I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.
On June 7th, I rode in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon for the third time. I seem to participate every other year, although it’s such a lovely event for a great cause that I need to commit to doing it annually. I was joined by children Kay, who rode in to co-pilot’s seat, and Peter, who pedaled his own bike for the ten-mile ride. The three of us were able to raise $615 which was part of the record $209,280 raised by a record 866 riders! Our donation page is still open to receive more contributions should you be so inclined
When we first arrived at the starting point near Stony Brook station, we saw lots of bikes with brooms sticking off the back. I thought maybe I’d missed out on a theme for the ride, but it turned out this was a fleet of bikes for a team called The Golden Sneetches. After checking-in and eating breakfast, we got on line to start the ride and found ourselves behind our nextdoor neighbors who were also festively attired. Note to self: wear a costume next time.
The Bikes Not Bombs staff introduced our ride, warning us that there were steep uphills early on as we headed away from Jamaica Plain, but we’d be rewarded with a nice long downhill after the rest area. The hills were tough for Peter who rides a single-gear Schwinn. He complained about having to go up so much and asked repeatedly when we’d get to the rest area, but persevered and kept on pedaling. Another wrench in the works was that near the halfway point of the ride, we ended up running into a charity 5K run! A person from that other event insisted that we bike down a side street meaning that myself and a number of Golden Sneetches had to navigate a new route on the fly.
At last we made it to the rest area in Brookline and refreshed by orange slices and Gatorade, were able to carry on with the rest of the ride. Not only was it mostly downhill, but Peter began to recognize the streets of Brookline as being close to home. We pedaled past Allandale Farm and the Arboretum and back into central Jamaica Plain to finish the ride. The kids received medals and we ate some lunch and played for a while before heading home for a much-needed. Well, the kids were still full of energy, so they played with Mom while I napped.
Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time. I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage. I also knew enough to be envious of Massachusetts’ schoolchildren that they got an extra holiday that fell on a lovely spring Monday. But in 1999, I was skeptical that watching people run could be all that entertaining.
Still, I gave it a chance and rode my bike to Cleveland Circle to take in the race. There was a thrill to seeing all the motorcycles, the press van, the time clock, and finally the small of elite runners zip by. But what happened next it was really surprised me. The ordinary runners, the people running to raise money for charities, or to prove something to themselves, or just because they love running began to arrive on the course, first in a trickle then in a big pack. And the crowds of spectators grew and became louder and they cheered on EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNER. I walked along the course, following the runners all the way down Beacon Street to Kenmore Square and then on to Boylston Street to the finish line. Then I rode the green line back to Cleveland Circle along with proud finishers wearing mylar blankets, feeling like I was surrounded by large baked potatoes.
Boston is a town known for its reserve, something that to outsiders may appear aloof or rude. But on this day, Patriots Day, there’s a near Bacchinalian explosion of good feeling as every spectator expresses their love and support of other people, the majority of whom are complete strangers. I read stories of experience marathon runners who describe Boston as unlike any other race as the entire course tends to be lined with people offering constant support. In fact, these runners say that they can’t even leave the race, because the spectators push them back onto the course, which is borderline aggressive, but done with the best intentions.
Last year, this celebration of the best of Boston humanity was marred by the two explosions near the finish line that killed three spectators and wounded hundreds more. And yet, that Boston spirit was still there as people – both medical professionals and amateurs – rushed to the injured. Their quick action and selflessness saved many lives and has been encapsulated in the idea of Boston Strong. In the wake of the bombings, Bostonians were frightened and saddened, yet also calm and determined. People I know from far away seemed more freaked out, wondering if anyone would want to run the marathon in the future, perhaps even canceling it entirely. President Obama got it right when he said “Next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”
Since that first marathon in 1999, I’ve tried to watch it every year when I can get off work. I’ve also gone to the battle reenactment and parade in Concord and a baseball game at Fenway Park (attending the dawn reenactment at Lexington and riding in the Midnight Madness bike marathon are still on my to-do list). Last year, I did have the day off from work but was unable to convince my children that they would want to go watch people run and cheer for them. We went to the playground instead. In retrospect, an ambulance that passed us by at incredible speeds as we were on our way to the playground was certainly responding to the bombings. I learned of the bombings from checking my smartphone while watching my children play.
I knew that I would have to watch the 2014 marathon no matter what. Luckily, the kids were agreeable, and my whole family watched the marathon today. We returned to my favorite spot at Cleveland Circle. Conveniently, there is a playground tucked behind the buildings on Beacon Street, so the kids could take a break. My daughter Kay peeked through the fence and shook some noisemakers while cheering on the runners. My son Peter was more intent on watching the race and spotting some friends of ours among the pack. He gave high five to runners and one woman stopped and talked to him about her stomach cramps. It was a gorgeous day, a great marathon, and really everything that Patriots Day in Boston is supposed to be.
Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts we’re celebrating Patriots’ Day, or the 235th anniversary of the start of the American Revolution. Today three generations of my family enjoyed watching the Boston Marathon as I went with my mother and son. The fun started at Roxbury Crossing as we saw a pair of fighter jets fly over, presumably having kicked off the Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Peter was more interested in the commuter train, Acela, and Orange Line trifecta below us.
Our first frustration was when the 66 bus stopped at Brookline Village and the driver said we weren’t going any further. So we hopped on the D-branch trolley and ended up watching the marathon from Cleveland Circle instead of Coolidge Corner as intended. I got a workout holding Peter on my shoulders and he enjoyed seeing motorcycles, trolleys, a firetruck, bicyclists, dogs, and of course the wheelchair racers and eventually the runners.
We’d hoped to go down near BC to meet up with some friends but the police wouldn’t let us cross Commonwealth Avenue to get to the B-train. So we took the C-train downtown instead. It’s actually a fun way to watch the marathon. At times, the trolley went almost as fast as the runners!
Well it’s been another fun Patriots’ Day. If you live in one of the other 49 states and want to join in on the fun sign the Facebook petition to Make Patriots Day a Federal Holiday.