|Crusing along Lake Winnipesaukee by bike and boat, by Marty Basch
Without a moment's hesitation, the ship's purser behind the gilded cage asked the obvious question to "One way please."
"Plan on swimming back?," he asked.
Swimming across New Hampshire's largest lake was not on the agenda that day. Plans called for taking the M/S Mount Washington across Lake Winnipesaukee from Wolfeboro to Weirs Beach and pedal the 30 miles back along the lake's edge.
Cycling the 63 miles around the Big Lake is a popular Lakes Region ride for road riders. Fit bicyclists like Steve Flagg of Wolfeboro, can cycle around the lake in four hours. But not everyone has the time, or desire to churn out that many miles in one day.
That's where the boat comes in.
"It is very scenic," said Flagg, who has also done a bike and boat adventure. "It is neat to go by bike around the lake. Certainly the boat is different to do. It is a great twist to a bike tour."
The 230-foot-long vessel docks in ports around the lake giving riders a myriad of choices for routes to take depending on the boat's schedule.
Bike first, then take the boat. Or vice versa. Some take the boat from Wolfeboro to the Weirs and ride back over the lake's northern tip along Meredith and Moultonboro. Others take the boat from the Weirs to Wolfeboro and pedal through Alton Bay. It can be done in the reverse as well. There isn't one definitive way,
On a recent summer voyage, there were only two cyclists aboard, planning to ride a tandem along the southeast section of the lake. Summer residents, tourists and campers swelled on to the three-leveled boat as it left Wolfeboro. The tour boat provided a vantage point for the winding shoreline and rounded peaks of the Ossipee, Sandwich, Belknap and Squam Ranges.
Through the white caps of the 200 foot deep lake, the boat passed by an array of islands, including Rattlesnake where the rattling slithering snakes were last spotted in 1946.
After docking at the Weirs, it was good-bye to the video game jockeys and sun worshippers. Route 11B left the arcades and swarm behind as it led past Governor's Island and marinas to Route 11 and a widening shoulder.
The rolling road served up views of the lake and descended past Ellacoya State Park, at water's edge. The shoulder narrowed and road continued to curve along small homes, woods and the occasional convenience store.
Near Mount Major, Route 11D proved to be secluded, shaded and scenic. Cars didn't whiz by at 55 miles per hour. The speed limit dropped to 25 and life slowed a bit. The road dipped down by the lake, along summer residences before rejoining Route 11 which rolled into the action of Alton Bay, complete with market, fried clams, ice cream, mini-golf and a gazebo.
Rounding the Bay, Route 28A takes riders along narrow, sinuous streets. Climb a bit by the postage-stamp sized beach before returning to the wide shoulders of Route 28 north. Mountains loom in the distance along the long hills. The road trims down some as the Wolfeboro town line is reached. Blink, and you might miss South Wolfeboro. Wolfeboro's lively Main Street marks the end of the ride.
Looking for the schedule? Ride over to www.cruisenh.com.
| by Marty Basch
Marty Basch is the author of several books including ìTwenty-nine HIllsî and ìThe White Mountain Ride Guide.î Reach him at email@example.com.