Martha’s Vineyard – biking Tisbury to Menemsha

by Oana

Tuesday 28 August: Martha’s Vineyard, cycle ride to the south-west tip of the island.
Early alarm didn’t exactly worked, as we slept through it. Wanted an early start today, to cycle westwards before the wind picks up (it will be in our face). Eventually, we manage to leave the boat by 10am. Very hot today again, maybe lots of wind will be good to cool us a bit.
We leave Tisbury via the State Road, and the first few km are mostly uphill. And in the traffic, as there is no bike path. Once on the North Road, we are on a very pretty route, shaded by trees and filling our lungs with the fresh pine smell. This area is certainly less developed, less spoiled and feels like normal people are living here rather than the endless holiday homes elsewhere. Few farms, few inns, and houses scattered miles apart. We are certainly happy we’ve seen this part of the island. With it dry stone walls we could be cycling in Cumbria.
As we approach our first destination, we are going uphill again, on Menemsha Hills Reservation. In the heat of the day we arrive at Menemsha, a very quaint fishing village. The harbour seems to be primarily lobster and fishing boats each with their small shingle-clad shed to keep their gear. On the wharf we watch a fisherman filleting sea bass caught just this morning. This is the real-deal, a cute working harbour that probably looked the same 100 years ago. In the village, we take shelter in the shade of a terrace where we indulge in a lobster roll and lemonade. Yummy. Now we have at long last tasted the famous lobster rolls! We couldn’t have left the area without sampling these.
Then to the beach, backed by sand dunes and green hills with few houses on top of them. At the fish market we discover a wide variety of fish and seafood, and we vouch we stop in the fish market next to the boat to buy few goodies (mainly scallops, we haven’t had those in a long time).
We then cycle towards the very west end of the island. Well, more like torturing ourselves. It is hill after hill after hill… more than 10 miles of them. And with the wind in our face the whole time. When we get to the Gay Head Lighthouse our legs are shaky and we are both panting. Wouldn’t want to cycle this bit on normal bikes, we think! The lighthouse is quite popular, more people here than we’ve seen at other similar locations. The view over the cliffs below us is quite spectacular. But the distant view over Elizabeth Islands and Rhode Island is hidden in a sea mist. The wind is strong from the SW and bringing warm humid air with it.
We continue our exploring towards Moshup Beach. Downhill this time! Another very pretty beach. We read in a brochure that despite public nudism being illegal in USA this is a “clothes optional” beach, but seeing so many families with young kids we doubt the info is correct. We hoped the Moshup Trail which runs all along the beach will grant us spectacular views. It wasn’t the case, and plus, there wasn’t a single path to allow us access the beach from any other point. All the adjacent roads had “private property” signs on. Well, normally this wouldn’t really stop us if there’s nobody around, but in this country we do take these signs seriously. So nope, we haven’t seen any more of this stretch of beach.
For the return journey we choose South Road, which we hoped would be flatter. Good plan, we didn’t kill ourselves on this stretch of road. Very unspoiled area, again, all very pretty.
Close to the airport we come across a bike path, which runs through the wood. Splendid! Well, splendid nature and very shady. Not so splendid for our bums, we wished we had suspension on our bikes! The pavement is not exactly even. Some hills here too, but at this point we just engage the electric power to ease our uphill cycle. Worryingly, the batteries are growing lower and lower on power.
By 5.30pm we are at the dinghy jetty. Exhausted would describe our state perfectly, as we are absolutely drained. We have cycled 74km today, and not exactly on an easy route. The GoCycle batteries are both showing 30% left, we have never before managed to use them so much.
Onboard Cloudy Bay, our first instinct is to crash flat on the aft deck and catch our breath. We are very dusty, soaked-sweaty but so happily exhausted. A nice shower revives is nicely.
But before the shower, Glen goes for a swim around the boat. And while at it, he scrubs the weed grown on the water line, few inches of it. And knocks off the barnacles. Not too many of them, just few clusters.
Early evening we chill out in the cockpit, in the very warm wind, wondering how often do these islands have nice warm south wind like this. The inside of the boat is 28DegC even with the hatches open. This is Caribbean weather!
GoCycles are cleaned and re-charged and we settle in for an evening of video editing as 20knts of warm wind whistles in the rigging above us.

Martha’s Vineyard photo album
Martha’s Vineyard video on Sail Cloudy Bay YouTube channel

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