11:37:48 am on
Monday 18 Nov 2019

The Bike Ride
AJ Robinson

Over the years, I biked quite a bit, especially on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a great place to ride a bike. The island has miles of trails; some awesome trails go through the state park, which is at the center of the island.


Bicycling on the Vineyard.

I remember biking, with my nephew, Nick, into areas where all we heard were the sounds of nature; these were places of total peace. For another reason, the island, at least back when I was a kid in the Stone Age of the 1960s and 70s, was safe; my friends and I biked all over the place: downtown Oak Bluffs, Town Beach, State Beach and so on. Naturally, when given the chance to bike there again, I took it.

It was the summer of 2018. We were on the island to enjoy some of the special events of August. There was the Agricultural Fair and Illumination Night. I also wanted to promote my new book, which is set on the Vineyard, and to give a few public talks on the book.

We no longer own a cottage on the island. I don’t think anyone other than a one-percenter can do that these days, which is such a pity. Thus, we rented a cabin in the real campgrounds.

I say real because, for me, anyway, The Campgrounds is where you find the gingerbread cottages. A campground, in the sense of using a tent, for example, didn’t exist, all those years ago. At the campground, the cabins are cute, small, simple and adequate for our needs; also, we could afford one, which is yet another issue with visiting the Vineyard these days.

The campground has some many amenities, such as, hiking trails, basketball court, campfire for get-togethers, full shower facilities, laundry, great coffee and bikes for rent. Amazement of super amazements, it has a pay phone, too. Several of the kids staying there had not a clue what to make of phone.

One warm morning, I decided to rent a bike for a little ride. I offered to take our foster son, Toni, with us, but he had no interest. His phone commanded his full attention. Guess I couldn’t fault him, in my day, the television was quite hypnotizing. Still, truth be told, when it came to the fun of summers on the island, no television show or movie could keep me from enjoying my days with my friends.

My wife, Jo Ann, expressed a slight concern as to my ability to travel any significant distance and return uninjured. I’ll admit, I’m not as young as I once was and it’s been a while since I rode a bicycle. Still, I felt confident I could survive an excursion.

I set out. The bike trails were nice. Each trail is broad, firm and not too bumpy. The slopes, at least initially, weren’t excessive.


Sent a few pics of fake bike tumbles.

Making my way toward the state park, I stopped at a meeting of several trails to get a drink and engage in a bit of fun. I positioned my bike as if I’d taken a severe tumble, took a picture and posted it to my wife and on Facebook. She was not amused.

After that, I headed into the interior of the park and that was where I found true peace. All the sounds of humans, the roar of vehicles, the stench of gas and oil, the chatter of voices, melted away. Silent nature surrounded me.

Yet, it was not merely the natural world. No, it was the wild and untamed lands of the island; a place I know like the moles and hairs on the back of my hand. I stopped in a quiet and secluded area, moved off into the soft grass and lay down.

Fluffy white clouds drifted across the blue canvas above me. The grass and earth were warm against my body. The distinct aromas of the island filled my nose: saltwater, honeysuckle and a hint of skunk.

Closing my eyes, I melted away, my body blended with nature. This was nirvana. I found true peace.

Would that I could have stayed there forever, but that was not possible. I had to return to my physical form, which now felt cold and vacant, to continue my journey. That was when things got a little tough.

The road rose and fell, reaching the scenic overlook to Tashmoo Pond. I found it hard to get up the hill. Passing the old Sears Catalogue building, every muscle of my body strained and that was even with me shifting to the easiest gear.

The road near the catalogue building is steep. I was proud of the fact that I made it all the way up. Reaching the top, I saw one of the Black Dog Bakery shops off to my left.

What the heck, why not stop for a snack? I bought one of their huge blueberry muffins and a drink, took a seat in an easy chair in a corner and relaxed. Of course, this being the age that it is, I had to “Check In” on Facebook, again; if nothing else, I figured it would assuage any fears Jo Ann had about me still being alive.

After refreshing myself and enjoying the gentle ambiance of the shop, I continued on my way. I was glad this part of my trip was downhill. I finally reached the start of the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, which is where the camp is located and made my turn.


The worth of the Vineyard.

It was only a short ride back to the camp. I turned in the bike and returned triumphantly to our cabin. Yeah, okay, I was sore and achy for at least a day, maybe two, three at the most. Yet, I was unconcerned. I was having a great sojourn; that’s what time on Martha’s Vineyard is good for, rest, relaxation and recovery.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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