Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chatham Light Trial

A long weekend, finally. The last warm one this year. And since the weather forecast looked good we are spending this weekend with the rest of the family at the Cape.

This means that I had a rare opportunity to sneak out early on the Saturday morning, leaving Elka and Dr. J sleeping, and go bike riding. I quickly got my bike ready, snacked something and by 6:30 AM I was on the road. I was actually planning to leave even earlier as I woke up at 6:00 AM, but it was still completely dark at that time and I didn't feel like riding in darkness.

My goal was to reach Chatham, which is over 40km (25mi) away from Osterville, where we stayed. In fact, the full route there and back would be close to 60 miles, hence the early start was necessary.
My Chatham Light Trial

At this point sun was barely above the horizon and roads were completely empty. I didn't see a single car before I merged onto Rt 28 East towards Hyannis. It is a busy road and normally I would avoid biking there as people drive fast and aggressively. However, this section of Rt 28 has a bike path going eastbound ending close to the Hyannis airport.
Sun was just rising above the airport when I took Iyannough Rd towards Yarmouth Rd and eventually found the bike path off Higgins Crowell Rd. The path was surprisingly comfortable, nicely graded and paved with asphalt. I quickly realized that it was cutting through the golf course and was also used by golf carts. That would explain its surface finish.
 Sun over Hyannis Airport.
I continued through Yarmouth, passing the Bass River Golf Club on my way and crossing the bridge on Highbank Rd.
 Bass River Golf Club.

Finally, I turned into Rt 134 and found the Cape Cod Rail Trial (CCRT). At this point I thought that I could have cheated and simply drive my car up to there, as the entrance to the trial has a nice parking lot just off Rt 134. It would save me a few hours but on the other hand, where is the challenge?
I entered the trial and kept going east. I passed a few people walking their dogs and 2 other cyclists. Quickly, I got the point where the CCRT splits - its eastern part goes to Chatham, my destination, while its northern part ends in Wellfleet. The split is not just a simple fork in the road but a roundabout (!) - the first bicycle roundabout I have ever seen in the U.S. I had a chance to bike in Denmark before, and roundabouts for cyclists are as common there as bike racks, but seeing one on this side of the ocean is quite surprising. Anyway, this roundabout had well-marked signs pointing cyclists into right directions, bike racks, and some benches (all still wet from the morning dew).
 CCRT roundabout.
 Chatham? This way!
Chatham Airport.

After a few more miles I finally entered Chatham. I had to go around the Chatham airport and eventually I got to Main St, which looked very sleepy at this hour (it was shortly before 9:00 AM), with only a few cars on the road and a few businesses opened. Then, I reached the Chatham Light. Normally, this place can be chilly since it is elevated and exposed, but that morning was different. The ocean was quiet and peaceful. Not even a single breeze. Warm, sunny but not hot, as you would expect on October mornings. Just beautiful. I stayed there a few minutes, snacked on some chocolate, finished the first bottle of water and started riding back.
 Chatham Light.
Beach in Chatham.

There were many more cyclists on the trial at that time and I pretty much rode back exactly the same way I came to Chatham. I kept wondering if the grinding noise I heard at that point was coming from my knees or pedals. It turned out that my SPDs got a bit sandy even though my knees started to hurt.
I arrived home at 11:30 AM so the entire route took me 5 hours to complete. I rode 93km (57.7mi). It's a distance I haven't ridden in a long time - my last rides were much, much shorter. And probably because of this, I was really tired. However, I think that maybe it wasn't because of the distance, since I did 100km rides before, but the time I took to ride this route. When I used to go on 100km rides it was taking me more time than 5 hours to complete them. Usually, I wasn't rushing, I was taking it easy, making multiple short stops on the way. I think I pushed myself a little too hard this time. Once I got back home I showered, ate 4 eggs with toast and took a short nap. Me knees were sore for the remainder of the day. I think I deserved a good beer...

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