April 2001
To the members and friends of Boston Road Club,

Bicycling has been my hobby since about 1975. When I moved to Boston in 1980, I started asking around about local bike clubs, in order to make some new friends to ride with. Some people mentioned the Boston Road Club in Newton. From what I heard, however, I wanted no part of it. It was a racing club and I just wanted to ride. To my mind,  racing was dangerous and filled with crazed people.

I avoided the BRC for about a year, but finally got intrigued and decide to give it a try. I went out to Wells Ave in the summer of 1981. I rode in the C race and made it about 5 laps. I stopped on the back stretch (now the home stretch) and crawled into the bushes fighting for air. I had never felt so horrible in my life. But I was hooked. I went back a couple other times that summer, and each race felt a little better.

During the winter of 1982 I trained regularly and I raced quite a few times that summer. Toward the end of the summer, I won the C race a couple times. I trained even harder the next winter and started 1983 in the A pack. My pre-season training was so good Chris DeHahn and I lapped the field in the first race of the year. (I'd love to hear from Chris if anyone knows where he is...) It was a great feeling, since I had started the previous year at the back of the C pack. That summer I placed in the top 5 of the A race many times and took 3rd spot in the club championship criterium in October. My form continued during all of 1984 with good results in many more A races. On the best days, I was in "the zone". I seemed to be barely breathing while riding near the front, and at the half-way point of the race felt that I had just woken up from a refreshing nap. Laps disappeared in chunks.

Beginning in 1985, my involvement with bike racing and BRC declined. I had a knee injury that stopped my training for 6 months or more. I also participated in several triathlons, which were a great deal of fun. Most significantly, however, I met the woman whom I would marry and began spending much of my time with her.

I did not get on a bike for about 10 years after that. I was happy to trade it for time with my wife and two wonderful children. I also started a business, which took a lot of energy. A couple years ago, I dusted off one of my bikes and began riding again. It has been fun to reacquaint myself with how much I enjoy riding.

So, those are the facts. I want say what they meant to me however...

When I was growing up I had fairly bad asthma. I played sports, but was not good at them. Endurance sports were out of the question. To do well at a difficult endurance and strength sport, such as bike racing, was beyond my imagination as a kid. I succeeded at bike racing when I was 30 years old. Every time I road easily at high speed around the Wells Ave course I was amazed, even after I had done so many times. To beat people who were obviously good athletes boggled my mind. I had never conceived I could do something like that. 

Going to Wells Ave every Sunday was like a second childhood for me. The sun was always shining (or so it seems now), the other racers were always friendly (or so it seems), and I felt great physically and mentally afterwards. I loved lying in the sun on the grassy lawns watching other races before or after mine. I made many good friends, and loved the egalitarian nature of bike racing. I was equally friendly with kids in high school, college students, doctors and truck drivers. It was a wonderful world.

Bike racing also helped me through a difficult time. My father, whom I was very close to, died in 1978. I missed him very much for many years after that. When I went to Wells Ave, everything was OK. It was a break from any problems or sadness I had. I was doing well at something I never dreamed of excelling at. I made good friends. We had fun. I lay in the sun. It was a great experience.

Chuck Connell
Bedford, MA