For the past few years, I’ve decided to skip the walking tour and see the city by bike. Given that I often trip over my feet walking straight, a bike tour is always fraught with potential danger (for me at least) – there are pedestrians, motor vehicles, curbs, trolley tracks and so many other potential landmines but danger aside, it is quite thrilling to see the town by bike (plus you burn off some vacation calories). For my Boston visit, i would book the Saturday (less traffic) morning bike tour with UrbanAdventTours. The Boston bike tour (City View) costs $50 and is easy to book online.
The three-hour City View tour felt like a good introduction to the Boston highlights. The group consisted of me, an Austrian couple, Dutch work colleagues, a couple from Texas and a guy from New Jersey.
Our bikes were adjusted to fit and we were given helmets, a pack for storage and a bottle of water for the ride. Our lead guide, Charles explained a bit of the history of Boston as well as providing us the rules for our ride (follow the guide, stay in the bike lanes, use hand signals, etc.). We had a guide in back so that no man/woman was left behind.
Five minutes into our ride through the North End (which felt a bit surreal in a Disney kind of way with the small storefronts and streets – I felt like Lady and the Tramp might be hiding in a corner sharing their spaghetti), one woman flipped over her bike and into the street. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt and we continued onward (she hit the wrong brake – something I constantly remind myself not to do). Our first stop was in an area overlooking the water (with the USS Constitution in the distance) to learn the history of the North End neighborhood.
Continuing toward the TD Garden Arena, we stopped to look at the Bunker Hill bridge and an older bridge nearby, learn about the “big dig” and hear how the development of the area has changed the city.
Our next stop would require a bit more of a huff/puff hill, my legs were definitely feeling a bit of a burn as i tried my best not to look foolish (I was not going to walk my bike up the hill). Many people passed me but i eventually made it up Beacon Hill and was happy that the explanation was long enough for me to catch my breath/drink some water. The lovely brick row houses reminded me of Philadelphia’s Society Hill area – expensive, historic and exclusive.
What goes up must come down so I slowing made my way to the back of the group to gingerly brake in order to avoid the speed and potential calamity of the downhill ride. With a red light ahead, it was imperative that I brake accordingly and not do as the woman did earlier and fall off the bike. Normal people would enjoy this part of the tour, the wind through your helmet (hair), the freeing feeling of the speed of the bike, etc and then there is me – trying to navigate and over think the simplest of tasks.
We entered a bit of traffic and eased into the bike lane (the city has a good number of bike lanes which is fantastic when on a bike tour especially, if you worry about the car drivers). Our next stop was another bit of a hill as we rode toward Fenway, home of the Green Monster and the Red Sox.
Continuing onward, we rode in the park (more of the city’s greenery) toward the river. It was such a fantastic day for September, everyone was out enjoying the park and the water. We had a great view of the Charles River as well as Cambridge, home to Harvard and M.I.T.
Biking through the park, we would pass what the Dutch man called “Muscle Beach like Venice” a collection of outdoor gym equipment being used by the rowing team and local students. We would pass students making a film and other students laying out in a last-ditch effort to get the final tan of the year. It was just a spectacular day to be outside – biking, jogging, running, sailing, relaxing or doing anything that ends in “ing”.
We would then make our way to the Rose Kennedy Greenway park, Christian Science Church and Copley Square before riding back to the waterfront where we started.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to ride around the city. The Boston bike tour was a great way to spend a few hours exploring the neighborhoods that make up the heart and soul of the city.