Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Presidents and Purgatory

Astute readers may recall that at the end of the Festive 500 challenge last December, John and I declared ourselves so far beyond redemption that we felt no need or desire to serve additional time in Purgatory (Pamela had already been to Purgatory Falls, NH earlier in the week), so we bailed on our planned final ride from Framingham out to Purgatory Chasm. This is probably why we didn't win! That and the fact that we didn't have epic blizzards to ride through. But try as I might to ride in snowy conditions this year, global warming seems to have arrived in New England, and we've been blessed with some pretty amazing winter cycling this year.

But it is also a presidential election year, and we've been bombarded with news stories that try my patience and insult my intelligence and make me feel I'm in some sort of presidential purgatory. I'm really hoping to emerge into a state of grace soon. So seeing as how I like my theme rides, we decided President's Day would be a fine day for Purgatory.

President's Day is also the beginning of school vacation week here in Massachusetts. As bike commuters, we love it when school is out because traffic at commuting time is much lighter. We had hoped for relatively light traffic on our ride, but it turns out that since we have almost no snow, instead of heading north the ski, all the school kids and their parents drove out to Purgatory Chasm for a hike - or so it seemed, based on the traffic we encountered on our ride and our hike.

John has a new camera, a Sony NEX7. Most of these shots are with that camera - with a few obvious exceptions. We've learned that if we ride singles, we can get nice action shots, but it was windy, and there's nothing so nice as riding a tandem in windy conditions, so we opted for the non-action shots of a tandem ride! I guess pictures at a cemetery (on our way to Purgatory) are about as non-action as you can get!

While we haven't had any snow, and it's been really mild for most of the winter, we do have the odd day where the temperature is 40F higher or lower than the previous day. This makes it really tough to dress appropriately. In a normal winter, conditions are relatively constant, so once I get the clothing choices right, it doesn't vary much from day to day, but this year I've worn different gloves every other day. And I can't just tweak it for the next day. I just need to carry all 20 pairs of gloves I own! Today's wind came straight from the north pole, and I left my north pole gloves at home! I survived, but my fingers got a bit chilly.

We took a slight deviation off route to check out the West Hill Dam.

John is really enjoying the new camera.

Ah, we have arrived, soon to discover where all those cars were headed!

We always ride in walkable shoes, and if you are going to Purgatory, I will recommend them. Signs suggested the chasm was closed in winter, but everyone else had ignored the signs and headed in, so we did likewise. We had to take care on some sections with ice, but it is pretty amazing that we could do this hike in the middle of February.

I'm not really a fan or sermons of any type, but the speaker failed to show. Maybe Hell has frozen over.

Oh this could explain why he was a no-show at the pulpit!

Hiking through the chasm was the only time we were out of the wind all day. But the brilliant sunshine and cloudless sky made for a lovely warm hike.

After our hike, we hopped back on the tandem and aimed it toward Framingham, taking in some much quieter roads on the way back. We arrived back just as my fingers were really starting to complain, and John graciously sent me into the supermarket to thaw them out while he loaded the tandem in the car.

After returning home, I modified the route to remove some of the roads that we found too busy, and hopefully now have a much quieter loop. I look forward to heading back on a warm windless day.

Now that we've been to Purgatory on President's Day, can I have some salvation from the endless, relentless attack on my patience with the American political system? Not a chance, but I can still hope, can't I?


  1. I can't believe how nice the weather has been in New England this winter. And President's Day was amazing...although yes, a little windy. But the best part for me is that I do most of my commuting on a folding bike and in the winter (esp. last winter) I had to take the bike home on the bus with me after work because the roads were in such bad shape. I haven't had to do that once yet this year!

  2. I have a Bike Friday Tikit for downtown commuting. Last year I had to use the bus for most of January and February, due to snow. They don't made studded tires in 16". What a shame that I'm not working this year. I could have ridden every day. Oh wait, I AM riding every day, just not downtown to work!