Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Busing in Massachusetts

Taking the bus in the morning is pretty nice. I do have to get up a little early. 4:40 AM to catch the 5:30 bus. It's a four mile ride that gets me to the terminal very much awake. The first mile of the commute is traversing the bike path. It's crazy how loud it is at five in the morning. The birds are going absolutely nuts. Little ones screaming for food, while the parents are racing back and forth trying to satisfy their hunger. Rabits, deer, fox, and squirrels are my normal companions, and people are no where to be found at that time.

I still haven't heard from the bus company regarding the bike fees. Those fees increase on June 19th, and if there is no relief from the bus company, I will return to driving my car to the mall and riding from there. I would rather bus commute, but paying double for that privledge is stupid.

The daily ride is up to around 30 miles. A couple of options either add or subtract a little bit. If I am really in a rush, I can take a direct route to the Galleria Mall where I catch the bus home. That takes me on the very busy rt140/rt24 junction where traffic is very heavy and fast. I have to ride one exit on the 65mph section of 140 and try to maneuver my way to the mall exit ramp by jockeying between vehicles entering the highway. It's pretty nerve wracking to say the least.

There is a small section of Rt140 I have to ride. It is the safest, or to say it better, the least dangerous, route to the mall.

Notice the shrinking bike lane

I did find a better route through the city that takes me over a couple of very worn side streets and through a crazy little tunnel.

Lots of potholes on this shorcut

No fighting traffic on this road

This tunnel is a shortcut avoiding the heavy downtown commuter traffic


Friday, May 19, 2006

Trying My Best To Do Something Good

I am trying out bus/bike commuting. A 3 mile ride to the bus station then riding the bus to the Galleria Mall in Taunton, Ma. The mall is around 30 miles from my home, and a quarter of a mile from where I usually leave my auto when I do a drive/ride commute. An 11 mile ride to the office, completes the inbound leg.

The bus fare is $32, soon to increase to $35 for a 10 ride book of passes. The clincher is the bike cost. The bus company charges $1 each way for a bike. The rider loads and unloads their bike under the bus in the luggage compartment. The driver never leaves his seat. The fare increase will also have a $1 increase in the bike fare. Out of curiosity, I called and asked "how much extra to transport a baby stroller in the luggage compartment?" "No charge" said the person at the company. "How about luggage?". "No charge". Hmmmmm. I will place a call to the company manager Monday to see what can be done about the bike charge.

$20/week is very close to a tank of gasoline, added to the $35 for the bus fare makes taking the bus foolishly expensive, even calculating for wear and tear.

The drive/ride option is a 5:30AM-6:00PM affair. The bus/ride is 5:00AM-6:40PM commute. An added hour a day is not much to ask to help save the world. Taking advantage financially of someone doing that, may be.

Monday, after speaking with Bob Hopewood, I will make a decision.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How Not to Cross a Street.

After almost two weeks, I am finally able to bike commute.
My commuter bike was in the shop to have a new rear wheel installed. I was breaking a spoke or two on every ride and the LBS suggested a new 36 spoke heavy duty rear wheel. This should do the trick.

However the lack of riding was cause by some heavy rains the made it impossible, mainly because there were no streets to be riden. See for yourself.

Ever wonder why ambulance drivers are so calm.

Boating down the street

Flooded house

Flood waters threaten condos


The calvary

Walking the flooded street

Finally....back to the title of this post

How not to cross a street.

Next ride.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Five Boroughs of New York

Saturday afternoon I met some internet people from other sites and didn't get back to my hotel till midnight. Not much sleep at all because of the excitement. (and maybe the wine). I met Tic Tac and her hubby for a very late lunch at the oldest pub in NYC. I had one of those famous $16 hamburgers we hear about. A couple of beers, a couple of Pinot Noirs, then Mike arrived. Mike and I talked about his cross country bike ride and time seemed to stop. Until we hear a phrase I hadn't experienced in years. "Last call guys", yelled the bartender. Oh, oh. I still had to catch a ferry to Staten Island, then a 30 minute bus trip to the hotel.

The rocking and rolling of the ferry kind of leveled things out for me after so much time in the pub. The bus ride in the middle of the night, in a strange city, only able to keep one eye opened, was interesting.

Read Mike's journal HERE

My friend Tic Tack.

A little after 6AM Sunday morning I found myself in line for the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan, where I stood with a few thousand other bikers.

We did the crossing standing with our bikes and arrived at 7:30.

Got in the pack in Manhattan, and soon after, heard the beginning of the ride, (around 8AM). I crossed the START LINE at 9:40.

It took forever to get to Central Park because of the stops. We began refering to the day as the Five Boroughs biathlon. 20 miles riding, 20 miles walking.

Central Park

Luckily I had met a couple of guys from Philly who had great attitutes about the whole thing. It was contagious and I soon caught on, that in New York, chill out. I lost them at the first rest stop and decided to picke up the pace from there on.

Entering Harlem

59th St. Bridge

View from 59th St. Bridge

Entering Queens

Refueling at rest stop

It was funny to see tourists, (they broadcast their state on their shirt), who were looking to cross the Avenue of the America's and see bikes to the horizon in both directions. One little kid saying, "where is the end of this thing?".

While in line waiting to cross the 59th St. bridge I got a call from the Mike (The kid I closed the pub with). It was 11:30 and he had just finished the ride. I still had 25 miles to go.

I had not been to New York since the Worlds Fair in "64". This is really a great way to see the whole city. Be sure to bring a bag of patience. After crossing the 59th St. brige we rode under the Brooklyn Bridge. That was really neat. I kept thinking about the movie "Kate and Leapold" and the builder of the bridge bragging this his was the "biggest erection in the country". I stopped for an ice cream there and took in the sites of the bridge and the city across the river.

Brooklyn Bridge

Near the Hasidic District

View of City from Brooklyn

Riding through Central Park, over the Harlem River into the continental US and back. (Manhattan is an island). Through Brooklyn and the Hasidic district where all the little kids were cheering us on. Soon off in the distance was the monster. The Verazano Bridge. People began moaning about the climb, how difficult it was going to be. Since I was in the "family section" of the ride, I was visualizing lots of people walking across the bridge. There were, but if you expect a really tough climb, you will be disappointed. I was in the small chain but still 3 or 4 gears up.

The Verrazano Parkway

Last rest area

Verrazano Bridge on ramp.

At the end of the ride, it was back in line again for the 30 minute 150 yard walk through the festival grounds to the back entrance. Then it was back on the road for the 3 mile ride to the car. A group of little girls, screaming and pointing to their home made sign. "ONLY TWO MORE MILES". To the Ferry area and my car. A five hour ride home capped of a very long day.

Over the shoulder shot of the final 3 miles

The final mile

If you want to see NY in a very unique way, do the 5 Boroughs ride. Get there early if you want to go at speed. If you are in no hurry, get in the middle or back of the pack. It takes a while to get going, but it's well worth the wait.

If I go next year, I know how to cut hours off the ride with a creative beginning.

The day of the ride, I left my car at 6:15 AM and returned to it at 3. It was a long time for a ride of just under 40 miles, but it was a 40 miles to remember for a lifetime. Smile