Views from an 88-mile ride through Massachusetts

Yesterday I rode my bike from Arlington to Falmouth, Massachusetts, to support my nonprofit. I’m very sore, of course, but I wanted to share some of what I saw.

Bicycling is a unique way to experience the countryside — you see, hear, and smell things at a pace that allows you to drink in the feeling of the places you’re moving through. I go at an average of 12 miles per hour — slower than many long-distance cyclists — so I’m not speeding through everything, I’m immersed in it.

Because I wanted to avoid the heat of the day, I started at 5:30 in the morning. But I wasn’t the only one awake at that hour. (My former colleagues may recognize the location, which is very near Forrester Research.)

massachusetts deer

When you travel by car, you go a little longer but faster on highways. Bicyclists go as directly as possible and avoid all highways. For this trip, that meant starting by flying through the heart of Cambridge and Boston. I stopped to stretch at MIT, saw the fireworks barge on the Charles, and wended through some of the grittiest neighborhoods in Boston on the Southwest Corridor Park path, a little known bikepath that parallels the MBTA’s Orange Line. And I rolled through the usually bustling streets of Mattapan, deserted at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.

city 1

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I sped past the peaceful cemeteries of Forest Hills and then on into Boston’s southern suburbs and then the farms and cranberry bogs of Southeastern Massachusetts. Luckily for me, this part of the trip was filled with long downhill stretches that let me drink in the outdoors and recover my legs. It was still morning, but I’d been cycling for five hours at that point (with a few short stops to rest).

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Halfway through the trip I was hungry and Google revealed that the local choices were poor. I went five miles out of my way to Dave’s Diner, which was worth it. My traveling companion Edgar, who has been by bicycle from Boston to New York at one point, enjoyed the view. Nothing tastes better than diner food after 5 hours of biking in the sun.

diner 1 diner 2 diner 3

Shortly after that I headed down to the coast. All the traffic funneled down to the foot of the Bourne Bridge, which is one of only two auto bridges to cross the Cape Cod Canal. (There is also a railroad bridge, which is beautiful but not passable by bicycle.)

coast 1 coast 2

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My host Ed (in the white, below) met me on the other side and guided me (and Edgar) the 15 miles along the coast to their house in Falmouth. I ended up in great shape. Feeling about 100 years old, but in great shape, and with a deeper appreciation of the beauty and character of the state I’ve spent the last 30 years in.

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  1. It is touching to realize what a comprehensive experience this was for you. I enjoyed keeping track of your progress on the trip and I am impressed that you found it more than a physical challenge.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. You are a writer, a scholar, a father, a husband, a cyclist and much more. This post shows that you also have the soul of a philosopher and an artist.


  3. Josh, congrats. I was just wondering if you intentionally left the typos in the first and last sentences. Just wondering. Happy July 4th.