August 17th, 2003


Sharp Turns and Sharpe Learns

So, I finally got to take a ride on the new, not-quite-open section of the bike path yesterday. My first impression is, "What the frell were they thinking about?" I should explain. The path follows to old right-of-way of the Narragansett Pier Railroad, which ran from Kingston to Narragansett, by way of the villages of Peacedale and Wakefield. The completed first section runs through the Great Swamp from Kingston to the outskirts of Peacedale. I always wondered how they were going to get through the village, because Peacedale is in, well, a little dale. When the railroad was there, it was elevated. It ran along on a long stone and metal trestle, all of which was torn down in the eighties. (It's a shame they took the stone part of the trestle down. If it was mostly intact, they could've just built a couple of wooden bridges to replace the old metal ones, and everything would've been just ducky.)

All of this means that they had to find a way to go from the original right-of-way down to ground level as you enter the village. RI DOT in it's "wisdom" decided to use a switchback ramp to do it. Switchback ramps are the kind of ramps you find in ballparks, where you go halfway down the ramp to a landing, then turn 180 ° and go down another ramp. The Peacedale ramp has three sections, so there are two 180° turns that have to be negotiated. This is fine if you're walking, not so much if you're on a bike. Couple that with the fact that the ramp sits at the bottom of the steepest hill on the whole path, and you have the opportunity for a bunch of bikes to run smack into a concrete and chain link wall at 25 or 30 miles per hour. Morons! There had to have been a better way.

After you get past the ramp, the rest of Peacedale isn't too bad. Apparently the right-of-way near the old train station was privately held, so they routed that part of the path down Railroad Avenue, which hasn't been paved in decades, it seems. After that, though, it's great. The path runs along the side of an old cemetary for half a mile, then turns and pops out in the middle of downtown Wakefield, where they put in a light so you can cross Main Street. Beyond that you're behind houses until it ends at Rt. 108. The round trip from Kingston station is now just under thirteen miles. I'm not sure how often I'll do the new section. I really do hate that ramp.

Finished rereading Sharpes Rifles on Friday. It's interesting to compare it to the adaptation, and speculate about why they made the changes they did. Collapse )

I'll probably throw Sharpe's Eagle in the truck for my lunchtime reading this week, but meanwhile I started a reread of Sweet Silver Blues, the first in Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I., series of fantasy noir novels.
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