Ever find yourself looking for an enjoyable, none too taxing bike ride along the water in a bucolic setting? No cars to look out for? Paved trail for easy pedaling? I thought so. Do we have a 13 mile round trip (or less if you choose) bikeway for you!
Drive south of Boston, take route 24 to I-495 south; exit onto route 25, which in turn takes you over the Bourne Bridge on to the Cape.
Now take note. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right and make your first right down Veterans Drive. If you have gone to the Cape Side Convenience Store, you’ve gone too far. At the bottom of the hill, turn right and .2 of a mile later turn left into the Bourne Recreation Area.
Head right to the canal where you will find parking for 30 cars that is available and free. (In the town of Falmouth, parking can be $20 per day for beach going.)
And voila. You are on Cape Cod Canal Bikeway.
At this point you have five miles of paved trail to your right heading to Sandwich, MA on the southern Cape side of the canal.
You’ll likely see sailboats motoring through the man-made strait which connects Cape Cod Bay in the north to Buzzards Bay in the south. The boats traveling the canal save 135 miles by not going around Cape Cod. A swift running Canal current changes direction every six hours. Opened in 1914, the Canal was first considered by Miles Standish of the Plymouth Colony in 1623.
A ten foot wide bikeway gives you plenty of room to ride side by side with no elevation gain to speak of. On this pre-summer season afternoon, we saw many couples walking and riding this trail.
Pedaling east we bike into a heavy headwind. Again wind and the coast go hand in hand. Across the river appears to be a companion trail just as accessible and easy to ride as ours.
Once under the Sagamore Bridge, pedal for another mile or so to a park in Sandwich, MA. Today, many cars are parked there and people use it as a starting point for biking, too.
A mom and her three to four year old son, who both seem a little tentative, stand outside the men’s restroom. I walk over and offer to watch the door if she would like to go in the men’s room with him. She smiles, thanks me, and says, He definitely wants to do this on his own. When I slow down away from home, it’s interesting what I notice.
There we have lunch. I am again reminded of the low maintenance woman that Hannah is. Lunch is peanut butter and cheese on Ritz crackers and apple slices. And we both love it. We are not into the fuss and expense of going to a restaurant in the midst of a ride. Just find Hannah some sun, and lunchtime is sweet.
The ride home is pure joy as the east wind pushes us and makes pedaling easy. Hannah’s bell is helpful signaling to walkers and other bikers that we are passing. You may see a passing barge as we did.
Once back to the starting point we have completed ten of the 13 miles of this round trip bike ride. Heading on towards the railroad bridge, we learn that this bridge is infrequently used; and when it is, it is for trash pickup during the week and for commuters on the weekend.
In the distance are wind turbines at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Controversy follows this seemingly perfect energy source.
Noise appears to be the major point of contention. On the south side of the Canal, Falmouth has two 400 foot-tall wind turbines at the town’s waste treatment facility and, unfortunately, it’s near homes.
Though it considered spending $25 million to take them down, voters recently decided to keep them by a 2 to 1 margin, despite complaints from about 40 households of headaches, vertigo (dizziness), and problems sleeping.
On this summery day, the darkening skies from gray to black clouds suggest an afternoon thunderstorm. Turning around at the railroad bridge, we have a mere 1.5 miles back to the parking area.
This leisurely ride can be done by one and all in under two hours with time to appreciate the joy of just being away.