Tour de Nat

Every generation has its heroes. Men and women of selfless valor, pure heart, true intention. Motivated by altruism and justice, guided by faith, these men and women are our leaders, our inspiration, and our hope for a better tomorrow.

And then there are some men who just want to prove other men wrong.

The Tour de Nat is more than a 120 mile one-man race from posh Commonwealth Ave in Boston to the rustic tip of Cape Cod. It is the melding of man and machine, one man's quest to find himself and prove that nay-saying bastard wrong. It is also a little bit retarded and entirely unnecessary.

As promised, I am narrating Nat's campaign in real-time, complete with live photo and video.

0400. Nat has slept only an hour, if at all. The excitement too strong to quell, he lies awake despite the NyQuil.

0420. Nat departs his home on bike, groggy from the NyQuil, riding down Comm Ave toward his destiny. The fate of a nation lies in his hands. Video (you can play these with RealPlayer).

0600. In the town of Pembroke, a gang of school boys surround Nat and demand a toll for riding through their suburban neighborhood. Nat, in lieu of material payment, assuages them with advice: Stay away from prunes. Video.

0630. Nat reaches Plymouth, MA. Plymouth has great historical significance to America: As the birthplace of Dean Acheson, it was the site of the Crittenden Compromise and thus the subsequent Battle of Plattsburgh. Video.

0729. Nat finds a garage sale. Always eager to make a deal, he negotiates the purchase of an antique tea set and cheetah fur-lined picture frame for a steal of a price.

Garage Sale

0735. Nat realizes he is unable to carry his newly purchased treasure on his bike. He burns the junk in a fit of rage.


0811. O'Glorious Day. Ahead of schedule, Nat reaches the Sagamore Bridge, The Gateway to Shangri La. The bridge was constructed two and a half miles from the eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal's land cut. A cantilever-type draw bridge, the Sagamore Bridge was built by socialists, the Public Works Administration, and opened to The People on 22 June 1935.


0812. Nat takes a twenty minute break. At this point, he has riden an uncountable number of miles (about sixty). He is at Cape Cod.


0820. Nat has delusions of Don Quixote.


0923. Nat reaches Lothrop Hill Cemetery, ostensibly named after the famed American historian, John Lothrop Motley. Nat reflects on his journey. When I left Boston, I was but a boy. What art thou now?


1014. Nat calls me, the brutal wind of The Cape so strong I can barely make out his gasps. Over my breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, caviar, truffles, brotchen, and cheese--oh, and mimosas--I scribble down his coordinates: N 41.75108 W 70.10127. He is halfway up The Cape, just outside of Brewster. Joey curses at the news; he can already taste the crow. Video.

1029. On the phone, I ask Nat for a picture of his noble steed. He sends it posthaste.


1139. No one has heard from Nat in over an hour. Joey and I begin to wonder what he left us in his will.

1159. I call off the search squad as Nat restores contact with a brief SMS: just hit 100 miles. dangerously hot. I need a peloton.

1201. Joey decides to up the ante:

Joey Shaw: you misspelled "Cod"
Robert Love: dude, he is going to make it. admit defeat.
Joey Shaw: i bet that he can't ride back in time for the parties
Joey Shaw: it can't be done
Robert Love: he is taking the ferry back.
Joey Shaw: like a pussy
Joey Shaw: let me text him an updated challenge
Robert Love: "no hands"

1205. Nat declines Joey's updated challenge, citing the debilitating heat.

1209. Nat phones in fresh coordinates: N 41.93484 W 70.02139. Within miles of his ultimate destination, his eyes are on the prize: Provincetown is famous for its dark chocolate fudge.


1240. I boil water for my second pot of tea as I read yesterday's Economist on a lazy Saturday. I decline my usual afternoon foot massage, unsure of what message that will send to our little trooper.

1312. Another hour passes, devoid of contact. Fredrik concocts a scheme wherein we bribe the ferry company into denying Nat passage, forcing a return trip by bike.

1314. Weary, I send Nat an SMS, Where are you?

1345. Irresolute, Status?


1349. By the Grace of God, a message from the belly of the beast: Arrived in P-Town at 1:20. He made it!

1400. With his phone's reception poor, Nat borrows the telephone of a vacationer. His final coordinates: N 42.05229 W 70.18660. Total miles biked: 116. Boarding the ferry soon, Nat expects to be back in Boston before 1700.

And so ends the story of a man who braved physical handicap and perilous weather to bike a route all too many find too far even to drive. Today, Nat challenged our assumptions between right and wrong, up and down, east and west. While I suspect we will walk away from this tumultuous ordeal with the impetus to inspire the uninspired, ideally the real impact of Nat's munificent pilgrimage is unique to each of us, touching our hearts in a way that only we can appreciate or even understand.

One word sums up this adventure: Courage.