Taking the hard way across the country (off-road by bike) to raise money
If you were going to bicycle from the West Coast to Boston, you’d pick the flattest, smoothest, shortest route possible, right?
Wrong. At least not if you’re Cris Rothfuss.
She’s executive director of Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and she’s organizing an unusually grueling charity fund-raiser.
Called the REAL Ride, it’s a 5,000-mile off-road cycling event — the course will mostly be dirt roads, trails, country lanes, forest tracks, and wooded paths — that will begin this summer in Seattle and end in Boston three months later.
Proceeds will benefit the Boston Day and Evening Academy, a Roxbury high school for young adults who drop out of the traditional system.
“Many people ride across the country on pavement, but we’re going to do it in an alternative way that will challenge ourselves like these students are challenged,” said Rothfuss. “These kids are off-track in the sense that they’ve wandered from a traditional educational path, but they’re making their way to a diploma, and their route is rigorous.”
The riding team will be small (probably only five members), in part because taking three months off work isn’t an option for most people. But some “guest riders” may join for shorter stretches.
So far, in addition to Rothfuss, the core riders are:
Erin Abrahams, a veterinarian at MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center; Dan St. Croix, an Urban Outfitters visual display artist; Perri Mertens, an OYO Sports digital marketing manager; and Jay Vasconcellos, owner of Solstice Skateboarding in New Bedford.
The team currently has six corporate sponsors: the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, bike builder Seven Cycles, employment website Monster.com, roadside assistance company Better World Club, data analytics firm Location, Inc., and placement agency New England Legal Search.
The ride will begin Aug. 1, with stops along the way in Denver, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia.
The bus to D.C. was a must
Some flew and some took the train, but the only option for Foley Hoag partner Julia Huston was an overnight bus from Newton to attend the Women’s March in Washington.
By the time Huston decided she wanted to participate, planes and trains were sold out. So she hopped the bus at 11 p.m. on Friday and arrived in Washington around 7 a.m.; on the return, she left at 8 p.m. and came back at 6 a.m. Sunday.
“I don’t regret it,” Huston wrote in an e-mail.
“There is something very special about taking a bus to a protest march. I was surrounded by like-minded people, and it was amazing to be part of a huge procession of buses in and out of DC.”
As expected, traffic was terrible in D.C., but Huston called it “inspiring” because it “added to the feeling that we were participating in a massive movement — something much bigger than ourselves.”
Other prominent Bostonians who marched in Washington included developer and gun control advocate John Rosenthal, C Space chairwoman Diane Hessan, and former state consumer affairs czar and health care consultant Barbara Anthony.
While many Massachusetts politicians were at the Boston Women’s March, some attended the Washington gathering, including state Senator Jamie Eldridge and three members of Congress: Katherine Clark, Seth Moulton, and Jim McGovern.
A speakeasy with games
If part of the fun of cooking is coming up with new flavor combinations, two Boston-area restaurants are taking the idea a bit further this week as they open a shared space in Cambridge.
The new spot, Roxy’s/A4cade, is a collaboration between Area Four pizza purveyor Michael Krupp and James DiSabatino, of the Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food trucks and restaurants.
The 4,200-square-foot space, located at 300 Massachusetts Ave, will look like a sandwich palace from the street. But duck through the kitchen doors and you’ll find yourself in a speakeasy outfitted with arcade games, Skeeball, and Pop-A-Shot hoops.
“We’re not an arcade with booze, we’re a cocktail bar that has games,” Krupp says.
The joint restaurant is a 50/50 ownership split between the restaurateurs, who have been friends for several years.
Krupp first picked DiSabatino’s brain before launching Area Four, thinking it might be a good food truck. He eventually went the restaurant route (he has outposts in Boston and Cambridge), while DiSabatino has expanded with three brick-and-mortar eateries.
They’re hopeful about what their partnership could become.
“Not since Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell merged have people been so excited,” Krupp jokes. “James and I both hope that this is the first of many.”
Skillsoft lands in Boston
General Electric moved to Boston as part of its CEO’s plan to reinvent the company. Now, a smaller software firm is doing the same thing, for the same reason.
Skillsoft’s Boston workforce will be a fraction of GE’s. But the 12,500-square-foot office at 10 Post Office Square shows another vote of confidence in Boston’s economy.
The company isn’t calling this its headquarters; that honor stays with Dublin. But Skillsoft chief executive Bill Donoghue works in Boston instead of Nashua, where the US operations have been based. Also in Boston now: new chief technology officer Apratim Purakayastha.
Skillsoft, which employs about 2,300 worldwide, makes educational software for corporate clients. It’s releasing a “learning platform” called Percipio that exemplifies its effort to reinvent itself for a younger workforce. Among other things, the software provides thousands of short videos for a generation with a shorter attention span.
Purakayastha says about 30 people work in Boston now, and as many as 75 people will be there by year’s end. Skillsoft came to Boston for the same reasons other companies do: access to computing talent and proximity to customers. “We are growing as a company,” he says, “and we need to hire new kinds of talent.”