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 www.hubonwheels.org.

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: spokenshutter.com

Fitchburg-Longsjo Shines Brightly On The Race Calendar

2006 Mens Pro/1/2 TT Winner Brian Sheedy
From New England Sports Magazine

New England’s crown jewel cycling event is the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic Stage Race, a grueling multi-day event that challenges a rider’s skills across a variety of cycling disciplines. As the largest pro/am cycling event in North America, the race attracts top professional and amateur athletes from all over the United States and beyond. “We have 800 to 900 riders each year,” explained Bill White, Board Member of the Fitchburg Cycling Club which organizes the race. White also expects tens of thousands of spectators to attend over the event’s four days.

Begun in 1960 as the Fitchburg-Longsjo Memorial Race, the one-day event was created as a tribute to Fitchburg, Massachusetts native Art Longsjo, an accomplished speed skater who took up cycling as part of his cross training. Longsjo excelled in both disciplines and eventually became the first person ever to compete in both summer and winter Olympic games in the same year (1956) before his tragic death in an automobile accident in 1958. “This race reflects the tenor of a gifted individual, who made such a huge impression on the community in his short 26 years,” commented White. “Art Longsjo was an incredible athlete. When you look at how quickly he dominated the sport it is nothing short of amazing.”

The current four-day stage race format is designed as a complete test of a rider’s cycling abilities. The professional men racers will compete in a 6.2 mile time trial, a 78 mile circuit race through the hilly Fitchburg State College campus, a 104 mile road race featuring a grueling climb to the summit of Wachusett Mountain, and 50 mile downtown criterium. Professional women and amateur racers will ride shorter versions of the same course.

Helping to attract top riders is over $50,000 in prize money that will be awarded to individual stage and overall winners in each race category. Payouts will also be made for other competitions such as the coveted king/queen of the mountain designation and mid-race sprints designed to keep the race challenging for racers and engaging for spectators. Adding to the race’s allure is the hopes of joining the ranks of such notable past winners as Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton and Davis Phinney.

Spectator highlights include a “Sky Ride” on the Wachusett Mountain chair lift to view the mountain top stage finish and stunt champion rider Mike Steidley’s show during the downtown criterium. This year’s race–the 50th edition–will be held from July 2-5, 2009. All event details can be found at www.longsjo.com.


Tom Catalini is the author of cycling guide book Road Biking Massachusetts (www.RoadBikingMassachusetts.com) Photos courtesy Ed Collier (www.edcollierphotography.com)