On Saturday Luke finally got me out to do a long ride with him. He started the day off by riding up here from West Roxbury, so he already had a lot of time in the saddle by the time I joined up; but with plans to go almost 50 more miles I wasn't sure if I was going to make it! We were headed out to the Haystack Observatory out in Westford, which meant plenty of fine fall riding along quiet rural roads.
After 25 miles or so (and only one major wrong turn) we made it to the base of Haystack Hill and, eventually, to the top. It turns out they like to put observatories up high.
It being a Saturday the place was closed to automotive visitors, but there was a sign pointing to a pedestrian cut-through around the gate. We thought that could go for cyclists too.
Besides a pair of giant white orbs (the Haystack Radio Telescope proper, pictured above, and the Westford Radio Telescope) and one smaller orb (Haystack Auxiliary Radar; only a 40-foot dish) the site is also home to a couple of much more visually interesting exposed metal antennas.
We deemed the Millstone Hill Steerable Antenna as the most photogenic for the purpose of our official posed bike shots; though I was challenged to get both bicycle and antenna in the frame.
Because we kind of had to sneak in we were the only visitors, but the site seems like it would be at least moderately welcoming to visitors during work hours. Outside one of the buildings they had a pair of parabolic dishes with platforms in front of them; standing on one platform you could hear a whisper from the other, 30 yards away (just like the one at the Discovery Museum only bigger and better!).
They also had an apple tree, and, as is always the case, I couldn't resist trying one. I had some thought it might give me super-powers—you know, the radiation and all—but no luck. It was pleasantly sweet but soft and mealy, so I didn't finish it (the only disappointment of the whole outing).
Then it was time to head home. We chose a more southerly route in order to make a loop, and it took us through picturesque Concord.
We crossed the Concord River by way of the Old North Bridge, which merited another stop for a photo.
Then home, for a total (for me) of about 45 miles. There were definitely moments along the way when I thought I wouldn't be able to make it up the next hill, but after finishing up with three flat miles on the dirt of the Reformatory Branch Trail I was feeling good and would have been happy to keep going even further. And I didn't even get sore afterwards! So... 75 miles next time?
Thanks, Luke, for getting me out there!