5 – 10 May 2013
After saying goodbye to Howard and the other couchsurfers I headed out of New York – passing the city centre of Manhattan was easy because most streets were closed off for a local Sunday bicycle event, but still quite time consuming because I went on smaller roads having to cross a lot of bigger roads. The congested and boring roads with bad pavement and lots of potholes made the ride through the suburbs less fun – the many missing street signs made it difficult to navigate and a couple of times I shortly got lost until intuition helped me out (few people I asked for directions were able to help). Finally after 50k (32 miles) I got a nicer part of the bicycle route east across Long Island – small streets but it was easy to follow the signs through residential areas (everything from small houses to big mansions) and the occational forest. During the day I met a number of people but most memorable were two sisters who were very helpful and interested in my trip – we talked briefly before departing but a bit later they caught up with me to give me some small gifts – very nice and impressive stalker qualifications being able to to find me again! It was a beautiful day – only 12C (55F) but the sun made the whole difference. I camped in a very open and bare forest (still early Spring), but fortunately there was no people around. While eating dinner I admired 7-8 deer playing and eating only 20 metres (65 feet) away.
The next day I got up early to make sure I got the noon ferry from Orient Point, Long Island to New London in Connecticut. On a chilly morning there's nothing like breakfast and a cup of coffee while watching the deer. When I left at 8am it was clouded so not much to see – I followed the google directions to go on smaller roads but missed a turn and ended up on the backroad to Orient Point which is Long Island's 65k (40 miles) wine route - at this time of year everything was closed down and only naked vines to see. The road was more hilly, winding and open/windy as well as a bit longer but riding the same road saved much time asking for directions - consequently I made good progress and at 10am I only had 32k (20 miles) to the ferry. I slowed down which was good timing because from here it was nice countryside, oceanviews and cosy, small villages.... quiet at this time of year where most things are still closed but based on the number of galleries, antique shops, etc. it must be very touristic in the Summer. It was a nice 1½ hour ferry ride – a bit cold but I found a good spot in the sun away from the wind. In Connecticut I headed north and immediately hit the rolling hills – however an incredible scenic trip through forest and along rivers and creeks. Despite riding without t-shirt everybody greeted me and almost all cars stopped when I wanted to ask for directions – far from the image other people had provided about New England'ers. It became a long day – 90 miles plus the the ferry ride through 3 states ending up in a Rhode Island forest. Only challenge was my left knee (swollen again) and the still unresolved problem with the back tire touching the mudguard....
The next morning I continued northeast on the Washington Trail to Providence – another railway track converted into a bicycle trail.... for the US it's visionary and I appreciate the effort but coming from Europe it's hard to be really impressed – it was asphalt but not maintained, it was overgrown with few views and worst of all bicyclists don't have preference at the countless road crossings..... From Providence I rode east towards Cape Cod – and this was one of the days where google-maps showed it's advantage – instead of big roads I rode the whole day on small roads through forests and residential areas... fairly hilly but very cosy and scenic. Another day in beautiful weather to enjoy the lovely New England Spring with the blooming trees and flowers.... The disadvantage of the warmer weather was the increasing number of bugs getting in my eyes while bicyling (I don't like sunglasses) and when camping out - but still it's not too bad. Late afternoon I passed beautiful Onset by a bay and shortly after I arrived in Sagamore where I met Bryan on his afternoon run around town. He had done a couple of longer bicycle trips himself and was very interested in my trip... we had a beer and talked for an hour before I continued along the canal and crossed the river to camp in a nearby forest - though it took almost an hour to find somebody who knew where the pedestrian path across the bridge was....
Day 4 started with another beautiful morning – around the tent birds sang and squirrels collected food for breakfast. I took the recommended old highway 6A east – quite nice but a bit busy and narrow with 2 lanes and no shoulder... however, as always most people were considerate when passing (contrary to what I had been told beforehand). At an intersection I was surprised to experience 20 people in cars unwilling to stop when I wanted to ask for directions....! After about 30k (20 miles) I picked up the highly recommended Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) that took me another 40k (25 miles) towards Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod peninsula. Same problems as the Washington trail the day before but more views of forest, lakes, farms and residential areas. Most of the remaining 30k (20 miles) to Provincetown I was supposed to be on small backroads, but after experiencing coastline/beaches resembling the westcoast in Denmark, I (again) missed a turn – I had to improvise to find the highway (not easy navigating by the sun when it's overcast) which I took the rest of the way. For once I had tailwind – probably because the “higher powers” always annoying me with headwind hadn't taken into consideration the time I talked to people along the way (?!). During the morning clouds started coming in and it just got darker and more overcast during the day – and when I reached Provincetown late afternoon I started drizzling.... Still before the season there was little activity in town except for people repairing houses and shops. Bicycling around town for an hour I got the impression that it's an overhyped place where people only go to “see and be seen”. Now in fierce headwind and showers I headed back south along the google-route I had missed coming the other way. As the weather didn't improve I decided to pitch my tent in a forest after 20k (13 miles) - a bit earlier than usual as it was still only 5pm.
Heavy showers during the night and overcast weather in the morning made me sleep in and leave late – little did it help; the weather changed continuously from overcast, to a bit of sun, to dark clouds and showers. The weather made me take the old highway instead of the small backroads - which also prevented me from riding the same roads twice except for the first and less developed 20k (14 miles) of the peninsula.... 6A is supposed to be scenic but I found it very touristic with all its galleries, antique shops, pottery and glass, etc. Heading north towards Boston I passed Plymouth with the “famous” rock – allegedly the year “1620” is ingraved by the first US immigrants. A big monument was built around it and several immigrant houses were reconstructed nearby. I think you have to American to find it interesting though the place was overcrowded with Chinese tourists in tourbuses. As it started pouring down I quickly headed on – I drove for ½ hour before taking refuge in a small shop selling fishing equipment. I asked the owner if I could pitch my tent in the nearby small forest, but he was kind to suggest I camped in his yard. He even offered dinner, but I had already eaten and also I was “low on hygeine” not having no shower since I left NYC.
With the promise of better weather I left early to increae my sightseeing time in Boston. It was an easy 70k (45 miles) ride through forest, residential areas and suburbs – however, as always entering a big city it took a while with all the traffic, lights, etc. I arrived in downtown Boston around noon in great weather, so I spent the afternoon bicycling around town – see the next section on Boston.