Dear Midnight Marathon Riders,
About a year ago I published an open letter to you about how the MBTA wasn't returning our e-mails, how I was asked by the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A) to cancel the 2014 ride, and how it was called an "accident waiting to happen" by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association (MEMA).
But I also wrote about how there was overwhelming community support for the ride to continue.
The Boston Globe Editorial Board, recalling how even the MBTA could warm up to a rag-tag band of midnight bike-riding hooligans like us, came out in support of the ride; calling events like the Midnight Marathon Ride a "civic asset" to the city. National publication, Bicycling Magazine, ran a feature article on the ride in their April issue.
In the end, after many discussions with the B.A.A, MEMA, and the community, we sided with the community to continue the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride tradition in 2014, albeit with a few minor changes such as avoiding the start & finish lines.
As we could no longer charter a train to take people and bikes to the starting line, and the MBTA enforced a four-bikes-per-car-max policy, we hired moving trucks to move 200 bikes from Boston to Southborough. There, the 200 bikes were reunited with 200 owners coming off the regularly scheduled commuter train, and these 200 bikers joined hundreds more who had already made their own way to the station via taxis, busses, chartered vans, cars driven by spouses, and of course, bicycles.
The Bicycling Magazine feature, which came out a few weeks before last year’s ride, concluded with a quote of my musings on how the 2014 ride might turn out.
"When a positive tradition like the Midnight Ride is discouraged, something is lost. But people always surprise me. My hope is that something better comes out of all this. I don't know what that is, but it might." By April 21st, around 12:01 a.m., [Greg] will know.
And I'm happy to report that something good did come out of all the ups and downs of Midnight Marathon Bike Ride 2014.
Our "truck 'n train" operation worked perfectly; using trucks to move bikes and using trains to move people was quicker than loading & unloading them off a train. The money raised from selling bike transport was more than enough to cover the rentals and drivers, which allowed us to donate the excess $2,000 to local charity, Bikes Not Bombs!
Even though we avoided the start and finish line areas of the marathon route ... even though there was no special train... even though we were haunted by memories of the prior year's bombing... we rode our bicycles and had an amazing time; together as a community doing something truly wonderful. And to top it off, we had pancakes. Nothing beats filling your tummy with pancakes after a night of biking the marathon route.
Ticket and route info can be found in the
Midnight Marathon F.A.Q.
A huge thank you goes out to the volunteers at the Charity Pancake Breakfast hosted by Boston Common Coffee Company who raised money for the Home Away Fund. Thank you to Bikes Not Bombs for using bicycles as a vehicle for social equality in developing nations. Thank you to the journalists who brought attention to the ride's challenges last year. Thank you to the many volunteers (official and impromptu) who helped load and unload bikes, fix flats, and kept everything organized. Thank you to the participants whose enthusiasm keeps other riders pedaling, and keeps us promoting it every year. Thank you to the police departments in various communities along the route who directed traffic and kept people safe at intersections. Thank you to the MBTA and commuter rail for keeping the trains running for us over the years. Thank you to the Mass Emergency Management Agency and Boston Athletic Association for working with us and coming to an understanding when had a disagreement over whether the ride should go on. And thank you to BostonSoS for taking this ride and me under their wing over the years and helping to keep the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride the magical experience it is