Thursday, June 24, 2010

The South Shore Coastal Loop, or To Atlantic City and Back

With the 150 mile Cape Cod Getaway coming up this weekend, Ethan and I decided we should try to log in a good number of miles on Saturday. We'd bought a book called Road Biking Massachusetts the week before and were excited to try one of their longer rides. As the weather forecast called for something in the 90s we wanted to stay as close to the water as possible, so the South Shore Coastal Loop seemed like a great choice. As the author points out, he actually borrowed this route from the Charles River Wheelmen, a great site with lots of awesome ride recommendations, including maps and cue sheets. While it's not the exact route we did, I've included their map (cue sheets here) rather than try to recreate my own or upload a fuzzy picture from the book with my iPhone.

Sorry the route itself is so small - I wanted to contextualize it in relation to Boston. Visit Charles River Wheelmen for the full size interactive map!

We left Boston at 9 AM and were at the Rockland Park n' Ride (free parking!) in a little less than half an hour. We got some energy bars at the local Hannaford (very convenient) and breakfast at the double drive through Dunkin' Donuts. This was a DD that was drive through only - it had a serving window on each side so you could get your DD both coming in and out of the parking lot. Fascinating.

We headed out a little after 10 AM. The roads were quite busy until we got to Wompatuck State Park, which was lots of fun to ride through. There were a bunch of community events going on in the information/office area of the park, including live music and a meeting of the Yankee Siberian Husky Club! The park seemed like a great place with camping, hiking, boating and other fun stuff to do, definitely worthy of further exploration.

What a good pup!!

Down the road a bit, instead of turning from Jericho Rd. onto Hatherly St., we stayed on Jericho Rd. to go out and see the Old Scituate Lighthouse. We stopped here to enjoy the view and have a snack.

Forgot to take a picture here, so using this one from a Boston Globe Help Wanted ad. They are looking for a lighthouse keeper. Seriously.

We hopped back out onto Hatherly, but I wish we had stayed on Oceanside Drive so we could be by the water. Along Hatherly we stopped at a roadside convenient store on the right to refill our water bottles. I forgot to screw the top on Ethan's so when he went to drink it he spilled it all over himself. It was hilarious. Unfortunately karma ensured that a bit down the road, at the intersection where we would turn left onto Gannett, I would hit a sandy patch and fall off my bike. 

Instead of riding Border St. to Atlantic Ave. as this map shows, we did Main St. to Jerusalem. If I'd chosen the route myself instead of following the guide in our book, I probably would have chosen Atlantic too as it runs along the ocean. However, Main St. to Jerusalem was actually a great ride through town and by some really, really swell houses. Really worth seeing.

Soon we were on our way out to Hull and biking along Nantasket Beach.  Neither Ethan nor I had been there before and both feel it is best described as Atlantic City without the gambling. Along the beach there is a strip of ice cream shops, a carousel, pizza joints, an arcade, the works. I had never seen so many people on a beach in Massachusetts before. 

Ethan hated it.

It was also very crowded on the roads, with pedestrians and cars, making for sub-par biking. We rode through as fast as we could. The outermost chunk of Hull was quite different, much less crowded with lots of pretty open space and great views of Boston. Also had a wind turbine, which you can see from across Boston Harbor in places like Nahant. We stopped there for a bathroom break, snack, and water refill, then were off back towards the car.

View of Boston from outermost tip of Hull

Our total mileage was 55 miles. All in all it was a very enjoyable ride, but we have one strong recommendation: 

Instead of parking at the Rockland Park 'n' Ride, go straight to Wampatuck State Park! It's a much prettier place to start and lets you cut out a lot of biking on 228, which was terrible with lots of fast moving traffic and frequent tractor trailers. Doing so obviously cuts down the mileage significantly but you can add it on elsewhere pretty easily.

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