Worcester, Mass.
September 7, 1997

Autumn gets wheels spinning

By Lynne Tolman

   Chilly nights last week were a harbinger of many cyclists' favorite season, when crisp air and brilliant foliage make biking a treat.  So today, the final bicycling column of the summer offers a look ahead at fall biking events.
   The area chapter of the Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts will have a "Safe Cycling" rally at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 20 on Worcester Common.  The featured speaker is U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, who will talk about federal transportation funding.  There will be free bike tune-ups by local bike shops, riding demonstrations and a display of unusual bikes.
   A 12-mile ride along the planned Blackstone River Bikeway to the rally starts at 8:45 a.m. by the Lake Park tennis courts on Lake Avenue, Worcester.  A one-mile "Kids Ride for Kids," with an escort by Worcester police bike patrol officers, begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Jacob Hiatt Magnet School, 772 Main St.
   For more information on the 12-mile ride and rally, call Greg Root (508-798-3438).  For the kids' ride, call Junior Achievement (508-756-2207).
   Calling all mountain bikers:  Volunteers are needed for trail maintenance work Sept. 27, Public Lands Appreciation Day, at Hodges Village Dam in Oxford and Buffumville Lake in Charlton.
   Participants can sign up to renovate trails and improve erosion control, pick up trash, install wood duck nesting boxes, build a fishing platform or a footbridge or a primitive campsite, thin pine saplings, improve a wood turtle habitat, clear a wetlands vista or plant blueberry bushes.  Contact Keith Beecher (508-248-5697).
   Cyclocross season is just around the corner, with ride-and-run-in-the-dirt races every weekend, Oct. 4 to Dec. 21, in the Spin Arts New England Cyclocross Series.  The tentative schedule includes two Massachusetts races in the National Super Cup Series, Oct. 25 at Devens and Nov. 1 in Boston.  And the New England series finale is slated for Dec. 21 in Sterling.
   For more information, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to New England Cyclocross Series, 19 Bedford Court, Concord, MA 01742.
   A cyclocross clinic covering fundamental skills, techniques and equipment will be conducted from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 27 at Devens.  Coaches are former national champions Jan Bolland, Paul Curley and Kathi Riggert, and former New England champion Tom Stevens.
   Cost is $22.  A U.S. Cycling Federation license is not required.  Mountain bikes, road bikes or 'cross bikes will do; water bottle cages, bar ends and aero bars must be removed.  For more information, call Riggert or Stevens (508-371-2791).
   BCOM's annual conference is scheduled for Oct. 18, with the theme "Improving Cycling Conditions Across Our Commonwealth -- Town by Town."  The location has not been announced.  Cost is $35, including breakfast and lunch, for the daylong meeting.  For information, contact Conrad Willeman (617-491-RIDE or
   Aforementioned former national cyclocross champion Paul Curley of Taunton, who also has won national titles in road cycling and mountain biking, will be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Seven Hills Wheelmen at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 90 Holden St., Worcester.  Admission is free.
   Curley, 41, and Susan White won the masters national mixed tandem time trial championship this summer in Tallahassee, Fla.  Curley is director of cycling programs for World TEAM Sports, which promotes athletics for people with disabilities, and has raced as a sighted tandem pilot for blind stokers.  In Worcester, he will show slides of AXA World Ride '95, an eight-month bike trip through 16 countries by disabled and able-bodied riders, and give a preview of World TEAM's Vietnam Challenge, a bike trip scheduled for January.
   Wayne Ross and Christopher "Spike" Ramsden, friends from Scituate who set out last year on a long-distance bicycle trip from the top of Alaska to the tip of South America, will give a multimedia presentation on the journey at the Nov. 3 meeting of the Seven Hills Wheelmen.
   The pair began the trip in June 1996 as a fund-raiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.  Ramsden, 32, had sailed around the world competitively but had no long-distance cycling experience.  Ross, 31, a former Air Force officer, has biked more than 80,000 miles, touring and racing all over the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
   Ramsden dipped his front wheel into the Beagle Channel off Usuaia, Argentina, on March 3, shaving seven weeks off the record time for a 15,500-mile bike trek and earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
   Meanwhile, Ross was just getting home from 17 weeks in the hospital after a catastrophic crash with a bus in Guatemala City, the halfway point of the bike trip.  His neck was broken, and now he's a quadriplegic.
   Both men decided the injury could not stop the ride.  They both picked up where the accident had left them, with Ramsden saying he was able to finish the ride because his buddy was with him all the way in spirit.  Ross expresses no bitterness that he started off trying to help people in wheelchairs and now he's one of them.
  Their presentation, titled "Two Heroes, Two Journeys," starts at 7 p.m. at Westboro High School, Route 30, Westboro.  Admission is a $10 donation to the Multiple Sclerosis and the Wayne Ross Recovery Fund.  For more information, contact Steve Blum (508-366-0818 or
   TIP OF THE HELMET --To Frank McCormack (Saturn) of Leicester, who finished the road season No. 1 in the USPRO Tour standings, with a stage win Aug. 29 at Killington and sixth place overall in that five-day race.

Lynne Tolman's bicycling column archives
Lynne Tolman's home page