On Sunday, I was out biking around Massachusetts, and even up into New Hampshire, part of the Bicycles Battling Cancer (BBC) ride, which was staged from Hillside School, in Marlborough, Massachusetts. A fun time was had by all, or most of the riders, save for some Monday aches and soreness from riding anywhere from 30 to 100 miles.
Mary and I opted for the 70-mile leg, which today feels just about right. I’m sore, and a bit tired, but am grateful that I was able to help in some small way the battle against the scourge of cancer. I’m also appreciative of those who helped me double my fundraising total of $300. Stay tuned, as I want to give a public shout out to all of you later in this post.
Marlborough is like many places I’ve dropped in on in Massachusetts, always passing through. If all you ever do is drive to Boston, or blow through the state via the many interstates criss-crossing The Commonwealth, then you’d think the state is nothing but one big strip of convenience stores, strip malls, and business parks—and much of Massachusetts consists of these things.
The best part of BBC, save for the underlying purpose, was getting out on my bike and seeing things that you’d never experience from interstates like I-495, or I-290. Even better, biking slows travel down to where you actually notice things on the side of the road and can begin to assemble a different narrative, recognizing that Massachusetts is more than simply Boston, or Worcester, or even Cape Cod.
The countryside north of Marlborough is hilly and has some farming left. I say “left,” because like much of rural America, developers have bought up farmland being sold by aging farmers and turned much of it into subdivisions filled with McMansions. This was certainly noticeable along the ride, but better, there were fields, streams, and even major waterways that we crossed on our trek north to Hollis Center, in New Hampshire, when we turned back south, on our return ride to Marlborough in the afternoon.
When you are married to Mary Baumer—triathlete and a sheJAMer, you get to hang with the important people, sometimes—like Travis Kroot, world-class cyclist, and even more phenomenal human being. He biked with the We Jam for Cancer team that I was part of. Thanks for letting me tag along, honey.
Not everything went perfectly for me. I got stung pretty good by a bee that intersected with me just off the town square in Pepperell. At first, when he hit my lip, I thought someone shot me with a BB gun or something, it hurt so bad. Then, no blood, but lots of initial swelling later, I realized it was Mr. Bee that had intercepted my ride.
Then, it was north, crossing into New Hampshire. We picked up the Nashua River Rail Trail for about eight miles, just west of the state’s second largest city. The trail was fun at first, with numerous turtles dotting the right-of-way. I stopped to help one across the bike path, but then realized I’d never finish my ride if I became “shepherd of the turtles.” After about three or four miles of being on the shaded trail, I was jones-ing to get back on the paved roadways. I got my wish when we exited the rail trail and headed for our final rest stop (there were three of these at mile markers 12, 36, and mile 50) at historic Groton School, in Groton Mass. If you know anything about the place, you know it’s a prestigious boarding school that the likes of FDR attended at one time. The place looks and feels of old money, which in my book is not a bad thing.
Perhaps the turtles I encountered on the rail trail were a sign. After Groton, instead of hanging back with the group, I decided to play the hare (as opposed to the turtle) and headed out on my own making my wait to the finish line 20+ miles down the road.
Somehow, I missed a turn about three miles out from the finish and got off the 70-mile course, ending up back where the route started in the morning (and part of the final leg of the 100-miler). I think I was disoriented enough from fatigue and my bike malfunctioning with several chain derailments, not to mention the frustration of asking locals and no one could tell me where Hillside School was. This was when I just pulled into a convenience store and called the rescue vehicle to come get me.
All in all, a good time was had for most of the day. And it was all for a great cause.
I rode my 70+ miles in memory of four individuals who died from cancer. My late father-in-law, Joe Tarazewich. Also, my former boss and mentor, Bryant Hoffman. Dave Tomm was another person who I consider important in my life, and I miss him whenever I think of him. Lastly, my Aunt Dot, my favorite aunt, who died back in 1999.
Thanks to all my sponsors for allowing me to hit and surpass my fundraising goal. Derek Volk, Julie-Ann Baumer (the best sister anyone could ever have), Mark Baumer, Herman and Helen Baumer (my parents), Patricia Maxim, Linda Andrews, Paul Scalzone, John Lemieux, Harry Simones, and Marjorie Wise. I am grateful for you generosity and support.
The world slows down enough from the back of a bike where you notice things that you’d miss behind the wheel of a vehicle. It’s also a great location to observe and ruminate on many other things, as well as reconnect with reality—all positives that keep me cranking.