Saturday was the last day of moderate temperatures before an expected heat wave (looks like 5 or more days of 90 degrees plus!) Spouse and I decided to make the best of it by meeting a friend for some afternoon activities near the East Bay Bikepath. First, we biked to the Tillinghast Farm, popularly known as the “RISD Beach.” This was a farm along the Narragansett Bay that was donated to the Rhode Island School of Design for use by the staff & students. Because Spouse works for an affiliated institution, we are allowed access to it as well. Theoretically, you need to have an ID from said institution, but nobody is checking IDs at the gate. There is a lack of bike parking, but Spouse and I made the best of a wooden sign post.
Our friend brought her dog, who was much in need of some quality beach time. I’m not sure if I’d want to swim at this beach – the bay is still a little too polluted for my taste – but it’s a pleasant beach for walking along and watching a big dog have fun in the waves.
Aside from the traffic, one thing I hate about the EBBP is the many road crossings you have to slow down for as you ride along. There’s a stop sign for cyclists posted at each crossing, even for the places where the path crosses an industrial access road that is blocked by a gate. For some of the crossings, one needs to actually stop, but it’s difficult to know which ones. Now I have a new thing to hate about the EBBP – there’s no street signs for the crossings. It was very difficult to know where we needed to turn off from the bike path (Middle Highway) in order to get to the farm. We were smart enough to check it out on Google Streetview ahead of time so we knew to look for the crossing that has five big rocks. But still, there were several crossings before Middle Highway that looked very similar. This shows a basic problem with the philosophy behind bike paths – they are often built with the idea that they will be used solely for recreation, not transportation. You don’t need to know what street you are crossing, cyclist, because you should just stay on the path where you belong, then turn around and go back to your car, put your bike on the back and drive home! I’m sure that 90% of the people on the path on the weekend use it for recreation (unlike my coworker Jim), but still – they should be able to know what street they are crossing so they can find their way to destinations off of the bike path. There’s also a general New England problem with street signage. New England cities are notorious for tiny, poorly placed (or completely absent) street signs, thus making the non-grid streets all the more confusing to outsiders. Okay, enough of that rant.
After a little bit of beach time, we headed down to Bristol for dinner. For the outastaytas in the audience, Bristol, RI is the home of the nation’s oldest continuous 4th of July parade (since 1785). Spouse and I arrived to find the area full of pre-4th revelers enjoying and outdoor concert. Luckily, our dinner destination was not too full. Our friend with the dog used her car to get to Bristol and arrived at about the same time we did since there was so much traffic. We ate at the Beehive Cafe, a lovely little restaurant near the harbor. The food was delicious, and if I was a better blogger, I would have some great pictures of the three of us enjoying our meal on the patio while the dog enjoyed the cool concrete. I think Miss Sarah in Edmonton does the best job of this sort of thing. I had a great Aquidneck farms burger. Spouse had some chunky-style gazpacho and a Mediterranean plate with all sorts of goodies. Our friend had the 4 cheese penne pasta. We then shared some strawberry-rhubarb pie. Everything was excellent, and reasonably priced for the quality. I felt like my burger was of the same quality that I would get at La Laiterie, but significantly less expensive. Everything on Spouse’s Mediterranean plate was of the highest quality. In describing the plate, Spouse said that each individual item could have been sold for $3-4, so it was a good deal as well. Enough with the restaurant review! I’m just including it as an attempt to draw some search engine hits. And to show that you can use a bike to get to a restaurant that is about 18 miles away. (One more thing, they have a decent beer list – very refreshing after cycling in the heat).
As we wrapped up our meal, the light was beginning to fade. Our friend had left her bike rack on her car in case we wanted a ride home. Spouse decided to take her up on the offer, but as you know dear reader, I’M WAY TOO HARDCORE TO ACCEPT THE OFFER OF A RIDE!!! Actually, the temperature was unstoppably pleasant and I wanted to see what it was like to ride on the path at night. The sun had just gone down as I set out on the path. There were a few other cyclists early on, but they thinned out to nothing within the first 5 miles. I was completely alone on the path. Except for a few million bugs. At first there was just the occasional swarm that I would ride through, but eventually, it was an almost constant barrage of bugs. I was sure to breathe through my nose, and through some miracle I avoided eating any of them. The bug gauntlet was worth it as a trade off for an empty path. Without any of that pesky traffic, I was able to keep a very steady pace (aside from the road crossings) and I hardly coasted at all. Time seemed to stop as I chugged along on the path, collecting bugs on my shirt. I can see why some people prefer a brighter light than what my Planet Bike 1/2 watt has to offer. I often felt like I was straining my eyes and it would have been nice to make the tree tunnels a little brighter.
As I approached the northern end of the trail, a fireworks display started in a nearby town. At the top of the final hill, many people were pulled over in their cars to watch the display. A few decided that the perfect way to watch the fireworks was to sit on one side of the bike path. I had to slow down to about 6 mph to get past them. A few times I had to yell out “excuse me” to the people standing in the middle of the path staring slack-jawed at the sky.
It was quite pleasant to ride the path at night. I hope to do it again, but I may have to get a bike like this just to avoid the bugs.