Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hub on Wheels: A personal journey and an optional view (9/23/12)

Starting Line

Distance: 50 Miles
Location: Boston, MA

This year there was a little sign atop the road on Pete’s Hill.  “Optional View.”  Indeed.  Two years ago when I rode the Hub on Wheels everyone kept riding past the turn off.  I figured if I had forced myself all the way up that damn hill, I better get the view.  This year many people were at the turn off.

The Ride starts at Government Center right next to my current office.  In fact, I went into my Dunkin Donuts for coffee and the woman behind the counter was pouring my XL French Vanilla black before I even asked.  After, tt rides straight down Cambridge Street to Storrow Drive (which was closed off to traffic so that the thousands of riders could make the trip).

Unlike two years ago when I rode it by myself, Urvi and I rode the ride together.  It was great to share my city with her.  The Hub on Wheels is a journey both around the city, and for me a journey into my own past.  The whole ride was an optional view for me.

Down the Esplanade we rode past the route I ran over and over again for my first marathon in 2009, the University I’d finally graduated from in 2008, and the ball fields I and my parents (and once or twice Joe McCombs) had played softball on my mother’s department team in the summer of 1994. 

In the Fens we saw my high school, the track practice loop I tried to beat John McLaughlin every year, the basketball court that was my second home (and where, despite Peyton’s protests, a bunch of us got suspended during finals in 1990), the field where we had Friday football practices, the building where we took our first homemade Christmas card in 1991 and the Queensberry Street apartment I lived in for Senior Year of High School (and was my official address through the wandering years of 1992-1995).

We took the left onto the Riverway by the Parking Garage, Gabe, Marc and Jesse X. climbed and Brookline Water and Sewer lot where Dan Handy and I had to ditch his ’67 Lincoln Continental that had lost all electrical power after pushing it all over Brookline where there is no overnight street parking.

Across Huntington/Boylston we rode along the backside of the Emerald Necklace that Ian and I had mapped in the Winter of 1989-90, the former skating rink down the street from the Apartment I lived in in 1989-1991, Jamaica Pond (a longtime running site of mine), and past the former home of the Arborway Natural Foods I worked at in 1996-7.

Up the Corkscrew

The first rest stop was in the Arboretum.  A place that is so close to me.  We saw my “cliff” if not my favorite tree.  We rode to the top of Pete’s Hill and I showed Urvi the sledding spot, Dan, Dennis and I went to that snowy winter of 1990-91.

In West Roxbury we went the backway I would go to my job as a stock boy at Value Village.  In Roslindale we rode through the Stony Brook Reservation where I rode my first “group ride” in the summer of 1991 with Rich Deguzman.  I rode my Columbia 10 speed and he rode a Peugeot Mountain Bike.  After Mattapan, we rode along the other side of the cemetery Joe and Jay and I lived next to on Mt. Calvary in 2000-2.

The next rest stop was after a jaunt through the Forest Hills Cemetery (where I still couldn’t find that damn eagle).  Following the stop was riding through Franklin Park and past my high school football stadium and the Doyle’s 5 miler route that I shared with Urvi and all my SRR compatriots.  Through Roxbury and Dorchester, we stopped in Codman Square where I always remember Jose realizing that Kazim still had his car keys.  (somehow Jose’s car operated if it didn’t have keys?).  We rode along the Neponset and by the Adams Inn where they wouldn’t let us into Dennis’ room the night after prom.

From the Neponset we went North along the harbor, (another running route from another age) and by UMass and the field I got pepper sprayed by the Boston police during the 2000 Presidential debate…

The last part of the ride before the finish was Southie – my first Boston home from 1987-1989:  Carson beach where I would swim, M Street Park where the gang from Emerson and H would play the baseball against the kids from M through O.  We passed where I worked through my second stint at college and the site where Richie wished the tire chairs could become mobile.

Before the finish downtown, we got stopped at the light next to 60 State Street.  While it was home to Fred Savage’s “Working”, it is also a building Urvi and I share.  Both of us had worked there.  She finished just recently and I worked there toward the end of the last Century.  We finished with shared memories of different times.

I didn’t want to bore Urvi with each of these memories and the millions more (and it would have taken us 15 hours to finish the ride), but each of them came back to me in fluid time. August this year was the 25th Anniversary of living in Boston; November will be my 20th year reunion; and next October will be my 40th Birthday.  And I wanted to thank all of those who have made it a wonderful life and who will make it continue to be so.

Atop Pete's Hill Arboretum

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