Pell O., an Urban AdvenTours guide, is well-known for his extensive Boston knowledge, tall family and cheerful demeanor!
Q: How long have you been riding in Boston?
A: I’ve been a biking commuter in Boston since the spring of 1970 — 42 years!
Q: What type of bike do you ride?
A: I ride a fabulous Specialized Globe, frame size 61, with a mere eight gears, and an internal hub — great for rough winter weather.
My second ride is an ancient, faithful Motobécane 24-speed touring bike (from 1969?) with dropped handlebars and frame-mounted lever shifters, which I use only for country road riding, when I have the chance.
Q: How long have you been working with UA?
A: I have been working at UA “for a number of seasons” (since the early spring of 2010).
Q: Any especially fond memories?
A: An especially fond memory is a ride with legendary UA Tour Guide Garrett Lynch. We led a 35-person tour of Montréal police officers through South Boston, in the early spring rain. They enjoyed stopping occasionally on the Pleasure Bay causeway for Gaulois cigarette breaks. It would be hard to exaggerate the intensity of smell these cigarettes produced in the Pleasure Bay mist, or the pleasure with which the Canadiens, soaked to the skin, yet uncomplaining, puffed on their Gauloises and gazed across the Bay at the Kennedy Library…
Q: What’s your favorite ride in Boston?
A: My favorite Boston ride is the Emerald Necklace tour. When we time it right, we give riders an unparalleled overview of the topology and history of Boston in a short (3½ hour) span.
Q: How often do you ride and to where?
A: I commute from my house in Charlestown to classes I teach at MIT and in the Boston Public Schools. My most regular ride is actually down to the South Boston Postal Annex (the main post office for all of New England), which is a delight to visit. It is a model of functionality in an otherwise hapless system.
Q: What is your ‘day job’?
A: I direct LineStorm animation programs in high schools and colleges. These programs, which I designed and developed, use hand-drawn animation as a vehicle for teaching and learning in a wide variety of educational settings.
Q: Best advice for beginning city cyclists?
A: My best piece of advice is — learn to wait a lot. Nearly all altercations between automobiles and cyclists are a result of haste — someone’s in a wicked hurry. So, just wait a moment until traffic moves out of the way. There will always be a quiet beak, sooner or later, into which a cyclist can insert him or herself. Nine times out of ten the city cyclist will still end up way ahead of the city motorist.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: Yes — a second piece of advice: be constantly aware and vigilant. Exercise your peripheral vision and peripheral hearing. Nowadays, well over half the drivers I encounter are totally inattentive to cyclists; they’re distracted by cell phones and other handheld devices, and they have no time for (or patience with) people on bikes. So, be constantly aware and vigilant — and enjoy the ride!