Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain

The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles.  A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom.  The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.  ~Sloan Wilson

This week I had one of those “firsts” with my child.  You know, one of those unforgettable Mommy moments that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside:  I went for a bike ride with my 4-year old son.  No training wheels, no giving him a push to get started.  Just he and me together on the road.  Pretty cool stuff.  So it got me excited about taking our bikes beyond our quiet, cul de sac-filled neighborhood.  And my first thought was, “Let’s finally check out the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail!”

For those of you who are not familiar with this impressive recreational resource, it is an endeavor that is over 25 years in the making.  Bruce Freeman was a State Representative from Chelmsford who was present at the very first meeting held to discuss creating a recreational path where people, including children, could walk, bicycle, and run safely.  The path is along the abandoned Penn Central railroad line from Industrial Avenue in Lowell to South Sudbury.

In August of 2009, Phase I opened, providing a picturesque 6.8 mile route in Lowell, Chelmsford, and Westford. Phase 2 would continue through Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord and Sudbury (13.1 miles) and Phase 3 would complete the trail in Sudbury and Framingham (4.6 miles).

The current portion of the trail that is open has a 10-foot wide pavement with a 2-foot wide packed shoulder on each side. It traverses woods, wetlands, open fields, recreational areas, and shopping areas. Authorized parking for the trail is available at the following locations:

  • Old Town Hall, 1A North Rd. (Rt. 4), Chelmsford
  • Chelmsford Center Artwalk, Cushing Place, Chelmsford
  • Municipal lot behind Sovereign Bank, 5 Billerica Rd (Rt. 129), Chelmsford
  • Byam School (off school hours), 25 Maple Rd, Chelmsford
  • Town Land at Heart/Baptist Pond,, 2 Pond St., Chelmsford

Learn more about using the Phase I section of the trail here.  To read more about this initiative, visit the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail website.

So off we go.  The 10-year old cobwebs are hosed off my bike and my son has reached yet another milestone.  Now, to figure out what type of bike seat we get for my 2-year old daughter… hmmm.  Suggestions anyone?

What do you call a cyclist who doesn’t wear a helmet?  An organ donor.  ~David Perry


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