Biking the Boston Marathon

A world class event, the Boston Marathon attracts a lot of attention every year. Athletes of all levels train, prepare, and participate in the event. It’s inspirational. It’s classic. And it’s also for cyclists.

Sort of.

There are a few ways to ride the famous route in celebration of the event and the spring weather that it brings (or aspires to, anyway). Check ’em out.

The Midnight Marathon

Begun modestly four years ago, this event has caught on. It’s maybe more for enthusiasts of the nonconformist than serious cyclists. But it still looks like a fun and interesting way to experience the Boston Marathon route by bike.

Here’s the Midnight Marathon event page, and a recent article by the Boston Globe about the event.

More Serious Route Riding

More serious cyclists may want to consider Hal Gabriel’s ride, a fast-paced round trip ride of the route – from Boston to Hopkinton back to Boston. Fifty-two miles, starting at 6AM sharp (the course must be clear by 10AM for the wheelchair race). Here’s a good blog post about the event from a couple years ago and a post about this year’s event.

The good folks at MassBike are organizing a very similar event.

Riding the Route

Of course, there are other ways to ride the route and like more organized groups doing something to celebrate the event and the rare closed roads in Boston. Even if you don’t ride the route, it’s time to start thinking about Spring and getting out on the bike somewhere in Massachusetts.

It’s Bike Week in Boston

Boston Bike Week kicks off a series of events designed to encourage riding in the city. Coordinated group commuting rides from all surrounding communities make it fun and easy to test out a bike commute, or to re-invigorate your commuting experience.

Bike Week culminates in the first “Bike Friday” event of the season. Bike Fridays are coordinated rides that end at City Hall Plaza with a free breakfast and expo. They are a fun way to motivate yourself for the commute, meet other city cyclists, learn about local cycling companies, and get a free breakfast.

Find out more about Bike Week here: Boston Bikes.

Do you commute to Boston? What’s your best tip? Answer in the comments.

Photo credit: John “Pathfinder” Lester

The Massachusetts to Wisconsin Journey of the Type Rider

Here’s something you don’t see every day – a typewriter. And you wouldn’t expect to see it outside and you wouldn’t expect to be invited to use it to contribute to a story.

Strangely, this happened to me – in New York City, with a unique Massachusetts tie-in, and an equally unique tie-in to cycling.

Yes, I met the “Type Rider.”

Maya Stein is embarking on a 40-day, 1,300-mile ride from Amherst, MA to Milwaukee, WI, with a typewriter in tow.

Why? Well, she turns 40 on the day the adventure begins (May 5, 2012). She’s a cyclist and a writer. And someone who like to connect with others to do interesting projects. So, she dreamed up this adventure based on exploring the combination of ideas brought about through transforming the word typewriter to typerider.

I came across her on the “beta test” experiment she conducted recently in New York City – what better place to experiment random interactions with people?

The setup was simple. A typewriter on a table, accompanied by a chair and an invitation to write. Maya provides a writing prompt and each person simply completes the thought. It will all be compiled and edited into a book. And the 40-day adventure will include many different writing prompts. Surely many different people will participate, and many different areas between Massachusetts and Wisconsin will add to the flavor.

Why Wisconsin? It’s the home of the typewriter.

To find out more, or try to catch Maya on one of her rare MA stops, check out her website:

Boston’s Hub On Wheels Event – A Day of Cycling in The City

Last Sunday I rode in my first “Hub On Wheels” ride in Boston. The event has been around since 2005 and is designed to promote cycling and good health, showcase the various neighborhoods of the city, and to raise money for charity. About 6,000 riders participated in this unique event this year.

Storrow Drive

Boston’s busy Storrow Drive is closed to traffic and open only to cyclists on the morning of the event. This presents a unique opportunity to ride on a big, wide road with a bunch of cyclists while taking in a unique view of the city. Riding down Storrow Drive on a bike allows you to take in the Charles River and Boston skyline views in much more detail. The ride goes out to the end and then doubles back on the other side.

Touring the city streets and parks

Once off the cycling “highway” the route (if you’re taking the 30 or 50 mile version) takes you through the city streets of Boston, and through the Arnold Arboretum, Franklin Park, and the Forest Hills Cemetery, before heading out to the coast. The ride comes back along the shoreline and ultimately via the Harborwalk and back into Downtown Boston.

Events on the Plaza

Once back from the ride, there are tons of things going on at City Hall Plaza. Bike stunt shows, beer and food tents, and professional racing. A great way to wrap up the ride.

For more information about the event, check out their website at

The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic – gone for 2011; will it be back?

A sad time in Massachusetts cycling indeed. The famed Fitchburg Longsjo Classic, already reduced from a four day stage race to a single day event had to be canceled.

There was  a major fire at a building on the course, and streets are still closed while construction crews work on the building. No alternative course could be worked out in time.

It’s a sad time for the race, which had been running for 52 years and was inspired by an incredible cyclist (and Olympic speed skater) from the area, Art Longsjo, who died tragically in a car crash at the age of 26.

It’s also a sad time for the city of Fitchburg. The race attracted thousands of spectators to the city each year, and the race is a unique event steeped in history.

The organizers hope to bring it back next year, but the odds may be long on that. Most races that suffer this kind of setback don’t come back.

Let’s hope they beat the odds.

More details can be found in this local newspaper article.

Photo credit:

CYCLE Kids fundraiser tomorrow

The First Annual Breakaway Bike Ride and luncheon is tomorrow. There are three routes to choose from:

Metric Century: register at 7:30 am, ride departs at 8 am
36 mile ride: register at 9:30 am, ride departs at 10 am
19 mile ride: register at 9:30 am, ride departs at 10:15 am

All rides leave from the deCordova scutplure park and museum (a really neat spot) in Lincoln, MA.

The ride raises money to get kids on bikes and on their way to living healthy, active lives – more info at

Find out more about the ride and the fundraising requirements at their website.

Photo credit: bulletproofbra

A new kind of bike

I recently had the chance to try a new kind of bike from Travelon, a new company (disclosure: this is my friend’s dad’s company) that is aiming at utilitarian riders who want something simple and low-maintenance for riding around town, riding with the kids, and taking scenic expeditions.

As you can see, it’s styled like a comfort bike. And it is comfortable. The geometry allows for setting a good seat height for pedaling, yet allowing both feet to touch the ground comfortably while seated and stopped.

But the key is the drivetrain. First – there’s no deraileur! This means less breakdowns and less maintenance. No greasy chain handling or confusing adjustments to cable tension. Which is nice for those who just want to ride.

All the magic happens inside the “Continuously Variable Planetary Hub.” If you’re interested in that technology, head over to their website and a neat little video shows you how it works – Travelon NuVinci hub technology.

Second – there are no gears! You can adjust the torque just like a traditional bike, but because of this fancy new hub technology the gears are not incremental. Rather, you increase and decrease torque along an analog continuum. This means that you simply turn the tension up or down to just the right setting for the terrain you’re covering. And you can make these adjustments while stopped – you don’t need to be pedaling to change “gears.”

Check out this snapshot of the indicator and it’ll give you a clearer picture:

I love the clear, simple, and intuitive design of the indicator.

And I always like to learn about the latest cycling technology. For more info, check out their website: Travelon Bikes.

It could have been YOU! (Seriously)

Well, my little experiment this weekend didn’t work out so well…

Despite the fact that hundreds of visitors came to the site this weekend, nobody entered the little ride report contest I had setup for a free book giveaway.

I guess everybody was busy riding and recuperating – we had great weather this weekend, and I certainly saw a lot of riders out on the roads.

Oh well. Happy riding. And don’t forget – you can always pick up a copy of the book here. 😉

Photo credit: JanneM

Sun, Sun, Sun – and a free book!

To celebrate this weekend of sunny and warm weather in the Boston area, and the arrival of May (no more April showers!) I’m giving away a free signed copy of Road Biking Massachusetts to some lucky cyclist within reach of this blog. Will ship to anywhere in Massachusetts or neighboring states.

Here’s the deal: best ride report wins!

It can be a short ride, long ride, hilly ride, flat ride, club ride, group ride, solo ride. Just share some thoughts about a riding experience from the weekend. Extra points for a funny or creative report.

Send a photo along for more bonus points.

I’ll select a lucky winner and feature the ride report on this blog.

All entries must be in by midnight Sunday night.

Send your note here with the contact form. Once I get your submission, I’ll email you back so you can send me a photo via email attachment.


Spring training in New England


Fortunately my early season pace allows for plenty of reaction time, because the roads are rough out there right now – full of potholes and frost heaves.

Take a look at this doozie I came accross today along a pond in Harold Parker State Forest. It’s a good two bike lengths long. What’s nice is that the line of sight also includes the ice on the pond. Ah, spring training in New England…