Once football season is over, I begin to feel the wintertime blues. Go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, and spend the weekends planning my springtime escapes. It never works out quite the way I spent the winter making plans, but this year was worse than ever. The entire spring rushed past me, with weather and circumstances conspiring to keep me from mounting my bike and getting out to ride those fat tires and explore.
Finally, mid July arrived, I had a Saturday free, the weather was perfect, and it was time to go! So, I grabbed the Aluminum Horse, lashed her to my bike rack, and headed straight for Holliston, where they have just completed the last section of the Upper Charles Rail Trail, which I have ridden before, but before it was complete.
Not knowing what other parking areas are available, I parked and began my journey in Holliston center, by the gazebo.
From there, I headed toward Sherborn, eager to check out the newly completed section of the UCT. I stopped on occasion, to browse the flora growing alongside the trail, taking pictures of those plants that I recognized as useful plants, being medicinal, edible, or both. There was definitely a plethora of plants to admire along the way, and I captured a few examples. My first score was mullein, mother nature’s toilet paper, amongst other good medicinal uses, which I will not go into in this post.
I also found chickory, a good coffee substitute,
Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as wild carrot. The purple flower is the giveaway. It’s not always there, but if it isn’t, beware. It could be a deadly mistake.
And, last but not least, the supermarket of the outdoors, cattail.
There were many, many more…but this isn’t about weeds. This is about riding my bike. We’ll get back to weeds in future posts.
On the Sherborn side, there were a few sights to see which definitely make the ride worthwhile. I don’t know what the story is with this horse, but I’ll bet it’s an interesting one, and if not, it’s certainly something that a good story could be invented.
The last time I rode on this part of the trail it was unfinished, and the arch bridge was very exciting, being that it was only as wide as the old train track, and nothing preventing you from just rolling straight off of it. Now that it is finished, it’s a very nice, and safe bridge, a good place to stop and take a break.
Along this bridge and areas around it, someone took the time to paint a lot of stones with inspirational sayings on them and leave them along the edges of the trail. Here is the first one I saw, though not the first one I passed. I only noticed because I dismounted to take a picture of the bridge. If you never stop moving, you never really know what you’re missing, I guess.
Happiness can also be found in a cold beer, on a hot day, while riding, which I didn’t have, so there’s that. Maybe next time I’ll paint a rock about beer and happiness, and come prepared. So, I carried on, ignoring the folks giving me strange looks as they pass me by thinking “Look at that weird guy taking pictures of weeds.” I dunno, maybe they weren’t….but maybe they were. Ride on, losers!
I made it to the Sherborn line, where the nice trail abruptly comes to an end, and continues on as a narrow, muddy footpath going into Sherborn, the Home of the Slackers, who apparently don’t want to complete the trail for fear of encouraging rabble such as myself from trespassing on their lovely little town, or something. So I heard, anyway. We’ll see about that. Soon. Not today. So, I chatted it up with a few riders at the Sherborn line, where we agreed that Sherborn sucks, or something to that effect, and I turned around and headed back, on my way to Milford, capturing a couple more photos from the Sherborn side of the trail.
I reached the gazebo where I started, and continued right past it on my way to Milford. The Sherborn stretch is a very nice ride, and scenic, but the ride toward Milford has more interesting places. Along the trail are granite benches with inscriptions on them dedicated to the person or persons that donated the money for them. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the benches.
I did, however, stop at one of my favorite spots which sports some benches, and a picnic table, overlooking a horse ranch. It’s a great spot to have a picnic or just stop and admire the horses, if the smell of manure doesn’t offend you. It doesn’t bother me. Sadly, the horses were all roaming the far pastures, so I couldn’t get any photos of them.
This is one of my favorite spots. Another one of my favorite spots is the tunnel, which I am sure has a name, but I don’t know it.
The tunnel is cool, and damp, and rather refreshing to ride through when you are hot.
Also, as you ride toward Milford, there is a section with a series of story boards on them, which are geared toward children, and I guess tell a few things about some of the animals that may be seen. There are roughly a dozen of them, I think. I believe these change every so often, as I seem to recall a children’s book type story laid out in panels in prior years, but having never stopped to read them I can’t say for sure.
Also, not far from the story boards, is an entrance to Wenakeening Woods. It is not rideable, but looks like a good hiking path, and it is going on my list of places to explore.
Continuing further along the trail, there is a sort of Upper Charles Trail version of the Interstate Truck Stop.
Apparently, you can grab a pizza or sub, ice cream and coffee, and…oh look! Beer! This looks like a good place to check out when I come back to explore Weenakeening Woods! I don’t know what a “Schoo” is, but hey, they’ve got coffee, pizza, and beer…everything a bicycle athlete could need. As Arnold says, “I’ll be back.”
Not long after this, I realized that I had been riding for 3 hours, with many stops for photo opportunities, I reached Milford, and I was hungry and had shopping to do, so I turned the Aluminum Horse around, rode the few miles back to my car, and called it a day. A good day. It was just what I had been daydreaming about all winter and spring.