Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Western Greenway Expands: A Dream Is Born

My mountain biking universe just got a little bigger.  Walnut Street used to signify the edge of my nightly ride in Belmont, but two weekends of volunteer trail work by NEMBA has changed everything.

The new section in question,
 shown in purple.
The Western Greenway is a set of trails, both existing and planned, that will eventually form a ring through the wilds of Waltham, Belmont and Lexington.  For a couple of years I’ve ridden the mostly completed Belmont sections of the trail.  With two large hills, miles of singletrack, bridges, and rock filled chutes, there’s enough to keep me challenged for hours on any given weeknight.  However, after a couple years I can ride the trails blindfolded and I'm on a first name basis with most of the rabbits and deer that live there.  A little adventure and exploration has been sorely needed. 
"Hey Fatty, nice bike shorts!"

Enter NEMBA.  In early May, before mountain biking had fully entered my consciousness, volunteers gathered to build an important section of trail linking Belmont to Lexington and Waltham.  This relatively short section has greatly expanded the accessible terrain as well as opened my mind to a new possibility. 

The reward for one of the big climbs.
Given that I work in a part of Newton not far from the Waltham line, I’ve been exploring the possibility of mountain biking to work every morning.  What would seem impossible (mountain biking more than ten miles on forested trails through suburban Boston), is suddenly a very real possibility.  My quest to discover a “wilderness passage”, while still a delusion of grandeur, has added a much needed element of adventure to my nightly ride.  Each day leads to the discovery of new sections of trail, as well as more map studying and route finding. 

"I KNEW that Axe Poison Ivy Body Wash was a bad idea."

Of course, adventure loves danger and the wilds of the Western Greenway are no exception.  Lurking along the edge of the trails is a dreaded noxious enemy: poison ivy.  While I don’t exactly remember rolling around in it, my legs currently look like a Jeff Goldblum transformation scene from “The Fly”.  It's not pretty, but it's a small price to pay for a little adventure.

So on a given weeknight you can find me somewhere between Belmont and Newton looking lost and scanning the forest for the elusive Western Greenway. If you see me, say hi, but try not to stare at my legs.



  1. nice blog. I have a feeling that in a few months/years you will see an increase of bike traffic in the area along with trail runners and hikers.


  2. Thanks Brian. The trails there can definitely handle more traffic. On most nights I don't see a single biker out there. Rabbits and deer on the other hand...

  3. Just finding these posts - I've been looking for ways to bike from Waltham to Lexington for work. Awesome stuff!