Monday, April 8, 2013

Moving Bicycles, part deux

Update: the train sold out in 12 hours.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about trainloads of bicycles. The Boston Globe has an article about the bike train, and it's trending in their most viewed list. It should  be exciting; I'm hoping the line for tickets isn't too long over at South Station (I'm headed over there later to buy my ticket).

Now, it's entirely possible that fewer than 700 bicyclists will buy tickets, and there will be no mad rush or secondary market. It's also possible the train will sell out. (I'm only buying one ticket, buying extras to make a profit seems a bit uncouth.) In that case, here is Ari's Unofficial Guide (I've written other unofficial guides in the past) To Getting To Southborough If You Can't Get On The Train. In order of feasibility:

  1. Take the 8:30 and bike out to Hopkinton from Framingham. It's 7 miles from Framingham to Hopkinton, which is only 4 miles further than the ride from Southborough. The train gets in at 9:20, which gives you a good hour and a half to bike up the hill to the start. If you were really keen, you could bike out to Southborough (6.5 miles) and join the ride there. One caveat is that they may be somewhat reticent to put a bunch of bikes on this train, but since Framingham is the final stop getting all the bikes off won't delay any other passengers. Just make sure to leave room for the "normals" on the train. Need to kill an hour? There's a bar in Ashland right on the course. Hopkinton isn't dry, but there don't seem to be many bars there. Update: The MBCR tweeted that it is a "regular train with room for only a few bikes." So if you take it, arrive early, board early, and then get ready to get off quickly in Framingham. This train turns and is the 9:45 back to Boston, so it can't stand to get delayed by an hour. Make sure to leave a couple of cars bike-free for non-cyclists. And consider buying a higher-zone pass to give the T some extra dollar bills.
  2. Take the 9:20 to Franklin. At 13.1 miles, this is a longer ride than the Framingham option, but it does leave a bit later. The train gets in to Franklin at 10:12, more than half an hour before the extra train gets to Southborough. From there it's a ride mostly along back roads with one big hill at the end in to Hopkinton (the ride from Norfolk, the stop before Franklin, is not much longer, and you get an extra 7 minutes to ride). It's probably a very nice ride, but you should be able to ride it in an hour to meet the rest of the gang from the Extra. Assuming a 45 minute run time, the Extra will arrive at 10:45 and should be done unloading by 11:15, and it's a 15 minute-or-so ride to the start from there. If you can ride 12 m.p.h. you should be able to get to the start around the same time. (i.e. don't try to do this on a Hubway, but if you're a roadie, you should be fine.) See the suggestions above to keep the train, and yourself, on schedule.
  3. Just get on your bike and ride! Who's not up for a metric century in the dark, anyway? You could trace Paul Revere's footsteps (that's what the holiday is all about—it's not just a random day off for government workers) and ride up the Minuteman to Lexington and on to Concord. (This is more like 70 miles, and more if you follow Paul Revere's route through Charlestown and Medford.) Then drop south to Cortaville/Southborough, meet the train, and ride on.
  4. Play coy, catch the 11:00 to Framingham and ride from there. For this option, get on the 11:00 train and buy a ticket to Framingham. Tell the conductor that you live there and are riding home, and that is within the bike regulations of the T. The train gets in to Framingham at 11:50, so you would have plenty of time to detrain and bike backwards on the course to go and meet the rest of the ride (or just hang out in Framingham; the first riders will shoot down the early hills in 15 minutes easily). You wouldn't get the full experience, but it would work, in a pinch. Major caveat: even if you cite policy, they might not let you on this train.
  5. Play coy and try to catch the 11:00 to Southborough. (Not Suggested) Word on the street is that bikes won't be allowed on the late train. There's a canard that it will be full from Red Sox traffic from the game which starts at 1:00; I don't believe this. But they don't want a ton of bikes clogging the train and slowing it down; that's why they're running the extra. Still, it might work as an option, but I wouldn't suggest it. If you were to take it, you'd arrive at midnight, and have a tough time getting to Hopkinton by the start, although you could probably catch some stragglers. If you are going to do this, I'd suggest buying a ticket to Worcester, claiming that's your final destination, and getting off at Southborough. Unless there's no one else getting off there. Have fun biking home from Worcester. (Actually, this train turns in Worcester and runs back to South Station, so you'd get a nice, dark train ride. Fun!) Anyway, don't do this.
Whatever you do, be sure to express gratitude towards the MBCR employees—who are mostly volunteering for the event!—and the T in general. And ride safe.

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