Friday Group Ride #501

Friday Group Ride #501

I’ve been out walking. In the woods. Crocked as I am, and with a doctor too cagey to give me an actual date for release back to the wild, it’s all I have. And it is glorious.

I’m fortunate to live fewer than 10 miles from the site of Thoreau’s cabin, set, as it is, in idyllic New England forest, oak, maple, and birch ringing the kettle ponds, the rising spring sun slanting through new green leaves. The dog is living his best life, and I can’t ride, but I’m not suffering either.

My favorite thing to do is walk out my front door, up the street, and into the first patch of woods I can find. From there, I link from one set of trails to the next, getting farther and farther from home, until I begin to worry about my ability to make it back. The weather hasn’t been too hot yet, and though I’m in a sling for my broken collarbone, I’m managing to get pretty sweaty. The dog consumes puddles and wades into muddy bogs. He’d go forever, if I could.

It’s not just that it’s beautiful. It’s the sense of walking back in history. If you read a little, you know that Thoreau and Emerson and the Alcotts lived and walked these trails only a short time ago. Some of the stone walls you see, randomly dividing stands of trees, are old farm walls that predate the country itself. I like this a lot. I like imagining what colonial farmers, or even the native Americans who lived there before, would make of their land now, with Route 2 splitting it down the middle, with designated parking areas for tourists.

Hiking through Thoreau’s woods this week I started thinking how lucky I was, though. We are, all of us, unable to travel, but like Thoreau, “I have traveled a great deal in Concord,” which is one of saying you don’t actually have to go that far to find some pretty remarkable adventures. They’re there. Walk out your door.

I had planned to visit family in Wales this summer, to ride the narrow farm lanes and the grassy tracks that bisect the country. I had dreamed of mountain biking in Snowdonia again. But we’re not going. No one is. It’s ok. We’ll bide our time, like Thoreau in his cabin, only a mile’s walk into the center of Concord, but alone for all intents and purposes.

This week’s Group Ride asks, IF you could travel now, someplace nice to ride, where would you go? Don’t think too hard on the budget. Just say where, what bike, with whom, and why.

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15 comments

  1. Geoffrey Knobl

    Back roads of the northern island of New Zealand with the 6 (not 5) people I chose from group ride 500. Go out for beer later and some singing ’cause yes, they do that in the Taverns in New Zealand.

    1. Brian Ogilvie

      Geoffrey – I just got back from the South Island, where I spent NZ’s lockdown, bikeless. I’d love to be back there now with a bike. For the highest alert level, I was in Lake Tekapo, which has some great roads and trails for cycling.

      Right now I’m pleased to be back home after spending most of the last 9 months elsewhere, and I’ve started planning rides to revisit old favorites and ride some new roads. Western Massachusetts is a great place to be a cyclist. It’s great to be back on my Boulder All Road, too.

      If I had to be somewhere else, though, it might be rural France. Great roads, respectful drivers, and wonderful food! Major roads can be busy, but once you’re on the white roads (on Michelin and IGN maps), you’re not likely to be bothered by traffic. I also wouldn’t mind being back in Ireland.

  2. Michael

    I think I would go with some friends to Hokkaido. She is Japanese and he is a really strong rider, and my wife would come too, and maybe my brother and his wife. We’d ride and go to interesting places where we would learn about the culture. Walks in the woods, climbs of volcanoes – not just riding. Definitely stay in hot-springs hotels (I love them!). My wife and I have coupler travel bikes and we’d carry light bags – perhaps bikepacking seatbags. Why? I love Japan – I learn so much there, and I understand so little! And the cycling is superb and the people are kind and friendly, in a reserved way.

    1. MattC

      Ooh….Japan on bike, love it! I spent a fair amount of time there years back for work (from Okinawa to Hokkaido). Once took the ferry across from Aomori to Hakodate, then traveled up the west coast…just wow! The people were SO friendly! (we don’t treat foreigners like that)…and boy are bikes safe there! Cars just don’t hit them (they are ultimately responsible, no matter what). If only we could get THAT attitude working here in the US…you know, where you as a driver are responsible for your actions? Anyway, sounds like a blast! Beer, noodles, green tea, but I’m SO not a fan of the rice pillows. I can’t get my wife to visit as she thinks all the Japanese are rude (we used to live in Hawaii, and I’ve tried to explain to her that they have no personal space in Japan…sitting right next to each other on busses/trains, standing actually touching on the trains, walking thru a crowd like a pinball bouncing off people with head-down not making eye contact…it’s just normal…when they come to Hawaii to visit that’s all they know). Loved my time there…still not into Karaoke tho. That won’t change.

  3. Stephen Barner

    French wine coountry, with my partner of 42 years and the Keith Lippy tandem. I’ve heard great things about the area. One glance at the bank account tells me Covid or no Covid, it’s not gonna happen.

  4. Chris

    I had plans, or was planning to plan, to do two 3-day tours this summer with friends. I also had ambitions to get out bikepacking one-on-one with my son and daughter. None of these would have taken me more than 5-6 hours from my house by car but each would have taken me to new places and new experiences.

    None have been outright cancelled yet – we’ll hang on for a while, probably deciding on our own that it won’t happen this year so that when someone finally asks if we’re a go it’ll be all to easy to concede. I’ll hold out hope though for something that’ll check these boxes: me, good company, bikes, and a line on a map. Not too much to ask, is it?

  5. Hautacam

    This isn’t the question you asked, but i am enjoying walking my dog in the woods too. It is nice to slow down and look around and think, all of which is hard to do on a bike in the woods, much less on the pavement where you have to spend a lot of attention dollars on potential threats. These are strange times and i am glad for the peace of the trails on foot.

  6. Alanm9

    This was the year my wife and I were to tackle the GAP/C&O Canal trip, 335 miles from Pittsburgh to DC, our first long tour. Might happen in the fall but not guaranteed. It’ll still be there next spring.

  7. DaveinME

    Granada, Spain. Merlin custom ti, anyone from the grupo that meets downtown every day at 9, because I lived there before for a year a decade ago and am still convinced that area is heaven on earth.

    I am planning to relocate there permanently soon and revisit the area often in the lead-up to the transition.

  8. Neil Winkelmann

    Maybe back to Corsica. With a gravel bike and bikepacking gear. Or Morocco. Or Mongolia. Or Patagonia. But I live in BC, and we have great adventure here, too. So local is likely.

  9. MattC

    I had been planning on my first bike-touring trip this summer (have all my gear and did 2 overnights on the mtb last year testing and verifying gear,). This year I was set to do a 3-nighter as a refresher (CA Central Coast where I live to San Diego/Mexican border) and then a month or so later go for the first of my bucket-list trips: Hwy 1 from Canada to Mexico. Those are both out the window, as is our Oktoberfest trip to Munich this Sept. Next year it is. I hope. Life has a funny way of changing peoples plans. But you have to have dreams.

  10. David A

    Axel Netherlands and from there along the sea coast of Zeeland. My Tarmac S-Works. With my friends Pierre Raas, Anja Raas, Adrie and Manu DeMaesschalck.

    1. Scott M.

      I know Moab’s MTB rides are epic but so too are the roads!

      Last year (early May) I spent a few solo days in Moab while some buddies rode the Kokapelli trail. As I only have road bikes, I found ample ways to entertain and abuse myself while seeing as much as I could. The O&B in Arches N.P. is transcendent (perfect pavement, 100’/mile, and giant freakin’ stone arches). Then I tacked on the La Sal loop because Bicycling ranked it in their top 10 (Castle Valley is remarkable). I also did a flat ride downstream between red ramparts that frame the Colorado River in oxbow after oxbow until you have no idea which way is which. (One version of Facebook’s recent “I Wanna Rock” ad featured climbers on one of these walls).
      .
      This year I had aimed to ride Mt. Evans in Colorado then move north and ride out of Estes Park. But now that trip looks like a bust.

  11. D Brink

    Nice. Our fifth Etape du Tour was supposed to happen for us, but even if the rumored September reschedule happens it likely won’t be possible. Can’t imagine that EU countries will be welcoming Americans without a mandatory quarantine anytime soon.

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