Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17

Today started rather inconspicuously but wound up great. I had to wait at Comm and Wash for the Commonwealth cross traffic for a bit, and only then got to tear down Washington Street. Still, the traffic caught up before Auburn comes in, which was kind of a shame. I got through the Pike bottleneck (my dad says this really sucks when there is more traffic in the non-summer) and then made it through West Newton with no trouble.

I hit Watertown Street and found my rhythm. I pounded along at about 20 mph, but did have to stop at Walnut for a second, but then gained time when I was the only one able to get around a left-turning truck at Crafts. I zoomed through The Lake and on the hill in to Watertown found myself not too far behind a rather serious looking cyclist. At the bridge bottleneck in Watertown, I took the sidewalk and he chose to get stuck in traffic in the street, so by the time we both sprinted through the green light at Main Street we were neck in neck.

He was on a fixed-gear road bike (well, single speed at least, I am pretty sure it has no freewheel), the kind I want to get if I have a long-term flat bike ride. He led up the Mount Auburn Hill, and I grabbed his draft. We drifted along at about 20 mph and made every light (and I mean every light) until Aberdeen where we both had to clip out for the first time since the square. We made some small talk before the light changed and we both darted in front of the oncoming traffic on to the Aberdeen Bike Lane. I stayed with him on to Huron as we passed a slower cyclist and then he went left on to the Fresh Pond path.

But my time was fast. I had gotten to Aberdeen in something like 18 minutes, so I had a chance to break 30 elapsed! My way-off computer clock said it was 7:43 when I left, and I thought I might even have a chance to break 30 overall. I got lucky with the lights, and was able to make the Reservior and Sheldon lefts at full speed. By the time I got to Pemberton, I was stoked. I sprinted down it, beginning to narrate my ride in Phil Liggett's voice (except mainly narrating my string of near-death experiences):

"He takes the left on to Yerxa — oh he'll have to get around the double parked car and he does! Now can he get across Rindge without too much trouble? Indeed! Now on to the under-construction street, can he get around the equipment? Yes he can. He looks to power across Mass Ave and makes it half way across but now is losing precious seconds staring down Hollis through the oncoming traffic.

"Here's a break and he takes it! He is dodging the one way traffic like a pro, sticking near the cars on the narrow street. He gets through the wrong-way stop, and it looks like he might make it. Look at the cadence he has going towards Davis. He makes the left and now has to ride up the curb cut and berm. Oh and across the grass, cutting off the pedestrian! What a move. He looks like he will make it and he is in to the building!"

And his (my) time? 28:03 elapsed (17.5 mph). 29:00 overall (17 mph). That, my friends, is going to be tough to beat, at least on this bike.

The evening was much less exciting but just as pleasurable (for different reasons). I was to meet my mother and aunt in JP, so I got to choose from about sixteen different routes. I took Mass Ave down through Harvard Square (electing to take a phone call on the sidewalk, stopped, through that gauntlet) and then to the River. The path along the river was nice, but narrowed after Western Avenue so that two bikes could barely pass. They really need to fix this. Then it was across the BU Bridge, down to Park Avenue (including a bit of sidewalk along Beacon) and off towards the Riverway. The bike path along the Muddy River is a bit problematic. Crushed limestone is fine, but not when it is not maintained and drained and foot-deep ruts are created. Thank goodness for shocks. I then ducked under the Riverway to Huntington, stuck my bike in the car, and went to dinner.

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