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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cape Cod Bike Trails: Upper Cape

Off the main roads:  Safe and beautiful bike trails on Upper Cape Cod

Cape Cod is known for it beautiful beaches and summer fun. Also, it is now getting to be known for its network of splendid bike trails. Many guests at our Cape Cod bed and breakfast are cyclist, ranging in skill and dedication from the causal rider needing to rent a bike locally, to the fully spandex-decked-out nut with the clamp-on shoes (not the technical term, but you know who I mean). The first type wears his baseball cape and meanders about on a sturdy set of big tired wheels from the rental shop on Jarvis street. For these guests, the short rides around Sandwich Village, or maybe as far as the Boardwalk, is often as much exercise as they want. The second type dons a Star Wars like aerodynamic helmet and lovingly unloads his very expensive, ultra light, thin tired, racing machine from his custom-made bike rack with the half dozen locks. Lance Armstrong has nothing on these guys, including the faux near florescent yellow jersey.

photo of Cape Cod Bike Path mapI am pleased to say that Cape Cod and the Islands have much to offer both of these riders, as well as the many different leveled enthusiasts in between. Oh, a third type is the off road mountain biker, who most likely did BMX racing as kid, has had a few extremity fractures in the past, and I bet a total hip replacement or two in their future. In appealing to the biggest part of the bell curve of cyclist and needs of my most common baby-boomer guests, I will cover the trials that are paved and more civilized, leaving the off-roaders to find their own Trial of Tears.

Photo of the Cape Cod Canal bike path
Cape Cod Canal Bike Path
As always, we see Sandwich as a great central location for all types of Cape Cod recreation and site seeing during any season, and our Inn as the logical and convenient place to stay. We happen to be only a mile or so from the start of one of the easiest bike paths, the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway. The man-made Cape Cod Canal was built at the turn of the last century and connected two rivers, separating the peninsula from the mainland and creating the island we have today. On either side of the canal, the Army Core of Engineers, that maintains the waterway, has built wide paved access roads. Walkers, runners, roller bladders, and non-motorized vehicles enjoy this almost flat, scenic 8-mile path right next to the water. On the Cape side of the canal, it starts next to the Sandwich Marina and runs under both the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges to the Rail Road Bridge in Buzzards Bay. The easy ride gives you time to observe the water traffic, which ranges from small fishing and pleasure boats, to three-masted tall ships, to huge ocean tankers guided by Tugs heading to Boston. After a round trip ride of up to almost 20 miles, you can enjoy refreshments at the Aqua Grille as the sun sets over the marina. I often do the sunset, even if I do not make the ride. Comfortable bikes are available for rent from Justin at Ecotourz.   

Photo of the Shining Sea Bikeway market
About 15 miles away in North Falmouth is the beginning of the Shinning Sea Bikeway that runs through Falmouth and Woods Hole. It was named for a line in the song America the Beautiful that was written by Katherine Lee Bates, a long time Falmouth resident. Like many of the paved bike trails today, this one started as an abandoned railway right-of-way and has been reclaimed, cleared and paved. Like the original rail lines, it meanders through the back woods, past small ponds and in this case along the beach on Vineyard Sound and past the Nobska Lighthouse. This mostly flat 10.7 miles path runs from County Road in North Falmouth to the Steamship Authorities’ parking lot in Woods Hole. Full service bike shops for rentals and repairs are conveniently located at the start and in Falmouth. At trail’s end, treat yourself in Woods Hole at Jan’s favorite spot for key-lime pie, the Pie in the Sky coffee shop.

These are two of our favorite bikeways on the Upper Cape that we refer our guest to for easy, scenic cycling. The Cape Cod Bike Guide web site  has more information on each of these trails including downloadable trail maps, a complete list of bike shops, and directions to parking lots at the various access points on the trails. Stay with us at our Sandwich Inn and we’ll fill you in on the other fun things to do while you enjoy the trails.

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper's Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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