Six Great Bike Rides
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Summer is a great time to explore Rhode Island scenery on two wheels, at a pace that allows you to look around and take it all in. We asked avid cyclist Josh Pomplun with Cranston's REI store to give us some hidden finds, and some best stretches of the classics. Pump up your tires and get pedaling.
Shorebound Express, Providence-Point Judith
Elmwood-Post Rd-Route 1A
This is a beautiful day ride, about 40 miles one way. The beginning stages from Elmwood to East Greenwich are really for experienced cyclists, but families could easily pick up the Narragansett Bike Path on 1A in Wickford/North Kingstown. The roads have wide shoulders and rolling hills. This ride is just beautiful.
Treats: Once you arrive in Narragansett, look for Dave's Marketplace for fresh fruit, and of course there's Iggy's down near the beaches.
Traffic: Almost non-existent during the week, but it does pick up on weekends due to beach traffic.
Getting there: You can park at the North Kingstown Methodist Church, and there are also several parking locations along 1A.
Forest Ramble, West Greenwich-Western Coventry, via URI Forest Reserve
With old colonial roads and beautiful scenery (including a waterfall), this ride is fun for any age. There are some challenging hills, but much of the ride is relaxed and easy.
Treats: There aren't a lot of food places out here... it's all mainly farm country. Pack a lunch and bring plenty of water. You can swing over near Schartner Farm for some of the most delicious fresh fruit and veggies in the state.
Traffic: This is relatively low-traffic, and so I'd suggest a family ride with mid-aged kids, due to some of the hills.
Getting there: A great spot to start this one is in Greene. There's a public library there with a nice parking lot. Farther east on Rte 102 there's a great parking lot near a Stop and Shop/Home Depot Plaza.
This is a bit of a find... not an actual "bike route," just well known among cyclists in RI to be a beautiful ride and a great place to get away from traffic. With fresh pavement, relatively easy hills, seclusion, and it takes you past the beautiful Scituate Reservoir, this is a great weekend expedition. You can start at either end of this 26-mile stretch of road... but the center section past the reservoir is a scenic highlight.
Traffic: Light. Great for families.
Getting there: The best place to begin is downtown Scituate where they have the Art Festival.
Western Challenge, Smithfield - RI Border
Want a challenge? This is a very, very hilly ride... up and down for around 20-25 miles, until you get out to far-western RI, where it finally flattens out. The challenge is worth it for the scenery, and the calm as you ride through. Try it again in the fall, when the roadways get very overgrown with old New England trees.
Treats: Bring your own. This is countryside.
Traffic: Zero. But too challenging to be kid-friendly.
Getting there: Park in Smithfield where the ponds are, gear up, and push off.
Best of the East Bay Bike Path, Bristol-Providence
My absolute favorite stretch of this classic RI ride is on the return route from Bristol, because you see the Providence skyline from across the water, a sight that's so calming. But no matter which way you go, you'll find country and shore, through salt marshes and woods.
Treats: This is full of treats... ice cream, doughboys, clam cakes.
Traffic: None. It's the bike path!
Getting there: Parking is easy in Bristol, or you can begin a loop in East Providence, just off Veteran's Memorial Parkway.
Bonus Ride: Bicycle Tour of Gallery Night 2010
For the artful urbanite, show up at Regency Plaza at 5:30pm on the third Thursday of every month (next one is July 15), for a guided bicycle tour led by AS220's Xander Marro and Jay Zehngebot, of the participating galleries. Talk about places to stop for treats... for the eye and palate.
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