Velouria was happy to finally get some exercise beyond just going to the same old neighborhood spots.
The weather yesterday threw everyone for a loop. After weeks of frigid November dreariness, things suddenly turned tropical. It was over 65 degrees F (nearly 20 degrees C) in Boston yesterday, only somewhat counteracted by gusts of balmy wind.
The heat was especially weird in combination with how bare the landscape has become. This tree was practically the only one along the Charles River Trail with foliage.
One thing I can say after this ride, is that the past few weeks have taken a toll and I feel seriously out of shape! Throughout the summer and early Autumn, it became normal for me to cycle an average of 10-20 miles per day, often more. But after the traveling I did for work in November and then the additional traveling over Thanksgiving holidays, I guess it's been almost a month since I'd been on a really long ride. Now I see that cycling 2-5 miles per day for transportation is quite different from cycling 20 miles per day. Let's just say I had to switch to a lower gear for parts of the way than the one I had grown accustomed to.
Being on the trail again has also made me think about Dottie's recent post on Let's Go Ride a Bike, in which she described being grateful for her pleasant and stress-free commute along Chicago's Lakefront Trail. In theory, Boston's Charles River Trail is similar in that it connects peripheral neighborhoods to the city center. However, I honestly know no one who uses the Charles River Trail to commute to any of those destinations; the cyclists I know use the roads instead. Most of the cyclists I do see on the trail seem to be there for recreation, or for very short distance trips if they happen to live in a nearby location.
To some extent, I think the preference for the roads in Boston has to do with time. The Charles River Trail is car-free and fantastically scenic, but it takes considerably longer to travel on it than to travel through the city. When commuting to and from work - or when going on a date, rushing to a meeting, or dropping children off at various activities - I imagine that people want, and in some cases need, to save valuable time.
But perhaps what really keeps the Charles River Trail from becoming the commuter route it could be is the lack of lighting. In Boston it now gets dark shortly after 4pm. Most people cycle home from work after 5pm. Cycling on a pitch black trail along the river is probably not their idea of a safe and relaxing commute - especially as trail conditions become more wintery. If I remember correctly, Dottie has mentioned before that Chicago's Lakefront Trail is lit the entire way, which means that it is not impossible to do the same to Boston's Charles River Trail. Is it not done here for financial reasons? Or because the city figures there is not enough demand to use this trail for commuting? I wonder.
I love the Charles River Trail, and it has been particularly enjoyable to watch it change from Spring to Summer to Autumn and now to its current pre-Winter state. It would be nice to use it to go grocery shopping after 4pm, as I used to earlier in the year, so I do miss that part. I am looking forward to seeing what the trail will be like in the winter, and I am curious whether it will be at all possible to cycle on it once it starts snowing. If anybody local has done this, I would love to hear about it!