Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Big things in little Rhode Island

I have a tendency to make fun of Rhode Island.  The weird accents, hot weiners, corrupt government, huge debt, and doomsday street names (Can you say Breakneck Hill Road?).  Don't get me wrong, some of my favorite people are from Rhode Island, and my favorite place to ride my horse is in Rhode Island.  And then there's Newport, a favorite of mine for shopping, dining, beaching, perusing mansions, and strolling down the Cliff Walk.  Yes, Rhode Island does have lots to offer if I stop and think about it.

A couple months ago I bought my son a new Cannondale mountain bike.  He had borrowed mine and loved it so much he wanted one for himself.  I was thrilled at the idea of having an activity to share with him, but I wasn't thrilled about the pricetag on the bike.  If he truly wanted to ride this bike, I explained, he would have to be willing to ride it regularly.  For our first ride we went on the trails behind my house.  There are some good gravel sections but also some more technical trails with rocks, roots, and hills.  In hindsight I probably should have started him off with something easier.  He did pretty well, but I think he got a little discouraged when he took a couple tumbles.  After that debut, we decided to get on some easier terrain, which is when we scoped out the Milford bike path.  That was our first time on a bike path and Andrew loved how much easier it was.  Instead of rocks and roots and hills, the only obstacles we had to work around were crowds of teenagers.  I let him ride this path a couple times as confidence boosting rides, but then we headed back to the trails.  The trails have gotten a little easier for him and I've avoided the more difficult ones.

In the meantime, we had heard of another bike path in Rhode Island.  Although personally I like the challenge of the trails, I thought Andrew might like a change of scenery to keep him interested.  I have to skillfully manipulate encourage him and thought another bike path would be fun for him.  The Milford bike path was nice, but short and some of the questionable characters we passed made me a little uneasy.  I heard the Rhode Island bike path was longer, so we decided to check it out.

Another reason for my sudden interest in checking out the bike path was that I just bought a new bike rack!  No more stuffing bikes into the back of the SUV.  So naturally I was dying for an excuse to test it out.  Of course, never having used a bike rack before I was instantly confused and started panicking a little.  I made an emergency call over to Scott, who lives in Missouri.  Yes, the only person I could think of at that moment that might be able to help me out lives 2,000 miles away.  So I verbally explained my confusion, and he walked me through some steps.  I snapped a couple pictures of the bike rack with the bikes attached and sent them over to him for review.  After some gentle heckling regarding my purple mountain bike, he gave me the green light.

Whoa, nice rack!

On Saturday we ventured out in search of the bike path.  I got directions to the start of the path which took us deep into Woonsocket, which also has questionable areas.  Driving through the city, I had very low expectations.  My biggest concern was the value of the goods attached to the back of my vehicle.  I was thankful I opted for the rack that has a locking hitch and a locking cable that goes around the bikes.  No one's stealing my precious cargo!  We got to the parking lot safely, and when I started unloading the bikes I realized two major errors I made.  In my excitement of using the bike rack, I forgot to 1. pack my Camelpak, and 2. check the air pressure in my tires (which for some reason were a little low).  It was a rookie mistake and I'm sure as I get more comfortable with packing up the truck I'll develop a better routine.

After double and triple checking that everything was locked up, we headed towards the path.  Since my tires were a little low and I didn't have any water in the 88 degree heat, I didn't expect we would be out very long.  Immediately after getting onto the path, we were amazed at how nice it was!  The path follows the Blackstone River (the name of the bike path is actually the Blackstone River Bikeway).  We could not have been more shocked or pleasantly surprised at this path.  There was a cool breeze coming off the water, and the path was tree lined and very scenic.  There wasn't a lot of traffic on the path and everyone we passed was pleasant.  The path was well groomed and maintained with plenty of places to pull off, benches to sit on, and access to the river for fishing.  We even spotted a pair of deer!  We stopped at this scenic waterfall in Lincoln, RI.

It may not have been the challenging workout I was aiming for, but Andrew and I had a blast and before we realized it we had already gone six miles.  We stopped for a water break and then turned around for the return six mile trip.  What's great is that we only scratched the surface of the length of the path, so I'm anxious to go back and go further!  I also thought that in the future this will be a nice place for me to get in some long runs when preparing for any upcoming half or full marathons.  It's a safe and mostly flat route, and it would be a great way to get in long miles without the interruption of cars.

So, Rhode Island is starting to grow on me.  It seems that the things I like about the state are starting to outweigh the things I don't like.  I even just learned about a new race in Newport called the Newport Bridge Run, which sounds incredibly cool.  It's a loop around Jamestown and then 2 miles up and over the Newport Pell bridge.  Depending on how things go with my hip, I might think about signing up for it.  As long as they don't serve hot weiners at the post race party!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to help from afar... I'm a fan of racks, so the pleasure was all mine