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Biking

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Biking Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Every year as I come close to celebrating another birthday (and this year is a big one), I try to partake in an activity that confronts my fear of heights. Ziplining upside down in Costa Rica or attempting a treetop obstacle course in the Berkshires are two of my most recent examples. Since I hate driving across long bridges, I thought this would be a good time to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. My family took the Powell-Hyde Cable Car to the biking outfitter, Blazing Saddles, located near Ghirardelli Square. At 10 am daily, they lead a guided tour along San Francisco Harbor though the Marina District, taking a brief stop at the Palace of Fine Arts. Striking views of the bridge open up as you head northwest past Crissy Field to Fort Point. We biked up a short hill and were soon starting our ride in a bike line across the bridge. I was nervous at first, but my passion for biking eased my anxiety. I even stopped several times to take in the view of Alcatraz and the rising bluffs of Marin County on the opposite shores. 

 
Soon, we were sweeping downhill into the coastal community of Sausalito. We grabbed lunch at an excellent Italian sandwich shop, Venice Gourmet, and sat outside on benches near the water. Then we took the ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco. When we returned the bikes at Blazing Saddles, we walked over to the original Ghirardelli’s for root beer floats and sundaes. The perfect end to a glorious 10-mile ride. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/29/14 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Urban Adventures: Bike the Lakefront Path, Chicago

The finest way to savor Chicago’s stunning skyline is on two wheels. Rent bikes at Navy Pier and head south on a bike trail along the Lake Michigan shoreline. You’ll soon pass the flowing waters of Buckingham Fountain, the Shedd Aquarium, and Soldier’s Field, home to the Chicago Bears. Yet, it’s the jaw-dropping vista of the skyscrapers on the return trip that will have you reaching for the camera. You look up at a wall of spectacular buildings. If you want to continue past Navy Pier and head north, you’ll reach Oak Street Beach, the first of many beaches that are open to the public, a perfect place to lounge and get a much needed rest. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/11/14 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, June 02, 2014

AAA Roadside Assistance Now Covers Bicycles

Great news for AAA members. A new benefit covers bicycle service. If you or your child gets a flat or breaks a chain, you can now call AAA and they will take you and your bicycle anywhere within 10 miles. Mountain bikers need to get out of the woods and reach a normally travelled road where AAA can pick you up. You’re entitled to two bicycle calls per year. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/02/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

10 Best Bike Rides for Families

Wow, it might actually hit 70 degrees this weekend in Boston. You know what that means. Time to pump up the tires and go for a ride. If, like me, you have cabin fever after a long, grueling winter, check out my latest article for FamilyVacationCritic.com on the 10 Best Bike Vacations for Families. Cape Cod, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Vancouver, are just a few of the locales I touch on. The majestic scenery on these routes is seen primarily from bike trails, so families don’t have to worry about car traffic. Have a look. Hopefully, they will inspire you to go for a ride!

(Photo by Moreno Novullo)


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/10/14 at 10:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ciclismo Classico Bike Tour to Sardinia Led by Chef Jody Adams

Ciclismo Classico, the Italian biking specialist, has just announced that James Beard Award-winning chef, Jody Adams, will host a tour to Sardinia this fall. Adams, owner of the popular Rialto and Trade restaurants in Boston, will be heading to an Italian island known for its innovative cuisine. “Chef Adams will delight guests palates with handmade pastas, Seada cake, Montiferru, local cheeses, cured meats and regional wines,” says Ciclismo Classico founder Lauren Hefferon.
 
The tour begins in Tresnuraghes and then cross the very center of the island through areas still untouched by tourism. From here, riders will discover the stunning coast in Cabras with its lagoons and flamingos, and explore the long sandy beaches of the Sinis peninsula. Visits to old mining towns, the ancient Phoenician and Roman cities of Tharros and Nora, and the winding coastal road to Pula highlight the weeklong trip. The itinerary includes several informal cooking demonstrations with Chef Adams where guests can participate in the action and learn a few tips from the master chef. A cheese-making demonstration with local shepherds, and a special dinner prepared by Adams at Villa Asfodeli are also included in this culinary adventure. Dates are September 30-October 6, 2014, and cost is $5395 per person, all-inclusive. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/28/14 at 11:00 AM
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Monday, November 04, 2013

Bike the Big Island with Backroads

Home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world, one would expect Hawaii’s southernmost island to be an angry land of deadened rock and rivers of red. But this ever-expanding island has a myriad of moods—the gentle rolling hills of Waimea; the inviting sand of the Kohala Coast; the almost impenetrable jungle-like interior of the Hamakua Coast; the enormity of two mountains that are nearly 14,000 feet; even a rain forest on the backside of a volcano. Indeed, Hawaii is more like a miniature continent than an island in the Pacific.
 
Cars whisk around the island, not experiencing that shift of terrain until they’re smack dab in the middle of it. Bikers have the privilege of slowing down to watch the sea wash against a narrow fringe of palms or to stop and smell the pink-and-purple bougainvillea (sorry, no roses here). After a week of circumnavigating this 225-mile island on two wheels like I was fortunate to do one November week, biking over squished guavas and mangoes and through fields of macadamia nuts, you not only feel incredible about your accomplishment, but you bring home a firmer body and a sense that the island has seeped into every sweaty pore.
 
Backroads features an inn-to-inn bicycling tour of the Big Island that costs $2898 and includes all meals and lodging. You average some 50 miles a day, overcoming such obstacles as sweltering heat, long up-and-down climbs, strong headwinds, congestion on the main road, even biking in rainfall, so best be in good shape. For something less strenuous, consider the outfitter’s six-day family multisport trip around the island. Along with easy walks in Volcano National Park and kayaking in secluded coves, the biking is downhill only. Cost of that trip is $2998 for adults, 10% less for kids ages 11-17. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/04/13 at 11:00 AM
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Monday, October 07, 2013

Favorite Fall Outings in New England, Biking Around the Basin Harbor Club, Vermont

The two weeks that surround Columbus Day is one of my favorite times of the year to be in New England. The temperatures are still reasonably warm, in the upper 60s during the day, and the leaves have changed color. Anywhere in Vermont will do nicely, thank you. But I love Addison Valley, known for its web of backroads ideally suited for road biking. The network of roads that branch off from the Basin Harbor Club are particularly enticing. Head south on Button Bay Road to Arnold Bay Road and you get exquisite vistas of Lake Champlain, with the Adirondacks standing tall in the backdrop. Venture onto Basin Harbor Road, turning right on Jersey Street, and the smell of manure is wafting in the air as you pass numerous dairy farms, eventually arriving at the Panton General Store. Continue on Panton Road and you see the backbone of the Green Mountains. This fertile valley was meant to be seen on two wheels at a reduced speed, especially during fall foliage. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/07/13 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adventures in Oregon, Biking through Eugene

The Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon is blessed with three of the state’s scenic bikeways, including the 38-mile Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway, which visits seven covered bridges, including the only remaining covered railroad bridge west of the Mississippi River. If you want more of a casual ride, simply rent a bike at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life in downtown Eugene and pedal around the serene University of Oregon campus and on bike trails in the public parks that border the Willamette River. We followed local Molly Blancett as she led us on bike lanes through the city, stopping at the 5th Street Public Market to show us one of her favorite restaurants in town, the French bistro, Marche. Eugene has weathered the latest recession and is now bouncing back with a slew of new restaurants, bars, and boutique shops in town. 

 
Leading the resurgence is a number of microbreweries. There are now 13 breweries serving a thirsty population of 160,000, including Falling Sky Brewery, where we chose to have lunch. Brewmaster Scott Sieber is making some tasty hand crafted beer like the Slam Dunkelweizen, a German wheat ale with hints of cloves and bananas in the finish. Or sample the Bavarian lager, Maibock, smoother than most bocks you’ve tried. Eugene’s soft water and the variety of hops found in Oregon are the reason it’s becoming a must-stop for beer lovers. 
 
After lunch, we biked through the campus, making a mandatory stop at Hayward Field, the track-and-field stadium that has produced such renowned runners as Steve Prefontaine, Galen Rupp, and Alberto Salazar. We crossed over the Willamette River on a bike bridge to visit the 54,000-seat Oregon Ducks football stadium, before stopping for heavenly ice cream at Chocolate Decadence and another cup of strong drip coffee at the 5th Street Beanery. The perfect ending to a perfect day. Thanks Molly!
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/19/13 at 12:00 PM
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Biking Niagara on the Lake

A mere hour outside of Toronto, just past Hamilton on the QEW, you spot a sign that reads, “Entering the Greenbelt.” Vineyards pop up on either side of the road, and just beyond those vineyards on the left, is mighty Lake Ontario. Welcome to the Niagara on the Lake region. Yesterday, Butterfield & Robinson’s Kathy Stewart designed and led us on a wonderful 35-mile ride through this fertile breadbasket. We started in the small village of Jordan, grabbed our bikes and were soon riding up the 300-foot Niagara Escarpment that makes this place so special (I’ll delve into this further when discussing the distinctive Niagara wine and terroir later this week). Soon we were riding on relatively level backcountry roads past vineyard after vineyard, lilacs and azaleas in full bloom, peach trees, and signs for rhubarb and asparagus for sale. 

 
Smack dab between the escarpment and the lake, this area of the region is known as The Bench. Not nearly as flashy and well-known as the Niagara on the Lake wineries, these boutique wineries create a feeling of Sonoma to big brother Napa. We had tastings at Hidden Bench, Cave Spring Cellars, and Flat Rock Cellars, run by the passionate owner, Ed Madronich. The region is best known for their Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Many of the Rieslings had a pleasing lemon/lime or grapefruit aftertaste, stemming from the limestone in the escarpment. It had a nice dry finish, not cloying in the least. At lunch at Inn on the Twenty, where we’re spending the night, we tried the Cave Spring Cellars Estate Riesling, perfectly paired with a just-picked fiddlehead and asparagus salad, and a main dish of scallops. I learned quickly that this wine tastes best when coupled with excellent food. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/22/13 at 09:35 AM
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Biking Niagara-on-the-Lake with Butterfield and Robinson

Only a half-hour drive from the thunderous roar of Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is the antithesis of its commercialized neighbor. This charming Victorian town rests in the heart of Ontario wine country, where close to 100 vineyards produce the sweet icewine, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Like Napa, the best way to tour the vineyards is on backcountry roads via a bike. At night, rest your weary legs while watching a play at the renowned Shaw Festival, specializing in the works of Bernard Shaw. I’m fortunate to be reporting live from Niagara-on-the-Lake this week while biking with the highly reputable outfitter, Butterfield and Robinson

 
Other biking outfitters can try to emulate Butterfield & Robinson, but none can approach George Butterfield’s innate sense of style. His Loire Valley trips are legendary—nights spent at 14th century castles, seven-course feasts at private French vineyards, a van always by your side when you tire of biking. He’ll tailor-design trips to your particular desires, with private tours for multi-generational families and corporate groups now a huge part of his business. They offer biking and walking vacations to all corners of the globe, so it seems almost ironic that they’re finally setting their sights on their own backyard. Toronto-based, B&R is entering the Ontario market with vacations this summer and fall to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m privileged to be a part of their inaugural jaunt. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/20/13 at 10:00 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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