April Walk/Ride Day's Longest Walk
My Commute to Work by Foot
by Bill Baron
April 27th 2012
A few days ago, I received an email informing me that my employer (the US Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, MA) has registered in the Walk/Ride to Work Day on Friday April 27th, organized by the Green Streets Initiative. What a terrific idea, I thought. I was undeterred by the fact that I live in Milford, MA, which is in Worcester County or that just driving to work normally takes me over an hour, or that I don’t own a bike. This challenge coincided nicely with the conclusion of another challenge at work: a 6-month weight loss challenge, which ends on April 30.
I knew it would take a long time to get to work, and my original plan was to leave home around 3am. However my wife, coupled with a forecast of overnight rain (not to mention darkness) convinced me to begin at daybreak.
I set off at 5:30am, and headed for the Upper Charles Trail, which was recently built behind my neighborhood on an old railroad bed. 75 years ago, I could have just ridden a train to work, but train service to Milford ended around World War II.
As you can see, the Trail is in excellent condition. In fact, if it were like this all the way to Boston, I would buy a bike. But I soon entered Holliston, and their section of the trail is in various stages of improvement. They recently purchased all the land from the railroad, which features some beautiful and interesting infrastructure including an arched tunnel and a high bridge that looks like a Roman aquaduct.
I can see that a bulldozer has arrived to fix up a muddy section inside the tunnel, but that doesn’t help me today. I reroute over to Route 16 to continue my walk to work.
Route 16 is a pretty country road. In Holliston Center I stop into a Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast, having been walking for 2 hours. After an Flatbread sandwich and some OJ, I continue my commute.
Unfortunately, parts of Route 16 are not pedestrian-friendly. Sidewalks are rare, and in some places like this, I am really glad I waited until daylight to walk to work.
I decided to walk on the left side of the road, against the oncoming traffic. If I was going to die today, at least I would be able to see the face of the person who killed me, even if it was the last thing I saw.
Sherborn seemed to take forever, and Natick wasn’t much better. My legs and ankles are beginning to ache. I stop into a pharmacy to buy some water and Advil. Finally around 10:30am I reached Wellesley Center. This provided good memories for me. The last time I arrived here on foot, I was halfway through my 2nd marathon. That was a very long time ago. 1991. Back then I had a body of steel, long blond hair and there were college girls cheering me on. Today, my body is made of jelly. The college girls are gone and so is my hair. I trudge on…
I turn onto Route 9 and I finally cross Route 128 and into Newton. The road is roaring with traffic and everything is made of concrete and asphalt. Then I suddenly see something beautiful.
Off to the right of the highway is a lake with a waterfall! Who knew this was here? It’s the Hemlock Gorge Reservation. Nature just creeps into some of the least natural environments.
I grab a slice of pizza, mostly so I can use the restaurant’s bathroom. I’m not too worried about my diet today. The Green Streets website told me I would be burning about 3500 calories today.
I climbed down a ravine so I could turn onto Centre Street and make my way over to Beacon St. My daughter had toured Boston College and fell in love with it. This was my chance to conduct a walk-by tour.
As I walked past BC, I got my first glimpses of Boston in the distance. At this point my legs are really beginning to complain. At the Chestnut Hill reservoir, I stop at a bench and empty out my shoes. Somehow sand and gravel is spontaneously generating inside my shoes! I dump it out, put the shoes back one and get up to continue. My legs refuse to move.
More Advil are necessary. My steps are shorter. At least there is a strong tailwind, but I’m hungry again and I need to pee. It’s 2pm. I find another Dunkin Donuts at Cleveland Circle. Time for lunch!
Food always tastes better when you're hungry. But getting up to walk again afterward proved even more challenging. A subway car steams past. Should I pull a Rosie Ruiz? No, I’ve come this far; I can finish this!
At last I see the big Citgo sign in Kenmore Square. My GPS tells me I have completed my marathon. But I am not t work yet. Again I trudge on…
I turn left onto the Mass Ave Bridge and into Cambridge at last. My wife wants to know where I am. Still walking I tell her. I get my first glimpse of the Volpe Center. Almost there I tell myself. Finally I arrive. 9 hours and 51 minutes after leaving my house. Just over 29 miles.
In a few days, I know I will feel really good. Right now, the only thing that feels good is the chair I'm sitting in. At least I know I am comprised of a little less jelly than I was this morning.
I had enough foresight to bring a tracking device with me. Below is the map it produced of my journey.
|Milford to Volpe Center 1 sm.JPG||15.69 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 4sm.JPG||26.6 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 5sm.JPG||23.54 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 6sm.JPG||28.59 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 7sm.JPG||104.51 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 2 sm.JPG||6.28 KB|
|Milford to Volpe Center 3sm.JPG||18.41 KB|