Nosy Crow Inc. president John Mendelson could not resist the combination of Independent Bookstore Day, the North of Boston Book Trail Passport Challenge, and weekend cycling. On April 27 and 28, the intrepid bibliophile rode 150 miles around northeastern Massachusetts, collecting stamps in his IBD passport, doing a little Nosy Crow PR, and getting plenty of exercise along the way.

A few weeks ahead of IBD, Mendelson learned about the first annual North of Boston Book Trail from Nosy Crow publishing assistant Sofie Jones. “I love the logistics of travel and trips and adventures,” he said. “Once I saw the map of the stores, I thought, ‘Oh, I can do this, and I think people will respond,’ and they sure have.” He plugged the 16 bookstores’ addresses into the bike route planner Ride with GPS and created a template for a two-day cycling loop, starting and ending at the Nosy Crow offices in Lincoln, Mass.

Mendelson set off on Saturday morning with a plan to visit 11 stores that day and five more on Sunday. His first stop was the Maxima Book Center in Lexington. “I got there minutes after they opened, and the store was already packed with people who had gotten their passport,” he said. North of Boston Book Trail participants handed out 1,200 passport booklets, created by the Connecticut-based stationery company Wildly Enough.

Next up on Mendelson’s tour was Book Ends in Winchester, followed by Whitelam Books in Reading, whose owner Liz Whitelam conceived of the book trail with help from some neighbors to the south. "Our good friends on the Connecticut Book Trail, especially Meghan Hayden of River Bend Bookshops in Glastonbury and West Hartford, provided particular inspiration and guidance" as the Massachusetts event came together, Whitelam said. The effort paid off, because "not only was it our best IBD, it was our best sales day in the history of the store. Our number at the end of Saturday comfortably surpassed our busiest December holiday number." She added that "bookstore customers love to feel like they’re getting an inside scoop on the book business, so learning about a children’s publishing company within biking distance was very compelling to a lot of Book Trail participants."

On his stop at Molly’s Bookstore in Melrose, Mendelson met up with Nosy Crow editor Allison Hunter Hill, who pointed out that his pink bike helmet—highly visible for safety—coincidentally matched the bike helmet worn by Bert the bear in the Nosy Crow picture book Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike. Nosy Crow associate marketing manager Avery Cook had arranged sponsored giveaways at several stops along the trail, and Mendelson was pleased that his attire matched author Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ character.

After stops in Gloucester for Dogtown Bookshop and the Bookstore of Gloucester, Mendelson headed to Ipswich to stay overnight at his sister’s house. The next morning, he refueled at the Sandpiper Bakery and “had about a 20-mile ride" to the Andover Bookstore in Andover—founded in 1809 and “the oldest continually operated independent bookstore in the country”—followed by a three-mile jaunt to the Purple Couch in North Andover, which opened last October. “I did the oldest bookstore and one of the newest, back to back,” Mendelson said.

After traveling more than 60 miles on Sunday, Mendelson rolled up to the Concord Bookshop, just four miles from his finish line in Lincoln. In honor of his achievement, Concord Bookshop owner Dawn Rennert presented him with a surprise proclamation, rolled up with a gold ribbon, declaring April 28 to be “gratitude for the team at Nosy Crow Day,” Mendelson said. “I was tired and hot by the end, and yet I’d go into each store and derive so much energy from the staff. The stores were so excited that we would do something so ridiculous to call attention to Independent Bookstore Day.” Of the official proclamation, he said, “We’ll frame this for the office.”

The route “took me on a lot of amazing rail trails, some that I’d been on before, some that were brand new, and that was part of the fun,” Mendelson said. Being on the bike also gave him time to ponder other ideas, including a libraries-by-bike tour or a cycling fundraiser for the freedom to read.

And there’s always next year’s IBD. “With a little more advance planning, I bet people would come along” on the North of Boston ride, he said. There are plenty of other bookstores in New England as well. “I was talking to the Wildly Enough folks, and I said, ‘How many stores are on the Connecticut Book Trail?’ They said, ‘Don’t even think about trying to ride that. There are 21 stores and it’s eight-and-a-half hours of driving.’ But I like a good challenge, so you never know.”