|Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet|
Ride: Plymouth to Provincetown
Distance: 90 miles (98 for the day)
Sights: Plymouth Rock, Cape Cod Canal, Cape Cod National Seashore
Pivo Index: 4
I biked among unknown men,
In lands beside the sea;
New England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.
Originally, my goal had been to join CRW for the Cape In a Day Ride. But, alas, I could ne’er get my shit together. Instead, I chose to take the train from South Station down to Plymouth. Then I would ride the 90-ish miles to Provincetown to catch the 7:30 ferry. Doing arithmetic on the train, I calculated I could average 10 mph with stops and still have plenty of time to make the ferry. This need not to a speeding 6 hour century nor a long hard 10 hour brevets. Instead it was much more a ramble. I was leaving on a journey of which William Wordsworth would have been proud.
Wordsworth’s Romantism, born of the Enlightenment, praised being alone on journeys through nature and through the ruins of England’s non-Enlightened past. The ruins of abbeys and castles were not symbols of gods and heroes, but wreckage of a different era to be reinterpreted by its current status as a piece of art here and now.
Pulling into Plymouth’s platform-amidst a-parking-lot type station, I bid farewell to another cyclist who was doing some miles through Miles Standish State Park. Like all trips to Plymouth, my first stop was Plymouth Rock at mile 2.5. Per the park ranger, Plymouth Rock is the smallest Massachusetts State Park (20’ x 20’) and the most visited (1.3 MILLION people a year).
|Plymouth Rock, Plymouth|
I left the Rock and started heading South toward the Sagamore Bridge. Only 17 miles in, I found the Sagamore, in all its horrifying glory. A Depression era infrastructure project, the Sagamore Bridge at 200 feet above the Cape Cod Canal. There is no place to ride your bike except the sidewalk. But that isn’t divided from the road by anything. So, it’s a gentle reminder of either plummeting hundreds of feet to your death in the Canal or falling only 2 feet into the roadway to get your cranium smashed by traffic going 50mph.
|Sagamore Bridge, Cape Cod|
Lines Composed High Above the Cape Cod Canal
One year has passed; one summer, with the length
One year has passed; one summer, with the length
Of one long winter! And again I hear
These waters, canal streaming from bay to sea.
With the loud roadway clamor, once again
Do I behold the steep and lofty spans,
That does on this PWA scene impress.
The scaffolding of cantilevers braces taut
To hold the cars and trucks escaping
The rat race and ride to coasts of summer idylls.
One year ago I joined the crew as we rode from Union Station, Providence to Macmillan Wharf, Provincetown. The lovely #beattheferry ride took us 135 miles through two states and the length of the Cape. Here I was again, crossing the Canal. In pure fear and riding by myself, I walked over the canal. Both the CRW route and Bike Route 1, ride away from Route 6 to state 6A. But eventually you are carried back under the big road and onto the 6A “Service Road”. The Service Road is a quiet and rolly bit of road whilst everyone else drives as quickly as they can toward the outer cape. The motorcycles sharing the same desire for open carless road were the only companions.
Into Hyannis, I made my first stop at Cape Cod Beer for a flight-ish thing and a lobster roll.
First four-ounce pour was Cranberry Harvest
Refreshing and fruity but not too sweet,
Followed next by tasting Cape Cod Porter
A balanced dark as e’er you should meet.
A black again, R&R Tropical
New take upon someone’s isle extra stout,
Ahead on now to Cape Cod Red, of which
Was not there best – by this I do not doubt.
An imperial IPA was next
And the Bitter End of the beery stroll
Matched perfectly with my ride’s only meal -
A delicious buttery lobster roll
|Lobster Roll, Cape Cod Beer, Hyannis|
The next section took me off CRW’s route. In Yarmouth, I headed south to hop upon the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Rail Trails are both a wonderful and dreadful thing for cyclists. The provide off road transportation where you don’t have to fight with cars and lights, etc. However, for many cyclists looking to ride fast, they can be horrible. They are narrow and congested and everyone from kids to dogs to adults on rented bikes swing and swerve about. I personally love them and ride them whenever and wherever I can. But, I get that most times it’s faster to ride on the road.
|Cape Cod Rail Trail|
The Rail-to-Trail movement is similar to the Romantic movement. What if we took away the previous eras subjugation to the Surburban Robert Moses driven gods of gasoline and let people move about their community without having to create emissions? And what if we did it upon the ruins of the first Industrial Revolution, the now rejected and forgotten railroads? Indeed, upon my bike I can start like Whitman walking the city streets and bathing the in theurban mists; but then escape like Wordsworth to “come among these hills.”
|Devil's Purse, Dennis|
My first stop along the Cape Cod Rail Trail was Devil’s Purse in Dennis. I had hoped to get another snack, but there was little to be had. Yet, they did have a very good Stonehorse Citra IPA – hazy and Grapefruity.
The next stop was at mile 57, the Hog Island Brewery. The plan was to have a nice relaxed lunch while I tried a flight of their beers. Well, between the crappy beer, the rude staff and the fact that the kitchen apparently closes at 3:12 in the afternoon, it was great!
The bartender at the brewery bar was not rude. She was actually very nice; she made sure that I got the Far Out Stout because it was the “best” one they had. (And by “best” she meant only thing of the beers that anyone should actually pay for.)
|Hog Island Brewery, Orleans|
I took my paddle of middling pale ales to a table and sat down. The people across from me had a little pager thing and it soon buzzed and lit up. They went to the full bar that wasn’t the brewery and picked up food. It smelled delicious. The people handed me their menu and I perused it. I figured some fatty fries and chicken tenders would be a good meal here. So I went up to the full bar, menu in hand.
I got the bartender and looking at the menu I said: “Hey could I get…”
She cut me off angrily with, “THE KITCHEN’S CLOSED!”
Of course, it’s 3:12 on a Saturday and the lawn area is packed. Why would you want to sell all those people food, or be nice to people who might buy more beverages from you? I always forget how weird the Cape is: a tourism based economy where they make sure to let the tourist know they are unwanted.
|100 Miles from Boston|
I left there in a fantastic mood and so happy I had given them my money…. My next stop was a deli after the trail at mile 68. It apparently didn’t take cards – cash or check only (check?). Fortunately they had an ATM; unfortunately said ATM had no cash in it. Awesome…
“Miles to go before I eat…”
But I had to remove myself from such worries as food and carry on enjoying the seascapes. The ride weaves in and out of the National Seashore. The salty smell of the breeze is that thing that carries people to water. The roads had the windswept sands encroaching upon the edges of the black top. I made sure to stop and enjoy the view and the dunes. If I wasn’t going to refresh with food, I would with the sea.
Address to the Ocean
'How long will ye round me be roaring',
Once terrible waves of the sea?
While I on my bike ride exploring
The sweet smells of ocean spray on me.
By Mile 85, the hills had been made low and the rough places plain. I was riding the long stretch that strands like a necklace along the bayside of Truro. Little cabins and private beaches carry touch each other one after the other. It was now 6:00. I had no chance to get a burger. I stopped at a convenience store that did take cards. I got gummy bears, Cape Cod chips and a Dr. Pepper. Sitting on the bench outside, I refueled enough to carry me into town.
I pulled in at 6:45. I still stopped at the Post Office and got a Cape Cod IPA, before hoping the Boston Ferry, left to “enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.”
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
~ William Wordsworth
*- I later (two days later) determined that I also had a slow leak in my back tire. I’m certain this was also sapping energy but I just didn’t know it.