By: Shavel’le Olivier
*Me awkwardly sitting with a group of people thinking about how to start a conversation*
Literally no one:
Me: “I biked 400 miles to Canada from Boston!”
And I say this with a smile every time I mention or think about it.
A bike tour from Boston to Canada seemed daunting when I first saw posts from the Boston Cyclists Union (BCU) pop up on my Facebook feed. Thoughts of, “Who actually does this?,” and “Why would anyone do this?,” came into my head. However, I also had thoughts of, “What if I do this?,” and “Am I really going to do this?,” as I started filling out the registration form that gave me the opportunity to experience my first ever long biking and camping trip.
In the end, I did it. Here’s my story.
Why did you decide to ride Bos/treal?
I decided to attend Bos/treal because I wanted to do something new, exciting, and out of the box for me. Bos/treal was definitely something that I didn’t see myself doing, given that the longest I’d ever ridden prior to it was 34 miles. In addition to achieving a personal goal, I also wanted to support biking efforts in the Boston area, and to meet different people to understand how biking plays a role in their personal or professional lives and why they wanted to support the Boston Cyclists Union.
What was the best part about the ride?
The best parts of the ride were:
Scenery. Especially once you get out of Boston. My eyes have witnessed some of the best green and blue spaces I have ever seen — rivers, lakes, mountainsides, farmland, beautiful trees, and much more.
Ice cream. There were ice cream stops at the best times during the ride. Who doesn’t like ice-cream!?
Goals. I wanted to see what I could do while on the ride, and as I got more confident, I started challenging myself a bit more. Some of these accomplishments were: Riding in a pace line at 15-17 miles per hour, completing a century (riding 100 miles), riding up the Green Mountains without getting off my bike, and not being the last person to reach the halfway point on the final day of riding.
People. Once I confirmed my participation, BCU staff and volunteers helped me prepare. They took me out on training rides, loaned me bike clothing and bike and camping gear, and gave me advice. During the ride, they were encouraging, celebrated my small wins with me, and made me feel supported throughout.
What was most challenging?
Sleeping in a tent. I had one camping experience before this ride, but I’d never slept in a tent. The first night, it rained and I I couldn’t sleep because I thought the tent was going to fall on me.
Hills. Those darn hills.
Walking. By day three, it hurt to walk — but not to bike.
What kept you motivated to continue the ride despite those challenges?
The support I received from the BCU staff, volunteers, and other riders kept me going. Once I came to terms with the fact that I could not keep up with most of the riders — I could only do about 8-10 miles with the full group the first four days, and it would take me all day to complete the total mileage — I started to enjoy the bike ride. Every day, I made a personal goal for myself to complete a set number of miles. And every day, I pushed myself a little harder to see what my body could do on a bike. I made a group of friends on the ride who went the same pace as me, and we stuck together for the first four days. The support I got from this group as a first time Bos/treal rider meant a lot.
Posting and sharing my experience on Facebook also motivated me. Being able to let my friends know what I was accomplishing and seeing in real time made me want to continue sharing my journey. They also shared words of encouragement, as well as excitement about wanting to join the ride in 2020.
Would you do Bos/treal again?
Since the ride, I’ve been thinking about how cool it would be to do it again now that I know what to expect and what my limit is when riding a bike. Seeing how excited some of my friends were, and hearing their thoughts about potentially joining Bos/treal sometime in the future, makes me excited! I want to be able to share what I learned during the trip with them.
If you’d like to join the Bos/treal team on our next adventure, head here to learn more.