Fitness Al Fresco: Bike Workouts
No matter your skill or experience level, there's a ride in Boston for you. Just mount up, pedal safely, and let our experts guide you.
Three of the city’s most dedicated bicyclists dish on the trails, routes, and paths that keep them coming back for more.
South Boston, HarborWalk
Nicole Freedman, Former Boston Bike Czar
The slice of the HarborWalk from the federal courthouse in Southie to UMass Boston in Dorchester offers mostly off-street cycling and what Freedman calls â€śone of the best views in Boston.â€ť Head south from the courthouse on this flat path (9 miles each way), passing the L and M Street beaches and Carson Beach, and take a restroom and hydration break at the Edward J. McCormack Bathhouse. Continue on to the JFK Library (thereâ€™s a very short dirt section just before it), then follow the coast past weekend fishermen to Morrissey Boulevard. Keep in mind that the paths can be busy with strollers, runners, and beachgoers in the summertime.
Needham/Sherborn, Route 16 South
Billy Starr, Pan-Mass Challenge Founder and Executive Director
If you like your pavement as smooth as your Lycra, head out toward Needham and work your way south â€“ southwest for as long as you want to go. This area allows you to exchange the crowds on the Minuteman Bikeway for tree-lined streets that weave through the countryside. But Starr wonâ€™t recommend a particular route. â€śWhy not get lost? Thatâ€™s the whole point,â€ť he says. â€śI wonâ€™t define a route for you. I dare you to take a leap and think outside the box.â€ť Of course, you probably will still want a guide of some sort. Starr recommends the Rubel Maps, available at good bike shops and at bikemaps.com.
Middlesex Fells, Mountain Bike Loop
David Watson, MassBike Executive Director
Just 8 miles north of the city (and accessible by commuter rail and the Red Line), Middlesex Fells offers enough fire roads, forest roads, and single track to keep bikers busy for hours. For the best outing, Watson recommends circling the North, Middle, and South reservoirs on the 6.3-mile Mountain Bike Loop. (Note to beginners: â€śFellsâ€ť translates from Saxon as â€śrocky, hilly, place.â€ť Be prepared to dismount and walk in a few steep sections.) The reward is worth it. â€śYouâ€™re on a narrow trail up on a hillside overlooking the Winchester reservoirs through the trees, and you can see the light sparkle off the water,â€ť Watson says. â€śFor me, thatâ€™s kind of my Zen place.â€ť
WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, STUPID!
Biking our streets isnâ€™t so scary once you know where the dangers lie. Train yourself to be on the lookout for trouble before it finds you. Here are the hazards you need to know about, and their danger levels, ranging from deadly [!!!!!] to annoying [!].
1. It seems like the more time a motorist spends on the road, the angrier he gets at cyclists (weâ€™re looking at you, bus drivers). To avoid being â€śbuzzedâ€ť by a car, ride closer to the middle of the street until thereâ€™s room to let a raging driver pass.
Danger level: !!!
2. Road shoulders often accumulate glass, metal shards, and other tire-popping debris. Also watch for potholes in travel lanes (cars may swerve to avoid them) and ride heads-up to avoid these problems without putting yourself at risk.
Danger level: !
3. Motorists who canâ€™t bear to brake for a bicyclist will zoom past, then abruptly turn right. Give yourself ample braking distance (at least a carâ€™s length) if a driver looks squirrelly, lost, or like heâ€™s searching for parking.
Danger level: !!!!!
4. Less common than its right-handed twin, the left hook is a cross-traffic Âmaneuver motorists use to squeeze a turn between oncoming cars. To avoid getting sideswiped, speed up when passing through intersections.
Danger level: !!!!
5. Admit it: When youâ€™re not on a bike, you cross against the light, too. We all do, and why not? The maximum penalty is $1. So while riding, look for heads popping up between cars, especially when traffic is stopped.
Danger level: !!!
6. When drivers nose forward to see around a row of parked cars (a trademarked move here), they often block the bike lane. Next thing you know, youâ€™re over the hood. Try this (in order of ascending urgency): Make eye contact with the motorist, point with a fully extended arm, or wave frantically.
Danger level: !!
7. Going from 15 to 0 miles per hour in the space of 6 glass-and-metal-filled inches is brutal, but thatâ€™s what happens to a cyclist when someone whoâ€™s parked his car flings open the door without looking. We know bikers whoâ€™ve lost teeth. Stay safe by riding no less than 3 feet from
Danger level: !!!!
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/05/outdoor-workouts-bike/