By Cheryl Ryan
I used to jog through every city I traveled to. From Paris to Tel Aviv to Washington DC I would get up early and head out the door. It was so easy, you just needed workout shoes and clothes. There were a couple of times I found myself in a neighborhood that required a quick about-face but mostly I just got to feel the uniqueness of each city during the quiet of the morning. I would see shop owners and residents as they began their daily rituals. It turned out to be an intimate look at each city’s personality.
But since my knee injury, I can’t do that anymore. I really miss it. But now I’ve taken to coercing family and friends into renting bikes in the cities we visit. There’s been plenty of poo-pooing by those I’ve tried to enlist. And it can be a bit hectic riding through the centers of town. Even when they offer bike lanes, not all local drivers are especially keen on tourists using them. But getting just a little bit out of town is a unique opportunity to explore neighborhoods, find restaurants, and other sites that offer more than just the typical tourist attractions. And you can go way further on a bike than a run.
I’ve rented bicycles in New Orleans, San Diego, and Portland. In New Orleans, we rode along the Mississippi River and found a neighborhood outside of town where a long-established Po’ Boy sandwich shop (including ample pics of the Obama’s) is nestled right in an old neighborhood. Honestly, the sandwiches were amazing. In Portland, we found a beautiful neighborhood and delicious organic restaurant that we never would have seen had we not been on bikes. And in San Diego, we took the ferry to Coronado Island, and once there, jumped onto some rental bikes and pedaled around the island. Every excursion turned into an unexpected, memorable adventure.
Life doesn’t stand still and I don’t want to either. I am glad that I’ve discovered biking as an option and I’m actually excited about my next adventure spin. We are looking into Backroad Bike Tours now. I’ve heard so many good things about them.
I would love to hear any trips you’ve taken that that allow for off-the-beaten-path travel experiences sans running.