching next years tour.  The contenders are Hungary, Croatia, Belgium/Holland and upstate New York.  I know, I know, but the Erie Canal is a wonderful seven day ride that I wouldn't mind doing again, and compared to the others, it's very inexpensive.

The European trip would be with Vermont Bike Tours, who we have used before and really like.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Work Commuting Again

Actually it's volunteering not working.  But it's work.   Tomorrow the shelter begins serving breakfast daily at 7AM.  I began helping with the Saturday morning servings in July and really didn't know if I would get involved with this project.  I was asked by the manager if I would come by on Monday. When I said "only if I'm needed", his reply was, "if you come, that will be two of us".   This could be a disaster. The group got a full page article in the local paper yesterday asking for help and donations.   We'll see what happens.

Even though rain is forecast, I'll rise early 5AM and ride the 5 miles to the shelter.