A sea of bobbing helmets surrounds me. For this mildly agoraphobic small-town gal, it is a little daunting to be boxed in by thousands of double-wheeled vehicles and their riders. Yet here I am in downtown Boston preparing to take part in a journey that will take us into a seventy-kilometer loop around the city’s eclectic neighborhoods. This is not a race we are told, but a chance to ride through a bustling metropolis while supporting a local charity.
When the horn blares, we take off en masse towards a major parkway which, for the time being, will be car-free to allow us to cycle through safely. There are eight people in my group and I have no illusion that we will all be able to stay together. My senses are on high-alert, looking out for anyone making a sudden stop or fishtailing in front of me. My first priority is to avoid ending up in a tangle of legs and spokes. I am committed now. There is no choice but to go with the flow.
As predicted, by the first rest stop, we are a few cyclists short. We take the opportunity to hydrate and munch on donated protein bars and fruit beneath the shade of a tree. It is pleasant to take some time to socialize and compare notes but before long the heat’s intensity makes us restless. The best way to stay cool out here is to produce our own pedal-powered wind. With relief we see the remaining people in our group drift in and we are free to take off again.
The next section is the hilliest portion of the ride and, at this point, I will admit to being somewhat oblivious to my surroundings. I have bigger fish to fry! My seat post has dropped down on a particularly steep incline and I am losing power. I don’t want to sacrifice my momentum by stopping but I am really struggling. To encourage myself I recite positive mantras under my gasping breath until I reach the top. Then, as if by magic, a Ride Marshall sporting a bright yellow shirt emerges and helps me to secure my seat. This angel in dreadlocks remains with me until his attention is drawn away by another participant with a flat tire.
At the harbour, by far the prettiest section of our route, the sea breeze revives me and I relax a little. Mesmerized by the scenery, I slow down considerably and take a couple of unscheduled stops to snap some photos. When I reach the beach, our final pit stop of the day, I spot volunteers packing up boxes of refreshments and loading them onto a truck. I quickly dive to grab several bottles of water before they disappear, one for me and a couple for the friends I know are still lagging behind.
We don’t have much further to go now. I am grateful to catch up to another group as we glide through the heavy traffic watching for signs to direct us back to the square. We made it! I am tired but I feel like I am floating on air. This is the largest cycling event that I have ever been to and, despite my anxiety about crowds and big cities, I got through it. That is something to be proud of. As I sit here watching the last of the cyclists trickle to the finish line, I reflect on my day and come to the following conclusion: Sometimes to truly experience something, you need to let go of expectations, let yourself be transported by the energy around you, and just live in the moment. In other words, just go with the flow and see where it takes you.
For further information about the Cornwall Outdoor Club de Plein Air visit our website at www.cornwalloutdoorclub.ca or like us on Facebook.