Let me say right from the get go that this is a very very cool event. Riding the Boston Marathon route at midnight with hipsters, working stiffs, grandparents, co-eds etc. spanning the gamut of shapes, sizes and abilities is a really unique and fun thing to do on a Sunday night.
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The Garmin stats are HERE
A few hundred of us gathered near South Station in Boston to load our bikes onto waiting trucks, each of which carried dozens of bikes. Plenty of volunteers were on hand to check in the riders and give each a wristband that matched the band number attached to their bike. Participants walked over to one of the four big trucks and handed their steed to another volunteer who loaded the bike carefully, (sort of) onto the trucks. From there it was a short walk to the commuter rail station to catch the 11PM train to Southborough. We had four rail cars filled with bikers of all shapes and sizes, excited for the 26+ mile ride back to town following the Boston Marathon route. The organization for this ride was limited to the bike transportation. Once riders got to the starting location it was completely up to them when to proceed. You see, this was an unorganized, unofficial ride. Nothing more than a bunch of like minded people who thought it would be really cool to ride the Boston Marathon route in the dead of the night. While on the train we could see bikes already making their way back to Boston and we were still 30 minutes from the starting point.
At South Station people were randomly approaching others to talk about the ride and whatever other subject was broached. I took a long table, and as I began taking notes a couple of young riders joined me. Both saying the bike helmet acted as an invitation of friendship. Talking with Casey and Brian, both on their first Midnight Marathon and both working and bike commuting, I commented that it seemed like I was the only rider over thirty participating in this event. Before I added the period to my sentence, Jim a fifty something sailor, and Steve Miller of Livable Streets organization joined us and completely put the age theory to rest. The station quickly filled with helmet carrying cold weather clad bikers and one could begin to feel the vibe of the upcoming ride. There was a mix of veterans and first timers and the group took on the look and feel of a very hip crowd. After all, what group of people is more hip and as cool as bikers? In case your stumbling on the answer it’s none.
During this ride I came across a guy who’s right pedal fell off. When I tried to help out I saw that the threads were stripped and the pedal was being secured by wrapping electrical tape to substitute as threading. A mother and daughter, obviously novice riders were not getting along very well at all. One woman spotted a cab at around the 17 mile mark, dismounted and frantically began waiving down the driver. I didn’t look back to see if she was successful, but did feel bad that she felt the need to bail out. She was obviously riding alone and my guess is that the mind games of “I can’t do this” got the best of her.
On the positive side, I saw a group taking a photo at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Little did they know that it was only the teaser part and they still had more than a mile to crest this demoralizer of marathon runners. One of the most unique participants was a 20 something guy on a skateboard. He got my kudos. There were also lots of fixies and single speed bikes. Those are the hipsters I spoke of .
Catching up to a group I noticed the attire of one of the riders. She reminded me of riding in Copenhagen where many of the women bike to work in very nice and classy outfits, and the jackets are quite stylish and unique to Europeans. As I approached I told her that she looked very hip and reminded me of Denmark. The young man riding the bike looked over to me and said “really, thanks”.
Later on I was passing a rider struggling up a modest hill. “Is this your first time” I asked. He replied in the affirmative and said over and over that his wife did this event last year, loved it and talked him into doing it on his undersized department store bike. I asked why she didn’t ride this year and he said she did. She is way ahead and is a much better rider, “I’m not very good” was his comeback. I told him there is really no such thing as good or bad riders and that it was his bike holding him back not his riding ability. He was doing fine but just did not have the gearing and fit to make this a much more enjoyable night for him. He did say that he enjoyed this so much and was thinking of upgrading his bike and ride more often with his wife.
When we finally got into the city there were only a handful of us on Beacon St. Three of us began questioning the route because there was no one else around, and that was unusual. Shortly a trio of riders approached and when we asked they said this is the route. Just follow the Green Line. Since there were tracks in the middle of the street I assumed they referred to the public transit Green Line.
It was suggested to me by a couple of riders to purchase advanced tickets to the after ride pancake breakfast on Washington St. at Downtown Crossing. I did, reluctantly, online. After waiting outside in line with cold feet because of the 35 degree weather for 25 minutes without moving even a foot toward the entrance, I decided to take the $11 hit and ride back to my car and home.