|Point Judith - last mainland stop before Block Island!|
Days, weeks, even months passed. In that time, Abbey and I both tuned up our bikes and failed to ride them for an entire season (well, I did 3 measly miles to Savers to buy some biking spandex that sat unused in my dresser for a year), and then winter unreasonably got in the way. But as the shoots of spring began to unfurl, so did our dormant plan also reawaken. With unseasonably warm weather kicking off the year, we figured we'd jump on the sunny opportunity and so, with a glorious spring Saturday on the forecast and three open schedules, Block Island finally was to become a reality!
|More boats at Point Judith|
Still bleary-eyed, we stumbled out of the house at 6.30 am so Matt could drop me off at Abbey's by 7. I had wanted to wait till my eyes were less morning-gunky to put in my contacts, and so I figured I would do it at her place. In the bathroom, I tore open the package, lifted the contact to my eye, and had it pop back out. Undeterred, I dried my hands on a towel to get rid of the excess saline and brought it up again...hang on, there was a whole bunch of cat hair stuck to it! I tried rubbing it off, but the strands refused to budge. I had overlooked the important fact that everything in Abbey's house was covered in cat hair, and had neglected to bring my little bottle of saline. A few rubs later, I figured I was only going to tear the lens before I dislodged the hair, and I had no desire to take any chances on laminating any cat hair between my eyeball and the lens, which I could only imagine would make for an unpleasant situation. Oh well. Into the trash the lens went, and I resigned myself to wearing glasses for the day.
|Heading down to the bluffs.|
Still mostly on schedule, we made the drive down to Point Judith without much incident. Upon our arrival, some enthusiastically-waving girls succeeded in luring us into their all-day parking lot, which, despite the early hour, was already full of cars and a plenitude of bikes. At this point, I figured it was a good idea to at least get on my bike to see if it was functional - Abbey and I had both had a panicked moment in the last 24 hours regarding our tires, hers when she accidentally deflated them while using an air compressor, and mine when my rear tire suddenly refused to inflate! I guessed my situation was due to a bent pin in the valve and had fixed it that morning with a pair of pliers (good thing we jewelry-making girls always have needle-nosed pliers at hand!).
|Walking by the bluffs|
It took a little under an hour to reach New Shoreham, with a little bit of rock-and-rolling ocean action, but thankfully no seasickness occurred among our crew. We finally saw the curve of Block Island's shoreline pull into view, and we were soon docked and raring to go. Deb disembarked ahead of us while Abbey and I headed down to retrieve our rides, trying to keep ahead of the Scouts. Standing in front of the pile of bikes, we perplexedly scanned the rows, trying to pick them out.
"He said row 5, right? Wouldn't that be further back there?"
We stared into the distance at rows and rows of indistinguishable bikes for a minute.
"I don't see them...yours was purple, right?"
"Yeah, what was yours?"
"Wait a minute, they wouldn't be right in front of us, would they?"
|Great egret dropping by at lunch|
The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and we were all-too-apparently out of shape. Thighs started burning quickly, and lungs were gasping as we struggled up the road, cursing every uphill. We kept at it though, and with a few stops to catch our breath we came across the sign for Mohegan Bluffs, a picturesque spot with impressive steep clay bluffs that tumbled down to the ocean. Despite having been on the trail for only a little bit, we decided that we were sufficiently famished and decided to have lunch by the ocean. We trotted down the 141 steep stairs on slightly wobbly legs, clambered down a slightly treacherous rocky section at the bottom of the stairs, and found some welcoming boulders to sit on at the base of the 185-ft tall cliffs.
|Taking a rest stop|
Bellies full, we decided we were re-energized enough to take to the road again, especially since hordes of Boy Scouts were now beginning to descend on the beach. We hauled ourselves back up the steep incline to the top of the cliffs, and resumed the loop around the south end of the island. The landscape was pleasant and rolling, with plenty of cute houses to envy and birdsong lilting in the air.
Unfortunately, the length of the ride and the uphills got to Deb somewhere along the way and she started Charlie horsing pretty badly. Her water was also running low because she had somehow managed to spill one of her bottles in her backpack a little earlier on. As we stopped for a breather, I thought that the melted ice cubes in my cooler would now make for a refreshing treat, and the enthusiastic response that I got when I mentioned them definitely confirmed the idea. I got my ice cube ziploc and poured the contents into Deb's water bottle, watched her take a swig...and pull a face. Not one of delight and relief, but one of distaste.
"What's the matter? Does it taste okay?"
"It tastes like curry!"
Abbey sniffed the bottle.
"That's weird, it does smell really strongly of curry!"
|New Harbor - still shut for the season|
What seemed like miles later, we pulled into New Harbor and trotted to the only open restaurant in the hopes that we could use their restroom and get some cold beverages. No dice - they weren't even open for business - but we did get directed to the public restrooms by the pier. We took another good rest stop, resigned ourselves to the fact that no water was to be found here, and made the final push back towards New Shoreham.
|Over the dunes to Crescent Beach!|
Despite sore legs and muscle cramps galore, Deb was reluctant to leave the island before making an attempt to reach the tippy-top where the North Light resided. We made sure that she was certain in her masochistic plan before embarking northwards on Corn Neck Road. We made it there in fairly good time, although as I zipped down the last long hill I thought to myself that I would probably be rather unhappy trying to get up it on the way back - I was later proved absolutely right.
|Rocky rocky beach|
Abbey and I made it out to the lighthouse - the fourth to be built on this site - and sat there for a while, waiting for Deb who took a little longer to arrive. She eventually made it, and at that point we realized that we had a little less time than we thought to make it back to the ferry in time for the last boat of the day. It was time to hustle, and so we started back at a good clip over the beach and back to our bikes.
The hill we had so effortlessly cruised down on the way in proved to be our first and fairly brutal nemesis on the way back, and we all were pretty soon walking our bikes up the hill as pedaling had proved useless. Deb's Charlie horses had also kicked back into action, and although it was painful to watch, she was a total trooper and we made it all the way back to town with some time to grab a chicken wrap before getting back on the ferry to Point Judith.
|Heading to North Light|
The ride back was a quiet one as we were all fairly exhausted - I Google-mapped out our route later on and concluded that we had ridden at least 17 miles around the island, a fairly respectable ride for 3 non-regular bikers on a hot sunny day. A few wrong turns later, we were back on the freeway heading home, with bike-sore butts and suntanned shoulders, content with our accomplishments for the day.
More photos from our trip can be found here on my Flickr page.