The Boston Marathon Midnight Ride
A group gathered at Southborough station and waited as black clouds covered the Maxfield Parrish skyline. Wind whipped pillars of sand into the cooling night air and we took cover as clouds let out a little moisture. We were waiting for midnight on the eve of the Boston Marathon.
As midnight approached, the group grew in number to over 2800 riders. With lights, bells, music, costumes and bikes galore . . . imagine “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with bikes and boom-boxes. Whimsically fabulous, the ride is an annual tradition that remains one of my favorites.
The streets are largely car quiet, and when the storm clouds were ultimately whisked away, we got on our bikes and wound our way through ribbons of red and white lights, past cheering crowds and port-a-potties. As we rode, trees gave way to shops and stop signs and the light steadily grew from the soft whisper of Southborough to the neon Citgo sign. We rode from the relative quiet of Southborough station into the dense celebration of the finish line. Passing through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellsely, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Hills, Brookline and Boston, the time flies past. This lively group of riders pierced the stillness of the night with their eclectic and contagious cadence. And at the end, when you have rolled over the finish line, you’ve better understood the great courage and dedication of the runners. You’ve climbed Heartbreak Hill and come to understand it’s shape and reputation. And the great city of Boston slides into focus.
Want to join in next year? Perfect. You’ll need headlights and taillights. You’ll want to have a few longer trips under your belt. Bring water and snacks, and dress for the weather. The night can cool off faster than a parent at prom. Dress or bring mittens, scarfs, layers and the like. Take on the challenge to ride. Breathe deep into air pulsing with promise. Get away with something awesome.