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Boston Ride 1982

Day One: 3/31/82

Boston 1982 was my second ride to Boston; as the 1981 ride it was with the Northport Bike Club, around 40 riders, most from Northport High School, since we all lived in Northport. I was 17 years old. I rode with a few friends from Northport to Selden where the ride proper began. This is a picture of the riders assembling in Selden and forming the groups. TrOD. 20.0, OD. 3860.2. c. 8AM. Mostly riders from my group are visible: Eric Valkckenaere, Andy Barnikal (in group 2), Frank Wilson, Barbara Caronna, Steve Dunat.

Some explanation of terms is in order: TrOD. means Trip Odometer (set to zero in Northport, New London, Providence and Boston on this particular ride), OD. means my bike's odometer, which is recording miles from July 1981 (as of Sep. 1999 it is approaching 130,000 miles), TRT means total riding time (minus rest stops). The "groups" referred to are subgroups of about ten riders that we would split into, according to riding speed, so it is easier to stay together and not to bunch up, and to navigate easier, since the riders at the front and rear of each subgroup have been on the ride before and know the route to take. I was in Group 1, which left first, went around 10-20 miles, then stopped and waited for group 2. Group 1 then left while Group 2 waited for Group 3, and so on. In this way, as the Northport Observer noted in 1981, we "leapfrogged" to Boston.

The fourteen-hour ride to Boston was thus extended over three days of 4-5 hours riding per day, with plenty of time for novice riders to rest, and to see the sights (in later years when I did the ride on my own I usually did the entire ride in a day without those stops). This system worked well, and was how this club successfully held annual Boston Rides from 1978 to 1986, and other rides such as Bear Mountain and New York City rides, with riders of varying abilities. Many novices did these rides, and everyone made it (including me when I first did it in 1981), even if they'd never previously gone any farther on a bike than the local shopping mall, so that many riders had a great sense of accomplishment.

(The riders on the Boston-New York AIDS Rides in the 1990's often also feel a sense of accomplishment, but our Northport Bike Club rides had none of the hype, commercialism and high overhead [most of the money raised went to "administrative expenses" instead of to AIDS -- I'd rather write a check to a charity directly and do my own ride]. While we also did Bike-A-Thons for charity, most of our rides were for the sheer enjoyment of the trip, and unlike the $1400+ cost of the AIDS Rides, there was no price-gouging on our rides; for example, the cost of our Boston Ride was a mere $55 total, for food, lodging and the $6.50 ferry [$11 in 1999] from Orient Point to New London. Nor did our riders have to sign the voluminous and excessive disclaimers that have become de rigeur on organized rides lately).

The camaraderie on our club rides was great, and the rides taught teamwork, cooperation and geography as well. When I rode with the club to Boston in 1981, I had an unforgettable and incredible experience, which started my interest in bike touring. The club itself was started by Pete White in 1977, when he turned 30 and wanted to do something special; he rode by himself to Boston to see if he could do it and because, like Mt. Everest, "it is there". In 1978 he repeated the trip with some friends; in subsequent rides adding students and then alumni of Northport High School. In October 1982 the club had over 90 members on one Bear Mountain, NY Ride, but in general there would be 30-40 riders on one ride (3-4 groups).

(The picture captions on this web page are from the text I wrote on the back of these photographs on April 17, 1982, with some minor edits.)

We rode east: Northport, Selden and onto the North Fork of Long Island, heading for the Orient Point-New London,CT ferry, 68.4 miles from Northport.

Mattituck, LI post office, just off Rte. NY-25. Across the street is the rest of group, at Harry's Deli. c. 12PM, OD. 3892.0, TrOD. 51.8. Seen next to tree are Steve D'Antonio and Brian McGough. Zip code is 11952. Usually we take Sound Avenue and County Route 27 (changed to 48) but this year we took State Rte. 25 all the way out.

At Greenport High School. We made this a rest stop because Pete White knows the principal. OD. 3904.4, TrOD. 64.2, c. 1PM.

View of Shelter Island from the Greenport ferry area. (The club didn't go here; I took this side trip on my own as club browsed through central Greenport.) Last rest stop before Orient Point (no rush, we're taking 4:00PM ferry, and it's now c. 2:15PM). c. 10 mi. to Orient Point.

Day Two: 4/1/82

View looking east along Huntington Street from the corner our YMCA is on (the direction and road we'll take to head for Providence) in New London, CT, c. 6:30AM. OD. 3916.50. Walking with Frank to get breakfast. Here is the New London Public Library across the street from the YMCA. Further west along Huntington Street, New London, CT. View looking down Captains Walk [in the late 1980's, the pedestrian zone was removed and it became State Street]. Church on left, Southern New England Telephone [SNET] building on right; farther down is Captains Pizza (not visible yet). We get to Captain's Pizza. This place, and the Subway sandwich place next door, is always a good place to get something to eat. Captains Pizza is a pizza place and restaurant owned by a Greek man who has a map of Greece showing his hometown on the tables. Note Gold Star Bridge (over the Thames R.) on left, which is the route we will soon take to Boston. It is about 7AM, at Bank St. and Captains Walk; make a right and cross the tracks to get to Orient Pt. ferry.

Group 1 members returning to our YMCA c. 7:30AM, after breakfast. They are rushing because we are getting ready to leave. This is the old New London YMCA, Huntington St. and Captains Walk. The building was not in very good shape, and it always seemed to be under construction. In 1985 the YMCA moved to a new location on Captains Walk near Eugene O'Neill Dr.; this was a better facility, with a sauna and wrestling room on its two floors; unfortunately it closed within a few years, briefly being occupied by a pizza place, and then being vacant since then (about 1989 to the present [1999]). The Bike Club riders brought sleeping bags with them for the overnight stays in the New London and Providence Central YMCA's (it was quite comfortable in the new YMCA with the sleeping bags on the wrestling mats; however the old YMCA's rooms that we used in 1981 and 1982 were chilly and had the look of a warehouse. The water temperature was also a little unpredictable; a favorite prank was to flush the toilet while someone was in the shower, which would give him a brief blast of hot water by temporarily depleting the cold water).

The Day Two ride is underway. At junction of CT-184 and CT-2 [seven miles from where Foxwoods Casino was later built]. Arrived here 10:41AM, now c. 10:56AM. Group 1 just beginning to leave. OD. 3939.7, TrOD. 23.2. 1st rest stop after initial one at beginning of main part of CT Rte. 184 (Twin Bridge Diner/Economy Electronics). Near North Stonington. Signs note distances to: Groton, CT 13 mi, Providence R.I. 41 mi., Norwich, CT 15 mi. A few miles down the road is a fresh-water spring, and then Rte. 184 dead-ends at I-95 Exit 1 in Rhode Island, where we pick up R.I. Route 3.

"Dedicated to the deceased / volunteer firefighters of / the Hope Valley Fire Dept.", says the monument, upon which Mark Valckenaere is leaning. At Hope Valley firehouse on Rhode Island Rte. 3 at jct RI-138. OD. 3949.8, TrOD. 33.3. About noon. Hope Valley is our traditional place to stop for lunch.

Mark was the Group 1 leader on the Boston Ride of 1981, an accomplished cyclist who was nicknamed "The Machine" and took third place in the Pepsi Challenge 24-Hour Bicycle Marathon in New York City, 1981. That accomplishment later became a goal for me and I trained for that event, placing seventh in the 1982 event, and fourth place (individually as opposed to the team rankings) in the marathon of 1983. After the 1983 event I trained like crazy to do 400 or more miles and come in third place or better in the 1984 event, since only the top three finishers in each category get a plaque; there were individual and team categories. But the 1984 event was canceled, which was a big letdown, and I was not able to train as much as I wanted to for the 1985 event, which was no longer sponsored by Pepsi.

The winner of all these 1980's marathons (first place) was John Howard, who despite being in his 50's soundly trounced all the young guys; I could barely keep up with him for even a half lap, and he did over 500 miles in the 24 hours. The newspapers noted that he wore a urinary catheter so that he didn't even have to stop to go to the bathroom! He was riding for all but 7 minutes of the 24 hours, whereas my TRT was only 19 hours. However, in 1983, some of us Northporters entered the marathon as a team and earned a first-place plaque for highest team mileage (none of us used catheters!); I broke the 300-mile barrier and my friend Chris Black did an amazing 200 miles in 12 hours before dropping out. Here is a picture of my friend Adam and I after completing the 1985 24-hour marathon in Central Park.

Chris and I are the group leaders for group 1 on the Boston 1982 ride, and his red bike equipped with not one, not two, but three water bottles, is visible between the "Restricted Parking" sign and the monument in the above picture.

View down (actually, up) RI-3 South; the hill into Hope Valley (yes, it is in a valley). Bike shop on left. Latter groups coming in. Soon after, the cool front comes through. After noon, in Hope Valley, clear weather becomes variably cloudy and windy. Temp. drops from 63°F (doesn't get too cold, really). $2.15/min. to Boston via phone on left [before AT&T divestiture of 1984].

Ascending out of Hope Valley, we enter a sparsely-populated and beautiful wooded area in the vicinity of Arcadia State Park. This was the best part of the ride in 1981, from Arcadia north towards Coventry, and remained an enjoyable place to ride since then; here is another picture from that area taken in October 1998, a few miles north of Arcadia (the track is from the street sweeper seen in the next picture). The area reminded me of Greece, and perhaps it had a similar effect on others, since it was named Arcadia, a province of Greece known for its idyllic wooded mountainous regions. But back to the 1982 pictures, this is where Rte. 3 crosses I-95 about 3/4 miles into the big hill out of the Hope Valley area; I called it the Three Mile Hill but it is actually 2.5 miles of continuous upgrade followed by 3/4 miles down and then 3/4 miles up again; the top of the 2.5-mile hill is mile 100 of the ride. This is the view looking down towards the beginning of the "Three Mile Hill", showing the street sweeper (there was a lot of sand on the roads from all the snow in the winter of 1981-82, and more snow was coming in a few days). I've taken the tail of my group; the time is around 12:35-12:40pm on April 1st.

Nooseneck, RI rest stop, c. 2PM. 50 MPH crosswinds have ceased, and it is once again sunny and warm (take off jacket+sweatshirt briefly, only time during ride). Frank Wilson in yellow shirt w/bike. (looking west). OD. 3960.2, TrOD. 43.7. A diagram of this area was written on the back of this photo; across the road is a cemetary with the oldest tombstone from 1783. Though it was a human cemetary, there was also a dead dog along with dog food nearby.

Junction of R.I. 2 and R.I. 3 in Crompton, RI. c. p (3:14) PM. OD. 3969.1, TrOD. 52.6. All groups stop here before we move on (11 mi. to Providence Central YMCA). Last exposure on roll, due to bright sun I wait till YMCA to change film. My Peugeot is leaning on the traffic light pole.

End of Roll 1

Day Three: 4/2/82

Just inside the Boston city limits, going down Washington St. From there we went to the Susse Chalet motel in Dorchester. That evening and the next day we went around Boston. The North End is Boston's Little Italy, where I had pizza for 30 cents a slice at Galleria Umberto (compared to $0.80-$1 or more in the tourist traps in the nearby Haymarket area). Galleria Umberto is still there today (as of 1999) but looks very different.

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Page created:  September  9, 1999 (9-9-99)
Last updated:  September 23, 1999