We arrived with our adaptive tandem bicycle at the Uxbridge trail head of the Blackstone Greenway, just off Rt 146A, before 7A.M, and found only one other car already there. Great. We wore masks, and pedaled along the trail, encountering mostly one, or sometimes two people on the trail, almost all walkers.
As the weather warms, we turn to our adaptive tandem bicycle to get out outside and enjoy the natural world in ways I can manage, since I am terribly sensitive to the heat. In other years we simply pick a local, or more far-flung rail trail, pack up our gear and head out. But this has been anything but a normal year so far.
A large part of what I have put my efforts into these part several months has been offering people strategies to avoid crowded trails. And the simplest tactic is to get out early, ahead of the crowds. A few days ago we finally put this into practice ourselves and got up around 5:30 in the morning, grabbed breakfast and had the bike packed up and set off by 6:30.
The closer we got to the Blackstone parking area, the more people we encountered. But the numbers were still small, and everyone worked to offer space. The few dog walkers kept their dogs on 6 foot leashes, for the most part, a concern when bikes and walkers mix. Our bell alerted others that we were coming, and we only had to stop once or twice to allow others to get past each other.
As we headed back across the multiple bridges across the Blackstone River, I happened to look over to the railroad bridge that crosses the river at the same point as the bridge we were on. The coyote traipsing across the rail bridge glanced at us, finished his crossing and headed off into the woods.
We still had plenty of energy left when we returned to the Uxbridge parking lot, so struck off down Adams Street for some road pedaling. We did another three-mile loop back to Millville. The remnants of stone walls along both sides of the road told us this was an historic road, used by past generations to get from one point to another. Much of the area looked like former farm land, and offered some great views of the surrounding countryside. We returned to the Uxbridge parking area to find the lot nearly full. Yes, heading out early was a good plan. It was cooler (our windbreakers were most welcome on this trip!) and the light was low, making for some nice pictures.
Summer is coming, we are still concerned about keeping our distance, so will continue to wear our masks when out in public. Enjoy your time outdoors, please be safe, and plan to avoid crowds by getting out early Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.