Every spring, rumors reverberate through the Boston cycling scene. A hint of a date circulates; a photo surfaces of an unfamiliar trail; and then, at long last: an email arrives. It's time to gather teams for the Ronde de Rosey, that legendary annual ride through the hidden trails and back roads of the Boston area. Scott Rosenthal organizes the eponymous ride every year to raise money and gather donated bike parts for local organization Bikes Not Bombs and their important work.
A crowd of people gathered in the morning sunshine, stacking their bikes along the wall outside of The Washington Square Tavern. After a long winter, seeing the familiar faces of New England's cyclocrossers, mountain bikers, adventurers, and explorers was like a homecoming. Excitement coursed through the air as we caught up, discussed this year's route, and waited each of our teams' roll-out time.
We rolled out behind the Camelstache crew, who were decked out in plaid flannels and blasting music from a bike-mounted stereo. We converged with groups from so many cycling teams from the Boston area throughout the day: HUP United, Cuppow, Geekhouse.
Our squad became laughably lost with a gang from Essex County Velo when we took a wrong turn at a confusing intersection of trail. Together our two teams tackled some of the most narrow, rocky sections of the day - including some hiking along boulders with bikes shouldered - and it took all ten of us together to find our path again.
The Ronde's mileage doesn't appear daunting in number, but this ride winds through some of the toughest trails in the region. It's a navigational and technical challenge that chews through tubes and causes bizarre mechanicals. It's not a ride even the most fit and skilled take lightly. Having a good team to roll with is crucial; your team is your safety net. You rely on them the whole ride through.
Carolyn, Milica, and I were joined on this adventure by guest rider Jess of GPM Sport, and I couldn't have found a better bunch with whom to tackle this challenge. Through flats, navigational puzzles, and the mechanical that eventually cut our ride short, forcing us to limp back to the Tavern, we stuck together for an amazing ride.
We joined the other returned riders for the after-party, regaling one another with tales of the day over French fries. Bikes Not Bombs collected all the donated parts and frames for their international partners and youth programs in Boston. As I looked around the room, I thought about how grateful I am to be a part of this community. I know I'll always have someone around willing to help a fellow rider find her way out of the woods, or, depending on the goal, maybe to find her way deeper into the woods. I know even if a ride is cut short, the quality of the miles we conquer together will be the highest. I know this is a group willing to do, to help, to give back.
I'm glad adventure season is underway. I can't wait for more of this.