Hundreds of Cyclists Will Take a Midnight Bike Ride Along the Boston Marathon Route
While most people are either preparing to race in the Boston Marathon this April, or watch idly from the sidelines, hundreds of others from around the city are gearing up for an entirely different experience along the 26.2-mile route.
The night before the marathon kicks off in Hopkinton and becomes cluttered with runners and their supporters, cyclists from Massachusetts are expected to venture from the starting line of the race, all the way back to Boston, during the fifth annual Midnight Marathon Bike Ride.
Hosted by BostonSOS, participants going on the long trek will meet at South Station at 10 p.m. on April 14, the night of the event, where they will board a train provided by the Commuter Rail that will transport riders and their bikes directly to the start of the Marathon route. Transportation officials said they are planning accordingly to meet the high demand of people expected to pile onto train cars to catch a one-way ride to the event.
One of the event’s organizers, James Cobalt, says working with the MBTA and Commuter Rail officials was a reaction to last year’s large turnout, which brought together more than 700 cyclists to take part in the late-night ride back to the city. “It caught us off guard. We didn’t realize how far it spread via word of mouth and online. Basically, twice as many people showed up as we were expecting, and our estimate was a high estimate,” says Cobalt.
This year, Cobalt and members of BostonSOS are expecting a similar turnout, if not more riders. Tickets on the express train to the starting line are on a first come, first serve basis, and are limited to around 700 passengers. If the limit exceeds the amount of passengers the designated train can fit, Cobalt says riders will need to either take a taxi to the meeting spot, or have someone drop them off. In those instances, however, they will be exempt from paying the $15 surcharge.
Greg Hum, the brains behind assembling the yearly bike brigade, says he first came up with the notion while talking with friends at Boston University in 2009. When a few people had mentioned they were planning on running the 26.2-mile route prior to the actual marathon, as an avid biker, he thought it would make for an interesting adventure for cyclists, too. “There is something appealing about biking in the middle of the night when the roads are really quiet and serene … it’s one of my favorite things to do in the summer,” he says.
The first year, Hum says he only expected a few dozen friends to join him, but even more showed up, and every year since then, the amount of attendees has seemed to double, and in some cases, triple. “It’s been unpredictable every year,” says Hum. “I think it’s because Boston is definitely one of these cities with a strong community feel, and when there is a new idea and people hear about it, they want to be part of it and latch onto it.”
Bringing together such a massive group of people on two-wheels is chaotic at first, says Cobalt, but once the ride from Southborough begins, people become spread out and it’s less hectic, providing a unique experience for those involved. “It’s strangers coming together, but they are instantly friends because they are all there. It’s so unique,” he says, adding that the scene looks a bit post-apocalyptic due to the lack of cars and other activity during the ride.
Hum says people go at various paces, riding anything from unicycles to Hubway bikes to complete the journey. But 95 percent of the time, he says everyone completes the trip. “Me and a few other friends end up being ride sweepers who stay in the back and make sure people get back home OK,” he says.
Those interested in joining the ride must purchases tickets from the South Station ticket window on Monday, April 8, and ask specifically for a pass for the “Midnight Marathon.”