Each spring we eagerly look forward to getting out our adaptive tandem bike, which allows me to enjoy time on the trails far beyond how far my feet can carry me. Last spring we were in process of building our new bike, and were delayed in getting out. And this spring, well, there’s a pandemic about, if you had not heard. So beyond concerns about the days getting too warm for me, we have the added concern about whether we might expose, or be exposed to, anyone else who could make us deathly ill.
We decided, rather than visit one of the several local rail trails nearby, which we felt sure would be more crowded than we felt comfortable with, to head out to Carver, to the Myles Standish State Forest. We found information online that talked about paved walking paths throughout the forest, and hoped to find an access point away from crowded parking lots, where we could set up our adaptive tandem bicycle and spend time exploring the area.
Let’s see: bike loaded up in truck, check; water, snacks, jackets and other layers of clothing, check; face masks, check, check. Besides all the usual things we need to think of (and yes, bike repair tools are a given for any ride we take), we were keenly aware of the need to protect others from us, and protect ourselves from anyone we might encounter on the trail.
We found a spot near an access gate in the forest, and confirmed that the paved walking paths were right there. Bike riders pedaled by as we readied our bike to hit the trail. We found the paths much narrower than rail trails we have visited. My guess is that these trails were paved to help prevent erosion from the many summer visitors this area hosts each summer. The multiple camp sites in the property must bring thousands of visitors, but this is a guess on our part–this was our first visit to this DCR property.
We headed away from the ponds that were on the map–we guessed this was the direction most people would flock to, and this is exactly what we were trying to avoid. Consequently, we saw woodland. Lots and lots of woodland, almost all pine trees, and multiple dirt paths traveling away from the paved walkways that seemed to hug the perimeter of the park as we pedaled mile after mile through the forest.
Most people were thoughtful and worked with us to provide room for each other. Children, as always, grew very excited seeing our “bicycle built for two” sail past them. Few people in the forest wore masks, much to our dismay. Some people, upon seeing us coming, split up on either side of the trail, making it impossible to pass them with any real room between us. We normally would have stopped to chat with folks along the way, but this was not something anyone was inclined to do this trip. Another change in how we interact.
We encountered numerous spots along the path that may have been altered to permit better drainage. The effect of these cuts in the pavement were bumps in the trail, telegraphing much bigger bumps for the rider on the back of the bike–me! I can’t see most of the bumps coming, so we have a shorthand to warn me of incoming bumps. “Bump!” I hear, and hold on tight. It worked, and I didn’t fall off once.
We had been unable to follow our own advice for avoiding crowds, to get out on the trail early. What we saw of the area encouraged us to make the trip again, but next time it will need to be much earlier in the day. The multiple ponds, and large network of paved paths make this an attractive place to visit for walking or biking. We wonder whether the camping sites we saw will be open to the public this summer. Time will tell.
We usually take numerus photos, but clearly our attention was focused on other concerns, and we ended up with only one photo of a woodland trail, neglecting to get even one picture of the paved walkways, and none of the ponds in the area. Next time…
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.