Headed up the Shining Sea Bikeway
We are spending the holiday weekend here on the Cape and the temperatures have been in the 60's (!). Its been thrilling to take advantage of the late fall weather down here with some time on the beach and a couple of bike rides. Today I got to go on a longer ride.
It is always with some excitement that I anticipate an extended trip that promises some new terrain and unexplored roads. From my last ride I learned an important lesson that I tried to be more careful about this time around; I did not simply print out the results of the Google Maps directions, but rather I researched the route and wrote out my lefts and rights and mileage from observation, including notes as needed about possible spots to explore.
In 2009 the rail trail that extends from Woods Hole into Falmouth village was linked up with a new section that extends the route up to County Road in North Falmouth, resulting in about 10 miles of pathway. Further up the western edge of the Cape a path runs along the Cape Cod canal from Bourne up to Sandwich -- another 6 or so miles. Between the two are another 6 to 7 miles of back roads and villages. My plan was to head up through this route, have lunch in Sandwich and then come back down through the back roads inland from the coast. This was a fortuitous decision since the wind was from the south and proved a good friend on my way north and not so bad coming south away from the water.
I have some ambivalence about bike paths, but when they are speedy and unencumbered I lose that ambivalence, and for a while I've been looking forward to exploring the canal pathway. I've always been intrigued by the canal as a man-made waterway, but have only glanced at it briefly while crossing the bridge and have never seen it close-up.
The warm weather spurred me on as I traveled, enjoying the marshes, shingled houses, fall bramble and gentle terrain. My route planning proved useful as I worked up through the roads to the canal path.
I was delighted to come upon the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, which is a lift bridge allowing rail traffic access on and off the cape. My journey up the pathway took me northeast along the edge of the canal under the Bourne and Sagamore bridges before reaching the end in Sandwich. I don't know if it was the weather, a slight alteration in my mood, or what, but I've got to say there was a bit of a lonely feel to the canal path; not a lot of people, not a lot to marvel at, and just sort of an empty feel. Maybe it would feel different on a sunny day.
I'd done a little food research as well before this ride and knew I'd be stopping at the Brown Jug in Sandwich. A purveyor of fine foods, wines and provisions, it was a great place to catch a bite to eat. They have a great little outdoor terrace that had a fire pit burning away which I sat near. It was perfect for keeping the ride-cool down chills at bay. I even contemplated having a glass of wine with lunch but decided root beer was a wiser choice.
The ride back down took me along Rt. 130 along the eastern edge of Camp Edwards, a vast area of land dedicated to military uses. Rt.130 was a drag --no room, lots of cars. I managed as best I could until I reached the Mashpee town line when things improved with wider roads and even a stretch of bike path next to the roadway.
For many years I've questioned the presence of cell phones -- and now smart phones -- in our lives. I'm not certain that what we gain offsets what we are loose in other ways, and I'm still not certain how I feel about this. Regardless, Nancy recently bought an iPhone and I took it along with me on this ride. I can say with clarity that it was awesome to have as a navigational tool. At one point I pulled off onto an unmarked sand road to take a leak and then wondered where I was. I pulled out the iPhone and found out to my delight that I could continue on this back road and would come out near enough to where I was heading. Being able to enter into an unknown and frankly confusing maze of roads through the woods was really great. Later I was able to navigate my way home over back roads when it was clear that routes I'd chosen earlier were unpleasant, heavily traveled roads.
After a pleasant 60 miles I arrived home in the darkness happy for such a warm day in late November spent on two wheels.