TRAIN SOLD OUT
Five years ago, Boston cyclist, Greg Hum, thought it would be kind of awesome to take the train out of the city the night before the Boston Marathon and bike the entire route back. So did his friends, and word spread. Last year over 700 cyclists got together to do the annual ride. On Monday, April 8th, 700 tickets for the 5th annual Boston Midnight Marathon Bike Ride go on sale at South Station.
Since the Boston Marathon's start/finish lines and fancy mile markers will be set up, you'll feel just like you're running the marathon, except without all that silly cheering and running. This ride is BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike!).
Due to increased train ridership from the Red Sox game, the only way to get your bike on an evening train is with a Midnight Marathon ticket. You can pick up a ticket at the South Station ticket window. It is not available from any other stations nor the automated system.
What was last year's ride like?
Cray cray. See it retold through social media.
But I don't have a bike! How can I participate? :-(
There are a couple places you can rent a bike for the night. Consider Urban Adventours; they're offering a 10% discount for Midnight Marathon rentals. You can call them at 617-670-0637. You can also try Back Bay Bicycles; you can select and reserve your bike right on their website.
How hard is this? Do I need to be really fit to participate?
The majority of people are fully capable of completing the ride provided a road bike, plenty of water, and a bit of caffeine! Most of the ride is slightly downhill. For a more challenging ride, some participants purposefully use a hybrid or mountain bike. If this is your first time, we strongly recommend using a road bike. Go as fast or fun as you please; it's not a race- that happens when the sun comes up. Bring your friends so you can ride with them, or make friends at the station with people who like to go at your pace. 26 miles is a lot to run, but is pretty doable in three hours on a bike.
What if it rains?
It's rained pretty much every year. You're on a 30 mile bike ride with sweat pouring down your face. Thank the heavens if it rains. We'll be there unless there's thunder and lightning and hail. And asteroids.
Do I stay in a group?
This is a group ride, but naturally, people will split because of pacing. Last year over 700 people showed up representing a whole range of bikes, including road bikes, fixed gears, and dutch three-speeds. There were even a couple unicycles and some custom chop jobs, so you can expect several paces to choose from. If you see someone struggling to keep up, please don't leave them behind if they're alone!
How much does it cost?
If you aren't taking the train - absolutely nothing. Maybe it'll cost you a taxi fare or doing the dishes for a month after you beg your partner for a late night ride to the starting line. If you plan on taking the train (an awesome experience and highly recommended), the bike ticket is $15.
Why is the bike ticket more expensive?
The cost of running a single train down the tracks is exorbitant. There are cleaning/turn-around crews, engineers, station staff, and shockingly expensive fuel. When every passenger on board is also bringing a bike, it decreases maximum capacity to about 40%. Between the padded ticket price, the MBCR volunteers, and our own volunteers, everything will just about come out in a wash. It's still substantially cheaper than taking a taxi, participating in other similar events, or buying a house.
Do I need a ticket to participate?
NO! That is, if you can find a way out to the starting line without taking a train. Last year we had over 100 people join us at either Southborough Station, the starting line in Hopkinton, or somewhere along the route close to home. But if you want to take the train, you MUST get the Midnight Marathon ticket.
Can I get a ticket for another departure?
NO! Well, yes, if you aren't taking your bike. Due to limited seat availability from the holiday weekend and afternoon Red Sox game, the MBCR is only allowing marathon cyclists to board with a Midnight Marathon ticket.
Can I buy my Midnight Marathon ticket right before boarding?
Possibly- if there are any left. We fully expect to sell out; it's just a matter of if we sell out in advance or the night of. We'll send an email to members of this website (and we'll update the Facebook event page) when we do.
What do I bring with me?
You don't want to get stranded if you bike over a broken bottle in the middle of the night. Bring a plan! Ideally a spare tube, a portable pump and/or patch kit. If you have them, bring some tire levers or plan to stick with a friend/friends who has one and knows how to change a flat! You'd be doing yourself a huge favor by stopping by your favorite bike shop picking up the right size tube for your tires just in case.
Bring a fully charged cell phone. Install a taxi-finding app, but ensure you have someone you can call regardless; don't expect a taxi to be available with a bike rack. On a related note, don't expect to always have a cell signal- stay with friends or other cyclists in case you need assistance.
You'll need at least a couple bottles of water and some snacks. You don't want to hit the wall in the middle of the night because you hadn't eaten since dinner 6 hours ago. This is nearly 30 miles and it's not like you're going to find any places open at this hour to buy water or food from, at least not till you're essentially in the city.
Finally, you'll need a helmet, reflectors, and a fully charged light to guide your way in darker spots.
Oh, and a bike.
What time is the train?
You'll need to be at the station BEFORE 9PM. At 9pm we will start dividing people into groups, verifying tickets, and loading the train. The train will pull out of the station at 10pm.
Is it a direct train? Can I board at other stations?
The train goes non-stop from South Station to Southborough. You will not be able to board at any other stations, except maybe Southborough, but that would be redundant.
Wait, so the train doesn't go to the marathon starting line?
No, it does. The MBCR has relaid the track to go straight to the starting line. Normally you'd have to bike 20 minutes from the station to the starting line, but this special departure has a dedicated track. Also your question just reminded me we are sold out. Sorry.
What is the schedule? Give it to me straight!
If taking the train you arrive at South Station by 9pm to verify ticket and begin boarding.
The train leaves at 10pm for a direct ride to Southborough, arriving around 10:35.
It will take about 45 minutes to unload everyone at Southborough station.
It's then a 20 minute ride to the starting line in Hopkinton.
People will arrive at the Starting Line between 10:50pm and 11:30pm.
It'll then take you 2 to 5 hours to bike back, depending on your type of bike, fitness level, etc. Most will reach the finish line between 1:30am and 2:30am.
How will I know where I'm going?
The ride follows the entire Marathon route, which will have signs and markers up. However, the roads aren't marked off, so there are a few spots that could confuse some. People taking the train will get maps and cue sheets on board. Everyone else can get a copy of the official marathon map here and last year's cue sheet (same route).
The entire bike route is also available from MapMyRide.com, which has detailed data on the ride- like this pretty chart showing the elevation of the ride from start to finish. Click it to see the route at MapMyRide.
What do I do at the starting line?
Ask a new friend to take your photo, then... start!
What do I do once I reach the finish line?
Finish! Catch your breath. Have some water. Pat yourself on the back. Get a photo. Then silently cheer on others as they arrive. Silent because it's a residential neighborhood and it's the middle of the night. Then pop over into the 24 hour CVS for snacks/beverage or bike over to the 24 hour iHop in Cambridge or the much-closer South Street Diner. The diner is a popular destination for hungry cyclists in years past, and they're open till 5am.
Please figure out how you're getting home since the T doesn't start operation till around 5am. Maybe you'll eat grub till the T reopens, maybe you'll bike home, maybe you'll have already parked downtown so you can drive home; whatever you're doing, have a plan in advance. You'll be tired, and it'll be chilly at 3am.
Who is the winner?
Ugh. You're one of those people? Anyone who has the guts to try is a winner. You don't even have to finish; call a cab if you're too tired to go on; you're still awesome in our book. Yes... we have a Book of Awesomeness.
I'm kinda a big deal. Have you seen my Clout score?
Oh, you want to share this with your friends and followers? Use hashtag #MidnightMarathon on Twitter, and post to our Facebook event page.
I'm super awesome and would like to help anyway I can.
Any parting wisdom?
If you're going to get hurt on this ride, there's a 90% likelihood it'll happen at the railroad tracks. Even experienced cyclists can wipe out on the tracks. When you see them coming up, slow way down. Look to see the angle of the tracks and cross them perpendicularly- not at an angle. Go straight across! Every year countless Midnight Marathon participants take nasty spills at the crossings. Be extra careful!