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  1. #1
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    Need low-down on Boston biking

    Hello from hot and sunny Los Angeles! I'm going to be working in Boston from late August through the beginning of December and am trying to plan what bike/s and equipment to bring. It looks like I'll be staying in the Charlestown area pretty close to the naval shipyard. I ride about 4-5 times a week and split time between road and dirt pretty evenly.

    I'm trying to decide if I should initially bring the mountain bike or the road bike. I'll be going out for a ride in the morning before work for about 1-1.5 hrs and then on the weekend get in a 2-3 hr ride. I'm riding a Spec SJ FSR w/ Talas , a 5"ish cross country bike. I don't do stunts, drops, and jumps very much, I just like to ride trails. I've got trails within 2.5 miles of my house that is a mix of fire road and singletrack, mostly loose dust and sand on top of hardpacked clay, lots of climbing, typical Socal stuff. I'll be staying in a hotel there and will have only limited access to a car.

    The main question is- are there any decent trails within 2 or 3 miles of where I'm going to be staying? I understand the mass transit system there is top notch, is it usable to get to any trails? Right now I'm thinking I'll take my road bike with me on the airplane and have my wife ship the mountain bike once I get settled after a couple of weeks, it's much easier to ride road in an unknown area at first.

    Thanks for any replies, either here in this thread or via PM!

    Alan

  2. #2
    Hic-A-Doo-La!
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    Alan,
    I don't think the 2 mtb spots close to Boston, Blue Hills and the Middlesex Fells, are close enough to ride in the a.m. since you'll have to take public trans. to get there and back. The road riding scene is quite good though. Plenty of fast riders to try and keep up with.
    I have a back-up full suspension bike, an 02 Stumpy, size med. If you want to ride some trails some weekend you could take the train to S. Attleboro, I could pick you up and give you a tour of some local spots. I don't do drops either, just like to ride trails also. So really all you would need to bring other than your helmet, etc. are your mtb shoes. I currently have spd's on my bikes, bring your pedals too if you ride something else.

    - Jon

  3. #3
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    I live in western Ma, so I have no idea how close things really are in relation to Boston. But do youself a favor and check out Lynn Woods in Lynn MA, maybe 20 minutes north of Boston. I rode there for the first time this past weekend and the place is epic.

  4. #4
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    You say Charlestown-that would be the Orange Line (Bunker Hill Sta) heading N. to Malden or Oak Grove (Melrose) for Middlesex Fells about a 10-15min ride via mtb or of course you could use the bus carriers on the front end of the buses. As far as road riding, hope you like pot holes esp. after the winter-terrible to narrow tires. Bikes are allowed on most transit vehicles (not streetcars/trolleys) & the Commuter Rail. Check out the T's website:www.mbta.com for more info on bike travel on the system.

  5. #5
    Wiz
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    Try Commuter Rail for more riding

    Your workday MTB intentions will probably be the Fells. Others can tell you about the road riding scene in & around Boston. But when you have the time, you'll have a sweet Commuter Rail system out of North Station. I am mostly familiar with the Rockport/Gloucester line...this line can access a variety of North Shore riding (thats north of Boston). Other train options are huge out of there as well. But for your immediate Q, you could ride to the Chelsea or Riverworks stop if you don't want to go to North Station & hop the line accessing Gloucester, Rockport, North Beverly, Hamilton, Ipswich...etc All have excellent MTB as well as super nice Road riding. I have not lived up that way for years, but the bike scene is raging up that way...others can clue you in better, but check out www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/line including my suggestions as as well as many other options

    edit: don't know why site won't connect
    Last edited by Wiz; 08-06-2009 at 05:19 AM.

  6. #6
    crash test dummy
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    Can't speak to road biking but I ride the Middlesex Fells quite a lot, as I live 1/4 mi. from the trails. You can jump on the Orange Line at Community College - about 1 mile from the shipyards. Go 4 stops north to Oak Grove, and then ride another 2 miles west to the Fells (jump into the East or West side of the Fells from Woodland Rd). From there you have access to about 10-15 miles of challenging singletrack and about double that in fire roads. The singletrack is mostly, technically "out of bounds" except for green blazed routes, but as long as you're courteous and friendly to other users (hikers, dog walkers, etc.) you can pretty much ride where you like.

    I'd guess you could get to the Fells from Charlestown in about a 1/2 hour. It is great for night riding, too (a lot of people do this, including myself).

  7. #7
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    Grew up in Boston area near the Fells, now in CO. The biking in Mass is actually sick. They have everything from XC to North Shore style stuff. All super close to Boston. Are you going to have any transportation besides the T? If you have the oportunity maybe you could rent something in Melrose by Oak Grove and commute to work. Then you could ride out the door a little easier.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the info, I've pretty much decided to take the road bike on the plane with me and once I get settled in have my wife ship the mtb which I'll pack up before I go. I may be working 6 day workweeks for a while there so I may not have much time for the bikes.
    Cobretti - thanks for the offer but I ride a large.

  9. #9
    Class Clown
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    The Fells is literally right up the street from Oak Grove. I ride by there all the time on my way there. Heck I'm there almost everyday if you want a tour. Check out fellsbiker.com for a map. The Charles is a nice place for a ride on your road bike. Just remember the streets around here are filled with holes. Tell your work you need time to ride, or else!

  10. #10
    DWlink Fanboy
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    no one mentioned LLF...

    Hi Al,

    You should also check out LLF. I used to live in Southern California and the riding here is really different. If it isn't too late, I would recommend that you leave your road bike at home. I ride 50/50 road and mountain, and lately, the swing has been 30/70 road / mountain because the road riding here just sucks.

    PM me for details about LLF and if you are interested in riding in the Fells - I know there is a bus that stops off close by work that allows you to ride to LLF in ~10 minutes or less.

    BTW, bring the fattest tires you have and put a shorter stem on your mountain bike. The setup for Cheseboro / Dead Cow is completely different from riding out here.
    (I was out there earlier this year: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7945048)

    I remember moving here from the Conejo Valley and thinking to myself WTF?!! on the first ride - 60% of the stuff I saw was unrideable to me at first. Of course, this was with a XC race-oriented hardtail 10 years ago. Technology has marched on a bit since then.

    Albert

  11. #11
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    Pardon my stupidity, but what's LLF?

    Dave

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the reply, I've been in Boston for about a week now. Yes, the road biking does suck here but it's the only way I can get in a decent ride in the morning before work. My first day I rode the Charles River path and that's a nightmare, at least in the morning. It's too broken up, crowded and in some places pretty narrow and really rough; I had to stick to the street going through Cambridge. On the plus side there's a lot of good looking joggers I've been putting together a couple of routes that I've liked that involve either riding through Somerville to Mystic Lakes area or going north along the 93 to the Fells area.
    Compared to LA there aren't very many "roadies" out here, lots of bike commuters who don't really flow with traffic very well and seem to prefer sidewalks and bike paths. Cars here don't seem to be used to a cyclist who rides with traffic but I haven't had any problems at all and most motorists have been very courteous. I'm also very glad I brought my helmet mirror with me.
    I'd like to get out for some MTB'ing but have to explore my options for rentals and may just buy something used for cheap that's off road worthy. I think I'd prefer something rigid for maintainence reasons, I know it would be rough going but I learned to MTB on rigid in the early 90's and still ride it occasionally. The hiking looks good here so I might just buy myself a good pair of boots.

  13. #13
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    Yea, the road biking isn't any good until you get past 95. My suggestion is to take Trapelo road out to Lincoln and Concord (you can take the Minuteman thru Sommerville). Very popular area to road bike. When I lived in Newton and then Natick I really enjoyed the very quiet roads of Dover, Sherborn, South Natick.

    If you are going to ride the Charles River path it is best between the BU bridge and Newton on the south side. The north side is more crowded.

    For hiking, you can't go wrong with the Whites.

  14. #14
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    Also, you can get some ideas for rides from the Garmin Connect site.

  15. #15
    Class Clown
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    i ride my hardtail all over. it really helps as the streets are crappy. i ride on certain sidewalks. you really can't trust the drivers around here. they drive too fast and don't have the skills to do it.

    the charles ride i find pretty easy. i guess it's different on a road bike. but yeah when it's crowded it's a game of dodge the pedestrian. o but i see you know WHY it is crowded

    If you get further away from Boston the road riding should improve. The Fells area is nice, but of course the trails are nicer.

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