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Active Outdoors

Active Outdoors: Still time left to bike … then ski

  • Tom and Julie Leblanc pause a moment to watch the cranberry harvest along the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Mass. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Tom and Julie Leblanc pause a moment to watch the cranberry harvest along the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Mass. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Nobska Light:  Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Nobska Light: Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Quissett Harbor:  Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Quissett Harbor: Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • There's snow on the slopes at Sunday River! Nick Marcisso, who was there for EasternSlopes.com tells us the snow was in better condition than his legs! (Nick Marcisso/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    There's snow on the slopes at Sunday River! Nick Marcisso, who was there for EasternSlopes.com tells us the snow was in better condition than his legs! (Nick Marcisso/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Tom and Julie Leblanc pause a moment to watch the cranberry harvest along the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Mass. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • Nobska Light:  Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • Quissett Harbor:  Our group of riders, including readers Tom nad Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, enjoyed exploring Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard with guide Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours on an adventure put together by Woods Hole Inn. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • There's snow on the slopes at Sunday River! Nick Marcisso, who was there for EasternSlopes.com tells us the snow was in better condition than his legs! (Nick Marcisso/EasternSlopes.com photo)

If you aren’t ready give up pedaling your bike for the year, there’s no need to. There’s at least a month of wonderful bike riding left before it starts to get really cold and you run the risk of hitting snow on the roads or bike trails.

In late October, my sweetheart, Marilyn, and I took a trip to Cape Cod with our tandem bike to explore more of the cycling around Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard. It was the first time in many years we’d gone to the Cape in October; we’d forgotten how lovely it is at this time of year.

Back in June, before the tourist season really got going, we’d done a four-night inn-to-inn bike trip in the area, starting in Onset (just over the Bourne Bridge), pedaling to Falmouth where we stayed our first night at the Palmer House Inn (palmerhouseinn.com). From there, we rode in a downpour to Woods Hole where we caught the ferry to Vineyard Haven and stayed at The Doctors House Bed and Breakfast (doctorshouse.com). The next day, we pedaled (under sunny skies, yay!) to Oak Bluffs and Isabelle’s Beach House B&B (isabellesbeachhouse.com), with more riding out to Edgartown and Katama.

Then it was back to Woods Hole, where we stayed at the Woods Hole Inn (woodsholeinn.com). There, owner Beth Colt told us she was working to develop a number of biking options, including guided tours to get you off the bike trails to see more of Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard. She had one planned in June and another in October to take advantage of the quieter roads in the “off season.” Before we left to ride back to our car in Onset, we signed up for the October adventure.

The getaway began with a Friday afternoon drive to the Cape. Hell in summer, easy in October. We settled into our room in the lovingly-refurbished inn, strolled through downtown Woods Hole to watch the light fade, ate dinner with some very nice folks visiting from California, went to sleep in a comfy bed and awoke on Saturday eager to fuel up with the huge breakfast at the inn for a day exploring by bike.

At breakfast we met our fellow bikers, including Tom and Julie Leblanc from Dalton, Mass, who, it turns out, are loyal readers. They had been enjoying biking around the Berkshires all summer, had read about the weekend in this column, decided that “Life isn’t a spectator sport.” They wanted to try a cycling-centered weekend getaway. They don’t consider themselves to be serious cyclists and were concerned about keeping up. But they signed up anyway and had a blast. Hurray for them!

We also met our guide for the weekend, Rob Miceli of Cotuit Cycling Tours (cotuitcyclingtours.com). Rob is a personable bike fanatic who takes true pleasure in helping other people enjoy cycling, which makes him a terrific tour guide. He also knows the routes, knows the history and people of the area, and is eager to share. Where Rob leads, I’d gladly follow.

We’ve biked a lot in this area, but it took less than five minutes on the bike for Rob to show us places we’d never visited, sights we’d never seen. The first leg of our journey took us out past stately churches and amazing waterside mansions to a panoramic view at Nobska Point, then more back roads to the views over Quisett Harbor. From there, we rode along the familiar Shining Sea Bikeway (woodshole.com/documents/bikewaymap.pdf) to the cranberry bog (#15 on the map) which was being harvested. From there, we rode the Shining Sea back to Woods Hole (with one detour out to Chappaquoit Point, which we’d never discovered before. Wonderful first day of riding, which left us plenty of time to explore more around Woods Hole and savor the Lobster Tacos (yes, they are as good as they sound!) from Quicks Hole that we ate on the deck of the Woods Hole Inn, listening to a great band playing in the parking lot below. Woods Hole is a happenin’ place on Saturday night, and lots of fun.

The next morning, after another spectacular breakfast, we caught the early ferry to Vineyard Haven and biked (again on back roads we’d never discovered before) out almost to Menemsha. This is hillier country and we collectively decided to cut our ride a little shorter than originally planned. In all, we pedaled just under 50 miles in two days, mostly easy biking, all in beautiful surroundings. The roads on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard are much quieter in October, making this the perfect time to explore by bike. Maybe we’ll see you there the next time we go. As Tom and Julie discovered: Life isn’t a spectator sport. Get out and enjoy!

Ski season begins

The 2013-14 ski season has officially begun. Killington (killington.com) in Vermont started turning its lifts for season pass holders last Friday. On Saturday, both they and Sunday River (sundayriver.com) in Newry, Maine, opened for the general public. Then, two days ago, Bretton Woods (Brettonwoods.com) became the first in New Hampshire to open, offering free top-to-bottom skiing.

Killington’s still open daily, while Sunday River and Bretton Woods have shut back down to focus on making more snow when temps again allow – looks like Sunday night.

If you want to read a first-hand account and see some photos and videos of opening day at Sunday River, go to easternSlopes.com. Nick Marcisso was there and had a great time. He says the snow was in better condition than his legs.

Anytime you can be skiing in New England before Halloween, you know you have the makings of a great season coming. Stay tuned for more.

There’s snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

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