Exploring Nantucket Insider Tips

See the Island on Two Wheels

by C. Oscar Olson

If you’ve spent any time at all on Nantucket this summer, you know it has been a hot one. All the surprising amounts of sun we’ve seen has driven people to bask in their air-conditioned cars and take a pass on the bike rides, so another thing you probably noticed was the increase in traffic. With September comes cooler weather, making this month the ideal time to get back on two wheels.

September brings smaller crowds, less fuss, and fewer things to worry about. In our opinion, it’s simply a lot more fun. All the best spots are still open for business, and the ocean is still warm. End-of-season sales will start soon, and you might even find deals on accommodations. Getting by on a bike is a great way to take in the island’s quieter side all while slowing things down and spending time with friends and family. The exercise is just an added perk.

Every ferry operating between here and all ports makes transporting your own two-wheel ride easy and inexpensive, but in the event that you can’t bring your own bike, there are lots of places to rent quality, well maintained bicycles for adults and kids of all ages.

Young’s Bicycle Shop, just a few steps from Steamboat Wharf, has been a family business on Nantucket for more than 90 years. They make the process easy and fun. Say “hi,” hop on, and get on with your day because the Young family and their wonderful staff will provide you with some of the best bike rental options. Their top-quality fleet of Cannondale and Trek two-wheelers will get you to where you want to go with a safe and comfortable ride.

For an out-of-town option, beat the traffic of Main Street with Island Bike. With rentals offered by the day, week, or even month, Island Bike will, without a doubt, come through for your however long your stay might be. They also provide Burley bike trailers for the kids, pets, or luggage in tow, along with attachable trail-a-bikes, as well as single and double baby joggers. As with most shops on island they also provide sales, tune-ups, and repairs.

With more than 35 miles of dedicated bike paths 30 miles out to sea, a ride from Cook’s Cycles can also get you to all the points beyond. Choose from 8- speed cruisers made for pavement or something else for all the sandy streets and sideroads you might encounter on your journey. Every summer season, Cook’s boasts a new fleet of wheels along with a full fleet of electric assist bicycles. You can also head next door to Cook’s Cafe for lunch to go before you head off.

Bike Shares have been growing in popularity in places across the country, and in recent years Nantucket has found its own offering with Sandy Pedals. Their bikes are available to use at your ease and convenience, ready to pick up from specific spots across the island, 365 days a year. With 50 easily accessible, affordable, short term rentals to find wherever you might need one, you’ll never be without transportation. Their app and website (sandypedalsbikes.com) are both easy to use and will take the guesswork out of getting on your way.

For a list of island bicycle shops, be sure to visit bike.nantucket.net

There are countless memorable rides to head out on this September, but it never hurts to have a guide. Jim Olney, avid cyclist and Land Use Manager at the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF), has a couple of tours in store for the month of September. The first is being held on September 6 and is an awesome tour of the Middle Moors. “We ride at a pace depending on the crowd,” Jim explained, “and we always play it by ear. I spend time with the group talking about ongoing projects, endangered species, and other interesting aspects related to the NCF.”

With 14 years of experience at Young’s Bicycle and an endless interest in Nantucket’s wild side, Jim is the ideal guide. A long time lover and avid user of all of NCF’s many properties, he wanted to do his part to support this island institution and to help visitors and residents see what there is to see. Both bike tours are free and open to the public, but space will fill fast so be sure to get on board. Head to nantucketconservation. org/event/ to register.

Beyond these, there are countless trips of all measure to take with riders of all abilities. Nantucket is fairly flat and easy to traverse, making even the long hauls approachable for many. The ride to Siasconset might seem daunting (it’s over 6 miles from town), but once there you can spend the day dining, swimming, and seeing the unique sights the eastern end of the island has to offer. And the NRTA shuttle, should you decide to take that route home, carries bicycles.

The ride to Madaket is another long ride (5.462 miles from town), but once there you’ll have access to pristine beaches and gorgeous sunsets.

For a shorter ride from town (just a little over 2 miles), you might hop on the Surfside bike path and take it down to one of the most beautiful beaches on-island. Surfside Beach is known to be a hot-spot, but September definitely slows things down. Bring your towels, sunscreen, and plenty of water, but you can buy food at The Surfside Beach Shack. At this beach you’ll find bathrooms, changing rooms, and fresh-water showers for when you’re ready to head home.

For more Nantucket bicycle paths, details on water stations, tips on biking Nantucket, and safety reminders, visit Bike.Nantucket.net

Get out there in the coming weeks and see this beautiful island from a different perspective. Things fly by too quickly looking out a car window, and September is a great time to appreciate what really matters. We promise you won’t miss a thing

Articles by Date from 2012