Biking To Chappaquiddick!

A week ago we stayed in Edgartown for the first time. I’m still working on that report, but I thought I’d interrupt that one for one about the highlight activity of the trip. In fact it could be the best daytime activity on Martha’s Vineyard!

Biking in Edgartown

Last year we enjoyed a scooter trip around Block Island. It worked because there aren’t a lot of tourist cars on the island and everyone goes 20 MPH. I think the same might be true for Nantucket, but not Martha’s Vineyard.

Thanks to easy ferry access, there are a ton of tourists driving cars all over Martha’s Vineyard. While I’m sure there are plenty of cautious drivers, far too many are scatter brained rushing to relax and combined with the narrow roads, MV has become a very hazardous place to ride a moped. In fact, there is growing movement to ban mopeds on Martha’s Vineyard. 

When it came to selecting the venue for our 3 day getaway, I knew that I wanted to take a bike ride. I ranked Oaks Bluffs last as a biking point of origination. One road out of town leads to Edgartown and the other to Vineyard Haven; both are always bumper-to-bumper.

I looked at Edgartown and noticed there were plenty of side streets and nothing but ocean front houses to the south of town.

Then it hit me – we can take the Chappy from Edgartown and ride our bikes across the island!

Where to Rent…

Every time we’re in Edgartown we pass Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals (or R.W. Cutler). When we were out for an ice coffee on Sunday I stopped by to check out the bikes and the rates. They charge $35/day which is pretty good, but the bikes looked beat.

Of course I hit up yelp and found that Wheel Happy was rated a little higher. They also charged less – $25/day. When we arrived to rent our bikes on Monday morning, I was happy to see fairly new bikes to boot!

Bike MV2

By the way, they also sell electric bicycles too. My daughter and her husband have electrically assisted bikes because they live in the hills north of San Diego. I’m not sure if these are those or the kind that are more like electric mopeds. I wanted a little work out so no electric bikes for me.

Time out for a little side bar. I’m a big time biker. I ride 3-4 times a week and at least 5 hours. Mrs. Horne works out regularly and rides from time-to-time. Gail and Rudy were “all in” so I assumed they did too.

As we left the shop I learned that Rudy hadn’t ridden a bike since he was a kid and Gail never even owned a bike in her life. They were total troopers though – especially Gail who generally kept up on our 2 1/2 hour trek.

Chappy’s Ferry

Besides the outstanding bike ride that day, we also got to take a trip across the harbor on the Chappy Ferry. If you’re not familiar with this little piece of Americana, it’s actually two ferries. Each holds 2-3 cars and both leave at the same time, passing each other in the middle.

If you’re walking or riding a bike, you squeeze in between the cars and hold on to anything you can for the ride.

Biking To The Beach

As I suspected, there are pretty much no ocean views on the paved road from the ferry station to the beach once you pass the Chappaquiddick Beach Club.

Despite that, the road is very serine and gentle enough for even Gail to ride up the hills – once Mrs. Horne explained the gears to her.

Other than tree covered lanes, the only other points of interest are the fire station and a store.

Chappy Fire Station

Needless to say, there was no one staffing the fire house and I wondered where the firefighters would come from and how long it would take them to respond!

The Only Store on Chappaquiddick

Yep, that’s the actual name of the only store you’ll come across on this tiny island.

Despite it’s modest name, the store offers basic groceries, fresh produce from the island…

…and even breakfast and lunch items for those who want to sit outside at the umbrella tables and watch the world go by.

The Wasque Reservation

After about an hour of peddling, we came to a little house and out popped a young lady to greet us. She seemed excited to see us and quickly described our options for visiting the beach.

The Wasque reservation offers a couple of dirt roads that all lead to the water. It’s possible to take the north road and go all the way up to the northeastern edge of the island. In light of my crew’s limited bike training, we opted for the shorter path and headed due east.

Chappy Beach

My first impression was “this must be what Africa looks like.” Of course I’ve never been to Africa, so that was just a guess. I will say that it feels a lot like the land they call upcountry in Maui.

Eventually you reach a small parking lot where you can leave your bike for the short walk to the beach.

Despite the remote location, there were a good number of folks sitting out on blankets and chairs enjoying the day. That said, it’s a huge beach with plenty of room to spread out.

We hung out on the beach for about a half hour then headed back to the ferry. The entire trip took about 3 hours. Not only did we experience the tranquility of Chappaqiddick, but we also logged about 10,000 steps on our fitness tracker.

As I said at the outset, this could be the best half day activity on Martha’s Vineyard!

Dave

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