My poor bike has felt neglected this summer. The long cold rains of June were tough on me, but my bicycle, left to stoically rust outside, felt the brunt of it. Every rainy day, I would look at the delicate cobwebs forming on my bike’s handlebars, and sigh, wishing for the sunny side of life to reveal itself. And here it is! The weather, as if to make up for its bad behavior last month, has turned glorious. So, my bike and I decided to celebrate the warm summer day by thoroughly investigating the newly expanded Shining Sea Bikeway, which stretches from North Falmouth all the way down to the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole. It’s a 10.7 mile long, two-lane, biker’s paradise that takes its riders through some of the best landscapes the Cape has to offer. With its gorgeous scenery, flat, easily accessible bike path, and ample public parking lots, a ride on the Shining Sea Bikeway should be the number one priority destination for everyone who wants to bike, walk, jog, or Rollerblade in a safe and picturesque environment.
The Shining Sea Bikeway (named in honor of the professor, poet, and Falmouth resident Katharine Lee Bates (1859 – 1929) who wrote the words to “America the Beautiful“) has been around since 1976, but it just got much better when 7 miles of additional trail were officially opened on July 2, 2009. The bikeway follows the path of an old railroad, and the railroad was laid over what were once Wampanoag Indian trails. So, the route of this new bike path has a long history.
I started my trip in Wood’s Hole, where the charmless bike ride through the Steamship Authority parking is quickly replaced by incredible views of Vineyard Sound. I then biked past Oyster Pond, where I stopped to watch a family of Ospreys come and go from their enormous nest. Then on from there, I went through Little and Great Sippiwissett Marshes, by another pond, past woodlands, and through an old cranberry bog. I spied red-wing black birds, cottontail bunnies, and one giant hare, along with a bikers, young and old, rollerbladers, people taking a casual stroll, and some others walking their dogs.
The bikeway’s pavement is incredibly smooth and it is almost totally flat, making it an easy ride all the way through. There are a few places along the trail where a biker must stop for oncoming traffic, but this too posed little bother or risk. Mostly it was just glorious riding. So glorious, in fact, that I quickly biked the 10.7 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. But, alas, when I turned around to head home, I realized that part of the ease of my trip was because the wind was at my back. So, my journey back to Woods Hole was not quite as swift, but it was just as delightful.
After my 22 mile bike ride I was ready to relax and refuel, so I headed to Pie in the Sky Bakery in Woods Hole, which has got to be one of my favorite places on the Cape. Everything at the bakery is homemade and delicious and the cafe also acts as a rather informal gallery for local artists and ceramicists. So, a trip there feeds two of my most acute obsessions: sweets and pottery. My favorites things are the bread pudding, the ham and cheese croissant (their croissants about as French as Freedom Fries, but totally hearty and yummy), and the blueberry pie. It is also a great place to grab lunch before getting on the ferry or hitting the bike path.
So, to all those stern-faced power walkers, and fancily-suited bikers that I see on the summer streets of Cape Cod, I have one piece of advice: Hit the Cape’s vast array of exquisite bike paths. We are so very lucky to have them and they sure beat biking on our rather narrow, terribly busy main roads. Enjoy!