Thursday, July 2, 2015

Riding Acadia National Park's Carriage Roads

A perfect blend of loop roads, gradual inclines and descents, over and under beautiful old stone bridges, beside ponds. Safe, alluring, and teasing also. Do I have time to circle one more gravel path?

Making family memories. Bike dates. Pedaling into the park from Bar Harbor.

Taking pictures over my shoulder.

Everyone has big smiles.

Our GoPro loving son captures a descent.

Later, I ride solo on paved park roads, stop for expansive ocean views...

...admire an unusual dwelling, then return on public road to town.

There is so much more to do in the region, of course, than cycling. We stayed in Bar Harbor, a very walkable city. Twice, we hoofed it to the "bar"—the "bar" that named Bar Harbor—where low tide reveals a half mile long sandy causeway, which leads to a national park island.

A great place to visit tide pools.

I can't help but notice a bikey window display.

Acadia National Park in Maine deserves a week of exploration. There are numerous hiking trails, light houses, more carriage roads to pedal, test your lungs and legs on a ride up Cadillac Mountain, endless possibilities for a future vacation.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Burlington Streets Challenge - The Little Things

Another installment in the series to ride every public road within Burlington's city limits in 2015.

My rides around town are often punctuated with chipmunks and squirrels darting across the road. However, I am also treated to sweet cottontail sightings - this particular one along a bike path. There is a proliferation of wild bunnies this year. Perhaps next year we'll see more foxes, and thus less of the former animals, which seems to be a cycle here in Burlington.

I've noticed that people often attach personal messages to public signage.

One neighborhood has a private beach house and sandy beach.

Meandering along streets in the evening then scooting back to camp, anticipating a spectacular sunset, is often a special highlight.

Heading north on the bike path to meet up with a friend, I stopped to inspect a new sign, then was struck by the increase in bike signage. One year Cycle The City displayed their new logo, just last year the Bike Path Rehabilitation sign appeared, and now Bike Rentals are offered at popular North Beach. If there is anything that exemplifies the uptick in our cycling population, this is it.

My maps to date, Completed streets marked with red marker. North End of Burlington at left; Central and South
End at right. Due to elongated city limits, maps are divided but do not correctly align.
Burlington hugs the Lake Champlain shoreline, north to south.

Along with the little things I've discovered, I have a new buddy who's happy to tool around the north end of Burlington with me. She rides a leisurely pace, loves looking at houses, is as delighted as I am to explore most anything because she's new to Burlington and absolutely loved my idea of riding all city streets - and didn't look at me like I was attempting something weird. In fact, she loved the idea. She also recently bought a house that's convenient to our summer camp on the lake, plus she rides a blazing yellow cruiser bicycle. It's funny and fortuitous, our initial connection being friends who live in Colorado, who recommended we hook up because we both love the outdoors.

Completed Streets (I'm logging and quantifying street names because the city did not offer a total list. Part of the fun is wondering how many names I'll end up with.)
  1. Prospect Parkway
  2. Highland Terrace
  3. Riverside Avenue
  4. Hildred Drive
  5. Hillside Terrace
  6. Colchester Avenue
  7. St. Mary Street
  8. Walnut Street
  9. Rose Street
  10. Park Street
  11. Pitkin Street
  12. Blodgett Street
  13. Drew Street
  14. Strong Street
  15. St. Paul Street
  16. South Union Street
  17. North Union Street
  18. Beaumont Street
  19. Lake Street
  20. Leddy Park Road
  21. Northgate Road
  22. Woods Street
  23. Intervale Avenue
  24. Hickok Place
  25. Isham Street
  26. Saratoga Avenue
  27. Village Green
  28. Brandywine Street
  29. Bennington Court
  30. Hale Court
  31. Revere Court
  32. Rivermount Terrace
  33. Morrill Drive
  34. Van Patten Parkway
  35. Billings Court
  36. Rockland Street
  37. Temple Street
  38. Brook Drive
  39. Convent Square
  40. Berry Street
  41. Green Acres Drive
  42. Staniford Road
  43. Grey Meadow Drive
  44. Oakcrest Drive
  45. Woodridge Drive
  46. Institute Road

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Neighborhood Trail in Two Seasons


While scouting possible routes last March to my workplace I discovered a trail tucked away between a private school and a neighboring street. Invisible, really, to all but those who regularly walk or someone like me who are continually seeking faster and or safer bike routes from one place to another. The trail was covered in snow, but excitement, level ground, and chunky tires made the passage fairly easy. However, I didn't return until winter's grip finally loosened and Spring breathed life into the land.

Indeed, I was pleased that it's a cut-through used year round, providing ample shade and a little wilderness in a South Burlington neighborhood. I picture children riding back and forth, weaving around trees, yelling and having fun all summer long—all within the safe confines of a block-long forest.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Early Morning on the Charles River Trail

On a business trip in Massachusetts, I squeezed in an early morning ride along the Charles River Trail. At 5 am there was birdsong, families of geese, and the sounds of river water tumbling on its course towards Boston—all highly unexpected in this congested region.

I began my journey in Waltham, about two miles from my hotel, and pedaled as far as Watertown, approximately 5 miles before turning back.

At first, navigating was tough. The trail frequently switches sides of the river. But I began to look out for signed posts and faded blue painted bird-tracks on the asphalt, guiding path users at river crossings.

There were also interesting bridges and ramps, numerous overlooks, and a mixture of gravel and pavement, which held my interest. I couldn't wait to see what was around the bend.

It was a humid start to another scorching day, but sometimes you gotta suck it up and just ride.

And with scenery like this, well, it made a perfect start to my workday.

Thank you, Charles River Trail!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Burlington Streets Challenge - Appreciating Old Houses & Classy Single Story Homes

Another installment in the series to ride every public road within Burlington's city limits in 2015.

I am captivated by this home in the newer  part of Burlington. I love the windows, the roof line, older bungalow appearance, wooden bridge, trellis, porch—you name it, this property is immaculately well kept. 
As with most of my outings I focus on observing houses. At the turn of the 20th century, Burlington's downtown core and main arteries were filled with brick multi-story homes and office buildings. Victorian style was also popular. Some are meticulously maintained today, while others have been retrofitted into apartments. In the early 1900s a few Craftsman style homes popped up—a personal favorite—and I'm pleased to discover there are more of these gems than I had originally thought! Because they do not lend themselves to being carved up to serve the rental population, these dwellings are preserved for single family occupancy.

As I continue with the challenge, several observations have become clear:
  • Though the city is only 10 miles North to South and 1.5 miles at its widest, I rely heavily on bike paths for travel. It is an effort to strictly use roads and thus completing the challenge will be harder than I anticipated. But, that's why it's called a challenge.
  • I've discovered errors in the bike map (documentation device): from missing roads altogether, to misspelling street names. There is ample map space to include more street names yet they were left out.
  • There is no rationale behind whether a roadway is listed as "road", "street", "avenue", "lane", "terrace". "court", or "parkway". Go figure.
  • I'm tickled to locate hidden links between streets: well-trodden pathways between neighborhoods, gravel-lined public rights-of-way, and sidewalks. Remembering where these are located will make future family rides a lot more fun.
  • I notice and appreciate single story homes as much as their counterparts. (More on that subject below.)
  • When I put my mind to it, I can complete several roads in one outing. For example, in one hour I can often ride 15 streets; my best foray to date topped at 23!

Perched on a busy location, this wooden structure was once a neighborhood store, then home to Burlington College, and now a portion is utilized by Cookies for Good, an arm of  Committee on Temporary Shelter who plans to renovate the building for more occupancy.

Set on one of the largest open tracts within the city limits, this large structure was an orphanage run by the Catholic Diocese, which sold the property recently to  expanding Burlington College. With large debts the college is forced to sell a large parcel to a developer, which is currently under scrutiny by city government and concerned citizens. I, and
many others, often travel on a lovely dirt trail across the grounds to link with the waterfront trail.
A brick Victorian home on busy North Avenue has undergone several changes over the years. Originally it was a private home, then rented to businesses (I went to a doctor's office in this building years ago), and now it's rental housing. As with many older homes, because our housing market is tight, renting is a lucrative business. Multistory rental properties must have exterior escape routes, as displayed on the left side of this Victorian.

A colorful and lovely home in the Old North End. To the right is a free-standing pop-up library, aptly named Lovely Lorelei's Little Lending Library.
As much as I love Burlington's style of older houses, this challenge has opened my eyes to the merits of one-story homes. There was a time when I thought all one-story homes were ugly—I grew up in a cookie cutter ranch house—but with the increasing difficulties of maintaining our own multi-story house (think clipping overhanging branches, cleaning gutters, windows, etc., which require an extension ladder) I've discovered numerous attractive Burlington housing options. If we stay in the city over the long haul and want to transition into a smaller, easier to maintain home, it's nice to know I won't have to trade simplicity for character.

An example of a one-story home with large eaves, a style that's practical if you don't have gutters. With simple landscaping, this home could be quite attractive.

This home exudes character: front porch, pretty windows, garage.
I've noticed that Burlington's street names are fairly generic. Some derive from early regional farms and a few are called after early citizens, but most are ubiquitous. It's not surprising, considering that developers often provide road names. And then there is "Burlington" (whose naming origins are in dispute,) is about as common a name as one can get; there are 21 U.S. villages, towns, or cities with this place name.

Completed Streets
  1. Pearl Street
  2. Northshore Drive
  3. Simms Street
  4. Edsen Street
  5. Wing Street
  6. Dewey Drive 
  7. Battery Street
  8. North Street
  9. Bright Street
  10. Decatur Street
  11. Cloarec Street
  12. Spring Street
  13. LaFountain Street
  14. Front Street
  15. Sherman Street
  16. Peru Street
  17. Grant Street
  18. Loomis Street
  19. Barley Street
  20. Curtis Avenue
  21. Appletree Point Lane
  22. Staniford Farms
  23. Holt Street
  24. Fairmont Street
  25. South Street
  26. University Road
  27. Chestnut Street
  28. Crescent Terrace
  29. Woodcrest Lane
  30. Mountain View Court
  31. Crescent Road
  32. Pleasant Avenue
  33. Starr Farm Road
  34. Farrington Parkway
  35. Gosse Court
  36. Ethan Allen Parkway
  37. Willow Street
  38. Wildwood Drive
  39. Fern Street
  40. Ivy Lane
  41. Dodds Court
  42. Stanbury Road
  43. Edinberough Drive
  44. Muirfield Road
  45. Westminster Drive
  46. Nottingham Lane
  47. Appletree Point Road
  48. Alexis Drive
  49. Sterling Place
  50. Crescent Beach Drive
  51. Surf Road
  52. Ridgewood Road
  53. Shore Road
  54. Holly Lane
  55. Glenwood Road
  56. Laurel Court
  57. Heineberg Road
  58. Marshall Drive
  59. Arlington Court
  60. Moore Drive
  61. Moore Court
  62. Cumberland Road
  63. Ethan Allen Homestead Road
  64. Oak Street
  65. Manhattan Drive
  66. Luck Street
  67. St. Louis Street
  68. Germaine Street
  69. Colonial Square
  70. Wilson Street