Ask David Weagle, Mike Broderick, or Mary McConneloug where to mountain bike on the Vineyard and they will just shrug their shoulders and say everywhere. They don’t use maps or even have names for the places they ride, because they don’t need to, nor do they want to. Far better to just head out the door, saddle up, and ride. But if the unknown truly scares you, here is a template.
First, don’t worry about buying any fancy equipment or some skin-tight uniform with advertising logos that makes you look like someone who thinks the Tour de France is seeking an unknown knucklehead and might call you up at any moment. Leave that look to the road bikers, that very serious sort who ride in groups down the straightaways of life looking neither left nor right for adventure.
Where you are going, deep into the woods, all you need is a loincloth. Or, if feeling modest, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt will do.
Next, get on your bike and go. That’s all there is to it. Where? Well, look for the signs. Turn right at your mortgage payments, hang a Louie at domestic responsibilities, ride hard toward your first kiss, to when you could live a full week on nothing but $10 and a lot of laughs, coast downhill past insomnia, acid reflux, hammer toes, night sweats, boring dinner parties, and digestive cleanses, and pedal uphill hard and by yourself because drafting is for wussies who don’t want a real workout.
It won’t take long to feel it, out there on the trails with the squirrels and hawks, the smell of earth, moss, and manure, the trees dancing in the wind and the fresh air like big bong hits of adrenaline rather than sucking tailpipe on the macadam. Freedom. That’s what you will feel. And it will taste good.
What are you waiting for? Let’s ride. Oh, you’re still worried about where to go and how to do it? Okay, that’s cool. Life has put you in a box and you need an Allen wrench to get out. Pick up a few trail maps. “Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” is a good one, and don’t let the title throw you. The writer meant to add to the title that “Walking Trails equal Mountain Biking Trails,” he just forgot. Honest.
Also pick up the land bank map, which will give you a great visual of how to connect a ride from one pristine location to the next, like rolling from Peaked Hill to Waskosim’s Rock, then over to the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, down the long dirt road to Long Point, back to the state forest, and then ending somewhere deep in Lambert’s Cove. It’s as easy as that.
Still not convinced? How about looking for the little green gnome? It’s located 0.7 miles past the Granary Gallery, heading down Old County Road toward the West Tisbury School. He’s on the left, tied to a post, carrying a weird grin on his face. You’ve probably passed him a thousand times in your car. Well, he’s grinning because he’s sitting at the entrance to a trail that parallels Old County Road and then intersects with a whole host of ancient ways that could keep you crisscrossing the middle of West Tisbury for hours. Too bad there aren’t little green gnomes all over the Island, but let this little guy serve as an off-road metaphor – trails are everywhere, hidden in plain sight, like pots of gold. Okay, we’ve veered into leprechaun territory, but you get the point.