On My Way: Life is good

A bike ride with a reward at the end.

My bike and iced coffee, outside Cumbie's. —Jonathan Burke

I took a long sip of the large Cumbie’s iced coffee flavored with a shot of amaretto — the indulgence a reward for a hard and sweaty ride.

An hour and a half earlier, I had left my house and saddled my bike. I pedaled out of the streets of my neighborhood and turned onto the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road at the top of Skiff Avenue.

I had an easy ride on the bike path. I passed the various industries and businesses, the farms and the homes and side streets with their tucked-away neighborhoods. I enjoyed a relaxed pace.

The presence of the roundabout ahead shifted my gears. I stood up on the pedals for the steep climb, welcoming the effort. I pulled around a stopped VTA bus. I crossed Barnes Road.

From the roundabout, I glided by the high school and the YMCA. I passed County Road. I began on the hills that followed. I went by the developments of outer Edgartown. I went uphill and down, and past the many homes along the road. I soon was going by the neighborhood dirt roads that line the way into town. The road began to open before me.

The Caroline Tuttle Preserve of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation was up a short ways to the left, about a quarter-mile back from the Edgartown Triangle. The recently moved entrance was easy to spot. A section of steamy-looking blacktop covered a swath cleared from the woods. I looked for traffic and crossed.

I paid little attention to the folks in the parking area, and took my bike through the trailhead. All of a sudden I was enclosed in the woods. The purple stripe of the Serpentine Trail was on a tree, and I began the first hill.

I felt the tires grip the dirt. I stood on my pedals. The trail sloped to the left. I propelled the bike forward and upward. With a few last determined turns, my front tire struggling for balance, I made the top. I took a breath.

I had fun pedaling a little too fast into the zigzagging turns, and I also was careful not to end up in the brush. The trail was a little wet and slippery in places. It would not have taken much to lose control. I took joy from the rewarding work of the ascents. One of the great traits of the purple trail is the doability of the otherwise technically demanding terrain. Adrenaline rushed through me.

I did not tire of the trail’s constant meandering ascents and descents. I passed and greeted some folks from my son’s Little League days, out for a walk with their dog. The trail did not stop its circuitous weave. With some disappointment, I reached the end of the route.

The purple trail merges onto another trail at the Sengekontacket Pond. I continued along. I went by a short branch trail to a pond overlook. I passed a man out for a walk, and exchanged pleasantries. The trail is mostly flat here, before a hard 90° turn to the right. I always feel I am going to fall as I slow to a crawl to make this turn.

I crossed some dirt roads. A steep hill loomed before me. I dropped into a lower gear, and gave all I had. I think I could ascend this hill but for the railroad ties in places across the trail. As it was, I had to unsaddle. They are impossible to surmount.

Not far ahead, I found the narrow, tight, and mostly straight branch trail to Beach Road. At its end, I unsaddled to cross the wood slat bridge over the creek. I found myself on the Beach Road bike path, up a ways from Cow Bay. I took a water break.

In a few minutes, I was crossing the Sengekontacket Pond culvert. The current in the pond swirled in a maelstrom. Bend in the Road Beach, empty of parking except one or two stray cars, was then to my right. I looked at the marsh and wetlands of the pond. I sped along.

The day seemed mostly deserted. The sky was overcast, and a gray wind blew over the pond. But some signs of summer were there.

Folks were set up on the protected shore of the pond. Little kids played on the beach with their floaties, and folks were in the pond with their clamming rakes. Folks were beginning to arrive at the beloved sandy shores of State Beach with their umbrellas and other gear for an afternoon beach day, it seemed. A small group jumped off Big Bridge.

Fortunately, for me, the bike path was mostly empty. I did not have to navigate families with kids on bikes, and other folks walking side by side on the path. With the sand dunes for company, I biked the wonderful stretch.

The Farm Neck links were off to my left after Little Bridge. I steered between a group of stopped bikers. I went by the Island Inn and the Harthaven harbor, and past Farm Pond, where I crossed to the concrete seawall. I went by Inkwell Beach and Waban Park, and worked my way up the hill along Pay Beach. I rolled down past Ocean Park, and turned through downtown Oak Bluffs at the Steamship Terminal, almost falling as my pedal hit a concrete curb.

I took my place in the Oak Bluffs traffic. I went along the busy harbor. I biked to the top of Washington Park so I could catch a view of my friend Dave, who was selling art at the flea market. Then it was East Chop.

I pushed up the hill, and rode the top of the bluff, with the expanse of Vineyard Sound below me. The boats looked miniature in the water. I came flying down the hill after the East Chop Light, past the summer beach houses exposed to the brunt of weather.

I took Temahigan to Eastville and Eastville to Beach. I went over the Lagoon Drawbridge. I took the wide bike path as far as it would go, and then joined the road. I biked through the working waterfront of Vineyard Haven. I glided through Five Corners. I took the left into the Cumberland Farms parking lot. I leaned my bike against a tree, and retrieved a few dollars from the stowage.

My mouth was practically watering. I filled my large cup with ice and then poured the coffee over it. I took a sip, and added more ice. I then went to the flavor shots. (I do not usually add anything to my coffee, but a Cumbie’s iced coffee with a flavor shot is like ice cream with hot fudge and whipped cream.)

The machine was out of French vanilla and also Irish cream. So I decided on amaretto, not sure what amaretto was. I paid my $1.59 and went outside. I sat down against a tree.

Veterans Park with grass fields and benches was nearby, but I was born and raised in New York City. I preferred to sit and watch the traffic. The iced coffee was cold and delicious.