More than 125 cyclists are making their way across Massachusetts on a two-wheeled trek known as the Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour.
Gary Briere started the tour that stretches the length of the commonwealth in 2013 because he wanted to create a ride that explored the Berkshire County hills, the Connecticut River Valley and the streets of Boston.
“The Berkshires to Boston Bicycle Tour is a 250-mile ride across the state of Massachusetts,” Briere said. “We begin at the New York border at beautiful Hancock Shaker Village and we finish up in downtown Boston four days later and participate in Hub on Wheels, which is a very large celebration of bicycling in downtown Boston happening every year with about 5,000 bicyclists riding through the streets of the city.”
Along the way the cyclists set up tents for meals and overnight stays starting off at Hancock Shaker Village where Briere says the wakeup call is natural. Later on down the line, reveille gets the rolling encampment going at Ft. Devens.
The four-day scenic byway tour attracts cyclists from 17 states and four countries for various reasons. Michelle Leive of Pittsburgh is meeting up with her friend Lisa who she met on a different bike trip a few years ago.
“We both went on the first bike trip alone,” Leive explained. “We went on the Erie Canal trip last year together. Now we’re here and we will bike somewhere next year.”
Carlos Abrahams came in from California to bike with his daughter Erin for what’s become an annual tradition.
“It’s more than a reunion,” Abrahams said. “It’s an opportunity for us to bond and be even closer. That’s what it has become and that’s why we look forward to it so much.”
And, Steve Miller is involved with the Hub On Wheels event at the endpoint for the Berkshires to Boston tour.
“You start here and you look around and you smell the air and you see how beautiful it is and you just feel calm and good,” Miller said. “You really feel close to the real world in a very non-technological, non-hurried up almost irresponsible and yet very sensitive kind of way. And you’re able to keep that for three days. That’s a gift. You can see, people walk around and everybody says ‘Hello’ to each other. People meet and start lifelong friendships. It’s a wonderful social as well as a physical experience. I’m one of those weird mutants who actually like physical activity. I like to sweat. I like to push myself. This is a great ride. You can go as hard as you want, as slow as you want. Meander and take all day or rush through.”
While the focus of the trip may be the experiences you have when pedaling, avid cyclist Karen Empie says the tour offers unique opportunities.
“It’s great biking, but I do love the opportunity to stay here at Hancock and I love the opportunity to camp in downtown Boston,” Empie said. “Those are just two really unique aspects to this ride.”
The tour, which has grown from 30 riders in 2013, attracts a range of biking abilities.
The warm-up run scaling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest point, was a bit of a daunting task for Pittsburgh’s Michelle Leive, who is used to the flatness of rail trails.
“Who would have known that Massachusetts was so hilly?," said Leive.
Still she’s looking forward to whatever surprises are in store with the support of friends, event organizers and Comfy Campers LLC which provides the necessities for mobile outdoor living.
“The first time I stayed with them I had never slept in a tent and never biked more than 30 miles,” Leive said with a smile. “So they’re family to me.”
The cyclists are expected to reach the Charles River on Saturday.