Traveling on our 34th anniversary we arrived in Rhode Island to be part of Sheila’s 50th class reunion. Our plan was to ride to Cape Cod after the reunion and lots of visiting with Brenda (Sheila’s Mom). We stayed at the home Sheila & Ric grew up in and where Ric raised his 3 daughters.
We’d found some routes that looked good online. But when we got there Ric told us he didn’t know of any way to get off Aquidneck Island without needing an ambulance. The only roads off were too busy and without shoulders. Hmmm. Using the 4 days before our departure, Sheila found a Cape Cod local tandemist and got advice on getting around the Cape. Spencer talked with the LBS (local bike store) about safe ways off island. So we figured we were set. Once Spencer rebuilt the bike we took it on a shake-down cruise around The Ocean Drive and a stop on Cliff Walk at Easton’s Beach. Note click on any image to see it enlarged.
September 11 – 67 miles – Newport to Sandwich
We had our first flat, a rear, in the driveway just after a neighbor took this photo! Getting off the island wasn’t too bad with the intel we’d gathered. We had a second flat about an hour later outside of Tiverton. We pulled into someone’s driveway to fix it and out of nowhere an angel in a car stopped and said she’d seen us earlier and had a floor pump in her trunk! So much easier than the on-bike pump. The rest of the week thankfully remained flat-free. The day’s route was lots of winding back roads, with only a half mile on the VERY busy and narrow Route 6!
After a lunch stop in a small town we headed for New Bedford but abruptly came to a “no bikes” sign right at bridge entry. After calling another LBS we ignored it and safely crossed the bridge. Out on backroads again we even found the dirt road Google forced us on to be lovely. Eventually we had another dicey ride across the Bourne Bridge. Photo to right is us resting near the top of the bridge. We’re 135 feet over the Cape Cod Canal on a narrow sidewalk with 50mph traffic nearby. We clung to the sidewalk and were rewarded with a 5 mile ride along the Cape Cod canal. It’s apparently “normal” in the northeast to have few or no street signs. Even when they exist they are confusing. But we eventually managed to find our hotel in Sandwich which was luckily directly opposite a mall with a Stop n Shop. We were able to buy appropriate nutrition and heat it in our room’s microwave.
September 12 – 53 miles – Sandwich to Eastham
Today we had great weather and the promise of a guide. After 6 mostly uphill miles, we connected with Maggie on her single. She guided us to and through Hyannis Port. We stopped for a snack, then we had more twisty riding along waterfronts. The vacation houses here are TINY. We’re talking 450 sf. There were a lot of private or residents-only beaches. Maggie cut us loose at 25 miles. We continued on a circuitous route to the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) in Dennis. It was wooded and very pleasant. We stopped for lunch overlooking a lake. Eventually we arrived at Harrison (not Ford)’s home. He hosts through Warm Showers a great home-stay system for cyclists. He wasn’t there but left instructions for us to make ourselves at home. A third Warm Showers guest (from Montreal) showed up while we were waiting for him.
When he arrived it was clear he had spent a lot of time traveling and making music. He fixed us a lovely vegan supper. He said we MUST go see the sunset with him and his musical friends. I was to be the star attraction! We walked 2 minutes to the bay and 4 of us shared songs and guitars. It was quite an experience. The view of the bay looks like an ocean. There is no obvious shore opposite, even though we knew Boston was out there somewhere.
September 13 – 51 miles – Eastham to Provincetown round trip
We woke up to smoothies and live music, thanks to Harrison. Today we unloaded the bike and rode to Provincetown and back. PTown is a lovely, touristy beach town at the end of the Cape. It got up to 79 degrees. The Grab & Go had build-your-own salads which satisfied our craving. They were so gigantic we took half home for dinner. Then we had vegan chocolate gelato. The main drag is a crowded mix of pedestrians, cars (1 way) and bikes (2 way). We didn’t want to imagine how crowded it would be in the high tourist season. We took a detour to watch a very informational video at the Cape Cod National Seashore Park explaining how glaciers created the cape. By the time we got home, we were getting pretty tired of riding. It had already been 170 miles this week! We weren’t used to the day-in, day-out routine though it reminded us fondly of our cross-country tour.
September 14 – 50 miles – Eastham to Martha’s Vineyard via Hyannis
Thursday we planned to ride to Hyannis and catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We thought we had until 2:30 to ride 30 miles. It turned out that the ferry left at 11:30. We scrambled to get ready for an earlier departure. Then we learned that our niece Allison and her wife Dana were on the Cape staying less than 3 miles from us at Dana’s dad’s place!
More scrambling and lots of texts got us a 40 minute window to visit with them. That was possible only because Harrison kindly offered to put the tandem in his van and drive us to the ferry. Great to have the visit and the rest for our legs.
The ferry to Martha’s Vineyard was very fast and very smooth. When we got in at the ferry dock, we immediately tried to find out where our ferry out would leave the next day. The locals said, “Just go straight up the hill for 2 blocks to catch it.” The ferry to New Bedford was 2 blocks uphill? It didn’t make sense, but it was true. The topology in New England is weird. We stopped to look at the “campground”, a collection of gingerbread style houses in Oak Bluff. Then we headed for the hostel 9 miles away. We were trying to find our way out of town when we tagged in with 2 cyclists who knew the route. We learned that one had worked in Seattle and lived 1 block from our home of 20 years! Amazing. They got us headed the right direction and soon we ditched our gear at the hostel. We hadn’t seen any lighthouses yet so we set out to see the Gay Head Lighthouse. It was gorgeous countryside with lots of tandem-friendly hills. There were some unfriendly hills as well. Again we found ourselves heading uphill to the lighthouse (which I expected to be on the water). When we got there, it was a very light fog or mist. The bluff it was on was spectacular, though. While balancing fluids we met a couple who were visiting from Tacoma! It was turning into a social celebration!
The mist cleared as we rolled easily through mostly flat, fast territory to our dinner stop: the Scottish Bake House. It turns out what we thought was a restaurant was a take-out place. And it wasn’t as vegan friendly as their website sounded. But the cookies were terrific. At this point we were only 5 miles from our base. We zipped there on the bike trail for much appreciated showers as the sun was setting. With a pancake breakfast in the offing, we went to sleep satisfied.
September 15 – 25 miles – Martha’s Vineyard to New Bedford
This was a full and varied day. It began with a pancake breakfast in the common kitchen of the hostel. Then we rode a few miles up a dirt road to the Bohdi Path Buddhist Center. Noone was there but we had a serene venue for meditation. Then we rode to Katama Beach (in the fog). We even touched our toes in the Atlantic there! Then it was back to Oak Bluff for the ferry to New Bedford. An hour on the fast boat and we were at the Whaling Museum. It was amazingly interesting. We spent 2+ hours looking at skeletons, a 50% sized model whaling ship, scrimshaw, and knots. We ate at Green Bean then went to our Warm Showers host in New Bedford. We had a wonderful connection with Arthur “Artie” Sklut who is exploring moving to Boulder and may be interested in cohousing. We commiserated about the difficulties of selling a house and the joys of living with others.
September 16 – 40 miles – New Bedford to Newport
This morning we started the day by meditating together with Artie and then going out to breakfast before riding back home to Newport, RI. We stopped for a visit at Sheila’s cousin Debra Darkow’s place in Tiverton. Had a great visit over a big salad. Forgot to capture a photo. Today’s 40 miles pushed us past 300 for the week. We were tired pups and glad to be back at Ric’s.
September 17 – 4 Bridges Ride – 26 miles
Our final ride was the 4 Bridges, which was a very short 26 mile spin. This commercial ride was attractive because it allowed us to travel over the 4 bridges that connect Aquidneck Island to the mainland. One was the familiar Sakonnet River bridge that we took off-island a week ago and returned on yesterday. The ride involved getting up at 0’dark-30 to be driven across the Pell Bridge to the start in North Kingston. Since we didn’t have a tandem roof rack, Ric procured use of a large truck from work. At 7 we rode out with 900 other bikes. Sadly it was foggy for the entire ride which meant we were unable to enjoy the fabulous views. The finish was on a cul-de-sac under the Mount Hope bridge which was quite jammed with people, bikes and cars. They allowed us to ride back over that bridge among the cars so Ric was able to pick us up at a less congested location. With that our bike adventure ended.
September 18 – Spencer turns 65 – 0 miles
Spencer’s birthday kicked off with free pancakes at IHOP followed by dismantling the tandem to music on Pandora. Later we helped bring in lawn furniture in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Jose. We were so lucky to have had a week of dry and warm riding and the warm hospitality of Ric & Lisa Hoffman.
What an excellent ride you 2 had in mostly exquisite weather. A meaningful experience with neat places to stay, wonderful people to meet and minor misadventures. Having toured Cape Cod with you 2 I am inspired to visit. It’s very New English and not as touristy as I had imagined. Thank you! xo
Part of the reason it wasn’t touristy is because we were after the season. I’m sure it was crazy crowded during the summer. Glad you enjoyed our adventure!