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Purgatory and Greenline Velo: the Path to Illumination

Purgatory is not so much a place as a process. Purgatory’s texture was sculpted by one of the most famous Italian poets, Dante, working off the ideology of the founders of the early Christian church. It is the second kingdom where the pilgrim wonders and the first where the human spirit has “hope” in reaching heavenly enlightenment: quel secondo regno/dove l’umano spirito si purga/e di salire al ciel diventa regno (Chiavacci Leonardi, 10). This literary ladder between heaven and hell is a mirror-image of the latter: where hell is a pit (easily “falling into sin”), purgatory is a mountain, where the sweat and physical efforts of the penitent pay off in attaining an entrance to paradise. Yet, the pilgrim’s journey through Purgatory is not solitaire: Beatrice assumes the role of guide, leading the pilgrim along the rough and burdensome cliff faces to the heavenly kingdom.

Similarly, the cyclists from Greenline Velo are on their way to redemption. A young bike team from Boston, they are facing a great challenge: organizing a new, NEBRA ranking bicycle race. They are slowly learning the necessary steps in organizing such a large event: paying the police, having the proper emergency services in place, keeping the areas clean, finding sponsoring, and more. But like our pilgrim, the going will get easier the further they climb up the mountain. The more they make their plight known, the more prayers will help them and the easier their climb will be. Of course – like our voyageur in the Italian classic – they need a helping hand, or they won’t make it up the mountain. They are missing funding to get them closer to a heavenly illumination.

Honestly. This is not literary invention.

It is no coincidence that the cyclists from Greenline Velo are organizing a bicycle race whose proceeds support an environmental cause. The National Grid finances the installation of solar panels on the Sutton Public Schools and an awareness of energy consumption with its students. Thus, any assistance they receive goes directly to finance the switch from conventional to alternative energy. Plus, it helps the riders from the club establish themselves as a viable team, and places the race on the map as one of Massachusetts’ qualifying circuit races. Anyone interested in information or donating to the project should email Kyle Butler at connection.

What’s the name of the race? The Purgatory Road Race, of course.

Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is thought to have been formed from a sudden glacial water break. The race is in part criterium, yet anyone who lives in the area and has ridden in bike races before should test their skills on the circuit. The race is June 19th, 2010, and even if you don’t bike, I suggest you take the time to watch the racers (some international) make Massachusetts cycling history. Hopefully it will find it’s place in Massachuetts’ cycling along with the Lonjo Classic and the George Street Bike Challenge for Major Taylor as one of the state’s legendary races (and if you haven’t heard about Major Taylor, I suggest you read up on him here). As we watch the pilgrim make his way up the mountain to heavenly enlightenment, we have the opportunity to witness the young riders at Greenline Velo make their way through the chasm, brightening the Sutton Schools with solar panels. So give them a hand, and help them along the road to alternative illumination.

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