Cycling the scenic byways of New England

My Favorite Web Sites - Winchester Star - 7/18/02
 by Martin Zombeck

This is a bi-weekly column providing an annotated list of Web sites that may be of interest to the community. Each column will list sites that belong to a particular category: search engines, art, online newspapers and magazines, health and medicine, history, business and economics, etc. or sites relevant to a particular season, for example, skiing or gardening. Most sites will be non-commercial. To make it easier to access the sites, each bi-weekly column will be posted on the Town of Winchester's Web site so that the sites can be accessed and bookmarked without having to be typed. Previous columns will be archived at the Winchester site, also.

"If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads" - Anatole France

After tennis, bicycling is my favorite activity - not the Tour de France type but the leisurely 25-30 mile ride through the beautiful countryside of New England. If you really want to enjoy the scenic byways of New England, cycling is the way to go. You'll traverse country roads and lanes that you would never think of traveling on by car. You can stop at a moment's notice to view a scenic panorama - no need to worry about a rear-end collision or the lack of a parking spot. See a path leading to an ocean beach? Just passed a winery? A quick turn (after looking over your shoulder, of course) and you're there. If you keep to the seacoast or never go more than a few dozen miles inland from the metropolitan area, you will never have to face more than a few relatively easy hills.

Besides perusing the Web sites listed below it will serve you well to get a copy of one or several of Howard Stone's "Short Bike Rides" (Eastern Massachusetts, Central and Western Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Maine). These books offer over one hundred New England rides with maps, detailed directions, and a summary of scenic spots along the way. I quote from Howard Stone:

"Bicycling is an ideal way to appreciate the New England landscapes unique intimacy, which is not found in most other parts of the United States. The back roads turn constantly as they hug the minute contours of the land, forcing your orientation down to a small scale. Every turn and dip in the road may yield a surprise-a weathered barn, a pond, a stream, a little dam or falls, a hulking old mill right out of the Industrial Revolution, a ragged stone wall, or a pasture with grazing cattle or horses. Most of the smaller town centers are architectural gems, with the traditional stately white church and village green flanked by the town hall, a handsome brick or stone library, and graceful old wooden homes."

I couldn't have said it better.

The Science of Cycling
Cycling 101. A fun and informative site. Many explanations, audio and video clips, interactive javascripts, and lots of images dealing with the history and technology of cycling. Learn about gears, braking and steering, frames and materials, cycling aerodynamics, and more.

Summary of the Massachusetts Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan 1998. Maps for several bikeways. For a great, local, and easy ride I recommend the Charles River Loop (aka Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path (17 miles). Don't get distracted by the sunbathers along the Charles River.

MassBike/Metro Boston
The Boston-area arm of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.

The Web site of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, the statewide bicycling advocacy organization.

The purpose of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is to create a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Features a search site for finding any of 1200 nationwide trails including 21 in Massachusetts.

The inline version of Bicycling Magazine.

The Web site for the Somerville and Belmont stores. A very useful site for the cyclist and future cyclist. Provides details on types of bikes - road, mountain, hybrid, recumbent, etc. , links to the Web sites of dozens of brands - Trek, Bianchi, Specialized, Cannondale, Lemond, et al., and useful bike links (look under "News").

Le Tour de France
The official site of the Tour de France. This site is the first to post the complete results for the day. For the racing aficionado or should I use the french neologism, fan?

Bicycling books for the northeast states.
Biking, hiking, paddling, and skiing site. This is a commercial site (modest subscription fee) providing information and guide book titles for over 30,000 trails throughout the US and Canada. You can obtain topographic maps, trail overviews, regional maps, and detailed route descriptions.

Previous columns with live links can be found at

When he is not updating the Town of Winchester Web site (, Martin Zombeck can be found at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where he is a physicist or at the Packer tennis courts.