On June 2nd, I participated in the 26th annual Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon along with my 18-month old daughter who rode in the copilot’s seat. This is the second time I’ve participated in this event, having previously ridden the 2011 ride with my son (who is now too big for the bike seat, too little to ride on his own). I hope to make it an annual tradition as it is really a spectacular event. The rides are pretty laid back with lots of support for volunteers and other riders. I’m particularly impressed by the number of children participating, riding alongside their parents. Groups of teens also raised lots of money and participated in the ride, once again impressing me with all the wonderful things Boston youth can do. The Bike-A-Thon ends with a festival where there are lots of delicious food, music, and fun things to do.
Altogether, this year’s Bike-A-Thon had record 559 registered riders and raised a whopping $162,567 to support the work of Bikes Not Bombs! The ride may be over, but you may still support this worthy cause by visiting our rider page and sponsoring us.
This year, we participated in the 15-mile ride. While the preceding days saw temperatures soaring into the 90s, the ride day temps were a more comfortable low 80s. I sweat an awful lot but at least I didn’t have to worry about the ride being dangerous for my daughter. She enjoyed the cool breezes of Daddy’s exertions, and I looked out for the shady coverage of benevolent trees whenever possible.
The day started at Fazenda coffee shop with my wife Susan & son Peter, and then we were off to Stony Brook station on the Southwest Corridor Park bike path to register for the ride. There was a bit of salmon swimming upstream as we encountered the 25-mile ride heading out as we were riding in. One of the stations at check-in was to have bike mechanics check up on the bikes. I went over to have the saddle on my seat tightened because it was rocking back and forth, only to learn that I also had broken spokes on my bike wheel. The mechanic took them off and told me to take the bike in for further repairs after the ride (which I did at the Bike Not Bombs retail shop the next day).
We set off on the ride, which is something of an adventure since it goes through parts of Boston I rarely visit, particularly West Roxbury and Hyde Park (most of my commutes take me in the opposite direction). It’s nice to see different neighborhoods, and I particularly enjoy riding on the bike path through the Stony Book Reservation (mostly because it’s shaded and downhill). One of the odder moments on the ride, we passed by a house with chickens in the yard and then a boy who must’ve been around four-year old hopped on a bike and started riding down the bike path with us. I would’ve thought him just an enthusiastic biker joining in the ride, except that he was also weeping uncontrollably as he rode. Several riders also heard an adult calling from the house. I caught up with the boy and tried talking with him, but he ignored me. Luckily, a woman on the ride was able to convince him to ride back with her to his house.
The rest break was in a shady picnic grove with lots of snacks and drinks. Kay enjoyed chewing on orange slices. Lots of other riders complimented Kay for being adorable and I enjoyed this so much that I probably spent too much time at the rest area. I think there were only a half-dozen bikes left when we set off again for the second part of the ride. As the riders were more spread out now, the rest of the ride felt more solitary for Kay & I although we sometimes passed or were passed by other riders, particularly families riding with young children on their own bikes. Several fathers pointed out that they started out with the baby in the bike seat and continued riding each year. One even told me about his son falling asleep on his back in the bike seat. “He’s 35 now!”
Time flies, and so did the Bike-A-Thon. Soon we found ourselves rolling back into Jamaica Plain on the “hidden” road between Forest Hills Cemetery and the juvenile detention center (I always forget that it’s back there). Then we zipped through Franklin Park and soon were back on the Southwest Corridor bike path. Peter & Kay were at the finish line cheering for us. We had some delicious food and listened to the groovy marching band before heading home for a well-earned rest.