Ride with a guide

Ride with a guide

By James McEvoy/Special to the Free Press
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reprinted with permission of the Melrose Free Press and Gatehouse Media New England.

In New England, and especially Massachusetts, there are numerous scenic places to experience nature via bicycle, and one Melrose man has written a guide of the Bay State’s best.

Tom Catalini, an avid cycling enthusiast, has written a comprehensive guide ofsome of the best bike rides in the commonwealth. His new book, “Road Biking Massachusetts: A Guide to the Greatest Bike Rides in Massachusetts,” features thorough descriptions as well as maps for 40 different rides. Catalini’s inspiration for writing the book came from his love of cycling, which for him has been a passion and “life-long interest.”

He also became involved in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), an annual fund-raising bike-a-thon that raises money for cancer research. The event donates 99 cents of each dollar raised to the Jimmy Fund, and since 1980 has raised millions of dollars for the Dana Farber Institute.

Catalini said he was inspired to participate in the event after losing both parents to cancer, and became personally involved in the Pan-Mass ride in 2000.

Since then, Catalini and his brothers have participated in the 200-mile cycling challenge each and every year, for the love of riding and in memory of their parents.

He also rides because it’s a way for him to “stay fit and healthy” not only for himself, but for his family in Melrose. Catalini said he is active in the Northeast Bicycle Club, the Charles River Wheelmen, North Shore Cyclists and a variety of other local cycling clubs and group rides.

Although Catalini has been published in the past, this is his first about cycling; other publications have been in the realm of his professional field.

‘Rambles’ to ‘Challenges’
The guide, published Nov. 1, breaks down each ride into one of four categories, based on difficulty. Aspects of each ride used to determine the level of difficulty are the length of the ride as well as the road grade and the biking skills needed to complete the excursion.

The categories, rated from novice to difficult, include: “Rambles,” “Cruises,” “Challenges” and “Classics.” The “Rambles” tend to be 35 miles or less, whereas the “Classics” can range from 60 to over 100 miles.

The book offers “a sampling from all parts of the state,” Catalini said, with some of the more difficult rides at places like Mount Wachusett and Mount Greylock, and easier rides, or “Rambles,” at Westport River or along the Cohasset coast.

For the future, Catalini, who is married and has three children, said he hopes to continue writing about his favorite hobby.

“I’d like to write for local sports magazines or something nationally,” he said.

Catalini also said he’d like to write another cycling book, possibly a guide for people participating in charity cycling rides.

He also encourages anyone interested to find out more about the Pan-Mass Challenge by visiting the PMC Web site at www.pmc.org or by calling 800-WE-CYCLE.

More information about Catalini’s book can be found at the guide’s companion Web site, www.RoadBikingMassachusetts.com. The main purpose of the site is to assist information sharing between readers of the guide. “The companion Web site is designed to facilitate information sharing among the guide’s readers and the many active cyclists in Massachusetts,” Catalini writes in the book. “Please jump in and participate in the forums. Maybe you’ve discovered a great lunch spot or place to stay along one of the routes, or know of a good bike shop that opened in the area. Perhaps you noticed a mistake or a road name change. Share your comments and find tips from other participants.”

The site includes a link to purchase the guide directly from Amazon.com. It also includes forums and other information regarding cycling clubs and cycling-related events.

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