The 126-mile Outriders ride from Boston to Provincetown is definitely one of my favorites, but I approached it with some trepidation this year, my fourth time doing the ride.
June’s weather has been absolutely terrible. Two weeks into the month—not even halfway through!—it was already the sixth rainiest June in recorded history. And there’s nothing worse than the prospect of having to spend ten or eleven hours cycling in the rain.
I was also concerned about my physical preparedness for the longest ride of the year. On June 1st I’d barely survived a scorching and miserable Tour d’Essex County (ride report), and in the intervening weeks I’d only ridden one training ride and one easy commute.
Thankfully, the weather turned out to be perfect: sunny, mid-70s, with a light tailwind.
Last year my friend Noah had joined me on the ride, and this year we convinced our friend Paul to ride for the first time. We ambled down to the Cyclorama and checked in, then moseyed out of town on a route that largely followed my commute to work in Quincy.
Along the way, I took some video footage with my new(ish) GoPro camera, which you can see here:
It was a great test of the device I’d assembled to strap it to the back of my hand, which worked surprisingly well. The only problem was that the GoPro devours batteries, and it went dead right after the first stop in Halifax. Next time: lots of spare batteries, and don’t keep the camera on standby.
After inhaling a powdered donut hole, a mini-cinnamon bun, and a handful of grapes, we were back on the road. Noah, who has suffered with back problems for more than a year, started slowing noticeably only 45 miles in, well before we reached the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod.
That put him back to about my speed tho, since I have 20 years on him, and I wanted to take it easy out of respect for the long miles and concern about my lack of training.
My legs were very tight and on the edge of cramping by the time we pulled into the rest stop in Sandwich, and the subsequent traversal of the rollers on the Route 6 Access Road was quite painful. Although I was doing better than Noah, I was deliriously happy to arrive at the 80-mile rest stop in Yarmouth.
The next segment included the long stretch on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I was afraid it would be a mob scene on a rare beautiful Saturday, but we really didn’t encounter many people. And for me, it was the ideal breather; while I had struggled on the hills, I was perfectly fine on the long, flat stretch of the rail trail.
After crossing the 100-mile mark and a long rest at the water stop at the end of the bike path, we headed off into Wellfleet. I insisted on a brief stop at White Crest Beach to see how much of the beach and the overlooking cliffs last year’s winter storms had destroyed.
The infamous hills of Wellfleet and Truro again sapped our legs, but Noah and I soldiered on together. Although the Truro rest stop is only eight miles from the finish, one’s physical condition after 116 miles means there’s never any thought given to skipping it. Well, that and the brownie bites the organizers always provide! Much better than Paul’s choice: his 9th Slim Jim of the day…
Riding along the narrow strand in Truro between Massachusetts Bay and Pilgrim Lake, the batteries on my Garmin bike computer died just two miles short of the finish line, so I don’t have a complete GPS log. Paul, whose legs (and hair!) were better all day, waited for us at the Provincetown line, and the three of us rode in to the finish together, after 9½ hours in the saddle.
I have to say, the Outriders organizers really do a fabulous job, and this ride delights every year. The food at the rest stops is better than even the largest organized charity rides. The entire route is very scenic and arrowed superbly. The water stops are spaced perfectly: few at the start, but more frequent in the later stages. The ride is a great challenge, and ends at a wonderful destination. Even the event tee shirt is usually pretty well designed. The only negative is that they don’t provide ice for the riders, which for me is a basic requirement. Next time: chip in and buy our own at a convenience store.
This year’s ride was great for several reasons. The weather was perfect. I fared much better than I did in the earlier Tour d’Essex. And I shared the ride with my buddies. This was the first time I’d seen Paul this year, and sharing his first Outriders ride was a blast.
After a change of clothes, we had dinner at Bayside Betsy’s, where it took three tries to get the BBQ sauce I requested for my burger, then some lemon sorbet, then some pizza, followed by a lot of slack-jawed sitting around and gaping at the tourists. At least we were able to keep a delirious Paul from getting a tattoo while he was in town.
After a brief stop at a convenience store for even more food, we hopped the ferry. We managed to stay awake to see the first two periods of the Bruins winning Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals before arriving home in Boston and going our separate ways.
It was a good, long, hard day, but very memorable, and shared with good friends. What more could you want?