We spent approximately half of our final journey into Boston riding on smooth-surfaced, busy bike paths passing through leafy corridors, even discovering a couple of large boulders just begging for an orienteering control to be hung from them:
The trail that we were following was called the Revolution Trail and it was made all too obvious which revolution they were talking about, especially when we arrived in Lexington. We had only a few minutes to pay a call to the Visitors’ Centre outside of which was the very green, Battle Green, where the first shots of the American War of Independence were fired by the British on 19th April 1775.
There was lots to see here but no time to see it in. On we went, passing through, but not pausing at, Cambridge, home to Harvard and the MIT .
We arrived only a little late outside the agreed point of rendezvous, JFK’s birthplace, a relatively modest affair for a man with his background:
Then it was off, all 22 of us travelling the next nine miles in convoy. Despite my expectations that the whole shebang would disintegrate into a disorganised rabble, our cavalcade of cyclists remained largely cohesive. For the first part of the ride, this was because our route coincided with a massive traffic re-organisation scheme resulting in whole sections of road being shut off to motor vehicles with police cops at every junction. It was like being in a royal procession as we rode unhindered through the traffic cones.
Even when this section ended and we found ourselves amongst the cars once again, we discovered that by assertive cycling, we could run through red lights unimpeded as motorists goggled at the geriatric vision of yellow and orange that reeled before their eyes.
Every now and again, we juddered to a stop at some Boston landmark: Fenway Park, the Red Sox’ stadium:
This quartet were all members of the Red Sox in the forties.
One of them is Dom DiMaggio, the brother of the more celebrated Joe; it may be the man on the right who played wearing glasses. There aren’t many spectacled sportsmen I can think of, ignoring snooker players: Navratilova and Billie Jean King, and Clive Lloyd.
We stopped outside the bar that inspired the TV series Cheers. I don’t think I ever saw a single episode.
The statue of Samuel Adams, revolutionary and signatory of the Declaration of Independence, seemed to have particular significance for Americans as they all queued to be photographed in front of him; the Brits politely declined.
We walked alongside Faneuil Hall, an historic covered marketplace where people literally gasped and stood open-jawed in amazement that we’d crossed the country on bicycles:
Finally we arrived at the harbour but found the gate to the water locked. An unsuspecting key-holder was propositioned and badgered into allowing us to ‘dip our wheels’ into the Atlantic, the traditional method of signifying the end of a coast to coast:
It only remained for us all to reach our hotel where the champagne was broken open and liberally quaffed:
This was followed shortly after by the official group photo and ones with individuals like ourselves.
We have completed 5,894 kilometres (3,662 miles) and climbed 29,573 metres (97,024 feet) over 52 cycling days, at an average of 113 kilometres (70.4 miles) and 568 metres (1,865 feet) per day.
The feeling now is one of relief. The significance of the achievement will not sink in for several days. Our bodies have propelled us forward for over eight weeks whilst our minds have constantly repeated that we’re crazy. Each day we have launched ourselves on a further journey into the unknown, for all of what we have seen and experienced, Niagara apart, has been a completely fresh adventure. It has been like having a blank page slowly filled each day with new exploits and memories. But the result of this is, not exhaustion, but certainly extreme tiredness, and it is only now that we can really relax.
Did I say relax? Well, not quite yet because we are not due to return to the UK until next Wednesday. When we were preparing for this trip, I knew that we would need some time to recover, but equally, that being in Boston was an opportunity that may not be repeated. Accordingly, we have booked on Friday to take the ferry to the northern tip of Cape Cod. We will cycle once again down the peninsula and across to Falmouth when we will cross to Martha’s Vineyard, looking out for the beach and other places where they filmed ‘Jaws’ (the astute amongst you will have recognised that the tagline ‘This time it’s personal’ is from Jaws 2). We will cycle to Plymouth where the Pilgrim Fathers landed, before catching the train back to Boston.
That will be it for long-distance cycling for a while – but there are rumours of another cross-country trip in 2021, to honour Bill’s ninetieth birthday and possibly the fact that he completed over 95% of this one, only forgoing the steepest climbs. We remain in awe of and salute him.
A few thank yous.
Thanks to Kate for posting the blog and photos when, more often than it should have, the internet failed us.
Thanks to Val who was usually to be found washing my socks whilst I hammered at the keyboard and for being my ever-present companion, except on hills.
Thanks to Rick, the tour leader, and Bill and Annie, the co-drivers of the support vehicle even though they will never read this, I hope.
And thanks to you for your interest, encouragement and comments; the blog would have been a lonelier place without you. I set out to write 52 days of drivel and succeeded. I apologise for the many inaccuracies arising from the inadequacy of the time needed to check my facts and for those times when inspiration deserted at the end of a day when little happened or I was too tired to record it. Together we made it through to the end.
See you all back in England.