The first actual sign I noticed confirming that I indeed was on the Claire Saltonstall/Route l Bikeway.
A lovely farm with spring color abounding. The owner gave me a wave
Entering the gauntlet that is Bourne Bridge
View northwards towards the bay
Yes, thank you, I think I will
Intersection of auto, rail, sea, and cycle
The Sagamore train bridge lowered for a crossing
The evening calm on the back roads. I relaxed here and enjoyed this portion of the trip a lot
On the Shining Sea Bikepath headed towards Falmouth
Pausing in the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole
The trip from Boston to the Cape is familiar as Nancy and I often travel there to visit her parents in Falmouth. So, deciding to do the trip by bike, I was curious to fill in the picture a bit by travelling through the various towns of the South Shore, an area I've mostly just cruised through on the highway.
After a little research and soliciting suggestions for routes from the New England Randonneurs email list I decided to follow the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway, or Bike Route 1, which travels from the Charles River to Provincetown. There are maps and downloadable GPS routes available. I wrote out a cue sheet with approximate mile markers.
My trip began in familiar terrain in the town of Milton, heading through the Blue Hills and down towards Randolph. Riding along Rt. 28 was not particularly pleasant, but things improved as I moved on towards Avon. Not really knowing what to expect, the journey became a mix of suburban neighborhoods, travelled roads, and the occasional side street.
A litte research reveals the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway to have been created in the 1970's and named in honor of state senator William Saltonstall's daughter, who was killed in cycling accident. Even before his daughter's death he had been an advocate for bicycling safety. And he was a Republican.
I noticed the first bikeway sign as I turned onto East High Street in Avon. Not having realized it was a marked path, I was pleased to see I'd be following an actual route. It turns out that this route was well signed when it was created, but has not been maintained in the intervening years, and my experience bore this out. I was glad to have my cue sheet and the map to clarify the route since signs appeared somewhat at random. One would not be able to navigate this trip via the signs alone.
With a few exceptions, I found the ride pleasant enough, but not particularly interesting or memorable. I guess I'm spoiled by long solitary Vermont rides and was maybe romanticizing the country lanes I might encounter along the way. Romanticism had to give way to reality; like many of the roads along the way, Long Pond Road out of Plymouth would be a nice drive in a car, but with lots of blind corners and narrow shoulders it was a bit stressful on my bike.
Arriving the the Bourne bridge was a bit puzzling. The (outdated) map indicated that one simply rode through the roundabout and then took to the sidewalk to cross the bridge. In the years since the map was created, the old roundabout has been replaced by a massive clover-leaf entrance/exit and it took a number of dead-ends for me to finally figure out the secret path was a little walkway next to the Friendlys to the left of the on ramp. It looked a little neglected and lightly used.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised: I'm comfortable in traffic and not easily spooked around cars, but crossing the bridge was not pleasant. I decided to walk my bike the distance, given the raised walkway, the speed of the vehicles, and proximity of the concentrated oncoming traffic only feet away. It was a gauntlet of sorts and it would be the rare sightseer that would casually meander up there.
My journey took a turn for the better as I bushwhacked across the train tracks and got myself onto the canal service road/bikepath. Suddenly I was free of cars and could enjoy the sea birds and riding in tandem with vessels moving against the tidal flow next to me. A heron took flight and joined me as well for what seemed like minutes.
I can never see a train without my heart racing a bit and so was happy to see the Mass Coastal chugging down the tracks on my left. This in turn led to the canal train bridge being lowered, so I got to watch the whole process close up.
From there I rode the familiar and quiet back roads to the head of the Shining Sea Bikepath and felt the best I'd felt all day, now that I could relax a bit and just move. Without having to work out directions or negotiate space with cars I was unencumbered, appreciating the power of the generator hub-powered lighting as evening came on. I find moods change periodically on longer rides and my experience certainly was levied by the quiet roads once I hit the cape.
Approaching Falmouth I calculated that were I to pedal straight to the Turner home, I'd be finishing off just shy of 90 miles for the day, so, since I felt good and didn't want to settle for a ride of "almost" 90 miles, I continued into Woods Hole, picked up a bottle of beer, and then biked back to Falmouth.