Hub on Wheels 2015

Boston Bikes’s Hub on Wheels has two great features: (1) a ride through parts of Boston I would not normally ride and (2) a car-free Storrow Drive so you can ride right down the middle of the highway. I was in for the 2015 edition.

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I rolled out at dawn heading to Downtown Boston for the 2015 edition of the Hub on Wheels. The sky was dark and gray with clouds blocking the stars. I felt a few raindrops and doubted the decision to leave my warm layers and rain gear at home. As the sunrise came, the drops dried and the sun threatened to break through the clouds.

I sat at the Bill Russel statue waiting for some friends. A nearby resident told me how great the bike racing was on Saturday. “Those m–ther-f—ers were flying around the street. It was awesome. Those m–ther-f—ers were awesome. I saw the Tour de France when I was in the Navy, but these m–ther-f—ers were awesome.” I was sorry I missed the race. I asked him to cheer me on. “You got it brother.”

I met two of my Team Kinetic Karma teammates for the ride. We cut off the start of the ride to Cambridge Street in an attempt to stay in front of the hundreds (thousands?) of riders in the crowd.

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We cruised down Cambridge Street, passed MGH and onto the Storrow Drive ramp. We rode fast, but slowed down for a moving group picture.

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At some point I realized this was a unique opportunity to put the hammer down and ride as hard and as fast as possible.

I didn’t have to worry about cars. We had three lanes of car-free tarmac.

I didn’t have to worry about many bikers. We were in the first 20 bikers.

I lowered my hands down to drops and began cranking the pedals. A quick glance behind. I saw the flash of blue and yellow. At least one teammate was in my slipstream, coming along for the ride.

We blazed past another paceline, dipping under the Guest Quarters overpass.

My quads were burning. My lungs were burning. I kept turning the pedals.

The Harvard Bridge came and went. The Northeastern boathouse flashed by. We hit the turn around and I slowed.

Dan G. had managed to stay in my slipstream, but I had lost the other two. Dan G. continued on at a fast pace to meet a deadline. I slow pedaled waiting for Mike and Christine. When we re-grouped, I slammed the hammer down again, taking advantage of the open tarmac.

The rest of the ride would be on city streets, with car traffic, bike traffic, signals and the urban experience. The pace would be much more moderate.

I had ridden the Hub on Wheel’s 30 mile route in the past, but never the 50-mile route. The 50-mile route adds great roads through Stony Brook and up Bellevue Hill, the highest point in the City of Boston.

The sun was out and it was a beautiful day to ride through the streets of Boston.

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Hub on Wheels 2013

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On Sunday, I rode in the ninth annual Hub on Wheels, Boston’s biggest bicycling celebration. The big draw for the event is being able to ride on a car-free Storrow Drive. From there, you can complete a 10 mile, 30 mile, or 50 mile ride through the neighborhoods of Boston.

Hub on Wheels

The early weather forecast called for rain, heavy at times, for Sunday. At least it was supposed to be warm. When I spoke with my riding companion, MW, on Saturday night, she was having second thoughts about riding in the rain. My response was that we could turn and ride the 10 mile route instead of the 30 mile route if the weather was really bad.

The weather was really bad when I woke up Sunday morning. The local weather showed a big thick band of red and yellow on the weather radar. But it did look like it would clear up.

By the time we reached City Hall, the rain had let up, diminishing from a heavy downpour to merely raining. Standing in the starting corrals, it stopped feeling so warm and seemed more like a ride to survive, than enjoy.

The wetness continued as we splashed through the puddles littering Cambridge Street. Then the fun began as turned onto Storrow Drive, passing under the sign “Cars Only.” By the time we reached the turnaround by the Eliot Bridge, the rain had stopped and there was blue sky on horizon. That blue sky never made it to us.

After Storrow Drive, we exited into Fenway and followed Park Drive through the Emerald Necklace. I nudged MW to the right as we neared the cutoff for the 10-mile route on the left.

“30?”

“30.”

The roads were closed as we passed behind the Longwood Medical Area, crossed Route 9 and pedaled along the shores of Jamaica Pond. A few maples had already turned flaming red, harbingers of fall.

The first reststop in the Arnold Arboretum was chaos. It felt like every rider had decided to stop. We did also. But the food and drinks were far down the path, so we remounted. Then we conquered a long climb up the back of the Arboretum and onto the streets on Boston.

The next destination was the Forest Hills Cemetery. It’s a historic 275-acre cemetery, greenspace, arboretum and sculpture garden rolled into one. It lacks the famous dead of Mount Auburn Cemetery, but rivals its greenscape.

From the cemetery, it was a climb through the back section of Franklin Park, then exiting from the forested streets of the Emerald Necklace to urban cityscape of Boston. We passed through Codman Square and Ashmont leading to the coastal pathways along the harbor.

The wind never picked up and the sun stayed behind the clouds so we didn’t have to battle a sea breeze. We could enjoy the water views as we passed around UMass and the JFK Library heading into South Boston. At the Carson Beach rest stop I was starting to feel the ride. MW looked a little stiff. That was the 25 mile mark. That’s longest I’ve ridden since last year’s Hub on Wheels and longest MW has ever ridden.

The last 5 miles was relatively flat as we passed through South Boston and the Seaport and headed towards the Financial District. We hit the heaviest and most difficult traffic as we passed over the Moakley Bridge. We had to navigate up Atlantic Avenue, filled with tour buses and tourists, then cross all the lanes of traffic to make a left up State Street to City Hall.

We passed under the finish line banner as we hit the bricks of City Hall Plaza.

Hub on Wheels is a great event and a great way to show your support for cycling in the City of Boston.

Our 30-mile route:

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