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Biking

Friday, January 06, 2017

Top 5 Dream Days in 2016, Biking with Wayne Curtis in New Orleans

Wayne Curtis is best known as author of “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails” (Crown, 2006) and as cocktail columnist for Atlantic Monthly. But my friendship with Wayne goes back at least a decade prior when we were both moaning about the egregious book contracts Frommer’s publisher forced upon us. Thankfully, those days are far behind us. I caught up with Wayne in 2008, when he had just moved to New Orleans. He brought my brother Jim and me to his favorite bars and bartenders and it resulted in this story for The Boston Globe. But I know that Wayne has a passion beyond cocktails, including architecture, urban renewal, jazz, and biking. All figured prominently in a 5-hour tour he designed for my family on our trip to Nola this past April.

We rented bikes at Michael’s on Frenchman Street and off we went to our first stop, Crescent Park, a brand new green space that hugs the Mississippi River for over a mile. Then we biked the streets of Bywater, one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city especially for young hipsters, where Wayne pointed out a massive church and convent that will soon open as a hotel. We pedaled through Louis Armstrong Park in the Tremé neighborhood and then ventured on the latest bike trail in town, the 2.6-mile Lafitte Greenway. We stopped at Parkway for the requisite roast beef and shrimp po’boys (please see my story on New Orleans dining in Virtuoso Traveler) before biking through the Tulane campus, glorious Audubon Park and its exquisite moss-covered Spanish oak trees, and past the homes of Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, and Archie Manning in the Garden District. A quick ride through the crowds in the French Quarter and we arrived back at our bike rental store 15 miles later. A perfect ride, especially since we ended with a set of live music and a beer across the street at The Spotted Cat
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/06/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

San Antonio Is a Great Option for Spring Break

While we dig out of the foot of snow in Boston from yesterday’s nor’easter, my thoughts turn to the warmth of San Antonio, where temperatures reach the low 80s the next 10 days. Lisa and I were actually thinking of renting an apartment in San Antonio this February/March and wished we followed through on our actions. The city offers two world class art museums, San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay, sublime dining which I’ve written about for The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, great neighborhoods to roam like King William and Pearl Brewery, and, of course, all the restaurants and bars that line the renowned River Walk.  But the reason I really love San Antonio is that it’s one of the best biking cities in America. Grab a bike from the B-cycle station (the city’s bike sharing program) at Blue Star Contemporary Art Center and pedal on the 10-mile long bike trail called the Mission Reach. It's not uncommon to find herons, egrets, families of ducks, and turtles lounging in the waters, and colorful wildflowers in full bloom. When the trail ends at Mission Road, you can turn right to visit Mission Concepcion or left to visit Mission San Jose. These early 18th-century Spanish colonial missions are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of a national historic park. I always bring my camera to poke around these impressive buildings and get great shots of the light and shadows reflecting off the walls. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bikers and Farmers Unite at the Farm to Fork Fondo

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 last year in Vermont to great success. In the summer of 2017, Wren is offering a full slate of Farm to Fork Fondos, including stops in the Hudson River Valley, Vermont, Finger Lakes, the Berkshires, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the Maine coast. 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, escorted and 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 produce. 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 you better sign up soon because Outside Magazine just wrote about the Farm to Fork Fondo in the April issue. So I expect these rides to sell out quickly. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/30/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, April 14, 2017

Canada Week: Biking the Confederation Trail, 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 spring when the summer crowds have yet to arrive. 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 the Inn at St. Peters, a favorite stopover in PEI for our clients. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/14/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting in Shape for that Summer Biking Trip

On a bike tour with Bike Vermont years ago, my brother and I watched as a guy, distracted by cows, flipped his bike over and broke his tooth. He said he hadn’t been on a bike in five years. Don’t make the same mistake. With many bikers heading out on summer and fall biking trips, now’s the time to get ready. Even if it’s a “No Experience Necessary” excursion, you should try the sport beforehand and be in somewhat decent shape. Don’t wait until the last minute to condition. If you plan on taking a week-long biking or walking outing, begin aerobic activity four to six weeks in advance, two to three times a week. And make sure you’re on the right trip by asking what level of fitness is required? Is this hike an obstacle course better suited for Marines, a stroll in the park, or somewhere in between? How many hours a day are we on the bike? You want to find an adventure that ideally suits your ability and prior experience in the sport. Websites are not always accurate so it’s imperative to speak to a human being.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/19/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Self-Guided Inn-to-Inn Bike Trips in New England

For riders looking for a little inn-to-inn action this summer, it’s never been cheaper to bike in New England. Two outfitters, Bike the Whites in New Hampshire, and Country Inns Along the Trail in Vermont, are offering three days of riding for as low as $379 per person. What does that money get you? Detailed maps depending on you ability, from 20 to 80 miles a day, emergency roadside assistance, two nights lodging, two dinners, two breakfasts, and transport of your luggage from one inn to the next. Country Inns has rides in several of my favorite spots in Vermont, including Addison along Lake Champlain, where you spend the night at the Barsen House Inn. See the story I wrote on biking with Country Inns Along the Trail for The Boston Globe

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/20/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—Biking to Kellys Beach

Every town we pass in New Brunswick seems to be getting ready for the big 150th birthday party of Canada on July 1st, Canada Day, including the park across the street from we’re I’m currently staying in Moncton. Parks Canada is also getting in on the celebration, offering free admission to all national parks in 2017. I took full advantage of this offer to drive an hour north of Moncton today to Kouchibouguac National Park. Not nearly as well known as Fundy National Park, Kouchibouguac (pronounced Koo-she-boo-gwac) is always a highlight on my trips to New Brunswick. We rented fat-tire bikes at Ryan’s and headed out on some of the 60 km of hard-packed gravel trails, not unlike the carriage path trails in Maine’s Acadia National Park. This includes a sweet 6 km singletrack mountain biking route along Major Kollock Creek. We biked in the Acadian forest of birches, pines, and spruce trees, soon reaching the most exquisite beach in the entire province, Kellys, a six-kilometer stretch of white sand that dips down into the Gulf of St. Lawrence waters. Even on this perfect summer day, there were not more than 30 people on the entire beach! You can walk for miles on the firm sand, therapeutic to the bare foot touch, and be on the lookout for the remains of crabs chomped on by seagulls. Leaving the park and heading north to the French-speaking villages of the Acadian coast for a lunch of lobster rolls in Baie-Sainte-Anne, we were stunned to spot a porcupine ambling across the road. We stopped and waved the car behind us around as we stared at this prehistoric looking critter. That was the icing on the cake. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/27/17 at 04:00 AM
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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Biking from Kandersteg to Thun

If you stared at a map of the Swiss Alps, you could find hikes to do on your own thanks to the wonderful train and gondola system in the country. Where Backroads really excelled on this trip was its design of biking routes, which no rider could possibly emulate. Biking from Kandersteg to Thun took place on an intricate network of narrow backcountry roads and bike trails. We started with an exhilarating downhill run comprised of three hairpin turns. We were soon on a small road that only people who lived on the street could drive. It snaked through a velvety green valley where tall snow-capped peaks stared down from either side. We passed the requisite cows and the jingling of cowbells, and small villages where chalets were lined with colorful dahlias and red geraniums in planters. Soon we were crossing over grated bridges where you could peer down below at the rushing rapids of a river before taking a bike trail through heavy forest into the town of Thun. We dined on pizza at an Italian joint and then strolled the old quarter before taking the train onward to Grindelwald, our home for the next two nights. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/03/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Backroads Family Trip to Switzerland, Biking Along the Shoreline of Lake Brienz

As much as I savored being nestled in the Alps at Grindelwald, spending the last two nights at the classic Grandhotel Giessbach was the perfect way to end the trip. Close to Interlaken but far away from the crowds, we were nestled on the serene shores of this glacially carved lake hemmed in by the mountains. As if the scenery wasn’t exquisite enough, the balcony of our room overlooked a powerful waterfall that tumbled down the hillside. We would spend the day biking on a bike path that led to the town of Meringen, known for their meringue cookies (which, of course, we sampled at a bakery) and the town where Sherlock Holmes was staying when Professor Moriarty finally caught up with him at nearby Reichenbach Falls. We cooled off in the frigid waters of the lake at lunch before making our way around the southern shoreline passing small towns as we peered down at the cobalt waters or up one last time at those majestic peaks. We exchanged bikes for kayaks and played games on the lake like tag and water polo before returning to the hotel for one last caipirinha on the deck with the family and a farewell dinner with our new friends. Backroads did an excellent job from start to finish and this is one trip I will happily recommend to others

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/08/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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

In September 2004, I was fortunate to receive an assignment from Canadian Geographic to head to Prince Edward Island and write about their relatively new Confederation Trail. 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. If you were wise, you grabbed a room at the nearby Inn at St. Peter’s to spend the night. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/19/17 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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