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Biking

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Bikers and Farmers Unite at Farm to Fork Fondos

When former professional cyclist Tyler Wren wanted to create an event that combines his love of biking with farming and exquisite scenery, he was inspired by the Italian “fondos,” celebratory rides where locals and farmers bike first, feast afterwards. He pulled it off first the summer of 2016 in Vermont to great success. Every year since, the popularity of these rides has grown. This summer, Wren is offering a full slate of Farm to Fork Fondos, including stops in the Hudson River Valley, Vermont’s Champlain Islands, Finger Lakes, the Berkshires, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Louisville, and Asheville. These one-day rambles are geared to the public, not professional bikers. Wren creates loops of 8-10, 25-35, 45-50, and 75-100 miles based on your abilities, with police presence to cut off road traffic. Simply choose your ride and get ready to stop at local farms along the way for a feast of fresh food. Most of the proceeds go to local charities. You can even sign up for dinners the night before where farmers talk about the satisfaction and challenges of their livelihood. But sign up soon because I expect these rides to sell out quickly. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/25/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 15, 2019

Biking Seville

All it takes is a 5-minute stroll from our spectacular hotel, Corral del Rey, on the winding, narrow cobblestone streets to reach the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe and its massive bell tower. When that clock tower lights up at night, Seville is truly magical. Built along the river, protected from the pirates that attacked the southern coast, Seville flourished in the 1500s and the 1600s, when gold and other wealth from South America arrived on its shores. It’s a wonderful city to bike, as we did on a 3-hour ride with SeebyBike’s Ivan, a recent graduate of art history from the city’s large university. Ivan provided a great overview of Seville as we crossed the river into the neighborhood of Triana, visiting two historic churches that will be the starting point of parades this week as the city celebrates Easter with Holy Week festivities. We biked along the river and downtown on bike paths, visiting Parque de María Luisa to see the roses, lilies, and peonies in bloom. At nearby Plaza de Espana, flamenco dancers and singers were performing while rowboats fought for space on the manmade canal. Afterwards, we grabbed lunch at one of Ivan’s favorite spots in the city for tapas, Baratillo, known for their delicious pork cheeks, grilled artichokes, and roasted chick peas. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/15/19 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, January 07, 2019

Top 5 Dream Days of 2018, Biking Italy’s Adriatic Coast with DuVine Cycling

All it takes is one ride along the Adriatic Sea to appreciate the splendor of Puglia, the region of southern Italy close to the heel of the boot. We biked up and down sweeping hills with the blue expanse of water always by our side. The sweet smell of honeysuckle the best form of aromatherapy as we cruised past seaside villages, old stone walls, peering down in awe at the greenish/blue waters hundreds of feet below. We stopped in Santa Maria di Leuca to gaze at the lighthouse, church, and large plaza before making our way back to the port of Tricase where a fresh seafood feast was waiting for us. According to my trusty Strava app, we had biked 43 miles with an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet, so I was definitely ready for a break and the chance to dig into fresh calamari, mussels, grilled aubergines, tomatoes, and the creamy burrata cheese the region is known for. 
We were on Day Two of a 6-day bike ride through Puglia with DuVine Cycling. The trip would continue northeast to the town of Locorotondo, where we would begin blissful days of riding through the heart of the countryside. I savored the riding here, rolling hillsides dotted with centuries-old gnarly olive trees, vineyards, and the distinctive mushroom-shaped houses called trullis. All on country roads with little or no traffic. But if I had to choose one dream day on that memorable trip with good friends in October, I would choose the first day's ride along the Adriatic. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/07/19 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Biking the Emerald Necklace to View the Fog Sculptures

I've always visited one Emerald Necklace park at a time, say a stroll around Jamaica Pond or through the century-old maples and gardens at Arnold Arboretum. And that's pretty much how the great landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, intended-to treat each one of his verdant urban oases as a jewel. But when the Emerald Necklace Conservatory decided to display five works of Japanese fog artist Fujiko Nakaya across all their green spaces, I decided it was time to connect the dots and bike most of the seven-mile long stretch from Olmsted Park to Franklin Park. On display until October 31st in Boston, "Fog x FLO" is a unique treat, where fog is spewed out of nozzles at specific times to create a hazy display through the woods or on the water. 

 
We parked at Willow Pond at Olmsted Park and biked along a trail to Leverett Pond, just in time to see the fog rolling out on the water, reflecting the clouds above. That whet our appetite for the rest. We retraced our steps past Willow Pond and up to Jamaica Pond to eye the next fog display on the beach. Stick to the sidewalks and bike lanes to reach Arnold Arboretum, the only real tricky part of the bike ride. It's worth the effort to view "Fog on the Hill," an 8-minute spray of immense fog that goes off on the hour. We watched as the fog rolled down the hillside, splintered with sunshine. Then we were off to our final stop, Franklin Park, on newly paved bike trails and a bike lane the entire way. Here the fog spews out into the ruins of a building Olmsted originally designed the structure as a field house to use as a changing room or view the sports on the adjacent fields. A mile later, I was downing a Santa Fe Salad at The Dogwood, across from the massive Forest Hills T Station. My reward for all the biking. A wonderful outing, especially on a Sunday! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/18/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, August 03, 2018

My Favorite Bike Ride on Cape Cod

Cape Cod is so close to Boston that I often drive there on a day trip, which is exactly what we did yesterday to meet my cousin, Peter, and his family in town from Dallas. I took them on a ride we do each summer. We start on Main Street in Orleans in the lot next to Orleans Cycle and head out on the Cape Cod Rail Trail toward Eastham. Soon we pass the velvety marsh, where red-winged blackbirds sit atop the swaying cattails and cormorants dry their wings on floating docks. At Locust Road, we veer right off the CCRT and cross over Route 6 to reach the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center. This is the start of a 2-mile bike trails that sweeps up and down through the forest and marsh, leaving you off at Coast Guard Beach, recently named one of the top 10 beaches in America. However, I think the beach up the road, Nauset Light, is even more scenic, backed by towering dunes. We lock up our bikes and walk down to the sweeping beach. Yesterday, there was at least 20 seals popping their heads out of the surf. 

 
Once back on the bikes, we take Cable Road past Three Sisters Lighthouses, three absurdly small lighthouses built in the mid-19th century. A left turn at the end of the road and a right turn on Brackett Road leads us back to the CCRT. Turn left towards Orleans and you'll soon smell the fried clams of Arnold's, a lobster-in-the-rough restaurant (cash only) beloved by my family. Stand in the long line (most likely out the door), order from their vast selection of seafood, including lobster, fried clams, scallops, shrimp, and mounds of tender onion rings and grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables. Afterwards, play a round of miniature golf or grab a brownie sundae. Continue on the CCRT through a tunnel and you'll arrive back at the Orleans Cycle parking lot in less than 30 minutes. A perfect summer outing. 
 
Nauset Lighthouse, Cape Cod 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/03/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Revolutionary War Battlefield Biking

In May, I wrote a road trip story for Chevrolet's New Roads Magazine on Revolutionary War sites. I visited Minute Man National Historic Park in Concord, Massachusetts, Saratoga, and Valley Forge. What I realized was that all of these Revolutionary War battlefields offer exceptional biking opportunities. In Saratoga, a friend told me that the 10-mile park loop is part of a popular Sunday ride for bikers in the region. In Valley Forge, the rolling terrain is so ideal for bikers that they offer rentals. The bloody Battle Road from Lexington to Concord, which marked the start of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775, is now a great ride through the farmland to historic North Bridge, where local militia first confronted the large British regimen. I was so impressed with the riding at Minute Man National Historic Park that I returned with the family yesterday. We first went inside the Visitors Center where a 30-minute film gives a good overview of the remarkable events that occurred on April 19, 1775, the official start of the Revolutionary War. Battle Road is now an 8-mile ride through the rural countryside past the site where Paul Revere was captured by the British (they took his horse but surprisingly let him go). Extend your ride to swim at nearby Walden Pond like we did. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/10/18 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Backroads Rolls Out Custom-Designed Titanium Bikes This Summer

Backroads, the world's number one active travel company, has just announced that all trips this year will feature their custom-designed titanium bikes. The bikes are lighter than last year's bikes and offer electronic shifting. The company also offers e-bikes on all trips. New Bike Tours in 2018 include Chile's Lakes District, Croatia & Slovenia, Cuba, and Portugal. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/22/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 19, 2018

DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. Offering New Trips to South Africa and Greece

Clients of ours just returned from a DuVine trip to Portugal and raved about the high level of biking, service, food, and lodging. That’s not surprising. DuVine is the crème de la crème of bike tours. The company is best known for their small-group trips to the wine regions of the world, like Burgundy and Napa, often bringing well-known sommeliers and chefs along for the ride. Another classic itinerary which clients love is the Tour de France trip where you ride part of the challenging Tour de France route while catching some of the race. Now DuVine has their sights set on Greece and South Africa. We sat down with DuVine’s Kyla Briggs this week and she told us the Greece trip is already selling out in 2018. Not a surprise when you look at the route, aboard a 10-passenger yacht to off-the-beaten-track Dodecanese islands of Kos, Nisyros, and Kalymnos, stopping to bike through the small villages and wineries on these islands. On the dreamy South Africa itinerary, you not only get to bike the famous Chapman’s Peak route south of Cape Town, but you’ll get a taste of off-road biking in the Stellenbosch wine country. 

If you’re interested in any of the DuVine trips in 2018, please let ActiveTravels know and we’ll look into pricing, availability, ages of riders already signed up, and pre- and post-lodging choices. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/18 at 07:45 AM
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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Top Dream Days of 2017, E-Biking Emmental Valley, Switzerland

We spent a glorious week in Switzerland in July before the start of our Backroads hiking and biking trip in the Swiss Alps. We loved our stay in Bern to see the inner workings of the famous Medieval Clock Tower, visiting the apartment Albert Einstein lived when he proved his Theory of Relativity, and stopping at the wave-like building Renzo Piano built to house the works of local talent Paul Klee. But my favorite day was getting on electric bikes to roam the narrow and mountainous country roads of neighboring Emmental Valley. Our guide, who looked like Roger Federer, led us through the farmland and small villages to a restaurant known for creating fondue from the local emmental cheese. We returned to Bern on the train with more than enough time to swim in the Aare River. An easy walk down the hillside from our wonderful hotel, the Bellevue Palace, led to a park where hundreds of people lined the river catching rays. We strolled down a path with a long line of folks who dragged their tubes, rafts, and dry bags. Then jump in the cool water anywhere and off you go with the strong current. The hardest part was finding a place on the shores to stop and pull yourself out. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/02/18 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Chicago’s New 606

Like most rail trails, Chicago’s new 606 took years to develop. The last train to roll down the Bloomington Line was in the mid-1990s. That’s when the inkling of an idea to convert the trail to an urban park took root, connecting Logan Square with Bucktown and Wicker Park on 2.7 miles of elevated railway. We walked a good mile of the 606 on Sunday above the wide boulevards of this residential neighborhood. Already we saw the gentrification taking place, with new condos and apartments being built along the route, much like the High Line in New York. It also introduces people to neighborhoods they normally wouldn’t check out like Logan Square. After our stroll, we stopped at one of the picnic tables at the restaurant and bar Wyler Road and grabbed an Indiana Yum Yum beer on tap with a snack of cheese curds. A fun outing! 
 
Next week I’ll be reporting live from Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’m excited to return to southern New Mexico, my first trip back since the film my brother Jim and I wrote, Passionada, played at the White Sands Film Festival. I plan to hike in the White Sands National Monument and the Organ Mountains, check out the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market on Saturday morning, visit the historic town of Mesilla where Billy the Kids once stood trial for murder, and sample the wares on the Mesilla Valley Wine Trail, among many other activities. Please follow along on this blog, Twitter @ActiveTravels, Instagram, and Facebook. Enjoy the weekend and keep active!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/13/17 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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