Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Arlington, here we come!

Hasn't it been forever since my last post? (I wonder if anyone noticed...)

Things at home and work got pretty busy, then we were off on the long US trip that is finally nearing an end. After a week and a half in Florida, we came to Boston to visit family and look at houses to move into when we arrive at the end of September. Could we actually buy a house in a week or less? Yes!

It's remarkable, but we seem to have done just that. It's the perfect house for us in every way - except that it happens to be on top of a 3000-ft hill. We settled on Arlington after looking at a bunch of places in Providence and Newton. The Arlington neighbourhoods seem wonderful - alive with activity, with lots of parks and trees and children - and it's also overflowing with cyclists!

This is due in part to the fantastic Minuteman Bikeway, a traffic-free path that goes from Alewife Station in Cambridge all the way past Lexington. It seems to attract all sorts of bikers - lycra louts, families, everyone. This was one of the big selling points for the area driven home by my old friend Lauren of Ciclismo Classico, who has lived there for years. There are also lots of bikers in the streets around there - many of them probably heading out of town towards Concord, where I remember there being great riding 16 years ago.

During this whole process, I've had a lot of help from complete strangers on the Charles River Wheelmen email group. I've sent questions about where to live, cycling to school, good local bike shops, and coping with giant hills, and I've always had many long, considered replies.

The only real downside of the new house is its altitude. The most direct route up from Mass Ave is also the most daunting, with several short, sharp climbs of what I suspect is at least a 10% grade. There are other routes up as well, but since the house is on top of the hill, there's really no avoiding a climb. This may do my quads some good, but it may curtail some of the spontaneous family trips for a bottle of milk and that sort of thing.

Apparently (according to one of my CRW correspondents), Sheldon Brown says that "bicyclists shouldn't live at the tops of hills" - but there's not much we can do about that now, and we'll just have to adapt. The Christiania will be the most daunting conveyance to pedal up, but Andrea assures me that the gearing should be low enough (I compared the climb to Highgate West Hill for him).

So apart from this little wrinkle, we couldn't be more excited. I'm really looking forward to my first New England jaunt for over 16 years!

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