It’s either unchecked hedonism or outright
denial that led me to New York’s Fire Island the weekend
after summer’s unofficial demise. While most
vacationers packed up their share-houses and kissed farewell to the spit of
sand off Long Island’s south coast over Labor Day, I
was still dreaming of bike rides, summer ales, and one last coat of sun.
It doesn’t hurt that hotel prices fall off a cliff once
beachgoers pack up their white (I paid $225 per night at Clegg's Hotel, while
rates during summer’s apex can be double that). So I
found myself at the Island Mermaid pulling on a straw filled with its signature
Rocket Fuel (a dark rum piña colada with a Cruzan 151 “sinker” at the bottom and a pond of Amaretto floating on top) and stretching summer out
as long as possible before the looming cold throws its death grip around New
York City. I wasn’t ready for fall, not yet.
The Big Apple just got a lot more user-friendly for those who like to throw their leg over a two-wheeler, hit the bike paths, and take in the sights. The NYC Parks Department and Bike and Roll—a bicycle rental group that started seven years ago and now operates in five U.S. cities—cut the ribbon last week on their new Hop On/Hop Off program, which allows renters to pick up a bike at one of the easily recognizable 11 mobile Bike and Roll centers in Manhattan and drop it off at a totally different location, eliminating the need for a round-trip and encouraging exploration. Rates range from $12-20 per hour to $39-69 per day; child seats and tagalong attachments for kids are also available.
Our favorite new amenity? Getting your own private escape-mobile. As far as airport transfers go, it doesn’t get much better than Beach House Maldives, a Waldorf Astoria Resort(doubles from $815), where guests are greeted by a DeHavilland Twin Otter seaplane tricked out with everything from iPads to Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Coming this summer to all stateside Fairmont Hotels(doubles from $169): BMW Cruise bikes (plus helmets and locks, of course).
This is me with my first bike. Just kidding. It's my second bike. But my favorite bike of all was a lime-green metal-flake Schwinn Stingray with gooseneck handlebars, a white banana seat, sissy bar with red reflector, and a treadless rear tire that let you lay a brodie 10 feet long. Unfortunately, it belonged to my sister. That's the memory that stirs in me as we approach all the events set for Bike Month in May.
The annual Tour de France bolts out of the starting gate on Saturday for three grueling and beautiful weeks of bike racing. The TV and online coverage, on a sports channel called Versus, amounts to a vivid travelogue with sweeping helicopter shots of aqueducts built by the Romans, crumbling medieval ramparts in the Pyrenees, and green, undulating countryside.
The last time I visited Denver I fell in love with Little Man Ice Cream (or, rather, its banana chocolate chip frozen custard, with a dollop of hot fudge). Now that the city is offering up 500 red Trek cycles in its bike-sharing program, I’ll pedal there myself, and order up a double scoop to celebrate the calories I’ve burned.
Riding on the heels (or wheels?) of similar initiatives in Montreal and Mexico City, Denver B-Cycle is the nation’s first citywide bike-share, and incredibly cheap (it was sponsored by various big-money partners, including Kaiser Permanente). Purchase a 24-hour membership for $5 with your credit card at any of 40 ubiquitous B-cycle stations (above, see map here), and soon enough you’ll be free-wheelin’ it throughout the Mile High City. Legs getting sore? Just return your bike to its hub (stations are everywhere from the Denver Art Museum to the Highlands, the nabe Little Man Ice Cream calls home).
I admit it: I may the only Brooklynite left who hasn’t jumped on the bicycle trend. (Blame my Minnesota roots: I remain loyal to the birthplace of the Rollerblade.) But though I don’t own a bike at home, I do love to hop on two wheels to explore a city while on vacation, and am pleased report that more and more hotels are pedaling to, well, urban pedalers.