What is “bicycle touring”?
Bicycle touring is a multi-day trip that you take where you use a bicycle to get from place to place instead of a car or some other means.
Some tours can take months where people stay in a different place each night. Other trips can be as short as a weekend. Our trips are set up as 2 or 3-day weekend tours. We also offer day-rides.
What kind fitness level do I need to have?
ou do not need to be a marathon runner to do these trips, but you should be in good physical shape, capable of riding a bicycle for most of a day. The mileage for each day of our overnight tours varies between 16 and 60 miles, but since you have all day, you don’t have to ride all of the miles at once.
A good rule of thumb is if you are able to participate in one of the NYC region’s main cycling events, such as Bike New York or one of the charity rides (like the MS ride) you should be able to do one of our tours without any problems.
Another way to test yourself is to ride the Central Park roadway loop. If you can do this 6.11 mile loop several times in one day (with as many breaks as you want) you can do our tours.
Our day rides are not as strenuous and are suitable for all levels of riders, including complete beginners.
Do I need any camping experience?
If you’ve never been camping before, it’s not a problem, as long as you have a willingness to try it. Because our tours involve staying at modern campgrounds with experienced campers as trip leaders, the camping experience is not the same as backpacking by yourself in the wilderness.
The main questions to consider if you are new to camping are:
- Am I OK with being outside (or in a tent) for a whole weekend, where I could experience temperature changes, rain or bugs?
- Am I OK with sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag with a pad or air mattress underneath me?
Many people believe camping to be a wonderful outdoors experience where you “get closer to nature”. As long as this sounds appealing to you, you should be OK. And if you end up hating camping, the good news is that it’s only a 1 or 2-night trip and you aren’t that far from home.
Can I stay in a hotel or B&B, and not camp?
Yes, some of our tours offer the option to stay at a nearby B&B or hotel each night, provided they have the vacancy. You would have dinner with the group at the campground before retiring for the night at your accommodation. If you are interested in the option,we recommend reserving your trip early.
How long is each tour?
All tours begin on Saturdays. Some are day-rides. Overnight tours can be either 2-day/1-night or 3-days/2-nights depending on the tour.
How many people are on each tour and how diverse is the group?
Day rides are never more than 15 people and overnight tours are never more than 10 people. We do this to ensure a manageable group where people can get to know each other if they want to. Our tours attract a wide variety of people, from all age groups and backgrounds. We usually have both beginner and advanced level riders on every ride. People simply ride at their own pace.
How do I get to and from the bike tour?
Every tour we operate begins and ends at a LIRR, Metro-North or NJ Transit rail station.
All three of these transit agencies allow you to bring your bicycle on-board the train. All you need to do is get yourself to a train station with your bike and you will be able to get to the starting point. Or, if you don’t want to take the train with your bike, you can drop your bike off with us and take the train with your luggage and other gear.
How do I get my luggage, camping gear and bike to and from the bike tour?
If you are taking the train to the tour starting point, it is unlikely that you will be able to carry everything – your bike, your camping gear and your luggage – with you on the train. To accommodate this, we offer an equipment drop in midtown Manhattan the week before the tour.
A range of times will be offered to you where you can meet our staff who can store your camping gear, luggage and/or bicycle in a secure storage facility. We will take what you store with us in our van for you to use throughout your trip. You can decide what you want us to bring.
For example, you can store your luggage and camping gear with us and then take your bike with you on the train. Or you can store your bike with us and take your luggage on the train.
Either way, you will begin and end your tour with all of your stuff. We take what you can’t carry back on the train back to our storage unit at the end of the tour, and you can pick these items up the following week at a time that works for you.
Are you sure I can bring my bike on the train?
Yes. LIRR, Metro-North and NJ Transit all allow bicycles on-board their trains.
LIRR and Metro-North require bicycle permits. They are $5 and good for the rest of your life. You can buy the permits at Grand Central or Penn Station, or you can buy them on the train from the conductor.
More information can be found at:
How many miles do we ride?
Our trips are designed to allow you time to stop and enjoy the various sights and attractions that you will pass on your ride. The trips are also designed to allow you time to enjoy what each destination has to offer at the end of each day.
Most days set up around a 30 mile ride, with options to go further. There can sometimes be a day within the tour that has a longer mileage of about 50 or 60 miles. These distances, while they may seem intimidating, do not actually take that long to ride. Even at 10 miles an hour, a 50 mile ride takes 5 hours…well under the amount of time you have available that day. And if you get tired, you can always call us to pick you up!
Do we ride on roads or pathways?
We try our best to keep the rides as far away from vehicular traffic as possible. When bike paths are available, we incorporate them into the ride. When they are not, we try to pick roads that have low traffic volumes or wide road shoulders to make the ride enjoyable and scenic.
We also use roads officially designated as “bike routes” when they are available.
What do I do if my bicycle breaks down?
We have a support van that can come help you with any breakdown issues. If you break down, you can call us and we will meet you at your location. When we arrive we can fix your bike and you can continue your ride. If you are done for the day, you also have the option of quitting the ride at that point, and we will drive you to the end of the route for that day. We can then help you fix your bike at the campground, later in the day.
PLEASE NOTE: Your bicycle must be in good working order to do our tours. Breakdown assistance is limited to minor repairs such as flat tires, snapped cables, etc. Major mechanical issues involving a bicycle that was in poor condition prior to the start of a ride will not be fixed by our team.
What if I can’t finish the ride that day?
Don’t worry. Just call us and we will meet you at your location and drive you the rest of the way!
What is the “panic button”?
We realize that bike touring and camping may not be for everyone, but we want to encourage people to try it. So if you find that bike touring and/or camping is really not for you, you always have the option of ending your tour whenever you like.
Our tours are designed so that they are always within close distance of a train station or a bus stop. We keep schedules for all of these transit services with us. So if you’ve had enough, tell us, and we will get you on the next train or bus home.
We will then carry your bike and/or luggage back to our storage facility at the end of the tour, and you can get you stuff back from us the next week.
If I choose the “panic button option”, can I get my money back?
Unfortunately, no. We have to pay for all of the trip accommodations in advance, so we cannot refund you your money once the trip begins.
What about bad weather?
We run the bike trips rain or shine.
If it rains, riding your bike or camping in the rain is part of the experience. However, typically in the summer months, we are unlikely to encounter a situation where it will rain all day.
If it is forecasted to rain, it’s usually possible to take a break during your ride and go someplace inside along the way while the rain passes. Most of the campgrounds we use also have sheltered areas where you can hang out if you don’t want to stay in your tent while it rains. Just remember, rain won’t kill you, especially on a hot summer day!
We will, however, cancel a tour if extreme weather (such as a hurricane or tropical storm) is forecasted for the tour dates. Refunds will be issued in such cases.
What are the campgrounds like?
The campgrounds we stay at are modern facilities with bathrooms, hot showers, etc. All campgrounds are located near towns where you can purchase goods or services or go to a bar for an after-ride drink.
Can I rent camping equipment?
Yes. We have a small supply of tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads that we can rent to you for an additional fee if you do not have them. If you rent equipment from us, we will set everything up for you.
Can I rent a bicycle?
Yes. We have partnered with JoyRideNYC, a bicycle rental company that can deliver you a bike.
How do I know what to pack?
Take a look at our recommended packing list for an idea of what you will need to pack for one of our tours.
What meals are included?
Day one includes a “go bag” with energy bars/snacks in it when you meet us at the start of the ride. Lunch is on your own wherever you decide to stop. Dinner is provided at the campground.
Day two begins with breakfast at the campground and you’ll get another go bag with energy bars/snacks in it. Lunch is on your own wherever you decide to stop. Dinner is provided at the next campground.
Day three begins with breakfast at the campground and you’ll get another go bag with energy bars/snacks in it. Lunch is on your own wherever you decide to stop. Dinner is also on your own since you may end your ride before dinner. If not, the rides always end at a train station that is near a restaurant or other place to buy food.
Can I drink alcohol?
We will not provide you with alcohol. However, if you are 21 or older, you may purchase your own alcohol for your own consumption at the campground each night, provided that the campground permits alcohol – some do not. Most of the campgrounds we use are also within short walking distance of a bar. You may not operate a bicycle under the influence of alcohol, since that is against the law. Please, do not litter and be respectful of others in regards to noise.
Some of our tours also feature stops at wineries or distilleries. While these places offer tastings, you must limit the amount you consume if you intend to get back on your bike to do more riding. (For example, you can taste wine using the sip/swish/spit method).
Can I bring my child?
We offer family oriented bike tours where entire families are welcome. If you would like to ride with your child, we recommend you consider these family tours.
As for other, non-family oriented rides, older children/teenagers are allowed on our tours, provided they can ride the distances in the trip itineraries and if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who will assume responsibility for them.
If you have prior experience doing similar tours with small children, please call us to discuss feasibility. For example, you will not be able to take a bike with a trailer or a tandem bike onto any of the commuter railroads that we use for our trips. However, we may be able to make other arrangements with you concerning transit and gear pickup.
What if I am not coming from NYC, or if I need to drive to the tour?
While these tours are primarily set up for NYC people to take the train to and from the rides, we can most likely accommodate you if you are coming from someplace else, or if you cannot use one of train lines.
Please contact Lukas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 748-1119 to discuss this.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
What is the cancellation policy?
Day-rides must be paid in full to reserve a spot. Day-rides are fully refundable if cancelled more than 10 days in advance. After this, you will only receive a 50% refund if you cancel. Cancellations within 3 days of the day-ride (12 noon the Wednesday before each day-ride is the deadline) are non-refundable.
If inclement weather is forecasted for the day of the ride (inclement weather is defined as the forecasted certainty of sustained, soaking rain and/or high-speed winds…NOT scattered, passing or intermittent showers) you will be given the option of a full refund or the opportunity to ride on the rain date (usually the following day).
Overnight Bike Tours:
Reservations for overnight bike tours are secured with a non-refundable $100 deposit. You can pay the balance of the tour registration fee any time up until 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before each tour. Failure to pay the balance by this time results in loss of reservation and deposit.
The tour registration becomes 100% non-refundable after 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before each tour. Tours are only cancelled in cases of extreme weather, such as tropical storms or hurricanes. In those cases, refunds will be issued.
Can I pay with a check?
Yes, absolutely. If you want to pay with a check, please email us and we will tentatively reserve your spot for 3 days while we wait for the check to arrive. Mail the check to:
Gotham Bicycle Tours
4380 Vireo Avenue #5S
Bronx NY 10470