Well, in spite of this I have indeed cancelled my hosting. Beentherebiketours is gone, although I preserved the best info right here. And I did keep my domain. All good and some simplification achieved.
I’m slowly sunsetting BeenThereBikeTours. Building the indexes of 600 or so bike tours around the world was largely powered by Google searches. But now and then I discovered an unusual tour that somehow Google hadn’t found (or at least weren’t on the first page of results). Here’s a collection of offbeat city bike tours that you might not find by Googling:
|Dallas||Dallas Brewery Tour by Bike||Self-guided|
|Denver||Bike Into Denver’s Past||Self-guided|
|Durham||Durham Mural Tour||Monthly|
|Lexington||Cycling Through the Centuries||Self-guided|
|Minneapolis||Hidden Music Landmarks||Self-guided|
|New York City||Bike the Boroughs||“Virtual” with Maps|
|Portland||Best Rides Around Portland||Maps|
|San Antonio||Brew Tour||Listing – No Map|
|Tampa||History Bike Tampa||Free BYO Bike for Monthly-ish History Tours|
Look for updates with whatever comes along post-BTBT.
A few years back, I started up BeenThereBikeTours, dedicated to finding every #citybiketour on the planet. I hoped, and still do, to ride and review as many of them as possible.
The website has (soon to be had) a blog, tour reviews and an index by region. For example:
There are over 600 commercial or regular city bike tours worldwide. And dozens more self-guided options. New York City, at 14, had the most in one city at last count. And there are tours in cities you might not think much about, like Kuching (in Borneo) or Da Lat (Viet Nam).
I’m not aware of any other website that has attempted to index them all. Unfortunately bike tour companies come and bike tour companies go. Keeping that list current with new tours and frequently validating that the listed companies are still in business has become more work than I’m willing to dedicate.
The real fun is actually taking bike tours and making up my own DIY routes. And writing the reviews is rewarding and helps preserve the memory of the day. For years, I’ve written personal “trip reports” for vacations. It’s a habit I learned from keeping a journal of my month in Germany when I was 17.
So…I’ve decided not to renew my hosting for BTBT. After June 10, 2019, BTBT and its indexes will be gone. On the bright side, I’ve transitioned the ride reviews here.
Most of the commercial bike tours are pretty easy to find via Google. For example, here’s Berlin. Unfortunately, the tricky part is that search doesn’t reveal some of the more offbeat tours and rides. Not to worry though, I’ve consolidated the best of them here.
Finally, I had originally hoped to attract some sponsors for BTBT. Unfortunately that has not happened. I don’t believe there is enough traffic to justify placing some Google ads. The net is that I’m spending time and money (hosting) for little benefit. Adios then to BeenThereBikeTours.
“Punk rock” and “bike tour” are two phrases you don’t expect to see together. Throw in “history” and you’ve got the East Bay Punk Rock History Bike Tour. When I saw this in my news feed a few weeks back, I knew that I had to make the trip. The ride was co-sponsored by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) and the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). So I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and began looking for a rental bike that wouldn’t make me look like a tourist who’d escaped from Fisherman’s Wharf. Shout out to Golden Gate Rides who set me up with a Cannondale Quick flat bar road bike that was perfectly suited to a long weekend in the Bay Area.
The sellout ride began at the museum in downtown Oakland. The 30 or so riders mingled prior to a welcome and pre-ride briefing from the WOBO board president, Chris. CBGB and Dead Kennedy T-shirts replaced the typical cyclist kit. And there was a bit of minor incredulity that someone would fly 1500 miles to participate. Each rider received a pocket-sized Powerpoint deck detailing each stop of the tour.
Here, and at each of the eight following stops, Kamala and Kate related stories “from the day”. Stories of starting bands, communal living, and less-than-normal rental practice spaces shared with semi-legal tattoo parlors and offbeat print shops.
More than half of the nine stops no longer resembled their punk rock roots, due to gentrification, remodeling, and new construction. This ride was not about sightseeing as much as about the stories. After each stop’s story, the guides played a song from one of the associated bands. There’s nothing like a punk rock soundtrack on a bike ride.
Here’s a quick video of the music portion at one of the stops:
(East-bay-punk-rock.mp4 upload to youtube and place here.)
One particularly interesting detail about gentrification stuck with me. Most of these neighborhoods were, at one time, inexpensive warehouse spaces or housing. They were often very ethnic and dubious of the punk squatters. Gentrification in the early 90’s hadn’t started, but Kate expressed regret that they didn’t try harder to build bridges with the existing neighborhoods.
The final stop on the tour was 924 Gilman which is a:
- DIY and nonprofit venue for music, art, and community events
- Cultural landmark since 1986 that continues to inspire similar spaces globally
- Volunteer-run, all-ages, drug and alcohol-free safe space
- Multi-generational, independent collective
- Place for young people to work cooperatively
The route from OMCA to 924 Gilman was just under nine miles:
Stretching to Berkeley, the ride also provided a quick glimpse of some of the exceptional Bay Area cycling infrastructure, e.g. bicycle boulevards.
To top off the post ride, WOBO sent a playlist of the tracks played at the stops and during the ride:
02_Special Forces_South Africa.mp3
04_Neurosis_Double Edged Sword.mp3
05_Christ on Parade_Just Pretend.mp3
10_Fang_Berkeley Heathen Scum.mp3
13_Isocracy-2 Blocks Away.mp3
15_Operation Ivy_Junkies Running Dry.mp3
16_Mr. T Experience_Gilman Street.mp3
17_Blatz_Berkeley is my Baby.mp3
19_Lookouts_Big Green Monster.mp3
20_Screeching Weasel_Ashtray Song.mp3
Most of these titles seem to be available on Youtube.
Although this wasn’t a commercial bike tour, I’m including the usual:
What We Liked
- It was a well organized, well run, well thought out event. Kudos to WOBO and OMCA.
- The pocket guide and music samples were a great idea.
- Tim from WOBO even brought water along in his panniers.
- Follow up emails with the route information and downloadable MP3s.
- Friendly fellow riders.
What Could be Better
- Nothing, even the weather was perfect.
And, finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the East Bay punk scene, check out a new documentary titled: Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk.
There are at least a half dozen bike rental and bike tour outlets along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. All of them offer guided and/or self-guided trips along the bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down into Sausalito, with a ferry ride back to the city. If you’ve never been to San Francisco, it’s not a bad choice. Except that Sausalito is pretty touristy.
I was in San Francisco recently, primarily to check out the East Bay Punk History Rock Bike Tour. I’ve always wanted to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge. But, having been to Sausalito ONCE, I didn’t really want to do that again, Plus, there are other ways to ferry around the bay (tip, check out downtown Oakland or Alameda).
So, do ride the touristy San Francisco side (especially if it’s your first time in the city). And do ride across the Golden Gate bridge. But, then, come back and take in another side of San Francisco.
Here’s how this ride breaks down:
- Embarcadero to the Golden Gate Bridge, passing through all of the most touristed areas, including the Exploratorium, Pier 39 (don’t miss the sea lions!), Fisherman’s Wharf, the USS Pampanito and SS Jeremiah O’Brien, the Maritime National Historic Park, views of Alcatraz, Fort Mason, and Crissy Fields. Finally climb up to and on the Golden Gate Bridge. Approx. 6.5 miles. Consider which side of the bridge to ride.
- The Presidio to the Wiggle, including an amazing bay view at Vista Point, a steep downhill reminiscent of the Streets of San Francisco, a short taste of Golden Gate Park and Haight-Asbury. Approx. 7 miles.
- SOMA back to the Ferry Building. The mapped route is pretty direct back to the Ferry Building, but this area is dead flat and pretty bike friendly. If you’re interested in craft beer, there are several brewpubs noted on the map. Approx. 3.5 to 5 miles depending on detours.
Need a bike? You can’t walk 50 feet along the bay without running into bike rentals. But consider treating yourself to an upgrade from Golden Gate Rides, Bike Hut, or Dandyhorse. Tell ’em BeenThereBikeTours sent you.
While visiting family in Atlanta, an extended BTBT team rode the Fall in Love with Atlanta tour from Bicycle Tours of Atlanta along with a few other guests. When we arrived, all eight bikes were ready to go, identified with name tags for each rider. BTofA’s website asks for height and age info when booking to provide an appropriate bike for each rider. That’s not only helpful to find your bike, but doubly nice since it makes it easy for the guide and riders to learn one another’s names.
After a brief test ride and a few fit adjustments in the parking lot, we rolled out toward the historic shotgun houses near the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. From there we began a rambling clockwise route roughly encircling the Little Five Points, Inman Park, and Cabbagetown neighborhoods.
After stopping for an iconic downtown Atlanta photo, we paused again to explore street art along a short section of the Atlanta Beltline (including one of three “tiny doors” that we encountered). From there, we rode the Freedom Park Trail passing by The Carter Center. A few shady streets later, we arrived at Little Five Points, Atlanta’s “answer to Haight-Ashbury”. Little Five Points is proud to have exactly three non-local establishments: The post office, a Starbucks, and an American Apparel.
After more shady residential streets and another short stint on the Freedom Park Trail, we entered Inman Park proper. Sadly, we rolled PAST the King of Pops HQ & Walk Up Window. (“Mmmm, popsicles…”) Several blocks later, we stopped for a story about a pair of iconic houses, and their connections to the Coca-Cola company. A bit further on, we discovered the butterfly flags marking the first neighborhood in Altanta to gentrify.
Next up, a fast, dark ride through the heavily graffitied Krog Street Tunnel followed by a photo taking break at the Cabbagetown terminus. Heading west along Wylie Street, we encountered more murals along the concrete railroad embankment. We then circled back to Sweet Cheats for a brief cupcake and bio-break.
Following the break, we pedaled a short distance to the site of the Fullton Bag and Cotton Mills. A portion of the historic mill was converted to loft apartments in the late 90s. Hundred year old walls overlook the inviting modern pool. Just around the corner, we rode through a residence of a different sort, the Historic Oakland Cemetery. The cemetery predates the Civil War and serves as both a final resting place and peaceful city park.
The final leg of the tour took us past the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, once again, before returning to the bike shop.
What We Liked
- Just about everything. The location of the shop and tour route are nearly ideal to experience a cross-section of Atlanta.
- The bikes were in very good condition (a couple were brand new) and set up for us in advance. The name tags were a nice touch.
- Walt was an enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide. Sara was learning the ropes and having a second guide to help with intersections in busy Atlanta added to our safety.
- Plenty of water provided before and after the ride.
What Could be Better
- One of our riders had requested an e-bike. She wasn’t able to use the throttle, but the pedal assist worked fine. Kudos to Walt for emailing us after the ride to explain the quirks of how that bike usually works.
- I sure could have gone for that King of Pops popsicle 🙂
Should You Go?
Absolutely, highly recommended!
Mural Rides are a thing now. This past Sunday, I hopped in the car and drove 175 miles to Houston to ride in Bayou City Outdoors’ Graffiti Ride (we’ll let Columbia University sort out the difference between murals and graffiti for us 😎 ).
BCO is “Houston’s event, adventure, and social club”. They sponsor a number of cycling oriented events in and around H-town. This was the second Graffiti Ride, with more likely in the future.
Sixty or so riders started at Market Square Park and focused on East Downtown (“EaDo“) and the 2nd Ward/East End districts. The first mural stop at the Houston Graffiti Building featured a dozen or so murals on several buildings (near the intersection of St. Emanuel and Bell):
We rode east from here and made use of two excellent bits of cycling infrastructure, the Columbia Tap and Harrisburg Hike & Bike Trail. This part of town provided some great cycling conditions (especially on a Sunday) and offered a handful more mural sightings:
We eventually looped back toward the start, but not before a brief stop for refreshments at the 8th Wonder Brewery. The ride took right at three hours and was 11 miles or so. As you can see the weather was nothing short of ideal. Especially for Houston.
And, another three hours and 175 mile drive later and my day was done.
If you visit Houston and want to see some murals, please check out this amazing guide by Ashley Cardoza, Carrie Colbert, and Maritere Ricee. Best of all, they included this interactive Google map: