Biking in New Hampshire

MonopolyBag

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OK, so I am not a huge, biker, but I do bike more than most. Primarily casually on trails and paths and stuff. Not really into biking along roads but I want to get a bike for that. I decided to make a post on here as my want to talk about biking doesn't really fit elsewhere yet.

Anyways a friend and I decided to bike the Windham Rail Trail from Salem, which we have done before, but we decided to try to make it to Manchester.

We started out in Salem, which lags behind in paving their portions. We parked our car at Cycles Etc. Salem is going to pave down to Old Rockingham Rd. Which is good, but I wish it was further, much further. It could easily be paved down to the Methuen line as it is fairly flat and clear already. I think most of the rail is already gone.

Windham and Derry has done a nice job paving their part, two parts paved with one trail "closed" and them finishing up paving (we justw ent on it, it was muddy but we made it. You can easily make it from Windham into Derry center. Past this you enter Only 1.5 miles of this.) a park in Derry, and the trail peters off, which you then cross a road into Londonderry where the trail is very confusing, but if you stay on it, you then cross a stream, which was up to my knees as we crossed it, very cold, then we continue on. It turns and crosses under the new 93 construction and again is "closed" but you can go through there. We had to avoid a small bridge over some water and go into the parking lot at Boston Express then back into the woods to get the trail. Past the Coke Bottling plant, and then into some brush where the trail is hard to ride. From there the Londonderry rail trail is a rail, and is too bumpy to ride, but a convenient, yet muddy, road that follows a gas line is next to it and crosses through the necessary swamps and woods to reach the edge of Harvey Road, where you must travel like 6 miles around the airport to get to the rail trail again off of Perimeter road. Only then to find out that after going 300 feet into the woods, the trail with the track still there leads into a bridge that is blocked off. So we turned around and continued along South Willow Road which does have a sidewalk, but is not too enjoyable. We went all the way to Lowell Street, went to the Red Arrow for dinner, and managed to finish in time and on time to catch one of the few Boston Express buses leaving from Manchester Southbound to Salem. $8 and as long as they have room for bikes they let you put them below. We got off at the Exit 2 and biked back to Cycles Etc., along rt. 28. Which we could have gone along Canobie, but we had to make a stop at the dollar store.

Now, I was able to experience multiple times the lack of bike racks. At the Red Arrow Diner they have one tiny bike rack off to the side, but it is hard to chain your bike to it and the whole rack can be moved.

The bus station in Manchester didn't seem to have bike racks! Yet the Londonderry stop had plenty of high quality ones.

All in all, I would not recommend this ride to anyone as the trails are not complete, very long and time consuming due to having to deal with blocked bridges, trails, construction, and other stuff like that. But we did it, and I personally can't wait until bike trails are more complete here in NH.
 

FrankLloydMike

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Great write-up. This trail will be great once it's all finished. I'm not sure if you rode on it at all, but there is a completed trail along a portion of the old rail ROW in southern Manchester--it runs west of South Willow from about Gold St to Beech St or Queen City Ave. I've heard good things about it, but as yet it doesn't connect to Elm St and the Piscataquog Trail, which is one of the goals. I know the goal is to eventually connect all these trails, as well as the Goffstown trail, but I'm not sure if there's a website or anything that links to them all. Do you have any photos of the trip?

Anyway, if you're interested, I'd love to re-post this on LivableMHT--maybe with a map or something. Let me know.
 

MonopolyBag

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Yeah you can post, I don't mind. Feel free to edit or change anything that I wrote up as I typed it fast and there may be some typos or it might be worded funny.

I have some photos, my friend took, I will try to get them.

I did not ride that trail next to Precourt park. I would have to ride out of my way down a side street then back to ride on it as it is not connected to any other trails. A blocked off bridge over a steep valley blocked our way only a few hundred feet into the woods after the airport.

They have good intention, but the trail is coming along slowly, maybe too slow. But what was paved even in Windham was used a lot.

This is the best map I have found so far:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211638437057266848813.000440283af1c4148cde9&msa=0


Does anyone have any other biking experiences of New Hampshire? Mountain biking? Trails? On the roads? I'll type up a few more I have of the Salem Town Forest, Auburn FOMBA Trails, and the Windham Town Forest.
 

Ron Newman

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The Nashua River Rail Trail from Ayer, MA continues about 2-3 miles into Nashua, NH. Do you know if there are plans to extend it further north, into the city center or elsewhere?
 

MonopolyBag

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No idea. I have not heard of this trail until now. Ultimately, all trails should lead to somewhere, and that is the problem they have now. They just end in random spots. It really should go through Nashua.

I looked into that trail and it looks fairly nice.

Something else I noticed, many of these trails are nice, paved or maintained, yet they lack a maintained or "spruced up" parking lot. Many of the parking lots at entrances are just messy. Some are nice though.
 

FrankLloydMike

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My biking experience in New Hampshire is pretty much limited to getting around as a kid, and commuting to work one summer when I had an internship at an architecture office in Manchester. I would ride from my mother's house a couple blocks north of Webster down Union Street about a mile. There were no bike lanes, which sadly remains the case, but drivers were generally courteous and the only major obstacle was crossing Webster, which was still pretty easy. Overall, I really enjoyed riding my bike to work, and given how compact Manchester is and how understandable the grid is, I think it could be a great city for bicyclists if it invested a bit in bike lanes and other infrastructure.

The trails from Goffstown/Manchester to Salem will be great if they're ever completed. I think the Minuteman Bikeway, which I've ridden a few times, between Cambridge and Bedford, MA is a good example of what a trail like that in New Hampshire could be like.
 

MonopolyBag

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Yeah, the Minute man trail is very nice. It is an example of a well maintained and developed trail.

Your point about Manchester being compact is quite true. This makes the city good for alternative travel (street cars, bikes, foot, and bus) however, the city needs much work before it is ideal.

It will be interesting once this economy turns around and when/if our country starts investing more into our own country rather than others.

One though I had, was NH still has many vistas, even here in southern NH. Great farmland, woods, and similar areas. A trail going through these areas, maybe not one that follows rail (making it cost more to build) and starting in a prominent spot like Manchester, Salem, or Nashua and connecting with already developed trails would be an attraction to tourists.
 

FrankLloydMike

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I just read in the Hippo that Manchester Moves presented the City with a check for $74,000. Apparently, that completes the funding necessary to get the matching funding, which will be used to complete the Piscataquog Trail and rebuild the bridge connecting to the Goffstown Trail. Good news for sure.
 

MonopolyBag

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meh... completing one bridge for $122,000 just feels so insignificant when there is so much to do. Better than nothing though.
 

FrankLloydMike

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meh... completing one bridge for $122,000 just feels so insignificant when there is so much to do. Better than nothing though.
That's true, but the bridge will be a big deal in terms of connecting Goffstown, which has been active in completing the trail, and Pisctaquog Trail, which is very nice and connects to downtown. I doubt there are any trails under consideration in the state that go through such a densely populated area, and Goffstown isn't far from downtown, so it should get a lot more use than the trails in some other towns. It's slow and with all the funding that goes to highways and other expensive infrastructure, it would be nice to see a little more going to trails, but I think that bridge will be a big deal when it's completed.
 

MonopolyBag

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When I say so much to do, I mean the trail that runs along south willow, the river walk, bike racks, and bike friendly, in Manchester especially and other cities, but NH in general.

One bridge, an important one that may be, is great, but one has to admit that our cities as a country are not bike friendly, even ones that are better developed than NH could still use improvements.

It is a move in the right direction, but until it takes priority (bike lanes, environmental issues, conservation, and proper smart development) there is much to fix and little to celebrate over one bridge.

If we continue as a car oriented, power hungry country (even with a few bike bridges) the impact on our environment will only escalate exponentially. And as history has shown, both recent history and old history, as a lazy society and being, we tend to wait until the problems are impacting us before we decide to fix them, whether we know the problems exist in advance or not.

You ask many people, and they admit they may be self oriented, lazy, people who do not want to put any effort into thought about their personal contributions to preserving our lifestyle, world, land, and environment, unless they get something out of it, being either self gratification, recognition, tax deductible, or some similar "reward." Rather than doing what is necessary to push forward in better practices in proper living style.

Promoting, building, and the use of bike paths and trails is one way that gets us out of our cars. Biking can be very efficient method of transportation, however the amenities need to exist, and the primary obstruction of heavily fast traveled roads need to not be in the way. One way of allowing for more biking is the smart planning and development of bike trails that function not only as recreation, but a roadway to get to where one needs to as an alternative to a car.

A long answer / rant for one bridge.
 

MonopolyBag

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Maybe it is time for NH (the cities) to start painting guerrilla bike lanes. Just spray painting bike lanes on roads without permission from the city. I have been reading about people doing this throughout the world in different cities.
 

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