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Biking

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Top 5 Bike Rides in North America During Fall Foliage, Prince Edward Island

Take a chunk of Vermont and plop it down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and voila, you have Prince Edward Island. This sylvan setting lends itself well to road biking, especially in the fall when the summer crowds are long gone and the maples provide a colorful backdrop. The Canadian Pacific railroad that once connected Prince Edward Island’s small villages last roared through the interior in 1989, leaving in its wake hundreds of kilometers of track. By 2000, the tracks were pulled and the line replaced with a surface of finely crushed gravel, creating a biking and walking thoroughfare called the Confederation Trail. Crossing the entire island, the trail starts in Tignish in the west and rolls 279 kilometers to the eastern terminus in Elmira. One of the most scenic stretches starts in Mt. Stewart in King’s County along the sinuous Hillsborough River. You’ll soon reach St. Peter’s Bay, a large inlet dotted with mussel farms and lobster traps. After crossing a bridge that rewards you with glimpses of the island’s fabled red cliffs, you’ll arrive at the rolling Greenwich Dunes, a perfect place to bring that picnic lunch. Stay at Inn at St. Peters, a favorite stopover in PEI for many of our clients. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/08/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Top 5 Bike Rides in America During Fall Foliage, Bend, Oregon

If you’re just checking in, I’m devoting this week to my favorite places to road bike during fall foliage. Autumn colors are not usually associated with the Northwest, the land of conifers. Yet, due east of Bend, aspen groves provide enough color to satisfy the local contingent of riders. It doesn’t hurt that the backdrop is the Cascade Range, with North, Middle, and South Sister Mountains rising 10,000 feet above town. A great 32-mile jaunt takes you north of Bend along Innes Market and Tumalo Roads to take in that glorious variety of terrain central Oregon is blessed with—high desert, snowcapped peaks, sparkling lakes, raging rivers, and flower-filled meadows. Start at Hutch’s Bicycle Shop in Bend (where you can rent bikes and pick up the detailed route) and head northwest on Columbia Street. Three miles in, you’ll be coasting downhill past Shevlin Park gaping in awe at the Cascade Mountains and the splash of color in the nearby forest of aspens and poplars. Pedal along the Deschutes River and then stop in Tumalo, the midpoint of the loop, to fill up your water bottles or have lunch at El Caporal. You’ll need that extra burst of energy for the steady climb back into Bend. Afterwards, don’t miss the microbrews on the patio of Crux Fermentation Project, well-earned.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/07/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Top 5 Bike Rides in America During Fall Foliage, Asheville, North Carolina

If you think fall foliage is only relegated to the northeast, you haven’t been to Asheville, North Carolina in late October and early November. Leaves on the dogwoods, sweetgums, mountain ash, red maples, poplars, and birches all change color. Locals avoid biking on the famed Blue Ridge Parkway this time of year, unless you like weaving in and out of the leaf peeper congestion. The folks at Liberty Bicycles will provide bikes and steer you away from the traffic, leading you to nearby Burnsville for a favorite local ride. Park your car at an old gas station on Highway 19 just past the turn off to Highway 19E. Then head west on 19 and get ready for a great rural ride, North Carolina-style. On this 37-mile loop, you’ll bike alongside the Cane and North Toe Rivers and over suspension bridges past old tobacco farms, country stores, and small churches. Except for one steep hill in the beginning, the ride is relatively flat. Be on the lookout for deer, and if you do the loop on Sunday, make sure to bag a lunch in Asheville, because most stores are closed.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/06/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, October 05, 2015

My Top 5 Bike Rides in America During Fall Foliage, Addison Valley, Vermont

Any avid road biker will tell you that Addison Valley, Vermont, is easily one of the top five biking destinations in North America. The backcountry roads have very little car traffic, great uphill climbs and downhill runs, and around every bend is another dairy farm, massive red barn, white church steeple, and glorious vistas of Green Mountains and Adirondack Mountains separated by the waters of Lake Champlain. Head there within the next two weeks and those views will be even more breathtaking when rural roads radiate with colors comparable to Monet’s finest Impressionist works. If you want a local to design your route based on mileage, go on a self-guided bike tour with Country Inns Along the Trail. Depending on your ability, they will design itineraries from 15 to 60 miles a day, with most bikers averaging 25 to 30 miles. You simply leave your car at the first inn and they will transport your luggage to the next night’s lodging, extending the trip as long as you like. Price starts at $155 a night per person, including lodging, dinner, breakfast, and transport of luggage. They also design hiking inn-to-inn routes. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/05/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Biking Schoodic Peninsula

If they call the western half of Mount Desert Island the Quiet Side, they should call Schoodic Peninsula the Secret Side. Still part of Acadia National Park, Schoodic is a good hour drive from Bar Harbor, so few people outside of Mainers in the know head here. Do yourself a favor and follow their cue. You’ll thank me. On a day when two large cruise ships dropped off over 4,000 people into Bar Harbor, we took a ferry smaller than a tugboat, The Quoddy Bay, and took off to Winter Harbor, the gateway to the Schoodic Peninsula. There’s no longer any need to drive to Schoodic, especially if you want to bike the 10 to 12-mile loop. You can get here on a scenic hour-long boat ride ($39 round-trip, including bicycle), mesmerized by the views of pine-studded islands, the mountainous shoreline, and the granite cliffs. 

Acadia National Park has made it easy for bikers to access the Schoodic Peninsula. The paved road Park Loop is one way with two lanes, so cars can easily pass you. Secondly, this summer they just created 8 miles of carriage path trails, hard-packed gravel routes only available to bikers and hikers. After taking the Park Loop, we would return via the carriage path trails, crossing the entirety of the peninsula past the new national park campground that opened last Wednesday. Most importantly, there’s very little traffic here. This is a very serene part of the national park that few venture to. 
 
We biked along the rocky shoreline, stopping to walk atop a breakwater and watch the tide rush out to sea. All around you is the Atlantic with another memorable seascape to savor, be it a lone sailboat gliding through the open water, an unchartered island just offshore, or pink granite ledges that form one of the highlights, Schoodic Point. People pull over anywhere along the loop to picnic, swim, or take short walks like the East Trail, which climbs a half-mile to 440-foot high Schoodic Head. 
 
Near Schoodic Point is another worthwhile stopover, the Schoodic Education and Research Center, housed in a stone and brick building John D. Rockefeller, Jr., created for the US Navy in 1935. Recently renovated, the building is now home to the nonprofit Schoodic Institute, an educational and research group dedicated to conservation and ecology. Head inside to see exhibitions on the local wildlife and the Navy’s history of monitoring encrypted messages inside this building. There are many surprises on Schoodic Peninsula, so don’t hesitate to make the extra effort to get here. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/08/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, August 31, 2015

Bike to Madaket Beach on Nantucket

Next week, I’m excited to be reporting live from Acadia National Park to help promote their 100th birthday in 2016. This week, I want to describe some of my favorite adventures along the New England coast. The week before Labor Day, crowds tend to thin out as many kids are headed back to school. Take advantage of this opportunity to bike, hike, and sea kayak with far less people. First stop is Nantucket. 

 
Bike trails on Nantucket branch off in every direction, like the spokes on a wheel. My favorite ride, especially in the late afternoon when it cools down a bit, is the 6-mile jaunt from town to Madaket Beach. Grab your loved one, a bottle of wine and some picnic fare and head out on Cliff Road. You’ll quickly meet up with the Cliff Trail as you pass the rolling meadows and red-winged blackbirds at Tupancy Links conservation land. Merge with the Madaket Trail and you might be greeted by flittering goldfinches and osprey peering out from their oversized nests. When the trail becomes sandy and you can hear the pounding surf, you know you’re getting close. On the westernmost part of the island, the beach slopes down to the crashing waves. All around you is water, as if you’re stepping off land into the great abyss. Drink your wine and relax. If you don’t have the energy to do the return trip, the Wave bus runs until 11:20 pm and has a front rack for two bikes. 
 
Spend the night at the Century House on Cliff Road and they’ll have a bike from Nantucket Bike Shop waiting for you. They will also direct you on other routes to Brant Point and Sankaty Head lighthouses. Rooms, including full breakfast, start at $175 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/31/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A 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 I plan to do a week from today with the family. This is the ride we usually do. 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 more scenic, backed by towering dunes. We lock up our bikes and walk down the stairs to relax and go for a dip. 
 
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 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 08/12/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bike Cape Cod and the Islands this Summer

Those of you who have followed my writing over the years know I love biking on Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. All three locales are blessed with a network of bike trails that line the coastline, snake through the kettle ponds, or roll atop the dunes of the Province Lands Bike Trail at the tip of Cape Cod (a favorite family outing). So I was delighted to see that Massachusetts-based Great Freedom Adventures will be offering a 6-day guided bike tour to the Cape and Islands this summer. They’ll visit Provincetown, ride along most of the Cape Cod National Seashore to the Rockwellesque village of Chatham, before ferrying over to Nantucket and the Vineyard to bike a good chunk of both islands. Dates are June   14-19, July 12-17, and September 13-18. Cost is $2,595 per person, including all lodging, most meals, guides, and ferry tickets. Also ask about their Maritime Bike and Beer Adventure Tour which visits many microbrews while biking the scenic Cape Ann region of Massachusetts. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/21/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

5 Favorite Travel Days in 2014, Biking Lake Geneva’s La Côte Region

Traveling to the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland this past September with Lisa, every day was a dream that could easily make this list. Seeing Dubuffet’s collection of art from the insane at Lausanne, strolling through the sculpted vineyards of the Lavaux, and taking a cruise over to the magical 12th-century castle on the rock, Chateau de Chillon, were all worthy of being chosen as my favorite days of the year. But the day that sticks out most in my memory was the most authentic experience, electric biking through the La Côte vineyards just outside the town of Nyon.
 
If you want to bike through vineyards with only locals on charming hillside towns reminiscent of Burgundy, follow in my footsteps. When we arrived at the Nyon train station to meet our guide, there were no more bikes to rent, only electric bikes. So off we went, zipping on a paved trail through the neighboring community of Prangins, staring in awe at 15,781-foot Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, which rises from the French side of Lake Geneva. In the town of Gland, we filled up our water bottles in one of the many public fountains, where water comes from the same reservoir that supplies the nearby homes. 
 
Then we headed for the hills and were instantly enchanted by the town of Luins. We met Laurent Vigneron, the winemaker and owner of the picturesque Chateau de Luins, ready to start his fall harvest in less than a week. He took us into rooms holding immense oak barrels, some dating from as far back as 1922. We sampled his wines, a smooth pinot noir and a dry white created from the region’s favored grape, Chasselas, realizing instantly why the Swiss keep most of their wine for themselves. From Luins, we biked on a trail through the vineyards into the storybook town of Bursins, where a Medieval Cluny church still stands with requisite watchtower in the town center. A historic whitewashed chateau, now an upscale lodging called Chateau Le Rosey, peered down from the hillside. Across the street was a house straight out of a French countryside movie set with a wooden tile roof covered in moss. 
 
We had lunch at Café de L’Union, known for its deep-fried gruyere cheese puff they call the Malakoff. Another specialty was the blue trout caught at a nearby river, which did arrive on our plate the color blue. It was served with cornichons and French fries. Perfect. After lunch, we headed downhill through cornfields waiting to be reaped and apple trees bending over with the latest crop. We past a horseback rider and soon took Route 1 along the lake to the town of Rolle. Quickly changing into swimwear, we had a paddleboard lesson at the Paddle Center. Soon we were gliding out on the placid blue waters of Lake Geneva, again mesmerized by the mountain panorama. An image I won’t quickly forget. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/06/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seeing Toronto’s Neighborhoods by Bike

One of my favorite excursions lately is to get an overview of a city on a guided bike tour. In a short amount of time, you can see a good chunk of the city, learn about the history of the locale, visit intriguing buildings and public art only a local would know, ask for a list of recommended restaurants, and yes, get a decent workout. In the past two months, I had great rides in Reykjavik and Portland, Maine. So when I heard that Toronto Bicycle Tours was still offering their 4-hour, 10-mile “Heart of Downtown” ride in mid-October, I was in.

 
It was crisp, sunny autumn day when I met my guide, Terrence Eta, got adjusted to my hybrid bike, and threw on my helmet. He started with an overview of the city’s British heritage at stately Osgoode Hall, one of the oldest buildings in the city, built in 1832. Then it was on to the urban plaza, Nathan Phillips Square to view the new and old city hall, and Eaton Center, the busiest mall in Canada. We cruised into Old Town, known for its distinctive yellow brick, to stop at the circa-1903 King Eddy hotel, now the Omni King Edward Hotel. Terrence mentioned that in 1964, the Beatles stayed here on their first trip to Toronto. It also caused another commotion that year when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton rented a suite together--while married to other spouses. 
 
A short pedal led to the Financial District and skyscrapers designed by starchitects I.M. Pei and Mies van der Rohe. Then we cruised past the St. Lawrence Market, named the number one food market in North America by National Geographic (try the classic peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery) and into the Distillery District. In the 1870s, this was the largest distillery of whisky in North America. Today it’s home to microbreweries like the local favorite, Mill Street, art galleries, restaurants, and the beloved chocolatier, Soma. Next stop was Sugar Beach on the Lake Ontario shoreline, named for its proximity to the massive Redpath sugar refinery. 
 
A quick stop below the CN Tower to peer up at the intrepid Edge Walkers, before we circled the Rogers Centre, home to the Toronto Blue Jays, and cruised along John Street to Grange Park. This is one of the special spots in the city, where you’ll find budding photographers snapping pictures of the backside of the Art Gallery of Ontario, with Frank Gehry’s signature staircase jutting out of the building, and the storied “Tabletop” building to the right. Then we checked off Chinatown at the corner of Spadina and Dundas, the vintage stores and coffee shops at Kensington Market, and the ethnic restaurants that line Baldwin Village. Few know the city better that Terrence who grew up here and went to the University of Toronto, and it showed. Highly recommended! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/22/14 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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