today i planned on revisiting the minuteman bike trail. it's pretty much the only place around here where you can bike for miles and not have to worry about dodging cars (except for the occasional intersection crossing, other bikers, and pedestrians). it can get busy on weekends, but it should be pretty empty on a weekday. google maps calculated the trip would take 1 hour and 7 minutes going 12.7 miles all the way to bedford, the terminus of the trail. that seems fast to me. i always thought it took 3-4 hours, but i guess that's with a roundtrip with multiple stops.

from bedford the trail continues a few miles north towards billerica, and a few miles west to concord center. julie told me yesterday that the bedford-concord extension trail is actually parts dirt path. i'll be riding a mountain bike which should be able to handle it but i don't like the idea of getting mud splattered all over my clothes.

i was worried about something happening to my bike and getting stranded that far out from civilization. there are bike stores that dot the trail, but you have to know where they are. i'd had a tire go flat on me on the trail before so i know what it feels like (luckily there was a bike store nearby, managed to put in a brand new tube). i don't imagine a cable snapping or the cogs coming loose, but getting a flat is probably the most realistic mishap so i prepared for that. my bike survival kit included the following: bike pump, bike tools, patch kit, and tire levers. i probably didn't even need to have the bike tools, unless i was in crash and needed to adjust something that was off-kilter. i've seen those mini carbon dioxide cartridges for inflating tires, maybe i should get one of those so i don't have to bring the tire pump which takes up a lot of space. it's probably also easier to just replace a leaking tube instead of trying to patch it. i should carry a spare tube from now on when i take long bike rides.

i set off around noontime, down mass ave in the direction of arlington to catch the trail entrance that goes down towards alewife station. i wore my helmet as a safety precaution. the trail wasn't crowded, but there was still people on it. half of them were serious bikers, decked out in spandex. a quarter were regular bikers, like me. the rest were joggers, ladies pushing strollers, people walking their dogs, folks out on their lunch break, and a few rollerbladers.

scenery-wise it was kind of boring. maybe because i'd seen it all before. if i had some music it'd have made the time pass quicker. i had my GPS, which acted like my speedometer. i could keep a moving average of 10 mph, but if i needed to i can muster a burst of power that pushed my speed to 16 mph. the GPS kept track of my total miles, so i had an idea of how much farther i needed to ride. finally, the GPS showed my elevation, so i knew it wasn't just me getting tired when it seemed to get harder to pedal at some spots (for instance, lexington center is up on a hill).

i was taking the trek 850 because it's the fastest bike i own (26" wheels). the only problem was my camera bag kept swinging down (because of my forward-leaning riding position) and getting in the way of my pedaling. i would repeatedly push it behind my back but it'd swing down again. slung across my other shoulder was the camera itself, and that kept getting in the way as well. for best riding, i should look into a backpack to carry my stuff, and maybe even ditch the SLR altogether for a smaller compact camera.

as predicted, i arrived at the terminus of the minuteman trail in bedford in approximately 13 miles. i still had enough energy to continue further, but my ass was killing me from the bike seat. after taking a break to drink some water and air out my hair, i started to head back.

i was happy to be home after making the 26 miles round trip. it took about 2 hours and 30 minutes. my left big toe hurt from pushing too hard on the left (and only) toeclip. my left outer hamstring was a little achy as well. other than that, i felt fine. i weighed myself before my shower and discovered i'd lost 2 lbs. must've been from all that sweating!

i finally made it to market basket to get some groceries. jut enough to make some spaghetti for dinner, i had a craving for carbohydrates. i was sweaty again when i got home. weighing myself once more before yet another shower, i saw that i lost an additional pound.

after dinner i rode the bike up to trum field (in magoun square), where somerville was holding their 4th of july fireworks - on the last day of june. it sort of makes sense from a logistical perspective since people might have long weekend plans that take them out of town (although given the still impoverished economy, most will probably opt for the staycation instead).

the fireworks was scheduled to begin at 9:15 so there was no point in getting their too early. i got there about 8:45 but should've came even later since the pyrotechnics didn't start until 9:45. there was nothing to do but to stand and wait. i had the misfortune of being right in front of one of the speakers; i positioned myself so i wouldn't get the full musical blast and end up being deaf.

i was wedged between a townie family and a south asian family. you know you're a townie when you allow your 4 year old son to get an earring. thank god none of the boys sported rat tails. as for the south asian family, there must've been 3 generations at least, about 2 dozen family members, half of them noisy children with glowing plastic swords and toy guns that shoot blinding red laser dots. an older gentlemen who could've been one of the grandfathers asked me if i was a professional. how dare you sir! i am no prostitute! he meant professional photographer, because of my camera equipment. i told him it was just for fun. i wanted to ask him if he was indian or pakistani, but i didn't know a polite way of doing it without accidentally offending him. he's probably used to it by now, now i'll never know his ethnicity.

when the fireworks started, all i wanted to do was leave. not because i don't enjoy the show, but i wanted to walk around and look for photo opps while the crowd was mesmerized. i saw a girl with a beefy camera mounted on a tripod who had the same idea. she could care less about what was happening overhead; instead she was pointing her camera to the spectators.

fireworks-wise, if you've ever seen the 4th of july spectacle in boston, everything sort of pales in comparison. i guess i should count myself lucky to live so close to boston that every year i can go catch the big show should i get a craving for colorful aerial explosions.

i made my way to where i parked my bicycle, trying to beat the crowd and the ensuing traffic jam once the fireworks were over. once i left vicinity, things were a lot calmer.