Cycle Boston, Massachusetts

A couple of months ago I was in Boston for the American College of Sports Medicine annual conference. A trip away is incomplete without at least one adventure balancing atop a two-wheeled stallion. And thus, I contacted old colleague and chum Michael Johnson who was only too willing to get involved.

Day One: 122 km

MJ had taken over the mantle from previous official conference route planner Ian Varley (see Cycle San Diego) and had cunningly plotted some routes on Strava for his Garmin Edge 1000 (royalties please!). Thus, without needing to think or consult scrap pieces of paper, we followed the strict directions given to us and were soon making our way out of the city. Traffic lights quickly turned to trees as we moved through green pastures and past ridiculously oversized houses that I thought only happened in the movies. Mike had been training for an upcoming Dragon Ride, while my training had been severely lacking, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hack the pace. However, after a quick coffee break, I was glad to discover that Mike too was starting to feel leadish in the legs. Our tyres were Gatorskins, and although I have no doubt they saved us from certain punctures on several occasions, it felt like cycling through tar on others. Nonetheless, aside from another quick stop for the application of some soothing lubrication to Mike’s nether-regions (no help was needed though it was offered) we were eating up the kilometres before we decided to do the same with some actual calories. Lunch was obtained from a Seven Eleven to the tune of only a few dollars; I’ve never seen anybody as happy as MJ was about his ham sandwich but it did the trick as we finished the final leg of the journey full of energy and with a detour past Nottingham (Massachusetts).

Nottingham Lane! A great spot by MJ despite passing at excess speeds.

All in all, it was a great day. A catch up with an old friend, an awesome route made easy by the Garmin, pleasant countryside roads that weren’t overflowing with cars, and the few cars that were held up by our lackluster efforts (we’re still blaming the tyres right MJ?), were more than patient and courteous. Good work Bostonians drivers!

Day two: 129 km

Another old colleague and pal Neil had arrived in Boston and despite his worries that he was incredibly unfit, he was easily convinced to join in on the next adventure. The early pedal rotations weren’t as straightforward, however, with the Garmin failing to connect and sending us in circles; the early moments felt more like we were taking part in an alleycat as we passed the same park on a handful of occasions. Luckily technology soon came through once more and we were off again, with our route aiming to take in the three islands north of Boston: Winthrop, Nahant and Marblehead.

It wasn’t long before we reached the southernmost point of our first island, Winthrop. We watched in awe as plane after plane came thundering overhead before landing safely in front of the backdrop of Boston city’s skyline. We took advantage of the photo opportunity, back tracked a little and were soon pushing on north. Nahant felt like typical American suburbia, with friendly (and bearded) locals and a convenient store run by a pleasant Indian chap who allowed us to use his facilities before we had lunch. Another run up the coast and we hit our third and final island, albeit very briefly as we made a U-turn approximately 30 s upon entering Marblehead. The main tasks done, we headed inland though the midday sun had started to take its toll as Neil started to wilt; several years of the Brazilian sun had hardened me to the rays as evidenced by my highly tanned complexion, but MJ and Neil had not been acclimatised. Nonetheless, we all battled on as cars continued to be patient and waiting to overtake despite our considerably reduced speed. We got back to downtown without any hitches, although MJ’s lunch had made slipstreaming him an unpleasant occasion due to the excretion of greenhouse gases.

Taking advantage of the "photo op" on Winthrop island. MJ (left), myself (centre) and Neil (right).

Boston was an excellent place to cycle, with many kilometres of road-shared cycle lanes and courteous drivers who didn’t risk our lives to get home three seconds earlier. An example of good cycling infrastructure for any city. And now to finish, my favourite bicycle that I found in the city!