once again, it's too hot to write. i rode my bike up the minuteman bike trail, then to concord center where i met julie after work, and finally to walden pond - a total of 18.6 miles. we met her friend michelle and jack (jack went home soon afterwards, didn't feel well). after walden closed, julie and i biked back to her work place and she gave me a ride back to cambridge after putting my bike in the back of the car (with the front wheel removed).

i biked down to the cambridge energy alliance office in inman square. when i went to go lock my bike, i realized my key was gone. i must've dropped it somewhere! so i returned home, retracing my steps, keeping an eye on the road for a set of keys. i didn't find them until i got all the way back; they were on the ground where i normally lock my bike. keys reclaimed, i returned to inman square.

as it turned out, the cambridge energy alliance office is not actually a walk-in type of place, more like a private workspace. i couldn't just walk in, they had to buzz me in first. the place was dark and cool, with sofas and coffee tables instead of actual desks. a handful of young people were milling about looking busy. i was there to submit paperwork for a $170 off coupon on a new energy star compliant air conditioner. the guy told me that after wednesday (when the city collects all the stickered appliances from the curb), he'll go down to the junk yard to match the sticker numbers and that i should receive a coupon soon afterwards.

next i headed down to central square, to pay a visit to the last remaining arts & crafts store in the area. i don't even know the name of the place, i just know it's across the street from the former pearl and located in a basement. i was there to look for a little everyday blank notepad that i can carry around with me. i'm a little picky about the paper because some pads aren't very good and tend to soak up the ink; unfortunately there was only one selection that fit the bill. i bought one and left.

it'd been more than a week since my last community garden visit. i was reluctant to go again with memories of rotten mulberries still fresh on my mind. it wasn't as bad this time, but mulberries are still everywhere. i sprayed off with the hose as much as possible the berry guts staining all of my plants. the only good thing to come from m visit was i managed to pick a box of golden raspberries; they were so ripe, many had already fallen on the ground.

i was meeting julie at concord center at 5:30 so we could go to walden pond. google map said it'd take an hour and a half by bicycle but i gave myself an extra 30 minutes just in case and left at 3:30. just last thursday i was on the minuteman bike trail and was leery about putting my ass through that sort of pounding again. but julie said she'd be able to give me and my bike a ride home, saving me from having to do the return trip.

it was all business this time around as i attacked the trail as fast as possible without any scenic photo stops. originally i was going to take my usual bike with the rear baskets but decided it'd be too slow and opted for the faster trek 850. i packed my swimming flippers for the pond, their long yellow paddles poking out of the top of my backpack. it was a hot day and the solid block of ice that was in my drink container had pretty much melted after 30 minutes. by lexington i'd already drank most of it.

it took about an hour to arrive at the end of the minuteman bike trail. from that point it was undiscovered country as i tried to remember from memory how to get to route 62 west. there was a more direct trail (reformatory branch) but julie said it goes through the woods and i didn't want to do any off-road cycling, preferring the paved roads instead. once i found route 62 (concord rd) it was a simple matter of following it down about 30 minutes to concord center. at one point i began to worry that maybe i went the wrong way but when i saw sleepy hollow cemetery i knew i was there.

i got to concord center at 5:00. there seemed to be more cyclists than town folks. concord naturally is also a major tourist destination for anyone coming up to new england. i used the bathroom at the information pavilion and got a drink from the main street cafe. sitting outside on the bench with my cold bottle of tamarind soda, i watched as stores closed one after another. i'd never been to concord center before. i've passed by, but only on the periphery. it seemed kind of boring, and even more so after hours when people were all leaving to go home.

julie showed up a bit after 5:30. we saw each other from across the street, i went to go retrieve my bike which was parked a little bit further up the road from the cafe. from concord center it was less than 2 miles south to walden pond. we didn't go too fast since julie was having knee pains and had to take it easy on doctor's order. julie took a detour and we went through a forest trail to the edge of the pond. we were looking for empty stone steps but on a hot day like today, everyone else had the same idea, and there were no open spots left. we walked te bike all the way to the entrance and parked there while we waited for julie's friends (michelle and jack).

when they arrived we all circled the pond again, looking for an empty spot. michelle i'd met before, when she led a birding walk at the nearby hapgood wright town forest. jack wasn't feeling well and decided to leave. halfway around the pond at the opposite end of where we started, we decided to camp out by a clearing that went into the water. there was other people around, but it'd be the best that we could do. julie and i got into the water while michelle just waded. they for the most part were chatting about trail stuff; i added my 2¢ whenever i could. i had on my flippers, but my legs were too tired from all the biking to do any treading so i didn't go very far. the water was cold with warm spots, which were appreciated since we were in the cool shadows.

we stayed long enough to get pruny, before coming out. we rested a little bit on land before heading back to the entrance. by then the rangers were announcing over loudspeakers that the park was closing and people had to leave or their cars would get locked up. we were joking what they'd do to bikers (chain up all the bikes or just throw them into the water were two possible ideas).

while michelle went home, julie and i biked to west concord (about 4 miles away), where she works and where her car was parked. i didn't realize it but i've passed by west concord a bunch of times, when i take route 62 to route 27 for my nature outings. so this is west concord! once we got there i asked julie if i could try out her red bianchi road bike, which i'd been admiring. this is exactly the kind of bike i'm looking for, with downward handlebars and big thin wheels. the handlebars took a while to get used to, until julie told me she never rides it that far down, preferring instead to hold the handlebars in a higher position. the bike was a smidgen tall for me so when i finally stopped i got a top tube in the crotch.

i also noticed the banks of cruiser bikes outside her office. apparently they're there for anyone to use. a check out this example of small town mentality: they don't even have locks! i couldn't believe it, but the bikes are stamped with a local logo so it'd be hard to steal. i thought they were schwinns but they're actually firmstrong bella fashionista lady single speed bikes. the handlebars are very wide, reminded me of those lat-pulldown bars at the gym. they all have coaster brakes, which was my first time experiencing them; i rather have hand brakes, since i have a habit of riding backwards which immediately grounds the bike to a halt on coaster brakes.

there was a moment of potential crisis when we realized i couldn't take off my front wheel because the quick release was rusted shut. without the wheel removed, it wouldn't fit inside the back of the car. finally julie stomped on the lever with her foot which made a horrible crunching sound. that seemed to have loosened the bolt and we were finally able to remove the wheel.