Monday, July 22, 2013

Cycling in the 70s: Boston to Montreal

This is me with the same Bianchi Specialissima I have today. Note that fenders and the heavier load than I carried on the Mountain Loops - I am growing up. Note also that I was riding in jeans, I used to do that. I still have the jersey in this picture (which is wool and was very comfortable), but there is no chance I can get into it (I've tried). The bandana on my head (still no helmet) was my minor excursion into radical symbolism, a symbol that managed to upset a number of people, my future father in law included.

As best I can tell, the last major bicycle tour I rode in California was my ride to the Great Western Bike Rally in 1969. If my aging memory is to be trusted, I continued to train with the Berkeley Wheelmen in 1970 and 1971. In 1971, I moved from California to Boston to attend graduate school. Some time in 1972 or shortly thereafter, I biked from Boston to Montreal, about 350 miles, with two companions. One was a roommate and close friend, identified hereafter as "D", and the other a friend of his who I had not previously met and whose name cannot recall, identified hereafter as "Y" (because I have already used "X").

"D", my good friend and roommate.

I can't completely remember how or why this trip came together. The one part I remember was that the choice of our destination was determined by my infatuation with a young woman,  a fellow grad student, who was from Montreal and was home at the time visiting her parents. If that inspired the trip or only influenced its destination, I have no recollection.

"Y", "D"'s friend.

This trip took place in the 1970s, a decade that Grant Pederson argues was dramatically more bicycle oriented than the 1960s. As it happens, that didn't affect my perception of the tour much; as far as I was concerned, this tour might have been titled: "Mountain Loop - Eastern Edition."  That said, the impact of the 70s vs the 60s might have been that this trip happened at all. In the 1960s, I did all the riding I did because, over the years, I had assembled a circle of like-minded friends with whom to ride - the Modesto Roadmen. By the 1970s, it had become possible to put together an ad hoc group of cyclotourists from among my acquaintances.

Scenery along the way.

I wish I could remember how we selected our route (or what route we selected.) I remember going through New Hampshire for part of the ride. I don't even remember how long it took us. I can distinctly remember two campsites along the way, one rather posh one in New Hampshire, and one in Quebec which featured a disco that kept us up all night, so I assume we were on the road for at least three or four days.

Our campsite

The above picture shows one of our campsites. Unlike the Mountain Loop, we stayed in legal campgrounds at least some of the time, and we carried tents. I also remember "feasting" on Hamburger Helper, which means we brought cooking gear.

A bit of yard art encountered along the way.
In Montreal, instead of trying to camp, we stayed at a Youth Hostel. When it was time to leave Montreal, my girlfriend asked me to accompany her back to Boston in her car rather than bicycle home, and how could I say no? My companions "D" and "Y" were not ecstatic about being abandoned, but being guys, they understood about girlfriends, and they managed to bike home safely on their own. As I said earlier, "Y" was not a friend of mine (though we got along great on the ride) and I didn't stay in touch with him, but "D" did forgive me and served as my best man when I finally married this same girlfriend, so all's well that ends well.

"D" and "Y", in street clothes, standing in front of the Youth Hostel in Montreal, where we stayed. Note the CYH emblem in the window just above "Y"'s head.

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