While driving out of downtown makes for the prettiest, most traffic-free rides, it adds to the overall time needed and sometimes I just have a few hours to get a ride in. After several variations, this has become one of my go-to routes if I only have a couple hours free.
The ride leaves from downtown Boston and heads out Beacon Street past BU and BC into Newton Center. This initial section is flat and full of traffic lights. There is a bike lane the whole way, so not too much fighting with cars. Once you get through Newton the ride opens up a bit heading down Central Ave. The nicest bit, however, is once you turn onto South Street in Needham which is tree lined and winding with small rollers. Always see lots of other cyclists through this section, which I always wish were longer. The return takes you back through the southern end of Newton and down the Goddard Hill descent to Jamaica pond. Finally returning to downtown via Jamaica Plain and the Southwest corridor bike path.
No huge hills, and it often seems like a lot of riding in traffic to get to a relatively short section of nice road. But, this is definitely doable if I have a late start at work or happen to get out early enough to get a quick ride in before dark.