What Cape Traffic?

There is probably just a handful of people in the world who dislike Cape Cod. Until recently, I was one of them. Well, let me qualify that: I avoided Cape Cod. It’s the traffic, that’s all. Try squeezing nearly 128,000 vehicles a day through the Bourne and Sagamore bridge lanes — that’s an actual number counted by the Cape Cod Commission (I may be unemployed but I remember how to find info like that). Now consider the number of vehicles on the Cape that don’t cross the bridges every day, and smoosh a good percentage of them onto the two lanes of Route 6 at least once a day … it’s the recipe for a perfect headache!

Route 6 is almost tolerable until it shrinks to single lanes!

So I haven’t ventured onto the Cape by car (my alternative was sailing in) for a few years. But then a customer at the store chatted me up about mountain biking. We exchanged favorite anecdotes but there was something about the way his eyes got misty when he said “Trail of Tears, on the Cape.” It stuck with me. I knew I’d have to make the trip to find out what is so special about the place.

Trail of Tears gets great reviews on the mountain biking sites I read, including NEMBA, Singletracks, and CapeCodBikeGuide.com. And I concur without reservation. Singletracks says, “It’s the best mountain biking on the Cape, period.”

It’s easy to find, but for me, of course, it was easy to lose my car once I got there. There are three possible parking areas… and without a trail map (I think they’re available at the town hall if you have time), you’ll be like me, giving yourself an hour at the end of the ride to find your ride home. I parked under some high tension wires and was creeped out by other people sitting in their (idling) cars in the p-lot. I mean, this is rather remote, no houses in sight… I’m thinking it’s either a drug drop or a hookup spot… I got my stuff together and even put my shoes on before I got out of the car to minimize possible interactions with the lurkers. Eeeew.

First impressions weren’t so hot. Right under the wires, the tracks were filled with soft sand, deep enough to stop me dead. It was blazing hot and I wasn’t enjoying it. I didn’t want to go full speed down the hills and hit soft sand, nor could I get much momentum going up the hills due to the sand. Hmmm.. where were the trails the other reviewers raved about?

under the wires it was way too sandy for me

All was revealed when I found a trail that headed for the trees. Suddenly, I was plunged into a warren of amazing hard-packed singletrack. It was fast and not too technical, a real dream. Soon I found myself giggling at the hills, turns and dips, just having a blast zipping through the woods. Best part: there are FIFTEEN MILES of fun to be had here. 15 miles!

once in the woods, a wonderful world of trails opened up

Amazingly, there was NO traffic. For the first hour, I was all by myself, just flying around, criss-crossing trails and enjoying the terrain without a thought. Then I stopped to look at the only posted trail map I saw in there (like it really helps a chronically lost rider like myself). I heard a noise, and saw a rider flying down a hill toward me. Scrambling to get out of his way, I apologized for slowing him down. But he just smiled and said, “Sweet! Somebody else is out here!” And he was gone again.

Somewhere along the way … was I looking for my car? … I ended up at a meadow that was a beautiful break from the woodsy trails. On the far side, I found some track that is unlike anything I’ve seen before. The best way to describe it is to imagine someone sculpting a quick, roller-coaster section of trail out of smooth mud and letting it harden. I just can’t imagine how this feature came about naturally, so I have to assume there’s some master craftsmen at work. It was a short, narrow singletrack, bounded on both sides by thick ferns, and a wonderful source of laugh-out-loud FUN frickin’ riding. I felt like a 12-year-old boy pulling wheelies on the top of every whoop-de-do. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s proof that I’m not making this up!

frolicking in the ferns, I couldn't keep from laughing out loud

No need to prolong this glowing review. I should really be on my way back to the Cape (during the week!) to ride this area again. It was that good. And I’d recommend it to parents with kids who are learning to mountain bike, because it’s quiet and easy enough to stick to non-technical riding but get the real experience.

there are still parts of the Cape I like, after all

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