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
Usually always have access to a grocery store. With pannier bags, it's easy to transport your goods back to the boat.
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).
Create your own food tour. In Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo we were able to sample all the local foods by bike.
Something to do when you're stuck in a port.
Explore neighborhoods and some pretty incredible homes.
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)
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)
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
Why We Loved It: Scenic backroads that led to one of the best bakeries on the trip.
Length: 29 miles
Finger Lakes Rides
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
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
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
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
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)
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!