Today Hannah and I are heading south from York to the Cape for a family barbecue at the Crane’s in Falmouth, MA. Our son Will is dating the Crane’s daughter, Laurel; and her Mom and Dad have welcomed us to their home.
It is also an opportunity for two of your favorite uber-exercisers to bike the Shining Sea Bikeway trail going from North Falmouth to Woods Hole on Cape Cod. For nearly eleven miles each way, we’ll have a paved, smooth riding bike trail.
The Cape has the reputation as having one of three worst traffic hells in the world (Shanghai is #1 and London #2). Skeletons have been found in cars waiting to cross the Bourne Bridge on a Friday afternoon. I’m kidding, but traffic can back up for miles at either the Sagamore or Bourne Bridges to the Cape. As New Englanders for 30+ years, we avoid the Cape like the plague in summers and on weekends. That said, we wouldn’t miss this barbecue if it were on a Fourth of July Saturday!
With bicycles on the back of our Hyundai Elantra, we take the two plus hour drive from our home in York, Maine; still on a biking high just one week after completing the Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
The Shining Sea Bikeway was the one time-southern portion of the Plymouth and Vineyard Sound Railroad. In early 2009, the town of Falmouth completed the 10.7 mile extension of the trail northward along this abandoned rail line. The Shining Sea Bikeway was named for a line in the song America the Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates.
We drive to ample, free parking at the start of the Shining Sea Bikeway. This asphalt trail keeps us away from Falmouth streets and vehicular traffic and is ideal for bicyclists of any speed. Going from North Falmouth to Woods Hole we cross maybe 10 to 12 intersecting streets.
Amazingly at every intersection of road of the Shining Sea Bikeway, cars anticipate our arrival at the crossroads, slow down, and stop. It’s true. Even with school in session this mid-June day, the trail is pleasantly loving walkers and other bikers of all ages. It’s level and wide enough for us to ride side by side for much of the way.
I am starting to think that people on the Cape are the Canadians of the States. They are polite and courteous.
Since we are not riding on roads, we choose not to wear helmets. On a day in the sunny 70s, it’s enjoyable to ride “free.”
As a coastal ride, wind is a steady partner to our ride. Even in the early afternoon we bike into a persistent south wind; the same wind that will propel us home with much less effort.
Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail. Check out the website for parking information.
It’s a leisurely bike path with no elevation to speak of. The word is that over the 11 miles of bikeway there is a rise of 18 feet. We never feel it.
The Shining Sea Bikeway ends at Woods Hole, a quaint New England community known for its Oceanographic Institution. It lies at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod near Martha’s Vineyard. “Woods Hole” refers to a passage for ships between the Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay known for its extremely strong current.
Pushed by a coastal breeze, we sail on the ride home. The bikeway is delightfully made for vacationers and locals getting in some afternoon exercising.
We are reminded how retirement (Dan fulltime, Hannah part-time) gives us choices. We are less hurried and don’t have to squeeze in what we would like to do around jobs. Asked by our son Will if we have two mid-week days to come to the Cape, we can make it happen immediately. Go to Virginia to see our grandson Owen? We can do it when we want. We know we are very fortunate. That said, retirement is a good thing if you have your health. We are lucky to have ours. Hannah’s busted leg gave us a glimpse of getting older and being less mobile. I promise you that we’ll keep eating our fruits and vegetables.
All the beauty of the Cape is highlighted that evening.
And the sunset is pretty good, too.