Archive for May, 2014

Suburban riding

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

This past year I sold a house in Dorchester. I’d been part of the place for 25 years and even ran my wool business out of it even through last year. While we had moved much of the actual wool handling out of the barn, all the scales, two wheelers, wool baggers, shelves and material for a wool showroom and warehouse were left there gathered dust.

When the sale came through I was planning to rent a storage unit or two and let thing lie. My brother in Philadelphia had been doing all the wool shipping and eventually I figured he’d want to retire and I’d be back to shipping wool. That was the plan anyway.

Then we found 28 Draper Lane and the old Draper Felt Mill in Canton. The Draper family has been there for almost 200 years and we hit it off. They rented us one end of the old finishing room for a nice cheapo rate and suddenly R.H. Lindsay Company was reopening a Boston warehouse/showroom.

How does that relate to the head line topic? Well Canton is in the suburbs. 28 Draper Lane is 10 miles from my home in Dorchester. Does that sound like a nice ride? It sure did to me and I bought a nice Fuji touring bike from Ashmont Cycles to accomplish it. We’ve only made the ride a few times as it always seems I’m lugging stuff out there or back, but as the weather has improved and the chore and carry lists are getting shorter and I’m getting more established riding is bound to occur in a more regular fashion.

Hence I’m now a suburban rider. Having grown up in the suburbs I knew what it meant, but after 30 years of riding primarily in Dorchester or Nantucket, the wide open streets of Milton and Canton provided an entirely different challenge.

First the road sides suck! Even before the winter sand and salt, the sides of the roads were full of trash, sand, stones and totally rutted and bumpy. I thought Mass Ave in front of the Christian Science Center was bad. YUK! Send out a sweeper eh? What a mess.

Then the extra distance changes the clothing requirements. During the winter you have to make sure you can stay warm for an hour. During the warmer weather you don’t want to get so hot you’re a ball of sweat. Certainly a different challenge than my 4 mile jaunt from Dot to JP. Shunning the back pack looks like a move I’ll have to make.

Then there are the drivers! No matter how crazy they are in town, most cars are restricted to the point where you don’t encounter many folks going faster than 30 or so. Not so out there. 30 means 50 to many suburban drivers. The same passing on the right, going over double lines, pushing past folks who are ahead of you occurs out there only at a higher speed. YIKES!¬†Oddly though the same slow but steady pace works nearly as well in the suburbs as is does in the city despite the relative speed of the demons. It only takes me about 5 minutes longer to ride out there than to drive.

A big area where cars are a huge threat is where the road is 2 lanes each direction going over the highway. The exit on and off ramps have cars angling double crossing lines blasting out or into them with no regard for smaller slower moving things like bicycles. You need to be doubly aware.

So now I have a lot more empathy for folks I see out riding in their stretchy gear. Good luck surviving with crazy fast drivers darting around and crappy dirty sides of the road. It won’t stop my ride, but it has proven to be a different challenge than I expected.