Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Training Day - Boston Bike Tour

 Today was DAY ONE of my bike training LOL.  I rode a bike from one end of Boston to the other for about 2.5 – 3.0 hours.  It was great fun, and I had no problems with the flats, hills, streets – it was awesome!!
I stopped at Starbucks for a pre-ride breakfast of oatmeal filled with nuts, dried fruit and brown sugar washed down with a Vivanno strawberry, banana and whey protein smoothie.  It fueled me through the 3 hours perfectly.

I found Urban Adventours ( online and signed up for their “City View Bicycle Tour” which took us through Boston from the Italian North End and historic Beacon Hill, up to Fenway Park, heart of Red Sox Nation, and through modern and dynamic Back Bay.   
Our great tour guide was none other than the Adventours’ Chief Wheel Officer, Andrew Prescott.

A great guide, informative, irreverent and funny and loaded with the sorts of Boston facts that only a native Bostonian might know – except that he is from Morristown, NJ.    Also, lest you think a bike tour guide is most likely a some kind of bikerhead slacker, Andrew was football captain in high school, then he went on to Wesleyan University earning a Psychology/Sociology degree, and then was a recruiter, bartender, world traveler, accountant, marketing manager for Anheuser-Busch, to BioBus ( driving fool, and he claims to have tried it all.; so I could relate very well LOL!
A few of the unknown (to me) facts about Boston on the tour were:

1.       Christopher Columbus Park:  Like Philly, they have a major Christopher Columbus statue and park even though the closest he got to Boston was Cuba (why, people why?! STOP the Columbus madness!!)

2.      The Battle of Bunker Hill:  The actual battle took place on June 17, 1775, mostly on and around Breed's Hill – not Bunker Hill at all - during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after the adjacent Bunker Hill, which was peripherally involved in the battle and was the original objective of both colonial and British troops, and is occasionally referred to as the "Battle of Breed's Hill."

3.      Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919:  We stopped at Copps Hill and looked over the area of the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919 ( which killed a number of people and caused the equivalent of about $100 million in damages.  At 35 miles per hour, molasses isn’t so slow…

4.      Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride:  Paul Revere’s portion was only 15 minutes before he was captured and he had the shortest ride of all the riders involved; but he is the only one mentioned and immortalized in Longfellow’s famous poem. Another case of right place and time LOL. Longfellow took many liberties with the events of the evening, most especially giving sole credit to Revere for the collective achievements of the three riders (as well as the other riders whose names do not survive to history). Longfellow depicts the lantern signal in the Old North Church as meant for Revere and not from him, as was actually the case. Other inaccuracies include claiming that Revere rode triumphantly into Concord instead of Lexington, and a general lengthening of the time frame of the night's events. For a long time, though, historians of the American Revolution as well as textbook writers relied almost entirely on Longfellow's poem as historical evidence, creating substantial misconceptions in the minds of the American people that persist to today.

5.      The Green Dragon Tavern:  The majority of the Revolution was planned in a bar – as opposed to the famed Old South Meeting House. The Green Dragon Tavern was a public house used as a tavern and meeting place located on Union Street in Boston's North End.  Purchased in 1764 by the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons for its 1st floor meeting rooms, the basement tavern was used by several secret groups and became known by historians as the "Headquarters of the Revolution". The Sons of Liberty, Boston Committee of Correspondence and the North End Caucus each met there. The Boston Tea Party was planned there and Paul Revere was sent from there to Lexington on his famous ride. In January 1788, a meeting of the mechanics and artisans of Boston passed a series of resolutions urging the importance of adopting the Federal Constitution pending at the time before a convention of delegates from around Massachusetts. The building was demolished in 1854. (The current Green Dragon Tavern is located on 11 Marshall Street in Boston's North End. Its publicity states that it is the "headquarters of the revolution", though its relationship to the demolished original pub is not immediately apparent.)

6.      Benjamin Franklin’s Birthplace:  Finally, 17 Milk Street, the location of Ben Franklin’s birthplace has not one little historical placard or sign marking its location.  The ground floor of the building that stands in the place of the old Franklin home is a Sir Speedy Print shop with “Ben Franklin was born here” t-shirts in the window.  Interestingly, the "Sir Speedy" store named is apparently taken from one of Benjamin Franklin's nicknames.

There were lots more bits of Boston lore, architecture and famous spots in the tour and I thought it was a great way to get an overview of the city’s geography and history.  Amazingly enough, Bicycling Magazine has rated Boston as the WORST biking city three times – I found it to be a great city with plenty of bike lanes throughout the city, so go figure…
After my bike tour, I walked the 1.6 miles back to the Seaport Hotel and stopped off at an Irish Pub called The Whiskey Priest

I had a glass of cold creamy Guinness with:
·        Black and Tan Fried Calamari with Black Olive Aioli and Tangy Cocktail Sauce
·        The Irish Fries, crispy fries topped with bacon, sausage, green onions, Boursin and white cheddar cheeses
·        Murphy’s Chili, a beef and lamb chili with chipotle and Irish cheddar

A great way to spend the morning and a great lunch as well!

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