By Jayne Glennon
I never imagined a maple frosted donut could save me. Is it possible to exercise the sugar right out of your muscles to severe pain? Rail trails are nice for an easy walk in the woods but I needed to put miles on my new 21-speed, birthday bike. Craig and I started from a Nashua parking lot along 111A. We quickly cruised across the state line through a shady tree tunnel. A few houses backed up to the trail but weedy ponds and hayfields were more common. At about the 4-mile mark we passed through downtown Pepperell where people were beginning to set up for their Fourth of July parade. We rode on. Just south of Pepperell the trail hugged weed filled Nashua River for a bit. It was easy peddling on my new Schwinn. We rode on. Not long after crossing Route 225 in Groton we asked some peddlers bound in the opposite direction how far it would be to the next town center. Needing water we willingly accepted their estimate of ten to fifteen minutes. A half hour later we found ourselves in Ayer at the end of the trail. Twelve scenic miles we had peddled and I was proud of myself and feeling pretty good then we turned for the trip back to the car.
My legs started to get really tired about mile 18. Craig suggested that my seat wasn't high enough to give proper leg extension so we raised the seat and it helped, a bit. We rode on and on -- 24 miles total. My thigh muscles were burning by the time we hung the bikes on the car rack. Craig was fine. Evidently his larger muscles store more energy. Honestly, I could barely stand. All I could think about was the pink and orange donut sign we had passed in Hollis. I craved a maple frosted donut and devoured it before the cashier gave me change. Twenty minutes later the pain was a memory. Now I understand why people drink Gatorade when exercising...
The Nashua River Rail Trail begins in the southwestern tip of Nashua and travels south through Dunstable, Pepperell, Groton and ends on the main street of Ayer. Originally part of the Boston and Maine Railroad, the last train passed through in the early 1980s. According to the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation website, "The Hollis Branch was purchased by the DCR (formerly DEM) in 1987, and Mass Highway completed the trail between 2001 and 2002. The Nashua River Rail Trail was officially opened and dedicated on October 25, 2002." The 10-foot wide paved path is open for recreational use and no motorized vehicles are allowed.
Nashua River Trail bike ride
- Date: July 5, 2014
- Distance: 24 miles
- Weather: 72 degrees (thank god) and sunny
- Fee: none
- Pets: Saw many people walking dogs on leash
- What I liked about this trail: Easy biking, easy walking, no motorized traffic, many ponds - wildlife, I saw an osprey at one pond, turtles, photographers, fisherman. Heavily used on the day we biked. Friendly people.
- What I didn't like about this trail: Muscle pain because of my own bad food/liquid -- planning. The trail was great for biking but walking may get tedious on some parts of the trail.