On the morning of last year’s Boston Marathon, Greg Hum woke up happy. The night before he and more than a thousand other bicyclists finished the most successful Midnight Marathon Bike Ride since the event launched in 2009. Hum’s high quickly plummeted after receiving news of the Marathon bombings, but he remained sure that continuing the tradition of the midnight ride would be important for the community.
Despite challenges in the planning, the ride will happen this year. On Sunday night into the wee hours of Monday morning, cyclists will gather to bike the Marathon route. It’s not a race, or a paid event, but rather a grassroots effort powered by community members.
James Cobalt, director of BostonSOS.org, is in his fourth year of helping organize the ride. “The event has grown organically and virally,” he said. “Every year different people step forward and volunteer to organize different aspects of the tradition.”
The ride started when Hum, an avid bicyclist, decided to apply his Boston spirit to an endeavor he could actually accomplish. “He knew running the marathon was probably not doable for him,” said Cobalt, “but biking it definitely would be.” In 2009, Hum enlisted some friends to join him. Word spread on social media, and the group grew to 50 people. The second year about 70 participated. Numbers increased significantly in subsequent years, to the more than 1,000 that participated last year.
“Last year’s ride was—I guess magical is how you could describe it,” said Cobalt. This year, there are changes. From a practical standpoint, the ride won’t have a designated communter rail train for transport of bikes and riders as it has in the past. According to Cobalt, “There’s still a train, but it’s not ‘our’ train. We’re not bringing our bikes on board; we’re shipping them in trucks to the start.”
In addition to the logistical changes, the emotional tenor of the ride has transformed. If anything, the spirit of community strength and support is stronger. According to an open letter by Hum, he’s heard from more strangers than ever letting him know they intend to participate.
So on Marathon eve, they gather with their bikes, their support for the Marathon, and their Boston pride. And they ride.
The Midnight Marathon leaves from the Southborough Station parking lot. From 1-4:30 a.m., Boston Common Coffee hosts a post-ride pancake breakfast. Limited tickets avaiable. Info on the ride and the breafast here.