There were many firsts about my 4th of July weekend this year:
- My first long training ride of the season (scheduled 40 miles).
- My first biking/camping trip.
- My first time to bike from Plymouth to Falmouth.
- My first time to visit Martha’s Vineyard.
As for Martha’s Vineyard–well the final first was that it was “love at first site.” I first realized that I wanted to visit MV about 6 years ago when I heard Tobias Vanderhoop share with Cambridge elementary students–in his native oral tradition–the Wampanoag legend of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard). When I set foot in Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head), I realized that that time is nothing and I could see with my eyes first, followed by my heart and soul why the tribe reveres this section and how the cliffs and surf in Aquinnah houses the creation story.
On Friday, July 3rd, Randi and I met at South Station in Boston to embark on a weekend of testing our endurance on our bikes and the elements. We had mapped the trip out together with our Eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod bikemaps and a piece of floss to measure against the mileage key. According to my best estimates, the safest and most scenic route along Routes 3 and 28 should be just over 30 miles. By our calculations, we would be able to make the 1:30 ferry from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard if we rode with ferver and determination.
Well–this would be the first in a long series of adventures that involved misreading a map and underestimating both the mileage and time it would take to get from point A to point B. By the time we reached Falmouth, we had just enough time to make it on the 4:30pm “Island Queen” to the Vineyard.
I’m not complaining by any means. Randi and I had made a pact at the beginning of the morning that this weekend was about the journey–just as much as it was about getting out of Boston and resting on a beach! And we did enjoy our journey. It was just after this lunch that we realized that we might not make the 1:30…but we were still head strong and ready to pedal hard to make that 3:00pm! And…so we did…we pedaled with the wind at our back, and sometimes at our face. We peddled on the Cape Cod Canal from Sandwich to Bourne, then South through Gray Gables and Pocasset…
Finally, we hit North Falmouth right at 3pm. We had just veered onto 28A and we figured, “okay, so we missed the 3pm…we should see the harbor any moment now…. “
We biked. We biked. We biked.
North Falmouth turned into West Falmouth and we were at mile 42 according to Randi’s odometer. 28A was about to merge with another major road and become a lot busier–there was STILL no harbor in sight (let alone any sign of coast)–and it was on a small bridge in West Falmouth that I decided to get off my bike and check the map. As I got my bearings straight and walked back to check a few road signs, Randi made good use of the time and stretched her spine on the warm asphalt.
Sure enough…were were headed in the right direction. Another 5-6 miles and we would be there. We remounted our bikes and promised to reward ourselves with a luxurious refreshment with plenty of time to kill before the 4:30pm ferry. Famous last words…again.
About 3o minutes later, we finally came upon our turn, Brick Kiln road. Yay!!! This is where we realized the value of comparing the bike maps with Rand McNally maps. Because we were looking for a right on Falmouth Hwy that would take us all the way South to the Ferry. But no…we did not know that Falmouth Hwy is also called, Teaticket Hwy for a small stretch, then becomes Davis Straits before becoming Main Street.
We just wanted Falmouth Heights Road and the entrance the the Island Queen! We also missed that…if we actually hit Main Street then that meant we missed our turn to Falmouth Heights Road (By the way this road is also called Grand Ave which might explain why we missed it! Between 3:30 and 4:30, Randi and I wandered in and out of cape roads and shopping centers, trying to find at least one local who could direct us to the Island Queen. Funny thing about this scenario, is that we were circling the same 2-5 miles the entire time–just missing our turn every time….<sigh!>.
We finally found a jolly resident who smiled and said, “Island Queen? Just jump on the road parallel to this and bike about 1/2 mile and you can’t miss her?” This was 4:25, and I was SURE that we had missed the ferry. Randi, ever the determined optimist, kept telling me not to lose faith. With helmet head and Randi’s best “I told you so” face, we paid for our ticket and boarded…just in the nick of time.
Like any good journey, I learned a lot about myself on this one. I learned how to pack a compact bag and tent. I learned that–while I love the idea of camping–my body does not love the idea of sleeping with a hard ground and chilly night air. I learned the importance of double–and even triple checking my map and directions. And I learned to let it all go and keep it simple when I saw the great beauty off of the Aquinnah cliffs!
You can see the full picture slide show along with commentary and my friends’ comments by visiting my facebook album entitled
This is an entry from th adventurous, thoughtful and occasionally humorous journal of my training escapades in preparation for two great century bike rides: Harbor to the Bay and El Tour de Tucson. To find out more information or to make a pledge, visit our home blog, The Amazing Adventures of Two Girls on a Bike.