By Valerie Enriquez
The title's a bit fairy-tale and not as high-falutin' as my previous literary references, but there is something magical about following the little BNB arrows painted on the roads south and west of Boston. For one thing, you never have to worry about not being able to find your way back because the birds ate your breadcrumb trail.
The 10 mile route is great for families with children, a nice short jaunt, but too short for me to justify asking my friends and coworkers to pony up their burrito money. The 30 mile route is great if you are just starting out or have other plans that day, but it still felt short for my purposes since my weekday rides are about that length. The 50 mile ride turned out to be just right, even though Jon and I had originally planned on taking the 80 mile route as a challenge, because I had been sick that week and had lost the ability to breathe without spontaneously ejecting slimy fluid.
Like the Midnight Marathon ride, I rode my trusty, if cantankerous road bike (named Malweather) that had recently had a full drivetrain replacement due to the shifting going beyond cantankerous and into completely unreliable territory. Jon had been concerned that he would be unable to keep up with the group on his Space Horse with 40 mm tires (as his road bike with skinny tires had recently been stolen). He obviously had nothing to worry about considering I still had to put in a good effort just to draft him.
For a good part of the route, we leapfrogged back and forth with a couple on a tandem wearing Ragbrai jerseys. I saw a fair share of riders with fancy kit/bikes along with random kids in jorts and T-shirts. The wonderful thing about the bike-a-thon routes were how quiet and devoid of traffic they were (save for a slightly hairy entrance/exit on 109, though that was easily navigated on the shoulder). The road undulates up and down along rolling hills with sweeping curves to spare and rarely a stop sign or light around. Less than half an hour out by car and a reasonable ride on a bike, there are plenty of protected woodland areas to hike through, and importantly provide shade on long summer rides.
At the second rest stop at Powisset Farm, I ran into various friends from cyclocross racing to the Boston Fixed crowd. I enjoyed another peanut butter sandwich, some cheese and a pickle from Grillo's. At this point, it was starting to warm up and there wasn't much shade to be had in the open field other than the rest stop tent.
We rode from city outskirts to quiet suburban neighborhoods to idyllic pastoral roads and back again. I knew we were reaching the end once I saw the families with small children and we slowly, but triumphantly rolled our way back to the start on the Southwest Corridor multi-use path.
At the finishing celebration, Jon and I enjoyed some tacos and other delicious lunch items that weren't peanut butter sandwiches with some of the Flat Top Johnny's team as children played on the downhill slide. There was a face painting station and live music. Once again, the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-a-thon has something for everyone. Full of tacos and good cheer,
I pedaled a brief distance home, showered and took a nap. At the end of the day, the Bike-a-thon raised over $193,000 to go towards the Youth, International and Bike Shop programs at Bikes Not Bombs.
The day after the Bike-a-thon, I saw that a friend of mine had taken the 50 mile route on Strava and commented on the familiarity, to which he replied "I just saw the markings on the road and felt inspired." This past weekend, I took the 30 mile route with a slight detour for ice cream. So, in a way, it's always Bike-a-thon day.