Among the many attractions of Martha’s Vineyard are the bike paths that wind all over the eastern half of the island. I love the narrow meandering routes they take, whether through woods or along the seashore. Roads are OK for biking for some, but I admit to being a little wary ever since I got clipped by a Hoosier minivan many years ago. I was riding on the West Tisbury Road before the bike path was extended into Edgartown. It was especially unnerving because I had my daughter perched in a child seat on the back of my bike. Maybe you can understand my preference for the bike paths.
There are so many paths and they can take you to lots of places: beaches, lakes, restaurants, town centers, shops, parks, even an airport or two. They can also transport you to less tangible destinations. Here are a few that appeal to my sensibilities…
Fitness is important to many of us. The bike paths are a direct route to that goal. A bike ride is a great non-impact aerobic workout. That doesn’t mean you have to shell out two grand for a titanium bike and enshroud yourself in spandex. I’m passed by those guys (and women) all the time, but I’m getting all the workout I need in my T-shirt and low-end Trek hybrid.
I’ve got nothing against the Lance Armstrong wannabe’s, but I like to set a more leisurely pace. I want to actually see the sights on the path. That’s the second destination I head for. There is real beauty to be seen on the journey. Trees, flowers, wildlife, water, and all the other things that make the Vineyard special. Speed has its rewards, but how can you smell the roses when you can’t even see them? G. K. Chesterton said, “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” It’s a wonder why anyone would miss the wonders of Martha’s Vineyard by turning them into a blur.
Finally, the bike path brings me to a place that I enjoy all too infrequently in today’s world: community. There is a fellowship on the bike path that hearkens back to a previous era. Strangers actually greet one another. It may be a “Good morning” or just a wave or nod of the head, but it feels like neighborhood to me and I like it.
So, strap on that helmet and start pedaling. I’ll see you on the bike path!
Postscript: One final worthy destination for your bike trip: a world free of Multiple Sclerosis. The first weekend of May each year, the Island hosts “Ride the Vineyard”, the kickoff event for the MS Bike trip season. The next one is May 1, 2010. You can support this cause by riding or donating. It’s a great ride with an unbeatable destination! More information can be found at the MS Society’s web site for bike events.
Editor’s Note: New this year, you can also cycle for a good cause in October. The 2009 Cycle Martha’s Vineyard ride will be held on October 17. The 50K or 100K bike ride will benefit the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard and the Martha’s Vineyard Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
Image courtesy of Dainis Matisons