Happy Trails!Byline: Jacqueline Reis
Part of the thrill of biking is going where cars can't - up on sidewalks, through red lights (after looking, duh), and on bike trails, those foolproof ways of touring a new area with hardly any chance for a wrong turn. Cruise these paths, and you'll be rewarded with up-close views of the coast, a woodsy thoroughfare between Amherst and Northampton, and alternate routes in towns like Millbury, Ayer and Arlington.
One note of caution: Riding on paved trails may require an attitude adjustment if: a) the price tag on your bike had four digits, b) your cycling outfit is a replica pro team kit or c) your water bottles are filled with a carbohydrate and protein slurpee. These are symptoms of a serious cyclist (or at least a cyclist taking himself too seriously). Come back with the family after you've had your workout.
Once you're ready to regard tykes with training wheels as something other than speed bumps, you're ready to cruise any number of trails. Here are three that are worth a day or overnight trip from Worcester.
East Bay Bike Path The East Bay Bike Path is a 14.5 mile paved trail from Providence to Bristol, Rhode Island, passing along the shoreline of Naragansett Bay, through the townships of Barrington and Warren, and providing access to the East Coast Greenway and Colt State Park. It is used annually by 1.
14.5 miles from Bristol to Providence, R.I.
Phone: (401) 253-7482 (Colt State Park Colt State Park occupies 464 acres on Poppasquash Neck adjoining the town of Bristol, Rhode Island and includes trails, picnic groves, a public boat ramp, an observation tower and the open air Chapel by the Sea. The park lands were previously owned by Bristol industrialist Samuel P. in Bristol)
A great day outing from Central Massachusetts, the East Bay Bike Path offers beautiful views and breezes from Narragansett Bay. Those breezes are especially welcome in summer, but the setting is just as scenic in the fall, when the cool wind cuts down on the crowds.
Parking the car in Bristol has two perks: the chance to explore Colt State Park at the trail's southern terminus and the promise of a good meal within walking distance. Biking, noshing and taking in the ocean views are an excellent way to spend a weekend and may even tempt you to play hooky Verb 1. play hooky - play truant from work or school; "The boy often plays hooky"
jargon, lingo, patois, argot, vernacular, slang, cant - a characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves); "they don't speak our lingo" on a weekday.
One more benefit of starting in Bristol is that the wheel-less can rent a bike at Northwind Sports, 267 Thames St. (www.northwindsports.com). Owner Paul Trigo said the path keeps his fleet of cruiser-style bicycles busy from March through November when the weather is good.
Cape Cod Bike Paths
Cape Cod Canal bike paths, Bourne Bourne, town (1990 pop. 16,064), Barnstable co., SE Mass., crossed by Cape Cod Canal; settled 1627, inc. 1884. Bourne Bridge (1935), across the canal, made the town an entry point to Cape Cod and a resort and commercial center. to Sandwich, 7 miles on each side
Shining Sea Bikeway The Shining Sea Bikeway is a rail trail connecting Woods Hole, MA to Falmouth, MA, in the north-east United States. The path runs for over three miles, including nearly a mile along Surf Drive Beach on Vineyard Sound. , Falmoth, 4 miles
Cape Cod Rail Trail The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 22-mile paved rail trail located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the United States. Operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), it follows the former Cape Cod line right-of-way of the Old Colony Railroad and extends , Dennis to Wellfleet, 22 miles
Like the Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches. route, these paths offer relief from hot days with cool ocean breezes. On the canal trail, you won't find the same food bonanza (unless you schmooze your way into someone's BBQ BBQ barbecue at the Bourne Scenic Park campground), but bikers can keep their minds off their stomach by watching boats on the canal and cormorants and fishermen on the banks. If you'd like some history with your ocean air, download a self-guided tour of the canal from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/ccc/ccchome.htm.
The canal bikeway bike·way
A bicycle lane or path. is all about families and leisurely walks on weekends, so expect to keep it slow and maneuver through a crowd. Also expect to slather slath·er
tr.v. slath·ered, slath·er·ing, slath·ers Informal
1. To use or give great amounts of; lavish: slathered gifts and attention on their only child.
a. on the sunblock sunblock Public health An opaque substance, usually formulated from zinc or titanium oxides, designed to completely prevent solar radiation from reaching the skin. See SPF rating. Cf Sunscreen. - there's no shade here.
If you're going to fight summer traffic on the Cape, you might as well stay overnight and explore some of the other bike trails, like the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. Short though it may be, it offers water views, shady woods, even pavement and the pleasure of avoiding the Woods Hole traffic jam.
For more information on Cape Cod bike routes, go to www.cctrails.org, the Web site of the Cape Cod Trails Conference; and www.capecodbikeguide.com. Other trails on the Cape include the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail from Dennis to Wellfleet, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/ccrt.htm.
Norwottuck Rail Trail The Norwottuck Rail Trail is a 9.5 mile combination bicycle/pedestrian paved right-of-way running from Northampton, Massachusetts to Belchertown, Massachusetts. It opened in 1992. It passes through the towns of Hadley and Amherst. No motor vehicles or horses are allowed.
8.5 miles from Northampton to Amherst
Phone: (413) 586-8706, ext. 12
(Connecticut River Greenway State Park Connecticut River Greenway State Parkconsists of a number of separate state land holdings in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. The Park includes critical wildlife and plant habitat as well as areas providing public access to the River. )
Unlike other paths mentioned here, this route is not the place to be on a steamy day. You can imagine the humidity of a trail whose name means "in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
midmost of the river" and whose route includes something called the Lawrence Swamp Conservation Area. But even in sticky weather, Norwottuck offers unique features, like the 1,492-foot iron bridge built at the Northampton end in 1887, the mile-long Hadley Common, and the whistle posts - posts marked with a W - that once reminded train engineers to blow the whistle at a bridge or intersection. Cyclists should also keep their eyes out for beaver lodges and other signs of wildlife.
About 2,000 people use the trail on a typical weekend, so visitors will find more elbow room on the trail and in the parking lots if they come on a weekday, said Douglas E. Clark, a recreation facilities supervisor with Connecticut River Greenway State Park.
Norwottuck is a link in a larger planned bikeway, the Mass Central Rail Trail, a project that aims to make the 104-mile connection between Northampton and Boston.
More locally, Wachusett Greenways has built sections of the Mass Central Rail Trail in Rutland, Holden, West Bolyston and Sterling and has plans to work in Oakham, according to Wachusett Greenways President Colleen Abrams of Holden. The sections are not connected yet and are covered with a stone dust surface, not pavement. For information, go to www.masscentralrailtrail.org and www.wachusettgreenways.org.
Bikeways close to home
The Blackstone River Bikeway The Blackstone River Bikeway is a planned 48-mile paved trail defining the course of the East Coast Greenway through the Blackstone Valley from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island. , www.blackstoneriverbikeway.com
Someday this will run 48 miles from Worcester to Rhode Island. As of this spring, there were 2.5 miles of it open in Millbury and Worcester and another 10 in Rhode Island in Cumberland and Lincoln. The bikeway is part of the East Coast Greenway The East Coast Greenway, or ECG, is a project to create a nearly 3000-mile (4828 km) urban path linking the major cities along the Atlantic coast of the United States, from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida for non-motorized human transportation. , which aims to connect all of the East Coast's major cities.
The Assabet River Rail Trail, www.arrtinc.org.
Approximately 5 miles open in Marlboro and Hudson, with planned expansion into Stow, Maynard and Acton.
The Nashua River Rail Trail The Nashua River Rail Trail is a 12.5-mile paved mixed-use rail trail in northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire under control of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). , www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/nash.htm.
Twelve miles of wetlands and woods from Ayer to Nashua, N.H.
The Minuteman Bikeway, minutemanbikeway.org
Eleven miles of commuters and day-trippers from Bedford to Cambridge.
Before you go:
Most major bike paths are on former railroad lines. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, www.railtrails.org, has basic information, including maps and reviews, of other trails in Massachusetts (like the Berkshires' Ashuwillticook Rail Trail The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor converted into a 10-foot wide paved universally accessible rail trail path. The Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) Rail Trail runs parallel to Route 8 through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams, Massachusetts ) and across the country.
Don't forget to protect your noggin nog·gin
1. A small mug or cup.
2. A unit of liquid measure equal to one quarter of a pint.
3. Slang The human head.
[Origin unknown. : State laws require helmets for those 16 and younger in Massachusetts and 15 and younger in Rhode Island.
CUTLINE: (1) Above, a family rides on the Assabet River Rail Trail in Hudson. (2) Top photo, riders on a section of the route in Marlboro. (3) Top photo, Marianne Mahoney of Shutesbury allows a snapping turtle to cross the bike path. (4) Center, Sean Leber of Allston and Ben Allen of Newburyport ride on the trail. (5) Above, a couple walk back to their bikes after stopping at the Harvey Allen Bird Observation Blind in Amherst. Left, a sign on the trail points the way. (6) Top photo, in Northampton, Norwottuck Rail Trail riders cross the Connecticut River. (7) Above, Rose and Joe Lusignan of South Hadley relax on the town common in Hadley. (8) Right, Chloe Doherty was walking with her mother on the trail. (9) Harwich scenes along the Cape Cod Rail Trail: Top photo, Seymour Pond is a pleasant place to cool your feet. (10, 11) Photos right and above center, the Pleasant Lake General (12) Store is a popular stop. Ardyn Tettmar of Toronto, Canada, enjoys an ice cream at the store. (13) Above, bikers ride near Long Pond. (14) Riders and watchers enjoy the Shining Sea Bikeway near Woods Hole. Top photo, Stan Bockoven of Pittsburgh; (15) left, Karen Sellenberg of Canton snaps a photo; (16) above, Bill and Kristianne Andrews watch a rider. Bill remembers when trains traveled the tracks long before the route became a bikeway. (17) Mari Anne Snow of Providence takes in the view along the East Bay Bike Path. (18) Photo above left, Katie the dog gets a ride from her owner near Colt State Park. (19 Above, some of the wildlife on Narragansett Bay. (20) Right, Bristol, R.I., at the southern end of the bike path, offers restaurants and shops for bikers to explore. (21) Photo left, Joan and Ray Lafleur of Swansea, Mass., take a break in the shade. (22) Below, Jackie Canna canna [Lat.,=cane], any plant of the genus Canna, tropical and subtropical perennials, grown in temperate regions in parks and gardens for the large foliage and spikelike, usually red or yellow blossoms. of Mansfield, Mass., paints a Bristol, R.I., street scene. (23) Center, places to stop for refreshments dot the 14.5-mile East Bay route.
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer. : PHOTOGRAPHY/TOM RETTIG