Somerville, Mass – Something wonderful happened in Somerville this summer. After many years of construction, they finally completed an extension of the Somerville Community Path, a paved rail trail that now connects the Minuteman Bikeway to North Point Park. The former is a rail trail that runs through Cambridge, Arlington, and Lexington, all the way to Bedford; while the latter hooks up to trails on both sides of the Charles River, connecting Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton. This one little 3.2-mile stretch links up over 30 miles of off-road bike trails. And best of all, we can hop on the Somerville Community Path less than a half-mile from our house.
I have been cruising the new path since it opened in June, but I couldn’t entice the twins to join me–until we invited a gaggle of their friends to come along (of course). Eight tweens and teens, two adults, and one small child in a bike trailer… what could go wrong?
The first thing that could go wrong is that the skies could open up and start pouring rain about ten minutes after we set out. I mean, buckets. And we had not even made it on to the Community Path. We camped out under a highway overpass, hoping it would let up. It didn’t.
Twin S insisted that he wanted to keep riding–rain or no rain–and some of his friends agreed. So I consented to continue riding in the rain with them, while my friend decided to wait with her 5-year-old daughter (in the trailer) and anybody else who didn’t want to get wet.
For better or for worse, all of the older kids came with me. We got soaked to the bone. But it didn’t last long. Within 15 minutes the rain let up and the sun came out. Once we reached North Point Park, we crossed the Charles River dam and continued riding along the Esplanade. I could barely keep track of the kids, who were all riding at different paces, and there was one minor bicycle mishap, but everyone seemed happy.
Meanwhile, my friend stayed relatively dry, but she had to endure the wrath of her 5-year-old, who was incensed about being left behind.
The biggest challenge of the ride was not the rain, but rather, keeping our group together. Some of the older kids were impatient and insisted on riding ahead. My friend was particularly slow, due to the extra weight of the trailer. (Her pace improved significantly when she made her older kid pull the trailer.)
But in the end, we didn’t lose a single person and we called it a success. We rode all the way to Harvard Square, then looped back through Cambridge on the city’s new protected bike lanes. Total distance: 9 miles!
Most importantly, the kids enjoyed the easy access to the trail and the freedom of riding without cars. Now that they know how to do it, they can safely ride all around the city (and neighboring cities)! Yay for bicycle infrastructure!