NYC to Nantucket, MA

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Anonymous's picture

I have had my sights set on doing the 250 mile trip up to Hyannis. I figured I could do each way in 2-3 days with two days on the island and the same 2-3 day return. But alas, work is busy and I am limited to long weekends. One of those long weekends is *this* weekend, so I am thinking about slightly cheating and taking the train to Old Saybrook, CT and cycling to Hyannis where I will catch the ferry to Nantucket.

The constraints:
To get to Old Saybrook, I need to take the shoreline which connects with Metro North, but only runs on workdays and drops me off in Old Saybrook at 9 AM.
Distance from Old Saybrook to Hyannis is 150 miles
The last ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket is at 8:45 PM (but need to arrive earlier) which equates to a bit over 11 hours
I will be lightly loaded with four days of clothes. Figure 20 pounds maximum

The facts:
I bike every day
I recently completed the SIG B17
The longest unloaded ride I did this year was ~ 125 miles

The questions:
Am I setting myself up for failure for attempting to do this long distance, loaded, with time constraints?
I’m using CT, RI and MA state-issued bike maps to determine my route. Anyone have any recommendations?
Anyone want to join me?
Are there any bookies that wish to start accepting bets on my success?



Anonymous's picture
Popeye Doyle (not verified)

It sounds pretty arduous. If you don't make that ferry you're not going to find any vacant rooms anywhere near Hyannis.

How about going to Martha's Vineyard instead? Probably better riding, ferry connection is closer to Old Saybrook (Wood's Hole or New Bedford) and if something goes wrong you'll be in a better location to spend the night.

Good luck.

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

I’ve family on Nantucket, so it’s the only option. But aside from that, I have been forgetting contingency plans. And you are correct – not making that ferry would be a real drag; thanks for the reality check

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
how are you getting back?

"""I’m using CT, RI and MA state-issued bike maps to determine my route. ""

You're likely ended up with more than the ""map"" distance due to wrong turns. And it'll likely take longer due to having to stop a lot to look for street signs and such.

""Am I setting myself up for failure for attempting to do this long distance, loaded, with time constraints?""

The ""loaded"" part could also play into the equation, if you encounter wind.

With time constraints and the dire consequence of missing the ferry, will you even enjoy the ride?


Anonymous's picture
John Miller (not verified)

For some, pressure can be its own enjoyment -- make that ferry, soldier!

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

"Very true! At this time, winds are predicted to be from the SW at 15 MPH which will work well to my advantage. But, even with that going for me, the bus is starting to look like a better option, which will be an experience in itself as I haven't been on a bus or train in months!"

Anonymous's picture
Katie (not verified)
from someone that rides at night

13+ mph might be an agressive pace if you aren't used to the distance. it is do-able though if you keep up your forward momentum!

As an alternative worth exploring what is the day ferry schedule to go the other way around? why not take the last train up to Old Saybrook the night before, ride during the night/or early morning (depending when you get to old Saybrook) and take a ferry when you get there (not if you get there)?

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
other ferry options

In case you didn't make the trip yet, another possibility making maxiumum use of boats would be to take LIRR to Greenport, bike to Orient Point (~10 miles), take the ferry to New London, bike to Falmouth, New Bedford, or Woods Hole, take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, and get a ferry from there to Nantucket. I doubt that schedules would allow this to be a one-day trip, but then again biking 150 miles loaded shouldn't be a one-day trip either.


PS-Shoreline East didn't used to allow bikes. It's cool that they do now.

Anonymous's picture
Etoain Shrdlu (not verified)
I think you've answered your own question...

"Even though you don't seem to like the answer, you're telling us to tell you, ""Don't do it.""

So let me tell you. Don't do it.

The odds of screwing up your weekend (and the weekend of everyone who's on the island waiting for you) are so high that even you recognize them.

""There is a reason God invented Hertz.""
--Katya the Deposed Princess

Your Pa,
Etoain Shrdlu"

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

Thanks for all the advice. For the inquisitive, I ended up taking the bus to Hyannis and a puddle jumper to Nantucket. Total travel time was nine-painful-hours. On a positive note, I ended up sitting next to someone that just started using her bike to get to work, traveling from the UWS to mid-town. I told her about the NYCC and she promised to check out the site and consider joining :)

I hope to head up to Nantucket next month, at which point I hope to take the more civilized approach, taking 2 or more days to bike up.

Hannah, thanks for the suggestions on ferries. It’s too bad that there isn’t a water option (I guess 100 miles is bit of a stretch for a ferry) between Orient Point and Nantucket or even Martha's Vineyard. Island hopping from mainland to Martha’s and Nantucket is a nice option and I need to consider that one when planning next month’s trip.

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
more intermodal options

Dunno why I keep thinking of these weird combos, but here's another possibility: train (or bike or Jitney) to Montauk, ferry to Block Island, ferry to Point Judith, then:

bike to Quonset (RI), ferry to Vineyard, ferry to Nantucket
bike to Nantucket ferry location

Eschewing car travel makes one very resourceful!


Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
better yet

A more direct option would be a mid-day train to Riverhead and ride the remaining 30 mile to Orient Point in the afternoon, ferry to New London and spend the night there. Bike the 130 mile to Hyannis the next day. The distance is a tad shorter, you have the freedom to start out as early as 6 am. Both to your advantage of making the ferry to Nantucket.

(LIRR has a train to Greenport station which is right next to the New London ferry, but the afternoon train leaves Penn after 3pm, bike not allowed at such hour!)

Compare to riding all the way from NYC to Hyannis, the Orient Point to New London ferry option will take 1 1/2 day of travel time (instead of 2 days), riding 30+130 miles instead of 250.

You can mix and match the return trip to travel a different route. For example, you can ride all the way from Orient Point back to Manhattan on your return trip, or ride all the 250 mile way via CT without involving the ferry at all!

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

That looks like fun and not just because of the route, but also because of the proximity between New London and two places I’ve wanted to visit: The Mystic Aquarium (12 miles from New London) and the Groton Submarine Museum (three miles from New London).

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
Greenport train station

The Greenport LIRR terminal is indeed by a ferry, but not the
New London ferry. That's about 10 miles down the road in Orient Point. The ferry from Greenport goes to Sag Harbor.


Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
Thanks for the correction (NM)
Anonymous's picture
Maggie Schwarz (not verified)
Your trip in August

When do you plan to go and can a few of us do this with you?

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)

I'd be delighed to have company. Unfortunately, I don't have an exact date yet, but it will be sometime either between August 12-21 or August 23-September 1

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