I enjoy riding unfamiliar roads. Seeing things I have never seen before. Not knowing what's around the corner. Sometimes that means "mistakes" (dirt roads, or too busy streets, or hellacious climbs). But mostly it's the fun of the unexpected.
In that spirit, Ian and I set off for a Labor Day ramble. Ramble, in the purest sense, means "without a defined route". I'm never quite that free-spirited on the tandem, but with only the vaguest of plans, we set off for the commuter rail line. We would ride the rails north to Lowell, then make our way 40ish miles home to Newton.
The train ride was pleasant -- the MBTA included a "bike rack car" which handled our tandem with ease. We made our way out of Lowell towards Andover, then turned south towards home.
Labor Day was the perfect day for this ride. No commercial traffic, no commuters, very few cars period. Outside of the mile or so on either side of 128, cars were a non-issue. (I would look for a different route through the Woburn stretch). Rolling along from town to town, you recognize some patterns: if you see a cemetery, or an industrial park -- you are probably about to cross a town line. Those are things towns systematically place at their periphery.
Two unexpected pleasures came near the end. The Mystic Valley Parkway through Winchester and Medford was just delightful -- I had no idea there was such an extensive park system there. Plan to go back. And I was unprepared for the bike-friendliness of newly hipster Somerville -- bike lanes everywhere, not the urban jungle I remember from living there 30 years ago.
Bottom line -- you can have just as much fun exploring in the suburbs as exploring in the countryside.