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Part 6 - Ride Description
You’ll start the ride at Diesel Café on Elm Street in Somerville, Ma. At least you better start there. The coffee and espresso drinks are so amazing that you will likely delay leaving for your ride as long as you can. Once you finally get back on the bike and out on Massachusetts Avenue North you’ll be heading toward Lexington Center. Turn left when you hit a huge monument on what is known as the Lexington Battle Green. By the way, this route out of Boston follows the same roads Paul Revere raced towards Concord to warn the awaiting militia of the advancing British Army.
The slight rise out of Lexington will remind you that there are some nice rollers in Massachusetts, even if they happen to be heading right through the outer developments of Lexington and Concord. In a little while you will jump back on to Mass Ave, as its affectionately called, cross over I-95 and head into the greenery that is the Minute Man National Historic Park. The protected forest is thick, dense and seems to lean over the road with a watchful eye. Or maybe that watchful eye is the military base, which is strategically placed within these same woods. Further down, the road curves towards the left and heads directly to Hanscomb Air Force Base. In fact the road that heads towards Hanscomb strikingly resembles the tarmac that lurks behind the walls.
Jet fuel assaults your sense of smell as you keep the Base on your right. Round the curve, the smooth texture of the repaved road makes a great place to launch an attack if you’re feeling up for it. A steep descent followed by a slight declination in the road makes it easy to keep the pace high at this point. However the preceding incline is covered with huge oaks that make it difficult to see some cracks that suddenly appear in the pavement.
Stay on Marrett Road, which after a slight right becomes Lexington Road—pay attention to these roads, as ‘Concord’, ‘Lexington’ and a few others are names used in nearly every town. After a sharp right and a sudden left, stay on Lexington road you’ll be heading into Concord center. Don’t expect any sort of fanfare, even though the road is lined with houses, big and small, each with a plaque signifying their age. Oddly, there never seems to be anyone out along this stretch.
Turn left at Hwy 62 and take a trip back in time when you hit the green at Concord Center. The whitewashing of the picket fences are reminiscent of the world Mark Twain created for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. A creepy surrealism sets in quickly that isn’t likely to disperse throughout the day because the towns hardly vary from this point on.
Concord was the home of Thoreau in his formative years and from the looks of it, he may still be living here somewhere. On any given day in Concord, MA you will see a plethora of shoppers wandering the little boutiques that line the streets. Stop for coffee there on the town square, Helen’s Café boasts a stiff Americano that will keep you on edge for miles to come.
Cross over dangerous Route 2 and into the Walden Preserve. If you thought the foliage couldn’t get any thicker, here it does. Keep an eye out for Walden Pond on your right. Look left to see the home, or shanty, where Thoreau once lived. This is as good a spot as any to stop to check in with yourself and your ride mates. A moment of introspection feels very appropriate amongst these woods.
Skirt along the town lines of Lincoln and Sudbury as you make your way toward Weston. Atop Old Boston Post Road, Weston’s lone church still towers over the lawn that was once the meeting place for the townspeople. Once you leave this idyllic town the roads start to break up a little bit, probably the effect that the wet marshlands have had on the pavement. This starts to signal your departure from “civilized” Massachusetts. From here the town greens tend to be a little less green. Where there once was a Jaguar parked in the driveway, now there may be a truck, or a rust covered truck, or even a truck without wheels up on blocks.
You will really notice it most around mile 70 when you cross over the railroad tracks into the town of Harvard, Massachusetts. The yards of the abandoned train station are littered with rust coated machinery of an era long gone. Cast iron stoves, ovens and coffee makers clutter the yard and spill out almost into the street. Time allowing, have a walk through this appliance graveyard.
Outside of Harvard you will encounter the aptly named Old School Road. The old school still stands next to the road, long-abandoned with only a few flecks of it’s dark red paint that once used to greet students. We were nervous about this climb before we set out because of the pitch of the climb but you’ll find that although very steep, it only lasts 20-30 seconds. The climb that challenges comes at the end; Summit Ave.
To get back, turn around here and revisit some of the towns that you just came though, Sudbury, West Concord and a few others. When you hit Weston, you are officially on your way back to Boston. Turn right out of Weston and head along Wellesley Road over Route 30 and onto Commonweath Ave. At this point you are on the famed Boston Marathon course, just before the dreaded “Heartbreak Hill.” While it might be a killer for marathoners, “Heartbreak Hill” is more like “Ambivalence Mound” on a bicycle.
But there’s still Summit Ave. Do your best to enjoy one of the best views of Boston on this one last short, but steep, gut-wrenching climb.