This Ride is a Classic You Shouldn’t Miss

I’d like to let you in on a secret.
The New England Classic is the best charity ride that you probably never heard of.
What is the New England Classic? Part of the Tour de Cure series of rides, the NEC benefits the American Diabetes Association. But the NEC is not your ordinary one-day ride. It’s actually two rides in one: a two-day, 150-mile tour and a seven-day, 550-mile tour that begin this year on July 12.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am the co-chairman of the NEC organizing committee and I’ve done the ride 18 times. But don’t let an apparent conflict of interest in my recommendation get in the way of the truth. The New England Classic is the best time you can have on two wheels while doing something to improve the lives of other people – specifically the 26 million Americans with diabetes.
What makes it great is easy to C: It’s the challenge, the camaraderie, and the care you get from dedicated volunteers.
NEC badgeBoth the two-day and seven-day rides offer cyclists a taste of the variety of New England riding. Starting with an enthusiastic sendoff in Woburn, riders head north toward the Merrimack River, meandering their way into New Hampshire on a terrific route with a final destination of the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
Dorm life and dining have come a long way since I was in college. Riders stay in air-conditioned dormitories – a welcome perk in July – and the UNH dining hall serves up a great selection of delicious food.
Day 2 brings NEC riders to the Maine coast as they travel through York, Ogunquit, Wells and the picturesque village of Kennebunkport. If you’ve got a hankering for seafood, this is the day to satisfy it. The only thing more numerous than clam shacks are photo ops at places such as Nubble Light, Moody Beach and Walker’s Point.
Two-day riders end their adventure at the University of New England in Biddeford, where they can shower and have dinner before climbing aboard coach buses that bring them back to the Woburn starting line. Riders’ bicycles make the return trip after being carefully and securely loaded onto a tractor-trailer provided through the generosity of UPS.
If you’re going to ride more than 100 miles in New England, it’s a safe bet the terrain won’t remain flat for long and the first two days of the NEC have their share of hills. But Day 3 is where the real challenge begins. Day 3 takes us from Maine back into New Hampshire heading toward North Conway and the White Mountain Region (the word to keep in mind here is mountain), with an ultimate destination of the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett, N.H. The food and accommodations at this ski resort are a well-earned reward after a day of climbing.
2013 climbing CrawfordSince Day 4 begins in the White Mountains, things are looking up in the morning – way up. Heading out on Route 302, NEC riders take on the challenge of conquering Crawford Notch. This is one of the feathers in your cycling cap that makes the NEC great. After cresting the summit, you get one of the day’s many scenic views as you descend toward the Mount Washington Hotel.
The route continues on Route 302 heading toward Vermont but not before hitting one of my favorite rest stops, The Brick Store in Bath, N.H. This place is the oldest general store in America and among other offerings makes its own smoked cheeses and meats. You may not want these in your jersey pocket, but the NEC volunteers are happy to transport them for you to our Day 4 destination of Montpelier, Vt., and the cozy confines of the Capitol Plaza Hotel.
Day 5 is one of the NEC’s shortest days at about 60 miles. This is a beautiful day of riding through the river valleys of the Green Mountain State with gorgeous mountain vistas in the distance. Despite the shorter distance, you’ll still work up a healthy appetite making the climb to the ski areas of Killington, Vt., and The Summit Lodge where a hot tub and pool await.
Your reward for climbing at the end of Day 5 is an amazing downhill stretch in the first five miles of Day 6. We explore more of Vermont’s small towns and countryside with a fun stop at the Vermont Country Store in Rockingham, where you can stock up on gifts and goodies.
Our final night at the Best Western in Keene, N.H., includes a celebration of the riders and volunteers with ceremonies honoring their efforts on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. This night also highlights the camaraderie that develops among riders and volunteers after hundreds of miles on the road together.
On Day 7 you’ll ride back to Woburn like a conquering hero, riding through Southern New Hampshire and Central Mass. on the way, including a gorgeous section of Willard Brook State Forest on Route 119 in Townsend and Ashby.
The NEC is not a ride where you will feel lost in the crowd or like an outsider among veteran riders. Some riders form teams for fundraising but on the road the NEC is one big team, sometimes happily known as The Caravan of Crazies. The goal for this year is 200 riders and about a third will ride the seven-day route. You can always find someone who rides your pace but if you prefer to ride alone that’s fine, too.
The support from volunteers at rest stops and along the route is extraordinary. SAG and sweep vehicles keep track of every rider and you’ll check in at each of the well-stocked rest stops where you’ll find water, sports drinks, bananas and a variety of other snacks. Mechanical and medical support is also provided.
Whether you choose to ride the NEC for the weekend ($800 fundraising minimum) or the week ($2,600 fundraising minimum), you’ll find it a rewarding experience for you as a cyclist and for the American Diabetes Association. In short, it’s a sweet ride to help beat diabetes.
If you’ve got questions or want to register contact tour manager, Ryan Williams at or 617-482-4580 extension 3456, or check out the New England Classic Tour de Cure website.


Why I Ride To Stop Diabetes – And Why You Should, Too

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be one of two things: a superhero or a professional athlete.

One of those things was impossible and the other highly unlikely – or so I thought.

I’m not featured in a Marvel comic or movie and I never played for the Bruins or Red Sox, but that doesn’t mean my dreams did not come true.

You see, riding in the seven-day, 550-mile New England Classic Tour de Cure every July has allowed me to realize my dreams in ways I never imagined. And if you join me in riding to stop diabetes, you can have the same experience.

ride with fist upAs a cyclist I do change into tight-fitting, brightly colored clothes before I ride, but that’s not all I have in common with Superman and Batman.

The Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader are on a mission to stop villains and evildoers who would do harm to innocent people.

My mission, and that of every Tour de Cure rider, is to stop diabetes, put an end to the harm it does, and improve the lives of people living with diabetes. The populations of Metropolis or Gotham City pale in comparison to the almost 26 million Americans with diabetes who need our help.

You might be wondering what superpowers Tour de Cure riders have. Well, we have the power to ask friends, family, colleagues and neighbors to make contributions to the American Diabetes Association. Then we transform those generous contributions into educational outreach, advocacy efforts, and critical research that will ultimately stop diabetes.

If you register to ride in a Tour de Cure today, you’ll be on your way to becoming a superhero, too. You can ride one day, or join me for a weekend or weeklong tour on the New England Classic.

So what does the Tour de Cure have to do with being a professional athlete?

Well, just like pro athletes, Tour de Cure riders get to participate in a sport they love – cycling – and are rewarded for it. And that reward is priceless compared to any lucrative contract. We have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of people.

It doesn’t get any better than that. Register today and join the Tour de Cure team of superheroes.


Can you dig it? Lessons from snow shoveling

Just finished shoveling about a foot of snow from the driveway and front walk. Maybe I’m nuts but snow shoveling gives me satisfaction.

It’s a job with a clear objective. You can see what you have to do and your progress is apparent. There are no shortcuts. Measurement of your performance is literally black and white. You either see pavement beneath your feet or you see snow. When you’ve done a good job you know it and the subjective opinion of someone who didn’t do the work has no bearing on your feeling of accomplishment. When you are done you know you’ve worked hard at something and succeeded.

I wish everyone who is physically capable had to shovel their own snow. No excuses. No hiring someone else to do it. And no snowblowers. If it was up to me, no matter how wealthy or smart or privileged you might otherwise be, everyone who can would have to shovel their own snow. No unfair advantages, exemptions or loopholes. If you can shovel get to work.

It would be good for people from every walk of life to experience something bigger than they are that is out of their control and capable of dumping on them at any time. And every person would be responsible for dealing with it on their own and digging their own way out.

As for those who can’t shovel, I think every shoveler should have to spend two hours shoveling for someone else. They don’t have to know them. They just have to know they need help. The nonshovelers can do their part, too. Maybe they can make hot chocolate and cookies for the shovelers to enjoy when their work is done. Or perhaps they could watch the children of others who are out clearing sidewalks and driveways.

Simplistic? No doubt. But to me it’s simply amazing that we miss all of the good that can come from cooperating and working together to get something done without looking to assign blame or responsibility to others. When it snows it snows on all of us. When someone is hurting and needs help it should affect all of us. Less “me” and more “we” should be applied to more than shoveling snow.








Is there anybody out there? I’m still looking

A month has gone by and in that time I’ve had as many job offers as blog posts I’ve written — zero.

Soon I won’t be able to use the excuse that working at the Herald has me too busy so I might as well get down to writing. Since my last post I’ve made a major commitment to accomplish something. Getting a job is not under my control so I decided to give myself a goal that is entirely up to me to reach.

ImageI’ve registered to ride in Harpoon’s B2B ride from Bedford, Mass., to Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vt. on June 14. That’s 138 miles in one day, much of it climbing. It’s about 30 miles more than I’ve ever ridden in one day but I’ve been wanting to try this for years.

Why now? Because I need to accomplish something this year. God only knows if I’ll have a job by then. I sure hope so. But I want an objective I can aim for that is not dependent on somebody else deciding I’m worthy of it. This will be up to me and my legs and my lungs. It won’t be easy but that’s what makes it a challenge.

This will not get in the way of the job search. What it will do is give me more discipline and a routine as I start training. And I know that with training will come more energy, both mental and physical, that I can apply to my job search.

Speaking of job searching, the process is maddening. Every time I apply I feel as if I’m dropping a message in a bottle and hurling it into the sea. I know I’m not alone but the anonymity and lack of responses frustrates me. I actually appreciate it when an organization sends me an email essentially saying get lost. Any acknowledgment of the effort put into applying for a job brings some satisfaction — but the instances of that are few and far between.

I promise myself and anyone who happens to read this that I will post more frequently and on something other than my fruitless efforts at finding employment.





First things first: I need a job and I need it now

It’s been almost three months since I created this blog and I’ve written squat. Time to do something about that.

I decided to start a blog when I lost my job. No need to burden or bore you with the details but suffice it to say that I’m still pissed. However, if I intend to pursue work as a writer/editor I need to keep in practice so I might as well make my rants productive.

ImageFirst off, I just want to say that this job search thing is no fun. It’s been discouraging and demoralizing. It seems that every time I see a job description and say to myself “I can do that,” there is someone on the other end of an online application saying “No, he can’t.” Well, screw them. Their loss.

I’ve had a few interviews and true to my nature I came out of them thinking they went well. As the Amazing Carnac would say: “Wrong resume breath!” But I’ll take those disappointments in exchange for the opportunities to make a case for myself and let people see the human being who wants the job — not a series of bullet points on a resume or lines in a cover letter that could never capture who I am and what I offer. So I’ll keep lobbing my resume and cover letters over the castle wall of potential employers and hope for the best.

In the meantime, I have to say I have had some incredible luck. My old friends at the Boston Herald have welcomed me back on a temporary basis to work on the copy desk. I enjoy the work and love the people — real salt of the Earth journalists with all of the accompanying quirks. The paycheck is obviously helpful but more valuable is having people who believe I have talent. These past three months have made me doubt myself, my career choices and my chances of finding work that is rewarding personally, professionally and financially. Nights at the Herald go a long way toward restoring my confidence.

Unfortunately, my time at the Herald will likely come to an end before I get a permanent job somewhere else. And that’s why I’m thankful for what makes me really lucky — my wife, Marlene. It can’t be any fun putting up with a husband who is almost perpetually angry at his circumstances. You can’t punch circumstances in the mouth. The amount of time and effort you put into overcoming circumstances doesn’t necessarily equate with your level of success. As a result, the anger seeps out in an ornery mood that only serves to make you more frustrated and more sensitive about anything that questions your competence. But she is still here and she keeps encouraging me. For some reason she loves me and despite everything else I can be thankful for that.

Well, that’s where I stand right now. Going forward I want to start posting my thoughts on a lot of things. Some might have to do with my job search, some might have to do with something I read or hear about that I find particularly stupid or inspiring. And sometimes I’ll just put down in words the everyday observations that bounce around between my ears.