Tag Archives: passion

The Portable Family: Round the Sound tour

Bikes, ferries, and trains

Browsing the map, an idea sprang to mind as I traced the blue dotted ferry lines that webbed from point to point, island to island between Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. We could get on our bikes in our own front yard and circle Long Island Sound via boats and trains, hopping between riding destinations.

We loaded up our camping gear and headed for the Point Judith ferry.

First stop: Block Island, where we’d be lucky enough to camp on a friend’s property before taking the boat to New London, CT, for a rail connection to NYC.

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Touring on a quiet island was pleasant, but certainly familiar. As we unloaded from the commuter rail under the city and ascended up into the heart of Grand Central Station, it was time for a whole new family biking experience.

There’s nothing like bike touring to experience a place. Sights, sounds, and smells surround you every minute of the voyage. No exits. No parking. Just stop and look. Stop and listen. Stop and eat.

Riding through the heart of Manhattan was surprisingly not terrifying. While it was out of the ordinary for us, bikes are nothing but ordinary in the city. As long as we followed the bike lanes and obeyed the rules of the road, traffic flowed around us even on the busiest of streets.

Amazingly, there are two National Parks in New York City that almost no one ever goes to. Both afford cheap, safe camping in spots you’d never guess existed.

From the sailing past the Statue of Liberty to riding over the Brooklyn Bridge, this was two days of some very memorable moments.

Contrast is what makes for the best tours. And contrast there was.

Departing the bustle of a station in Queens to emerge into the rural comfort of the Hamptons was almost culture shock. Quiet campgrounds, empty beaches, and more ferries completed the final chapter of our trip.

Our last day involved five ferry trips as we island hopped back to Rhode Island.

We had time for one last meal out on Block Island before making a late night arrival back in Narragansett.

An unforgettable week of adventuring in our own back yard. Another tour we’d recommend to anyone.

Trip planning resources

More questions about this trip or others? Stop by the shop or give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk about bike touring.

Join Team Stedman for Bike MS: Ride the Rhode 2015

Help out a great cause and log some miles too


It’s that magical time of year when the air gets crisp, the freezing winds whistle through your helmet vents, your cycling tights are unpacked for the months ahead AND the best part … Registration opens for Bike MS: Ride the Rhode 2015.

Click here to join the team!

This year’s MS150 ride begins and ends in our own backyard at the Narragansett Pier School. How lucky can we get! If you haven’t already ridden on all the roads in Little Rhody, here’s your chance to ride some of the finest and most scenic in our beautiful state! Overnight accommodations are at URI (if you prefer to stay with the group).   And, as always, each rider must raise at least $300.

Sign up to join Team Stedman for the MS Bike Ride in June 2015. And, if you register BEFORE January 2, 2015, you will save $25 in fees by using the code ‘Holiday25’ and score some sweet Stedman gear as well!

The Portable Family: Prince Edward Island tour

Red dirt rambling across a storybook island.

The centerpiece of our late summer trip to Canada was a fantastic week-long bike tour of Prince Edward Island. With miles of quiet dirt roads and the extensive Confederation Trail system, PEI is ideal for touring. Throw in sandy beaches, Anne of Green Gables, lots of ice cream, and you have the perfect family cycling adventure.

Confederation Trail bike path

Our plan was to ride a circuit of the north central portion of the island, following the Confederation Trail east then looping back west along the northern shore via rural roads and trails.

The trail is a converted railroad bed that affords easy travel on a flat cinder surface. It passes through small towns every few hours, but there are some long stretches without anything but fields and sky.

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We happened to be in Charlottetown for the Canadian 150th Anniversary celebration. It was a fun contrast to the open countryside, and of course, more ice cream!

From the city we headed northwest toward the Cavendish area, home to the island’s premier tourist destination: Green Gables. We’d been reading the books in anticipation of the trip, so it was a mandatory stop. The beaches were certainly a bonus.

The final portion of our route was all along the iconic red dirt roads of PEI. Unlike the bike trail, these rural farm roads rise and fall steeply over the central hills of the island. It was strenuous but rewarding.

Our first family bike tour outside the US, we’d recommend it to anyone.

A few tips:

  • Wide tires roll easier and more comfortably over the varied surfaces encountered on the island. Fenders keep the red dirt and mud off you and your gear even when it’s dry.
  • The Confederation Trail is relatively flat, but if you plan to venture off of it (recommended!), make sure your bike has low gears for loaded hill climbing.
  • Unless you have an international phone plan, you won’t be able to rely on your smartphone for directions. Be prepared to resort to good old fashion paper maps.
  • Carry cash for the many farm stands around the island.
  • Pack rain gear and swimsuits!
  • Maps of the island and the Confederation Trail are readily available at information centers on PEI. You can plan your trip beforehand by visiting the PEI tourism website.

Have more questions or care to chat about this trip or others? Stop by the shop and we’ll be happy to talk touring.