WESTWOOD — The bicyclists in their matching jerseys cranked their way up Route 109, climbing past the smaller houses and low-slung businesses toward wooded properties with spacious lawns.
At the front of the pack, Mery Daniel pounded like a piston on her hand-powered bike.
“Come on, Mery!” someone shouted, and then someone else. “Come on, Mery, push! Let’s see what you got!”
Daniel is one of the most recognizable of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors, the only woman of color severely wounded, a 31-year-old Haitian immigrant and aspiring doctor who had been watching the race alone at the finish. In the terrible first months after the attack, which claimed one leg and seriously injured the other, she lay depressed and frustrated, marooned in a cinderblock hotel because she couldn’t climb the stairs of her Mattapan apartment. Now, on this early fall day, the cheers seemed to push her into a higher gear. She threw her whole upper body into each two-armed thrust of pedals, rocking in the angled seat of the recumbent bike.
Seven miles later, nearly 28 in all, Daniel climbed off to hugs and applause outside Gillette Stadium, having ridden as “a very special guest” for the first stage of a Waltham-to-Philadelphia bicycle challenge for 150 experienced riders, most of them wounded military veterans.
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