11 July 2008

A great sunset ride in Concord

If time was running out and I needed to take maximum advantage of the dwindling daylight, I would ride a loop in East Concord that climbs Oak Hill, an eastern hill of the Merrimack Valley, and catch that last bit of daylight - a good half-hour after the sun had set in Concord.

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I start the ride the same way I start the Concord/Hopkinton Ride, but veer RIGHT at the intersection of Carter Hill Road and Lake View. This follows Penacook Lake (the Concord Reservoir) around to North State Street (Route 3).

I could have detoured the ride around the reservoir by starting on North State Street, but I avoid riding that road as much as possible.

A few hundred feet down North State, stay right onto Sewalls Falls Road and follow that to the bridge. The Sewalls Falls Bridge is an old, one-lane, steel-grid bridge. It sucks to walk across in cleats, so just ride like hell, don't try to turn, don't try to stop, and don't look down - well, actually, do look down, it's pretty crazy!

After you cross the river, you'll pass the Concord Monitor - say hello for me - and cross under the highway. Take a left at the intersection, then the first right.

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Follow Sanborn Road to the end and turn right on Hoit. Go straight at the intersection of Shaker and Old Shaker (sometimes there are Shakers there on opposite sides of the street yelling at each other), where Hoit becomes School. That is one crazy intersection...

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Ride School Street to Oak Hill Road. Much of School Street is a gradual downhill. Use that to recover from the climb up Hoit, because there's one last uphill to go. After turning onto Oak Hill, the route ascends steeply before rewarding the rider with a long downhill into Concord.

At the bottom of the hill (now called Shawmut Street), turn left onto Eastside Drive, maneuver past the vehicles attempting to enter and exit Interstate 93, and turn left onto Eastman Street (stop off at Quality Cash for some well deserved kabobs) and follow it to the end.

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At the end, take the path that parallels the highway on the highway bridge.

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Follow the path to the Tech, cross the highway on Delta Drive, and ride through the much-vaunted, answer-to-Concord's-troubles, Horseshoe Pond revitalization project (a conference center and office buildings on the old Concord Lumber site). Instead of riding up onto 393, cross the tracks and head up past Franklin Pierce's homestead, a nice way to end the ride!

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