Trip Log – Day 1 – Cambridge, MA to Seabrook, NH

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.14.00 AMMiles Today: 65

Miles to Date: 65

May 6, 2015

As I pedaled away from the Alewife T station, against the flow of commuters filing into the subway, I murmured, ‘one mile down, 20,000 more to go.’ A fellow cyclist passed me along the Minuteman Rail Trail, asked about my shirt, and told me he’d cycled the lower 48 over a three-year period after college. When he waved goodbye as he turned out, I didn’t feel required to tell him I was only three miles into my epic journey. My ‘48 States*2 Wheels*1000 Possibilities’ shirt may be presumptuous at this point, but I have finally started.

IMG_1604Conditions are perfect; sixty-eight degrees and sunny. I ride 25 miles to Lowell for my first visit – to the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) to talk with refugee immigrants about how we will live tomorrow. There are several bikeways, including one along the Bedford/Billerica railroad – the oldest 2-foot gauge railroad in America.

 

IMG_1617By noon I am back on the bike marveling at Lowell’s tenacity. The has-been mill city powered by Merrimac River thrives by cobbling together an eclectic array of economic activity: artist lofts, an urban National Park around the old mills, light industry, UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College, as well as accommodating, and finally embracing, a huge influx of Cambodians since 1980.

 

IMG_1627One unexpected delight is riding 30 miles along Route 110 East, which parallels the Merrimac River. My mind wanders to Thoreau’s Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers. There are still stretches where the majestically wide river and forested banks dimpled with springtime gold turning green must look quite similar to the river he navigated 176 years ago. However, he didn’t have to navigate five (yes, five) intersections with I-495.

IMG_1635Things I wonder about:

  1. Why do cyclists ride against the traffic once I’m 20 miles outside of Boston?
  2. Does any other state have as many ice cream stands as Massachusetts? They are all packed with customers mid-day, mid-week and it’s not even summer yet.
  3. I get cut off twice – both times by BMW’s.

IMG_1630If Lowell has many Cambodians, Lawrence feels completely Hispanic. The women wear brilliant skirts with layers of ruffles and the Catholic churches have busy mid-day masses. Haverhill doesn’t have such a clear ethnic definition, but is much larger and better restored than I imagined. Merrimac is quaint; Amesbury is picturesque as a movie set.

 

IMG_1641I arrive in Seabrook and have a relaxing evening visiting my good friend Harry Mears. He feeds me, introduces me to John Oliver’s comedic take on the news, and gives me a comfortable bed for the night.

 

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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One Response to Trip Log – Day 1 – Cambridge, MA to Seabrook, NH

  1. Tim says:

    Good Luck and safe travels.
    Tim

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