Traveling by Bike
Two years ago we went by car as usual, but for the first time took bikes and cycled around a bit during our stay. Last summer we arrived by car again, but got around entirely by bicycle once there and attempted some high mileage day-trips. This summer we no longer have a car and really did not want to rent one just for the trip. So after discovering that Cape Ann was accessible by commuter rail, we decided to come here instead and do the whole trip on bikes. Another reason for choosing Cape Ann, is that it is a popular starting point for long rides up the coast of Northern New England. There are no decent routes north directly out of Boston, and what cyclists often do is take the commuter rail up here before proceeding north. So that was the plan: To arrive on our bicycles, to get around by bike, and to cycle up the coast as far and as often as possible in the course of our stay.
The ride to the train station from our house is 4 miles through some of the busiest parts of the city. I have never ridden with my bike loaded up like this before, and the prospect of trying it for the first time in Boston traffic was nerve-wrecking. Overall, the bicycle handled fine. Once it got going, I could not feel the weight at all, and the heavy handlebar bag did not affect steering. But at very slow speeds - especially when starting and stopping - there was a fishtailing effect in the rear that took some getting used to. Also, with so much weight on the bike, the brakes were less effective than usual, which I had to keep in mind when stopping on a downhill. The frame itself had an interesting feel to it - as if it was "yielding" to the weight (mildly flexing?). The resulting ride quality was in some ways nicer than with the bicycle unloaded. Having survived this ride in traffic, loaded touring on the open road does not seem in the least daunting. Going slower than usual is, of course, a given - but the reduction in speed was not as drastic as I thought it might be. Even cycling uphill (which I got to experience once we arrived to Cape Ann and rode from the train station to the place we are staying!) was not as difficult as I expected. Thanks to a helpful reader after my description of our previous commuter rail experience, we were able to board the elusive bike train, which made the trip more pleasant still.