Folding Bike Blog

Autumn Road Ride – Farm Lands of Western Mass

Last weekend took me back to the area where I grew up, Western Massachusetts. While it’s only about 2 hours west of Montague Headquarters in Cambridge, it’s a very different atmosphere out there. No big cities, no hustle and bustle, beautiful farmland, and most importantly, few stop lights on the rolling country hills. I took the opportunity to put some miles on my Montague FIT, and take in the beauty that is autumn in New England.

The day started with black coffee as usual, my secret weapon. (#coffeedoping)IMG_5173

It was unseasonably warm for mid-October and there was a mist in the air. No arm warmers today.

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While the roadside foliage burned with reds, oranges, and yellow, the fields were still green and the forest floors were still covered in bright green ferns.

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My friend Chris joined me for a portion of the ride and managed to capture this shot of the FIT in action.

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Hadley, MA is home to several dairy farms. These cows weren’t too interested in my bike while I stopped to hydrate, but the rolling hills of their pastures were beautiful in the afternoon sun.

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These cows on the other hand, were quite interested.

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A few areas allowed me to get off the paved roads as I cut through familiar fields and wooded trails. I’m currently running 33mm semi-knobby tires on my FIT, so they handled the paths wonderfully.

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After about 30 miles of looping through the towns of Amherst, Hadley, and Belchertown, my route came to an end. (Not pictured: post-ride mulled apple cider)

IMG_5403editFor more photos of my adventures, follow on instagram: @montaguebikes

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6 TED Talks on Bikes and Cycling

TED Talks (TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design), are conferences held all over the world under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading.” They address a wide range of topics in science and culture, and often involve an element of storytelling from the speaker. You can find TED Talks on nearly any subject, and in the last few years, videos from the conferences have become wildly popular resources for forward thinking ideas.

Several TED Talks involve alternative transportation, bike infrastructure, and even cycling anecdotes.  Here are some of our favorites from over the years.

How To Build a Better Block: Jason Roberts at TEDxOU

Jason Roberts shows that sometimes you need to take initiative on your own to enact change in your community. Doing everything “by the book” and dealing with bureaucratic red tape won’t always work. Jason and a group of friends changed his community in Dallas’ Oak Cliff by re-purposing abandoned spaces, starting pop-up businesses, organizing events, and encouraging alternative transportation all on their own. Instead of waiting for permission, they just started doing. They started a Bike Friendly Oak Cliff advocacy group, and even painted their own bike lanes on underutilized streets. Surprisingly, their ideas were wildly successful, and many have become permanent fixtures in the neighborhood. There are some great lessons to be learned here.

Bicycle Culture by Design: Mikael Colville-Andersen from Copenhagenize

This is an amazing talk pertaining to urban planning to encourage bike usage. In the opinion of Mikael Colville-Anderson, traffic engineers have been failing miserably over the last 80 years. Building infrastructure just for cars has resulted in a myriad of commuting problems for many cities. Historically, streets are human spaces and just like other consumer products, they should respond to the needs of the consumer; the desires of the citizens. True human cities should be designed not only by civil engineers, but by architects, designers, and the people who live in them.

Mikael Colville-Andersen is an urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize Consulting. He is often called Denmark’s Bicycle Ambassador, and with and his team he has advised cities and towns around the world regarding bicycle planning, infrastructure, and communication strategies. He applies his marketing expertise to campaigns that focus on selling bicycle culture to a mainstream audience. His famous Cycle Chic brand has also brought a more casual elegance to cycling. Listen to this talk for a perspective from one of transportation cycling’s key figures.

Biking revolutionary Janette Sadic Khan about the most important asset of the city – streets

New York’s streets are not so mean for bikers and walkers any more. As a New York city commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan doubled bike lane number during her first year from 29 miles in 2006 to 63 miles in 2007. In the following five years additional 254 miles of bike lanes were painted. She also installed the city’s first parking-protected bike lanes on 9th Avenue. “Streets are some of the most valuable resources that a city has, and yet it’s an asset that’s largely hidden in plain sight.” Click play for more insight.

Arend Schwab: Why Bicycles Do Not Fall

Have you ever wondered how a bicycle works? Why doesn’t it just fall over? How does it balance on its own? The seemingly simple bicycle is actually quite complicated when you start to consider the mechanics behind it. In this fascinating video, Arend Schwab gives you look at the science behind the bicycle, and what the future may hold.

Arend did his BSc in Engineering at Dordrecht (1979), and his MSc (1983) and PhD (2002) at Delft. He runs the bicycle mechanics lab and teaches mechanics.

Jeff Speck: The Walkable City

Designing cities is really like designing peoples lives. Jeff Speck talks here about the impact of walk-able and bike-able cities on the health and wellness of it’s residents. Such cities encourage people to walk or bike where possible; and they ultimately lead to healthier residents and a better quality of life than citizens of non walk-able/bike-able cities. The proof is here!

Shimon Schocken: What a Bike Ride Can Teach You

When a university professor gets out to the wilderness for some mountain biking with teenagers from a juvenile correction facility, the magic of cycling takes over. The program Shimon Schocken started in Israel was not an easy venture for him or the kids he sought to help, but in the end lessons were learned by both parties, and cycling provided a platform for that learning.

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MTB in Wompatuck State Park

“Wompy”, we love you!

Wompy_Map_2011Last weekend we took a mountain bike excursion in Wompatuck State Park. It was so much fun, I needed to share it with all of you. The park is just a 35 minute drive from downtown Boston, in Hingham, MA. I have the privilege to live two minutes away from this park and yes, you can be jealous!  The park has an area of about 3,500 acres with the majority of it located in Hingham, MA. It also extends into the neighboring towns of Cohasset, Norwell and Scituate.

The park has many things to offer, including 262 campsites which are open from April to October. The most important part to me is the trails. There are 12 miles of paved bicycle routes, and many, many more miles of single track mountain bike trails, double track, and dirt fire roads.

The nice thing about Wompatuck is that you can find trails to accommodate both beginner and advanced riders. There’s a wide variety of terrain for every level of riding.

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Most of the mountain biking used to be done on the right side of Union Street where most of the park’s unbroken woodland is. But over the last couple of years people have been creating a new network of single track trails on the left side of the park as well. The trails are growing!

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`Wompy’ as how the locals call it, is an amazing place to ride. It is a nice and large wooded area with very clearly marked trails. You really need to try hard to get lost :). The park has fast and swoopy tracks as well as long distance trial sections. Some areas will have you riding over rocks, hopping logs, and dodging trees, while others less technical fast rolling sections.

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Taking a look at some of these photos, you can see why I had such a great weekend! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Wompatuck for a day of riding. Even if road biking is more your thing, the paved trails offer some very peaceful and scenic routes through the park.

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For more info:

http://www.friendsofwompatuck.org/biking.htm

http://trails.mtbr.com/cat/united-states-trails/trails-massachusetts/trail/wompatuck-state-park/

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