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Our Guide to Biking on the Loop

There is a lot of debate on whether to bring bikes on the loop. The general consensus is if you don’t bike in your “land life” you’re likely not going to bike while cruising. In transparency, we did bike (15-30 miles, a few times a week) prior to living on the water, so we may be bias, but we think if you're capable of biking, you should have one on board. Biking has been such a big part of this adventure, we couldn't imagine looping without them.

Reasons to Have a Bike On Board

  1. Usually always have access to a grocery store. With pannier bags, it's easy to transport your goods back to the boat.

  2. Access way more cool spots. We've biked to beaches, national parks, bakeries, restaurants, fresh markets, and more that would require either an Uber ride or friend with a car (which more times than not is unavailable).

  3. Create your own food tour. In Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo we were able to sample all the local foods by bike.

  4. Something to do when you're stuck in a port.

  5. Explore neighborhoods and some pretty incredible homes.

  6. Get some exercise, especially in-between those long cruising days.

Our Bikes and Gear

We have 2 Jamis Renegade gravel bikes on board. It was a pandemic purchase (before the boat) but got them knowing we would likely use them a ton while looping. We love them because you can put some miles on them but are durable enough to handle a variety of terrain (they even handled mountain biking in the UP). So far they've survived the salt water portion of our trip. Yes, they have some rust, but they've held up great, and we only had to take them to a shop once for a minor repair.

Bike gear we have on board includes: pannier bags, bike pump, gear oil, flat repair kit, locks, helmets, hex tool kit, and bike lights (which we store in a backpack).

Where We Store Them

They sit on the back of the boat and are secured with twist ties to the railings so they don't fall on those bumpy rides. We purchased inexpensive car mats to throw down on the deck so there's minimal opportunity for scuff marks on the fiberglass. We take them off the boat or put them in our cabin when we need to access the dinghy. Even for a 31 foot boat, we think they are well worth the space.

Our Favorite Rides (so far)

We have done about 50 rides since the start of our loop last spring. Below are some of our favorites (in order of our loop). Most are on a combination of protected bike trails/lanes or backroads and can be shortened or lengthened depending on your preference.

To see all our rides, follow Tim on Strava.

St. Pete Bike Trails (St. Petersburg, FL)

Starting Point: Harborage Marina, St. Petersburg - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Great protected bike trails and lanes make it possible to explore all of St. Pete's fun neighborhoods.

Length: 18 miles

Cumberland Island (Georgia)

Starting Point: Cumberland Sound Anchorage (We did borrow bikes of friends already on the island, but if you can dinghy your bikes to shore, well worth it) - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: See the Dungeness Ruins, dodge wild horses, visit the most remote beach we've ever been to, and bike through some incredible trees.

Length: 6.5 miles

Smith Island (Chesapeake Bay, MD)

Why We Loved It: Great walking/biking trail that lets you really experience the remoteness, history, and wildlife of this island that you can't experience just by walking the town.

Length: 5.5 miles

Hudson, NY Bread Ride

Starting Point: Hudson Power Boat Club - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Scenic backroads that led to one of the best bakeries on the trip.

Length: 29 miles

Finger Lakes Rides

Starting Point: Seneca Falls Free Wall - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved Them: Beautiful country roads full of cheese farms, amish markets, breweries, and vineyards.

Birthday Ride: 28 miles

Cheese and Wine Ride: 23 miles

Buffalo Food Tour

Starting Point: Canalside Docks - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Despite it being a rainy day, refused to stay stuck on the boat and had some of the best pizza on the loop.

Length: 16 miles

Cleveland Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Starting Point: Oasis Marina - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Beautiful bike trail through Cuyahoga Valley National Park that ended at Szalay's Farm where we had some of the best fresh corn we've ever tasted. Can also travel part of the way via train to cut down on the biking.

Length: 58.5 miles

Detroit Eastern Market and Belle Isle

Starting Point: William G. Milliken State Park Marina - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Saw (and ate at) one of the largest open markets in the country and explored the beautiful Belle Isle park that would be hard to see it all by foot.

Length: 17 miles

Presque Isle, Michigan

Starting Point: Presque Isle State Harbor - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: Biked on back roads through pine trees to visit lakes, lighthouses, and little stores in one of the most remote places we visited on the Great Lakes.

Length: 22.5 miles

Sleeping Bear Great Dunes (Glen Arbor, Michigan)

Starting Point: Leland Marina - Active Captain / Google Map

Why We Loved It: This kicked our butts (24 mile to and from and a hard 4 mile hike up Sleeping Bear) but got to bike on the very cool Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, see Glen Arbor, and the incredible views of Lake Michigan from the Dunes.

Length: 48 miles

Hope to see you on the road!

3 comentarios

Scho and Jo
Scho and Jo
01 oct 2021

We throughly enjoyed this post! The information you included is perfect (distance traveled, map of where you went, and photos). We most definitely need to purchase some bikes!

We have yet to purchase loop bikes, primarily because we wanted to see if we really needed them or if we could get by without them. But bike and some sort of water toy (kayaks or SUPs) were the two items we wish we had bought prior to the loop. It would have really elevated our experience. We bought SUPs in May and now all that's left is a bike :)

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William Kight
William Kight
16 sept 2021

”If you don’t ride at home, you won’t ride on the loop,“ is an oft heard sentiment. However, it is a false equivalency. At home one has ready access to an automobile. Not so on the loop. I carry a bike(s) on fork mount roof racks on an even smaller boat than yours, a Ranger Tug 27 and use it often. I haven’t had issues with rust because of aluminum construction and components. When cruising salt water, I hose the bike(s) down with fresh water at marinas, just as I do with the boat.

Some marinas have courtesy cars or rentals available and they may be the best choice in high traffic areas, but you can’t beat having a bike…

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18 sept 2021
Contestando a

Glad you're able to enjoy biking on the loop!

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