Does being in a gym nowadays give your nerves more of a workout than your muscles?
Skip the Nautilus machines and treadmills. If you live in Boston and bike, there are scads of outdoor options that’ll pump up your heart and clear out your head.
One top of the Hub spot for such a trek is Telegraph Hill in Southie, the sole remaining hill of Dorchester Heights, which played the starring role in kicking the Brits out of Boston in 1776 (yes, as with so many things Boston, you’ll get a sprinkling of history along with your sweat).
The best workout heading up the hill is the long steady climb of Sixth Street. At the top, veer to the right of old South Boston High and onto Thomas Park, a semicircle around the hill. Lock your bike at Thomas and Old Harbor Street and climb the 55 stairs to a National Park Service site atop the hill.
A brisk walk around the park is quick — it’s only a smidge over five acres. But there’s plenty of space for stretches, pushups, and crunches, and, with some imagination, plyometrics.
Unfortunately, the stairwell up the 115-foot white marble tower commemorating that 1776 victory, General George Washington’s first, has long been closed. And the Park Service is overdue for repairs on several sections of stairs and sidewalks.
Social distancing is presently not an issue. At high noon on sunny Wednesday, dogs outnumbered folks five to four, with one person lying on a towel and soaking up the sun.
What you’ll also soak up is one of the best panoramic views south of Boston. To the north is the city’s skyline, to the west, upper Roxbury, and the south offers fingers from Dorchester Bay, the urban beauty of Corita Kent’s gas tank, and the Blue Hills.
If you need any more inspiration to keep the sweat flowing, then soak up the history of this spot as well. It’s one of the most remarkable stories of the Revolution: In the dead of winter, a group of Patriots sledded 60 tons of cannons and other armaments 300 miles from Fort Ticonderoga through dense wilderness and Berkshire mountains. They were led by a most improbable commander still awaiting his commission: Henry Knox, a portly Bostonian bookstore owner who had little military experience but became a genius in artillery and logistics from poring over military history books.
Hop back on your saddle, follow Thomas Park, and turn right on G Street, which becomes one of the most exhilarating rides in Boston. It feels like a 45 degree incline when ripping down it, although it’s more like 20 or so.
If it’s high tide, end your workout with a dip at the beach at G street.
Michael Bailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org