Sunday, June 20th, 2010
10:20 pm - Into the Wind...  
Into the wind
And up the hill,
But careful not
To lose the will.
Into the wind,
Who knows where it
Will blow on the return trip?

The path is clear,
The sky is gray,
Will raindrops fall,
Along the way?
The wind is just breeze,
The breeze is just wind.
I wish it wouldn't blow so--
As up the hill I go slow.

Into the wind
And down the grade,
Ride easy or
Your legs will fade.
Into the wind,
It makes it hard
To pedal down the bike path.

Into the wind
Still in my face,
I can't maintain
A steady pace.
Into the wind,
It makes it hard
To pedal down the bike path.


I tried the Cranston (aka, Washington Secondary) path today for the first time this year, and also for the first time since parts of it were underwater. I parked off West Natick, behind the Warwick Bed, Bath and Beyond, which has yet to reopen post flooding. In fact, most of the stores in the area are still closed, although the Sport Authority in the Warwick Mall did recently reopen.

Despite all that, the path is in remarkably good shape, and seems to have come through better than either East Bay or Blackstone. I only noticed a single sink hole way out near the end of the Coventry Greenway portion of the path miles from the worst flooding. I did, however, notice that two bridges on roads that the path crosses are completely gone, one on a side street in Coventry, the other on East Avenue, a very busy road in normal times. East Avenue is the busiest street crossing on the path that doesn't have a crossing signal, making the current lack of cars to dodge pretty nice. Must be a huge pain for the locals, though.

I headed up the miles long grade towards Coventry first, fighting the wind all the time. It seemed like it was in my face the entire way, but I figured that at least it'll be behind me when I turn around and head back down the hill. There were also a few raindrops felt as I pedaled through Arctic, even though the sky wasn't all that threatening. Hazy gray, maybe, but not stormy gray. And it only lasted a few minutes or so.

The first time I rode this path back in 2007 I complained about the fact that RI DOT's website was misrepresenting the condition of the portion of the path connecting Washington Secondary to the Coventry Greenway. They said it was under construction in 2006, when it was still a rocky rut of a goat trail in 2007. Since then I have waited patiently for them to actually commence with the construction they claimed, but when ever I rode to the Coventry end of Washington Secondary, there was still nothing but goat path.

Not this year, though. I'd noticed a press release announcing that they were finally going to get constructing for a summer 2010 opening, so I was interested to see if they had made any progress towards that, given what had happened in March. Sure enough, there was pavement where once there had been rocky ruts. It was rough pavement to be sure, the first layer rather than the top layer, but it was there, and rideable all the way to the Greenway. Of course there were signs all over the place stating "bike path closed!", but who pays attention to those. So off I went.

It wasn't too bad at all. The only problems were that there are three bridges in that stretch, and the pavement is still about two inches below the height of the bridge roadbeds, so I had to slow down considerably as I approached them so I could gently climb the abutments without having my brand new tires explode*.

* I put new tires on the bike Saturday. More about this below.

I biked all the way to the end of the Greenway, where the pavement again ends and it turns into the Trestle Trail that runs all the way to the Connecticut border and beyond. I turned the bike around, and started heading back the way I came. What was weird was that the wind still seemed to be in my face. Which, of course, it couldn't be, right? And yet, I could feel it pushing me back. Bozhe moi!

At least going down the grade it was hardly noticeable, and I was really traveling on those stretches, but when it flattened out again as I hit Warwick, It was still there. Annoying as all get out. I passed the parking lot again at around 17 miles, and started north towards the Cranston end. At about 18 miles I ran out of gas. It was a miserably humid day, and the temperatures got up into the high eighties. Yesterday it had been in the low seventies and gorgeous. We really have only had a couple of days in the eighties so far this year, and I'm just not used to it yet. And the wind still seemed to be in my face. I kept going north for a couple miles more, but finally decided to call it a day without reaching the north end. As I pedaled back towards the parking lot, the wind still seemed to be in my face**. It was still my second longest ride of the year.

** The path is basically L-shaped, with the base of the L running north-south though Warwick and Cranston, and the rest of it running east-west through West Warwick and Coventry, so there is no possible way it could've been in my face for the entire ride, but it sure seemed that way. Stoopid swirly cross winds...

Afterward, I had lunch then took a nice long nap. Like two and a half hours worth of nap.

---
I swapped in a new set of tires yesterday. I'd put Michelins on the bike the last two times I needed tires (they wear out about every 1500 miles or so), and last year it took forever for bikeshop guy to get the tires in. The make up for the wait he gave me a single Vittoria Zaffiro tire he'd had lying around the shop, and recommended that next time around I get a mate for it and try them. He thought they'd suit me better than the Michelins. So about a month ago, with 1500 miles fast approaching for the most recent set of Michelins, I found a shop on eBay that sold the same tire in sets of three***. This was perfect for me because with my singleton I'd have two pair of new tires, one for this season, and one for next. For $45 bucks plus free shipping for the set, how could I go wrong?****

*** On the theory that the rear tire wears out faster than the front, so you really need to buy them three at a time. Which is true, I suppose, but you can easily address this by rotating the tires at somewhere near half their projected lifespan, without having to buy a third tire. Which is what I did last year...

**** I did wonder how an outfit called BikeMaui could offer free shipping, until I looked a little closer and saw that they were actually located in Pennsauken, NJ.

And nothing did go wrong. The tires showed up within days of ordering, and I think bikeshop guy is probably right about them being a better match for me. For one thing, you can pump them up to 120 psi. The more air you can pump into a tire, the less friction there is with the road*****. The Michelins max out at 90 psi (although I used to push them to 105 or so), and I can remember complaining some to BSG that I couldn't pump them up as much as the Kendas that came with the bike. The Zaffiros also seem a bit heftier than the Michelins, so they might last a little longer, too. And the price was about the same. We'll see. I must say that riding on tires pumped up to 120 lets you feel every frelling pebble and crack in the pavement that you ride over. Which is fine.

***** This is important, to me anyway, when you are a little heftier than the average cyclist. I've lost some weight, but am still carrying more useless weight on the bike than most.
 
 
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arliss: doug firs fogarliss on June 21st, 2010 - 04:59 pm
The poem is wonderful. I hadn't heard it before, and--just, yes. I love reading about your rides. If I'm ever brave enough to try cycling again, we have actual bike lanes here, and miles of hiking/cycling paths. Cycling is a valid mode of transportation for a significant segment of the student populace, as well as some green-conscious residents. I may have to trot out the training wheels in the not-too-distant future. You're an inspiration.
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DXMachinadxmachina on June 21st, 2010 - 05:10 pm
Heh, it's actually a filk of a few verses of "Into the Woods," mostly created as I pedaled along.
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