Monday, August 4, 2014

The Shining Sea Bike Trail

I usually try to post at least before five o'clock, but I also try to follow a rule: never let writing get in the way of life.

Today was given over to about a twenty-mile bike ride along the Shining Sea Bike Trail, (named in honor of Katherine Lee Bates [a local native of Falmouth, MA], who wrote "America The Beautiful" - which, if you ask me, should be our national anthem...) in Cape Cod. It is a beautiful stretch of trail through some of the most beautiful parts of Falmouth, MA and to Wood's Hole, home of the distinguished Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute. (For Jaws buffs: the institute that Matt Hooper worked for.)

We saw pretty stuff and I had a lot of time to think.

It was beautiful, but it was a physical challenge for me, a guy who doesn't keep in as good a shape as he should, but who is, by no means, too weak to take up the occasional physical challenge.

As I pedaled along, sometimes huffing with the uphill effort -- especially getting from our house to the trail itself --  I got thinking about the sort of wimpy culture we have created by having warnings from doctors and newscasters about effort and those over the age of, say, eighteen.

Every time is snows, for instance, some news caster tells people over forty not to shovel snow. Because of this, my own mom often says: "You shouldn't be out there shoveling! Let the boys do it."

Like Steinbeck mentions in Travels With Charley, I don't want to become a "big baby" as I get older. I am a cautious person; I am a rational person; I do not take unnecessary risks. But it is okay for me to lift a little and for me to get my heart pumping faster than it is used to. I know the sun can be bad for me, but it is not going to keep me off of a bike or out of a kayak when one is available.

You take stock: last checkup okay? Get out there. So, we did twenty miles. Am I going to be sore tomorrow? You bet.

Little Sippawisset marsh; in the local native
American tongue, it means "place where the spirit is."
 A friend of mine saw this on Facebook and asked,
"Where are you guys? The Shire?"
If it is in the cards for me to drop dead shoveling snow, okay. But if I am shoveling snow and I start feeling like crap, I'll stop and go to the hospital, because that isn't supposed to happen. If I had been riding and my heart had started beating irregularly or if I started feeling dizzy, I would have told my wife to stop and call for help. Not being a big baby does not mean being a big idiot. You keep yourself as safe as you can without letting worry stop you from exploring your world.

And we did explore.
Great Sipawisset marsh. Karen says she would
settle for that house in the distance.

We traveled the whole trail on two borrowed bikes. We went to the end of the trail, north, having come onto it midway. It ran through some beautiful, shady, forest-lined areas, sometimes opening up with views of harbors and even some picturesque cemeteries.

Karen would point our the houses she wanted to have and I promised to take mental notes for the day on which I will surprise her with both our new house and my suddenly acquired wealth.

We did see the "shining sea," moving downward to Wood's Hole.

We were maybe most pleased with finding an ice cream shop off of the trail, down a little path indicated only by a wooden sign with a faded, primitive picture of an ice cream cone on it. (I swear Karen can "sense" ice cream and pastries. No -- not smell them or find the shops on a map. She senses them, the way Spiderman uses his Spidey sense...)

Me, the intrepid explorer, on the
trail to ice cream -- just around the bend.

It was a tiring day that ended with a quiet and relaxing swim in Mare's Pond, behind our house.

If you're going to get sore muscles, they might as well remind you of something cool. And, so far, no pains radiating down my left arm. (Insert "Incredible Hulk" flex here.)

I might just spend tomorrow working on my book, though.

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