Along the western shore of Cape Cod lies another rail to trail conversion called the Trail of the Shining Sea. This cycle path runs half the length of the Cape, 17 km. from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. Some serious riders may scoff at rail to trail conversions as mostly flat and straight, with too much pedestrian traffic and too little to challenge a rider. I would generally agree with this assessment. At the same time they can be useful as a part of longer more challenging rides. On arriving on the Cape, without a good idea of which roads would be best to ride, and with limited time to explore, Yvonne and I defaulted to the Trail of the Shining Sea.
The primary reason for coming to Cape Cod was to connect with a friend who was doing research at Woods Hole. I spent 4 months on the beach in PEI as a 10 year old and developed a fascination with diving and exploration of the seas. Woods Hole is a Mecca for oceanographers, and as a kid I was fascinated by both the explorers working out of Woods Hole and the romantic sounding name of this town at the center of deep sea research. Our ride would have the Woods Hole Research Institute as its goal.
While many of the roads on the Cape have very heavy traffic, the roads leading from our Air BnB had little. A 10 km ride on hilly roads brought us to the trail head. Rather than using the trail we chose to ride the more interesting roads that followed the coast as far as we could. The bike path would be used when road traffic became too heavy. Sea side rides have the advantage of being breezy, something we were grateful for as this area gets both high heat and humidity.
Cape Cod is “old money”! Large estates and gated seaside developments with security guards to keep out the sweating unwashed. The fortunate thing about these areas for the rich is that they spend most of their time on their yachts or at the country club or in Boston, New York or Paris or London, so road traffic to and from “the summer cottages” along the coast tends to be fairly light. Main corridors are heavily traveled however.
An interesting feature of riding along the shore is the tidal marshes and the many creeks that we crossed that feed the marshes. While we didn’t stop to watch birds, other than seeing a bald eagle on an enormous nest along one of the creeks, I imagine that these would be great places to bird watch.
Halfway to Woods Hole we took the path. It is shaded and flat and Jac would love it as it is perfect for high speed cruising. The speed limit is 15 mph; of course with no speedometer one really has no idea how fast one travels. It did seem however that we might have slightly exceeded what was allowable.
Our time at Woods Hole involved checking out the experiment being done to study fish, tail resonance and efficiency through a fluid. Werner would love this sort of thing. It also involves fishing for sharks, blue fish and many other species in order to perform the experiments. I had always pictured WHRI as involving the most sophisticated equipment, like the Atlantis research vessel and the Alvin submersible used to discover the Titanic. I discovered that there are big fish and little fish at Woods Hole. My friend is a little fish and must use his little sail boat to fish for his experiment subjects. This would be Mark’s sort of thing.
In good MIT tradition, a cafe stop was in order at the halfway point. Again, in MIT tradition, the return home, was fast and with wind. Final distance – 60 km.