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The best way to tour Nantucket is by bicycle. Nearly 30 mi of paved bike paths wind through all types of terrain from one end of the island to the other: for details, consult the maps posted by Wheels, Heels, and Pedals (www.wheelsheelsandpedals.com), which supports alternative modes of transportation. It is possible to bike around the entire island in a day—should you tire, you and your bike are welcome aboard the in-season Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA) buses. The main bike routes start within ½ mi of town (warning: that first stretch can be dauntingly congested). All of them are well marked and lead—eventually—to popular beaches. The paths are also perfect for runners and bladers—but not mopeds, which must remain on the road (to the frustration of impatient drivers). Note that Nantucket requires bike riders 12 and under to wear a helmet. Several shorter spurs connecting popular routes have been continuously added in the island's quest to make Nantucket even more bike-friendly.
The easy 2.2-mile Surfside Bike Path leads to Surfside, the island's premier ocean beach. A drinking fountain and rest stop are placed at about the halfway point. The Milestone Bike Path, a straight shot linking Nantucket Town and 'Sconset, is probably the most monotonous of the paths but can still be quite pleasant. It's about 6 miles; paired with the scenic Polpis Path, it becomes a 16-mile island loop. The Old South Road Bike Path spurs off from the Milestone Rotary and ends about 1.5 miles later close to the airport. At 1.2 miles, the Cliff Road Path, on the north shore, is one of the easiest bike paths, but it's still quite scenic, with gentle hills. It intersects with the Eel Point and Madaket paths.
The Eel Point/Dionis Beach Path starts at the junction of Eel Point Road and Madaket Road and links the Cliff Road and Madaket bike paths to Dionis Beach. It's less than a mile long. The 9-mile Polpis Road Path. skirts scenic bays and bogs as it wends its way toward 'Sconset; it intersects with Milestone Path east of the rotary.The Madaket Path starts at the intersection of Quaker and Upper Main Street and follows Madaket Road out to Madaket Beach on the island's west end, about 6 miles from the edge of Nantucket Town. About one-third of the way, you could turn off onto Cliff Road Path or the Eel Point/Dionis Beach Path.
Island Bike Company. Island Bike Company, though located mid-island, offers free delivery anywhere. 25 Old South Rd., Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–4070. www.islandbike.com.
Nantucket Bike Shop. Nantucket Bike Shop, open April through October, rents bicycles and mopeds; the latter are not only perilous on Nantucket's sandy, bumpy roadways, but anathema to locals, so don't be surprised if you get some dirty looks. Ask about free delivery and pickup. There's a second branch at 10 Broad St. and a third on Straight Wharf, all in Nantucket Town. 4 Broad St., Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–1999; 800/770-3088 for both locations. www.nantucketbikeshop.com.
Young's Bicycle Shop. Young's Bicycle Shop, established in 1931, rents bicycles, including tandems and children's equipment; weekly rates are available. Knowledgeable third-generational Harvey Young and staff will send you off with everything you need—an excellent touring map, a helmet, a quaint little Portuguese handlebar basket—and offer roadside assistance in case of mishap (or overconfidence regarding one's skills and/or endurance). 6 Broad St., Steamboat Wharf, Nantucket Town, MA, 02554. 508/228–1151. www.youngsbicycleshop.com.