Friday, July 15, 2011

Anniversary-2 years without a car!

Parent shopping with daughter by bike
 Two years living without a car. Living in a car-centric town, this has been no easy feat in the winter in below -0f weather or now in the 100f + heat index days. But it has been very rewarding, as a matter of fact, one can say I have completely incorporated the carfree lifestyle into my existence and guess what, it works!

Everything from the profiles to the Cycling W3R Expedition are a direct result of this lifestyle.

Dogs walking human

I believe with all my being that people should live carlite or carfree whenever they get a chance. The mission holds true:

getting gas for lawn mower
 To promote the carfree/ lite lifestyle and see the health benefits: Personal, Environmental, and Community.

Here are some pictures showing carfree

Homeless guy in KS

Coyote guarding my bike

Art the committed commuter




there is soooo much freedom in
bicycling for transportation
 Peace, Bill

If you would like to share your Carfree or Carlite life with us...go for it! We would love to hear from you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cycling W3R: Newport to Providence-Car-free trip

Rhode Island Part 1: Newport to Providence

Cycling W3R Expedition                                        
Part one the route:  Newport to Providence

I love everything about Rhode Island.

I arrived by ferry (this a short video of the crossing) to Quonset Point, RI from the Island of Martha's Vineyard. My ocean crossing, although much shorter than the French in 1780, was very choppy, causing me a bout of seasickness (What? I am from Kansas, what did you expect? ;) )

Quonset Point is a big industrial area where ships and planes were made in the past and today. Before we arrived I called Peter Rice who had previously given me advice about cycling the roads in the Newport area and had told me if I needed a ride to Newport to call him as the bridges in did not allow bicycles. Peter answered, and said he would be there shortly. I was impressed by his generosity.

Laura the owner
Once off the ferry, I decided to bike around the area while I waited for Peter.
Out of place of all the industrial building was a lone mobile restaurant called Quonset Hut. It was so out of place I had to stop and take a picture. Laura the owner came out to greet me. She was a tough, weather worn, hard working woman who bought the trailer and set up Quonset Hut in the area where she herself use to work on B-52 Bombers in the early 70s. She had many ideas how to make her business successful and was very kind to me, even giving me a free bottle of water. This was my first experience with the hospitality I would become accustomed to from the people of Rhode Island.

Peter Rice and I at the Rochambeau
Peter drove up and we headed toward the bridge on Highway 138 that crossed Narragansett Bay. Once on the bridge I understood why cyclists were not allowed. The lanes are narrow and traffic heavy. There are local buses to get across I will try on my next trip.

Once in Newport Peter took me around the town explaining to me the history of the area and showing me alternative cycling routes out of town. Pete is retired from the Navy and is originally from ND. Pete is also a member the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen. I think in all we spent three hours exploring the area and the routes.

I next headed to my home for the night, a Hostel called the William Gyles Guesthouse. The owner, Merrilee, a cyclist,  was still at her job, so we decided on meeting an hour later, then she could check me in. $35 bucks for the night! I went for a short ride exploring Newport.

I made it back to the Hostel in time for Merrilee to check me in and to meet my roommate, one from California, and another, Andy from Ireland.

Andy has been back packing around the Eastern US for one month and still had a month to go. He was heading to a place in Maine where he was going to work on a sustainable organic farm for two weeks in exchange for room and board. He found it on a site called, WWoof or World Wide opportunities on organic farms. Cool!

Newport at night!

After getting settled in and a shower, rolled into town to find WiFi and get some food. There I met a young woman, Chelsey, soliciting Blood Donations for the Red Cross. Chelsey is one of those people who can look at you in the eye and you know she has a kind soul. I let her know that I was in need of my blood as I was going on a long bike ride. She readily agreed with my choice and loaded me up with some free life savers candy.

I went back to the Hostel for a short time and then went into town with Erica, another guest,  who was a grad student from CA for a glass of wine. Seeing Newport at night is a site. Great restaurants, many people, ships on the water, history oozes from the ground here. The people are friendly.

The next morning I was up early. I think I may have had three hours sleep as the neighbors across the street form the hostel had a party till 2am-ish. I got up at 6am and made a light breakfast, studied some maps Peter left me, and wrote in my journal.

I checked out of the Hostel and rolled into town. I spent some more time exploring the town of Newport on two wheels. Bicycling is one of the best ways to see the town. Although the streets have traffic, and sometimes are narrow in town, the people are use to cyclists. There is a loop, where you ride south on Thames to Wellington, then heading toward Fort Adams, and winding your way on great roads with ocean views and then back into town passing mansions and lots of tourist waiting for their buses. There is a bike map available at all the bike shops and hotels to help guide you.

the start

  Around 9am I made my way to my start point. The Rochambeau statue on Wellington.

The Start

The morning was perfect, sunny, mid 70s, slight breeze, the smell of the ocean, seagulls speaking in turn. I made my way to the start point. I was interviewed by a local Newspaper, and then the start was at 10am. Just me and Rochambeau-the present with the past.

I would take a left here to Memorial.

 I made my way on the Cycling W3R route I had decided on after exploring three options with my local route adviser, Peter Rice. My objective was to make a safe route, staying close to the history, and finding one that would be good for most levels of cyclists. The official W3R route out of town is on Route 114, which is becomes very busy with traffic, no shoulder, not fun. The other route was going through Navy housing, with lots of turns, little views. The third, and the one I chose, went west on Wellington to Thames. Right to Narragansett. A left, rolling past some beautiful homes to Annandale. Left to Memorial Drive.
On Memorial drive I passed a gorgeous beach on my right, then veered left to Route 214 North. 214 is simple, a wide shoulder, low traffic.

USS Saratoga
  I took 214 North to 114 North. Took a right there and took my 2nd left to Gate 17 entrance of the Navel Base. Once on the Gate 17 road, I headed west to Burma Road. Coming down to Burma Road is amazing as once you crest the hill and go down the road your view is Narragansett Bay and the decommissioned Aircraft Carrier, the USS Saratoga. The Saratoga is impressive to behold, and seemed to be waiting for me to roll by in celebration of the Cycling W3R, as the theme, the past meeting the present again seemed relevant.  On a side note, according to the Cycling W3R Expedition Historian, Robert Selig, the three most significant battles of the American Revolution were; Bunker Hill, Saratoga, and Yorktown.

My view to my left heading north on Burma Rd.
Once on Burma Road, I quickly realized why so many locals recommended it to me. A well maintained two lane with little traffic and nice shoulders. I headed north and had views the bay on my left and greenery on my right. I took it to Stringham Rd. Not well marked, but a distinctive sharp right turn, I had to pull out the GPS to make sure of my location.

This made me laugh...

I took a right on Stringham, and rolled slowly uphill to 114 North. There was a Dunken Donuts on the other side of 114. Traffic on 114 was heavy. I stopped for some food and drink.

Heading toward the Mt Hope Bridge
Fuel up on a bagel and donut, I next headed North on 114. This section of the route is NOT fun, with no shoulder, high traffic,  and poor road surface. I felt vulnerable here and took my time focused on the bumpy potholed filled maze in front of me while constant prayer were being sent out to the universe for my safety as cars and trucks speeded by with little regard for my existence.

The saving grace on 114 for is the consistency of the W3R signs marking the route. It was a comfort.

Patriot's Park
Patriots Park is a memorial to the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, known as the Black Regiment. The park is located at the junction northbound of Routes 114 and 24. A flagpole commemorates the site where the Black Regiment fought off a Hessian attack, saving the American line, on August 29, 1778, during  the Battle of Rhode Island.
Luckily the poor road only lasted a few miles then I was able to turn left towards Mount Hope Bridge. And then, between Highway 24 and 114, in a very odd place there was located Patriots Park-recognizing the Black Regiment. I stopped for a quick picture, but was eager to roll north, so did not explore.

Stopping at the bottom of the bridge
taking a picture over my left shoulder.
 I got to the Mt Hope Bridge, a narrow two lane, with grates every 50 feet or so, lenght over 6,000 feet! I was glad I had wide tires. Traffic was medium, but the bridge being long, and very high, with obstacles in the way, and traffic at my back I was not able to enjoy the amazing views of the water below. Although the ride over was intense, I never felt in danger, cars were respective, as long as I kept my line, all was well.

A few minutes later, I was off it and stopped and took a picture over my left shoulder to see what I had done. Wow.

This was when I got on
the East Bay Bike Path
from Oliver St in Bristol.
 Next the road greatly improved, I stayed on 114 and rolled into the town of Bristol.  A gorgeous town, the water at my left. I slowly made my way to Oliver St. Then left to the East Bay Bicycle Path.

My choice to go into Providence was 114 or this Bike path.  I chose the bike path, although at some point I would like to explore 114 in this section. The bike path is amazing. 14.5 miles to Providence without having to get on a road. Very well maintained, it looks more like small two lane road than a bicycle path.

I meandered my way on the path, passing a young girl at a Del's lemonade stand! I have never seen this on bike paths, and am impressed!

The Bike path, gave a view of what the land looked
in 1781.
I continued past the towns of Barrington, and then Riverside. I stopped a  grocery store in Barrington which was a few feet off the bike path.

There I met a woman, Jackie, who was getting her groceries on her single speed Schwinn Stingray, and was curious about my loaded bicycle. I told her about the expedition, and we talked about the route for awhile. She gave me some advice about downtown Providence, I would soon( unknowingly) regret not taking.

First views of Providence from the East Bay
Bike Path

I made why way north to the Riverside area, and although I was getting closer to Providence, the bike path was a low stress alternative to bicycling into a big city.

  I made my way to Providence, took a left on a sidewalk (still part of the East Bay Bicycle Path), with the highway on my right, I was about to go urban! Yikes!

Stay tuned for Part two; Providence to Joy Homestead and getting lost!

Side note: On a side note, I am still fund raising. If you like what you are reading and seeing, chip in some bucks and you will get more! ;)
Peace, Bill