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Bring the Family: The Cape Cod Canal bike path

Steve Greenlee/ Globe Staff

Who: Features editor Steve Greenlee, his wife, and their three kids, ages 10 to 13

What: Biking

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Where: Cape Cod Canal bike path

It took 13 years of child rearing, but finally all of us are riding bicycles on which longer excursions are possible. This is an important development in our family. When Kelly and I were dating 20 years ago, we biked a lot. We often rode the East Bay Bike Path along Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Round trip, the ride was 29 miles, perfect for a leisurely summer afternoon.

Amelia, our daughter, turned 10 this spring and got a 24-inch bicycle. Now she and our 13-year-old sons, Aidan and Liam, are all equipped for jaunts longer than simply pedaling around the neighborhood. (Kelly and I are, in fact, riding the same Trek 720s we bought in 1992.) You couldn’t ask for better weather last Monday, so we loaded our five bikes into the minivan — three inside, two on a rack — and headed for Cape Cod Canal.

Flat, paved bikeways run along both sides of the canal. We chose the mainland mostly so we wouldn’t risk fighting our way into traffic heading back over the Bourne Bridge at the end of Memorial Day.

Parking is easy: There’s a huge lot on Route 6, right near the entrance to Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the path starts right there. There are restroom facilities too, and you can fill your bottle with fresh water before heading out.

Because the path is flat, it poses little challenge even for the youngest bikers. It can be crowded for the first mile or so — with folks biking, rollerblading, riding scooters, walking, and running — and others sunbathing, reading, or fishing at the bank. Just before the 1.5-mile mark, the path runs under the Bourne Bridge, and then the crowds abate. (The smallest children on their little bicycles don’t get much beyond that point.) After 2 miles, we saw fewer and fewer people. At 3 miles, we had the path pretty much to ourselves — passing other families or couples (or being passed by them) only once a minute or so.

Peace and quiet at the Cape Cod border on Memorial Day weekend — who’da thunk?

Steve Greenlee can be reached at greenlee@globe
.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGreenlee.
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