Friday Group Ride #335

Friday Group Ride #335

Soon I’ll be on the ferry with my too stuffed pack, looking for a place to stand out of the wind, my bike below deck with an array of hybrids and hoopties leaned against it. At the ferry terminal, the rich stink of fish remains permeates the air. Seagulls wheel and squawk. The ferry’s enormous engine rumbles and churns the blue-gray water. I watch in amazement as we kiss the rubber-wrapped guide pilings, the boat swaying and shuddering and loosing itself into open water.

This very well may be the highpoint of the trip, this moment of escape where we leave shore, stress and responsibility behind. The slow ferry covers the stretch of ocean between Point Judith and Block Island in about an hour depending on the wind. On the far side, the boat disgorges cars and passengers, and yes, bikes. If I’m lucky I’ve met up with my friends and stowed my bag in a car, which will make the ride to the house that much easier.

This is a trip I look forward to. Block Island does a good job of distilling all of New England’s natural beauty, and as we go deeper and deeper into each off-season, we find the place not crowded with people lining up to rent mopeds. We spend the weekend surfing, if there are waves, fishing, if there are fish, and riding regardless. We drink coffee and read books and argue about inconsequential things, and then we get on the ferry and return, regrettably, to real life.

The riding, I should say, is limited. It’s an island, and not a big one. The one main paved loop is pretty, but requires repetition to gain any real distance. There are some cool dirt paths along the sea cliffs on two sides of the island, but they are not terribly challenging or terribly long either.

The kind of riding we do tends toward the aimless, the slow and the purely for the sake of being outside, which has become my favorite. I think of this as an annual cycling trip, but the cycling is maybe unremarkable. I don’t usually leave fitter than I arrived. It is still, from my perspective, a trip I can’t miss.

This week’s Group Ride asks, do you do any annual cycling trips? Where to? Who do you ride with? Why do you go where go?

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  1. MikeG

    I used to always take the mountain bike when we headed to my brother’s cabin for summer or fall break. The riding was beyond challenging since the cabin sits at 8,000 feet, and all roads lead up from there. It was amazing the animals I got to see with the bike being quiet in the woods, but the wild turkeys scared the crap out of me more than once! These days the mountain bike stays at home as my son, now almost 13 is riding the little Honda dirt bike my brother gave to him, so Im on a bigger dirt bike, teaching him cornering, shifting, etc. as we navigate and explore the forest roads and trails. I miss the cathartic quiet suffering of the bike, but enjoy seeing the sense of accomplishment on my son’s face as he learns to control his fear, and master riding the dirt bike. A different season of life for sure, but one that has its own unique rewards.

  2. Dave

    Our group has been doing a yearly spring ‘training camp’ ride from a friends cabin in northern Montana that I really look forward to. We usually get a longish ride in, a backroads run to a brew pub, plus a king of the mountains climb that always seems to end at the snowline rather than the summit.

    On a less regular basis, we have also been doing the Golden triangle ride in the Canadian Rockies – usually in the fall when the traffic is light and the hotels are cheap. Good times.

  3. Miles Archer

    I don’t have a recurring trip these days.

    In the years BC (Before Children), my wife and I and a couple of friends did wine tasting by bicycle in Napa in around this time of year. It wasn’t serious riding, it was maybe 30 miles all day with a bunch of stops in between. Pretty as all get out with really nice weather. Staying in the valley meant it was flat enough to be comfortable for everyone. If you stay off 29 and the Silverado trail there was virtually no traffic.

    I remember stopping by a bunch of walnut trees and picking up a handful of walnuts to eat while we road.

    These days with the crowds in Napa, I’d want to do it further north and west. I wonder if I could talk my wife into it…

  4. Fearless Kevin

    Giro d’ Yosemite-Annual Ride before Memorial Day for 19 consecutive yrs. Bay Area to Valley. Involves 2 Clubs, full SAG support, 20-40 participants, 4 days. Day 1-130 miles to Sonora, overnight in rental house. Day 2-70 miles (8,000 ft up) to Yosemite Valley. Day 3-Yosemite enjoyment. Day 4-80 miles to Merced, Train Ride (in bar car) back to Bay Area. Still get chills every year descending, rounding corner and looking straight down the Valley.
    Vuelta a Colores-Small group (5-10) rides to view fall colors in the Sierra. Monterey, Mammoth Lakes, Hope Valley, Lake Tahoe, Gold Lakes Hwy, Quincy, Lake Almanor/Lassen, Mt Shasta, Ashland, NorCal Wine Country. Stirs memories for this native New Englandah !!!

  5. 32x20

    Before pregnancy and young son I’d go to Pisgah with my wife and other friends yearly for a week long mountain bike trip. Now, it’s all I can do to sneak rides into our busy schedule. Soon, when the kids are more independent, we hope to start it back up!


    For 6 out of the last 8 years I have ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway with a group of friends. It has been the highlight of the year in terms of cycling. Like leaving for and returning from a distant island the entry into the green and the fog and the endless repetition of climbing and descending provides a rich sense of leaving and returning . It is simple and relentless. It has kindled friendships and created deep bonds of affection. In short it has been a gift to go and ride and be pushed, to get rained on and laughed at, to eat well and show up and do it again the next year.

  7. TomInAlbany

    No annual trips for me. That said, I’ve been to block island with my family about six of the last eight years. We rent near Point Judith and take the ferry to spend a day. I’ve been wanting to take the bikes long one year so we can see more of the island but I’m afraid my 8 year old will have trouble on her 18″ wheels and that my 10 year old will complain despite his choice of gears. I want it to be, ya know, perfect family riding.

    Does that exist?

  8. Alan

    The Isle of Bute in Scotland is a lot like that, went there this year. Wet but beautiful. 2 castles! Also Moab this year. May do Moab often.

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