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Biking

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bike Boston

Last summer, Boston followed in the footsteps of Montreal and Denver and initiated a bike-sharing program. The Hubway features 600 bikes in 61 stations throughout the city. You pay a yearly or daily membership fee and the cost of rental for the ride (trips shorter than 30 minutes are free) and bike from one station to any of the other stations. Alta Bicycle Share, the company that designed the bike-sharing program in Washington, DC, and Melbourne, Australia, was hired to oversee the Boston network. It was such a huge hit last summer that the Hubway reopened last week with plans to expand to neighboring Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville. Sure, there were naysayers at first who said Boston drivers wouldn’t share the roads with bikers. But that’s an absurd excuse, because now they’ll just have to get use to us two-wheelers! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/22/12 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Great Freedom Adventures Offers New Biking Trip to Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island

Ever since I wrote my first book, Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England, I’ve admired local outfitters who specialize in one sport and one region of the world. After all, who knows his neck of the woods better than the guy who lives there? These outfitters can’t afford a big splashy catalogue or a PR firm in New York or London to represent them, so you have to dig a little deeper to find companies like Great Freedom Adventures out of New England. What you’ll get in return are itineraries that direct you to the top locales in the area. Take, for example, Great Freedom Adventures’ new 6-day bike trip called the Islands and Seacoast Biking Tour. It seems intuitive to combine New England’s most majestic islands, Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island’s Block Island together in one summer bike trip, but I’ve never seen that done before. They also have guests staying one night in Newport and one night in Little Compton, Rhode Island, a real gem where I often bike on a day trip to Boston. The $2695 price includes all lodging, transportation, most meals, bike rentals, and guides.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/21/12 at 01:00 PM
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Thursday, February 02, 2012

VBT To Feature Culinary-Based Biking Trips in 2012

Call me nostalgic, but I’ve always been partial to VBT. In 1995, while researching my book, Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England, VBT took me on my first organized bike trip along the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. They have since expanded to all four corners of the Globe. Just ask my mother-in-law, who’s traveled with VBT to South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands and raves about all those trips. This year, VBT will feature four culinary tours that sound very tasty. In April, they’ll travel to Puglia to bike along Italy’s Adriatic Coast and explore olive groves, sample local wines, and dive into dinners of fresh seafood and locally grown vegetables. In September and October, VBT will visit Provence to bike backcountry roads through the French countryside, enjoy a home-cooked meal, and stop at fromageries and wine bars. Last but certainly not least is their trip to Vietnam in November to bike past the verdant rice terraces and sample the indigenous fare at markets, family-run food shops, and your own Vietnamese cooking class. Also take a peek at their new destinations in 2012 like a sweet ride along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/02/12 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Butterfield & Robinson Introduces Bistro Trips

Other biking outfitters have tried to emulate Butterfield & Robinson, but none can approach George Butterfield’s panache. Since he started his company in 1966, Butterfield’s ultra-sybaritic jaunts have included biking through France’s Loire Valley where you spend the night at a different private castle each evening. All vacations should be this glamorous. Or should they? B&R has just announced that they will be offering a more casual alternative in 2012 called Bistro trips. Instead of castles, you’ll be staying at independent 3 and 4-star hotels and pensions. Instead of a gluttonous multi-course feast, expect simpler dinners that feature indigenous fare. Pricing on these Bistro trips is $2,000-$3,000 lower than their signature biking trips and initial destinations include Provence, Tuscany, Puglia, and Normandy.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/17/12 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Favorite Travel Days 2011, Biking Along the Chicago Lakefront and Dining at Next

Chicagoans take full advantage of the warm weather to hit the shoreline of Lake Michigan and celebrate summer with a slew of festivals. This was certainly true in late June, when my wife and I arrived in city to grab a slice of Lou Malnati’s pizza at the big food festival, Taste of Chicago, and then wandered over to Navy Pier to rent bikes. Instead of heading north to Oak Street Beach, we pedaled south along Lake Michigan, passing Shedd Aquarium and the Soldiers Field. When we turned around, we had a glorious vista of the Chicago skyline, the City of Broad Shoulders gleaming under the cloudless sky. That night we dined at Next, the latest dining option from James Beard-award winning chef, Grant Achatz. Achatz changes the menu every three months and we were fortunate enough to dine on a prix-fixe menu that featured the specialties of Paris, 1906. Even more revolutionary is that the clientele at Next pay for their meal, drinks, tip, and tax in advance, like buying tickets for the theater or a concert. Demand is so great that ticket scalping for a table at Next had already become prevalent by the time we arrived. One taste of Achatz’s innovative fare and you understand the allure.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/10/12 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Vermont Bike and Brew Tour with Sojourn Bicycling Vacations

Biking outfitters have pounced on Vermont like miners on a vein of gold. And why not?  The state’s terrain is ideally suited to the sport. Lightly traveled backcountry roads are rarely used outside of a handful of dairy farmers who live and work there. Around every bend, there’s another meadow greener than the last, another anonymous mountain standing tall in the distance, another quintessential New England village where a freshly painted white steeple pierces the clouds overhead. This idyllic scenery is meant to be seen at a slow pace.

Now Sojourn Bicycling, already known for their intriguing bike trips like the one through the Texas Hill Country, is taking Vermont biking to a higher level, so to speak, with the introduction of their Vermont Bike & Brew Tour. Based in Vermont, owner Susan Rand knows this landscape intimately, including the close to two dozen microbrewers in the state. You’ll earn that pint after biking, on average, some 55 miles a day on this six-day jaunt that ventures to some of my favorite places to stay in Vermont, including Trapp Family Lodge and the Inn at Mountain View Farm. An added bonus is the chance to try some of the mountain biking trails Sam von Trapp has been designing in his backyard that are supposed to be stellar. Sojourn has two trips going out next July and August. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/01/11 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Favorite Fall Foliage Travels—Biking the Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island

In September 2004, I was happy to get an assignment to head to Prince Edward Island in their quiet season and write about the Confederation Trail for Canadian Geographic. 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.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/15/11 at 02:08 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Biking Around Stanley Park, Vancouver

This past month, I had the good fortune to bike along the Lake Michigan waterfront in Chicago, alongside the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge, by the shores of the Bow River in Calgary, and around Stanley Park in Vancouver. I loved that all of these scenic rides were on bike trails, not having to worry about car traffic. Sure, I savor pastoral rides on the backcountry roads of Vermont, cruising on two wheels through the rainforest of Costa Rica, or biking past the coffee plantations on the Big Island of Hawaii. But I also enjoy riding in cities. The chance to pedal over the Brooklyn Bridge, with views of the Statue of Liberty in the background. Or heading north towards Navy Pier with the majestic Chicago skyline creating the perfect panorama It’s hard not to be impressed.

The 9 km ride around the Seawall of Stanley Park can be done in less than an hour. Yet, by the time you stop at the world-class aquarium, see the selection of totem poles, and dine on sablefish (a tender and rich Northwestern whitefish) at the classic Teahouse for lunch, the day is over. Riding under towering Douglas firs and along the rocky shoreline, you’ll also stop numerous times to take pictures of the bay. On my last ride around Stanley Park two weeks ago, we spent a good chunk of time being entertained by the sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium. Less than 15 minutes later, we were watching river otters in the wild dining on crabs along the Seawall. Another unexpected find in a city of unexpected finds, the reason why I return to Vancouver as often as I can.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/15/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, July 08, 2011

Bike Chicago

Last week, I had the chance to catch up with renowned Chicago biker, Fran Leavitt. Fran has taken at least one international bike trip a year for the past 20 years. These include jaunts on the Garden Route to Capetown, South Africa, on the winding backcountry roads that lead to the chateaus of Loire Valley, France, and along the Moselle River on a barge trip in Germany. Yet, it’s the maze of paved pathways in and around Chicago she knows best. For a stunning introduction to the city skyline, she first took me south on the Chicago Lakefront Bike Path. Starting at Navy Pier, we passed the flowing waters of Buckingham Fountain, the Shedd Aquarium, and Soldier’s Field, home to the Chicago Bears. However, it’s the jaw-dropping vista of the skyscrapers on our return trip that had me reaching for my camera. Next up was a trip she does every Saturday during the summer with her main squeeze, Saul. Starting from the Old Orchard street parking lot, we headed north through the Forest Preserve past lagoons filled with kayakers, eventually reaching the Chicago Botanic Garden. Talk about the perfect place to stop for bikers! The grounds were overflowing with flowers in bloom, you can dine al fresco on freshly made salads and sandwiches, and then fill up your water bottle with both ice and cool water. For my next warm-weather outing to Chicago, Saul wants to take me on the Fox River Trail, another one of his favorite bike paths. Staring at a Chicago bike map, where trails lead off in every direction like the spokes of a bike, the choices seem limitless.

Have a great weekend!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/08/11 at 12:00 PM
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Bike the Illinois Prairie Path, Chicago

Once home to the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin electric railroad, this former line would still be collecting dust if it wasn’t for a forward-thinking teacher who pictured it as a gateway for recreation. Now the 62-mile trail in suburban Chicago is one of the longest paved trails in the rail-to-trail network. Snaking through Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties, the most scenic stretch is the 14-mile Elgin Spur. Heading southeast from Elgin to Wheaton, the trail snakes through forest, wetlands and an equestrian center.

I’ll be heading to Chicago next week to bike part of this trail and along the lakefront. I’ll be back on July 5th. Have a great July 4th Weekend!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/24/11 at 01:00 PM
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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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