Trekkin Around Town

I know, I know.  It’s September already and I haven’t blogged about my treks since July 8th. Honestly, I haven’t broken my record 17.626 miles in one ride with my blue beauty yet, and my treks haven’t been all that exciting.  10 miles here, 15 miles there, another 12 miles here, a sad 7 mile ride (which I intended to be twice that, but cut short as I wasn’t feeling well and the high humidity did me in that day), and one day a 16.59 mile ride – all around my little tri-town area of Millbury, Sutton, and Grafton, MA. One weekend I didn’t ride at all due to on & off thunder storms, and another weekend was so hot & humid that I spent both days swimming at my Dad’s instead of cycling.

Admittedly, I’ve grown rather frustrated. With all my diet and exercise since mid-April, I’ve only lost 3 lousy pounds. Haven’t trimmed down even half as much as I had hoped (welcome to life over the age of 40 – metabolism just ain’t what it used to be, and all the stress I’ve been under with some financial issues certainly hasn’t helped).

I’ve also been feeling the need for a change of scenery, and I’ve been longing for some seaside cycling. I had thought at least once this summer, a trip to the Cape Cod bike paths or Colt State Park in RI with friends would have been coordinated and carried out as discussed back in early spring. I was mistaken. And sans ownership of a car this summer, I couldn’t just go alone. So I pushed myself to keep trekking around town, telling myself that next season I’ll have sorted some issues out and I’ll be able to attack my bigger and better cycling goals, on my own since I clearly can’t count on others.

But don’t get me wrong, while I’m seriously hating all the steep hills and lack of a sea breeze around here these days, I still found some fun on my local Trek trips.

One day, I came across a random playing card in the middle of the road. A 3 no less, my favorite number. 🙂

Some sort of sign perhaps? I don’t know, but as I picked up the card & stuffed it in the side pocket of my bike bag, it reminded of magician Steve Valentine and his crazy card tricks, which made me smile as I continued on my journey. 

One Sunday morning, my friend Stephanie offered to be my cycling buddy. We rode the Blackstone River Bikeway, met some friends back in the center of town for breakfast out, then cycled a few miles back to her house where we played some fetch with her fun fur-kid, Neela.

Another day, I went on a muddy off-road adventure over some trails a couple miles down the street from me.

One interesting thing to see along these trails is how Mother Nature has taken over where this old farm and its house used to be.

After this I cycled over to Dad’s for some hang time and a swim in the pool before making my way home for the day.

Don’t let the picture fool ya. I’ll be honest here. It’s thanks to the compression pants and the pose for making me look trimmer than I actually am. 😉

Yesterday afternoon I set out on a trek with the goal of reaching Silver Lake in Grafton. Turned out there were just too many Massholes out and about (read people driving like maniacs, going way too fast and getting too close to me for comfort).  For goodness sake, it’s a holiday weekend! What’s everyone in such a rush for? 

On one back road, some speed demon was coming up on me quick, so I pulled off the road to let him/her pass. Muttering a few curse words to myself as the car zipped by at  what had to have been at least twice the speed limit for this road, I was startled when off to my right I heard “Baaah Baaah Baaah”. I turned to find these two talking away at me. 

Awww. I like goats. And I love the willow tree, though I couldn’t help but laugh at the several vehicles buried in the overgrowth in this back yard. Rather takes away from the natural beauty of the tree. (Insert Redneck joke here.)

After a few more miles of close encounters with crazy drivers, I decided that a super long ride was just not a safe bet this day, and I stopped at Wong’s to cool off a bit in the A/C and get my water bottle refilled. Considered calling a chase vehicle to come get me and my bike as I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the 8ish miles home via the route I planned back. As I was mulling this over, some friends came in so I stuck around a while to chat.  

Not that there weren’t some crazy characters at Wong’s, but they weren’t as likely to kill me as the Masshole drivers. Or were they? Um, McCarthy, what ARE you doing?!?!

LOL He was just trying to show us he remembered to bring this tool that one of our friends had asked to borrow, but it sure does look like he’s fixing to attack my bike with it.

Another friend, Ray, stopped in after a Sunday cruise with his own blue beauty which I admired as I was gearing myself up to head for home.

At this time it was around 5:00 pm and I was thinking the roads would be quieter being that it was prime time for holiday grill outs.  It was a bit better heading back.  But no, Wong’s friends, it’s most certainly NOT all downhill!!!  Getting out of the center of Grafton is really the only easy downhill ride on my way home.

One last little detour along the way, to Norcross Park, simply because I had yet to see the “mini Fenway” ball field that had been built there a few years ago.

That about sums up the last several weeks of my treks around town.

In closing, I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to all those across the pond in England who volunteered for and/or cycled the Southend Bikeathon fundraising event for Leukemia & Lymphoma research yesterday. It looks like the event was a big success and folks had lots of fun. I may have been here in the states, but my spirit was there with a special someone participating in this worthy cause. Well done everyone!  And super special kudos to my Southend Sweetheart, Richard, on 34 miles of cycling yesterday, and on exceeding his target goal of raising £150.00 in donations.  You’ve made your “drill sergeant” very proud to have supported you throughout your training and during the big day. 😉

Trek to the Giant Marshmallows & Beyond

A little late getting to my blog about my Trek trip this weekend, which was actually yesterday morning, but here goes.

I knew it was supposed to be a hot day, so I got up at 6 am to prepare for an early ride while it was still fairly cool out.  Tired from the week, and moving kind of slow, finally hit the road about 6:45am.  About 3 miles out, though I already had an iced coffee in my fridge at home for after my ride, I saw that my friend was working the morning shift at Cumberland Farms in North Grafton (my usual morning coffee connection), so I stopped in to say a quick “Hello”.  I then had to tease him a little for having to wear a goofy looking t-shirt that says “Hofftastic” on it.  LOL (David Hasselhoff is the new spokesperson for Cumby’s iced coffee.)

From there I set off for the “field of marshmallows” (well actually, two of them.)  Here’s the first field I reached, just over 5 miles from home.

See?  I’m not crazy.  Giant marshmallows!  🙂

While I was taking this pic, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a minivan I didn’t recognize pull over on the road and stop, the driver watching me.  At first I thought he might just be curious as to what I was doing, but he stayed there as I took a couple of shots and I was getting a little weirded out.  When I turned to get a better look, he waved.  I squinted into the sun, trying to see who it was.  Then he called out to me and I recognized the voice.  It was one of the guys I work with…driving his wife’s vehicle.  Chuckling now I walked over to the car & we chatted.  Total surprise to see someone I work with who lives in the city way out here before 7:30 am.  Turns out he had the same idea as I – get out and get some exercise before it got too hot, and he had taken his dog for a walk at the other Tufts University field further down the road that I was headed for. 

When I got back on my bike and said goodbye to my coworker and his beautiful German Shepherd, I decided to detour down the next side street and cool down in the shade at the train station, before climbing the next hill that would take me through Tufts University Grafton campus.  I had caught a glimpse of a sign here a few weeks ago that I wanted to take a better look at.

In just reading that top part, I couldn’t help but think, “How awesome would that be if my $10 train fare would take me all the way to London!”  I do have a couple of friends in London that I’d love to visit, as well as a sweet, very special someone not far from the city that I really want to spend time with. Alas, my dear Richard, the train only takes me as far as Logan Airport, so I’m just going to have to keep saving for airfare. 😉

A little stretch and a little water…time to hit the hills.

I love the Tufts University campus and the surrounding farmland. It’s such a pretty area.  I used to drive over and bring Miss Mollie walking here regularly.  Have been wanting to pedal through for awhile now, but this had to be an early morning ride while the roads were still quiet and I could enjoy the serenity of it.  I got my wish. 🙂

Here’s another “field of marshmallows”.

Oh, and there’s some more over that way.

Okay, okay, so they’re really wrapped hay bales.  But ya gotta admit, it does kinda look like Tufts is growing giant marshmallows in their fields. LOL

I rode to the other end of this large field, which is actually in another town, to see if anyone was in the dog walking area with their fur-kids. But nope, it was empty.

The corn in the background here is grown for feed for the Tufts farm animals, and there’s more in a field on the other side of the road.  To the right, there’s a fenced off grassy area where folks can bring their dogs to let them run & play off leash.  Leashed, they can walk their dogs the whole length of the field around this corn, down to where them marshmallows are and back if they like.  If you walk all the way around the outer edge, you’d have walked about 2 miles.

The sun is shining stronger now, but it’s not too hot yet. It’s just such a lovely day, and I’m enjoying the peace and the scenery here.

My only other plan for today is to enjoy some of the back country roads in the area and try to break 20 miles on one trek.

I head back toward the campus buildings, but turn off the main road onto a side street that will take me toward the center of town.

Here’s an interesting little spot that’s tucked off on this side street just beyond the Tufts border.  The Willard House and Clock Museum.

Admittedly, I’ve never visited this place, only driven (and now pedaled) by it.  I think though, I will have to stop in and check it out one of these days. Well, when it’s open that is. 

Now I really get to riding, there’s a lot of hills on these back roads and I’m going to head toward the center of town and take the long way home.  Passed several other cyclists along the way, and we all greet each other with a “Good morning”.  I stop to take a breather and a drink of water when I was up to about 13 & 1/2 miles.  It’s heating up pretty well now and I can hear the iced coffee in my fridge calling my name.  At this point I decide to shorten the route I had planned and make one more scenic stop on the way home.  

This is at Tricentennial Park in my home-town of Sutton.  

 I enjoyed the sound of the waterfall here for a few minutes before pedaling the last few, very hot now, miles to my home in Millbury.  

About a mile from home, a girlfriend pulled up along side in her car saying she had just texted me from the supermarket parking lot down the road to see if I wanted to go out to run an errand with her with her in a bit & hit some of the local consignment shops while out, and suddenly there I was in front of her as she was driving home.  Well that was awfully convenient. LOL  We quickly planned that she’d pick me up in an hour after I’d had time to put my bike away and get cleaned up, and we had a really fun time out doing girly stuff.  🙂

Sigh…so I didn’t break 20.  But still, I enjoyed my morning ride. 17.626 miles, 519 calories burned.  Not so bad.  Oh, and I didn’t crash this time, so that’s a good thing! 🙂

That reward I had waiting for me in my fridge. Best. Iced Coffee. Ever.

Until the next trek…

Plan B, Back to the Blackstone

There was no trekkin on my Trek last weekend due to a fun girls’ day out with some friends on Saturday, and spending some time out & about with Dad for Father’s Day on Sunday.  

Yesterday, I had an early morning ride destination in mind, like 5:30ish am early.  But alas, when I awoke at that time, it was pouring rain out.  By the time the rain clouds cleared later in the morning, I was thinking there would be too much traffic for my taste along the route I wanted to ride, so I postponed that plan and set off to do some other things with my day.  This morning…I overslept, so missed my window of opportunity for a quiet early morning ride again.

But I had to get out there and go somewhere. Plan B.  Headed out about 8:30am to pedal back to the Blackstone River Bikeway.

As I had noted in my last post about turtles being a recurring theme on my cycling trips, yesterday I picked up a little ride buddy to keep me company.  Took Timmy Turtle for his first trek to the river.

It was a bright, sunny morning. But not as hot & humid as it had been the last few days of this week.  Low 80’s & low humidity. Perfect morning for the bike path.

Heading back after reaching the Worcester end.

We cruised right along.  

Until…further down I was coming around a corner and suddenly found several people, adults and kids, blocking the whole path.  Slamming on both brakes, I came to a skidding sideways stop in time not to hit anyone. And, of course, lost my balance and spilled me and the bike over onto the pavement.  Thanked the nice dog walker passing by who stopped to make sure I was okay and helped me up.  Barely got a “sorry” out of those pesky pedestrians!  Yeah, I read the safety signs posted, you walkers have the right of way…but really?  You can’t keep to one side and leave the cyclists room to ride by you safely?  It IS called the Blackstone River BIKEWAY after all.  

So, to one of my friends who has said my bike blogs are too boring, (because unlike my walking adventures with my dog in past years, nobody has thrown soda cans out their car windows aiming for me or screamed obscenities at me as they passed by), I hope these people lacking common courtesy & almost causing me a crash quenches your thirst for a little more excitement.  😉  

Thankfully, no damage done though. Got away from all these people and took a little cool-down break under the next bridge.

Wouldn’t you know it…Timmy & I didn’t see one single turtle in or along the river.  But we did see a gaggle of geese. 

Remember the little baby geese I saw on Mother’s Day that were nothing more than little balls of fluff?  My, how they have grown.  🙂

Apparently it’s feeding time on the river.

Timmy was content to take a break and watch the birds for awhile since there were no other turtles to be seen today.

Then it was time to head for home.  

My success for today was that I pedaled up every hill I hit without having to stop and rest halfway up. Yay!  9.095 miles. 270.4 calories burned. 

Later today, I’m going to a birthday party at Purgatory Chasm.  Playing with the kids, and hiking through and around the chasm will be a nice addition to today’s exercise!  🙂

Until the next trek…