Bicycling in Bermuda
- Places to Explore
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- Fodor's Choice
The best and sometimes only way to explore Bermuda's nooks and crannies—its little hidden coves and 18th-century tribe roads—is by bicycle or motor scooter. Arriving at the small shore roads and hill trails, however, means first navigating Bermuda's rather treacherous main roads. They are narrow, with no shoulders, and often congested with traffic (especially near Hamilton during rush hours). Fortunately, there's another, safer option for biking in Bermuda: the Railway Trail, a dedicated cycle path blissfully free of cars.
Despite the traffic, bicycle racing is a popular sport in Bermuda, and club groups regularly whir around the island on evening and weekend training rides. Be prepared for some tough climbs—the roads running north and south across the island are particularly steep and winding—and the wind can sap even the strongest rider's strength, especially along South Shore Road in Warwick and Southampton parishes. Island roads are no place for novice riders. Helmets are strongly recommended on pedal bikes (it's illegal to ride without them on a motor scooter), and parents should think twice before allowing preteens to bike here.
Information on local races or on how to meet up with fellow cyclists for regular group rides is available at www.bermudabicycle.org. The Winner's Edge bike shop on Front Street in Hamilton is also a good source of information about the local cycling scene.
The Railway Trail. Running intermittently the length of the old Bermuda Railway (old "Rattle 'n' Shake"), this trail is scenic, and restricted to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. You can enter and exit the trail at several clearly-signposted points. One especially lovely route starts at Somerset Bridge and ends 2½ mi later near Mangrove Bay. You can take your bike onto the ferry for a pleasant ride from Hamilton or St. George's to the Somerset Bridge stop. From there, bike to the bridge on the main road, turn right, and ride uphill for about 50 yards until you reach the sign announcing "Railway Trail". Turning onto the trail, you find yourself along a course with spectacular views of the Great Sound. Along the way you pass old Fort Scaur, several schools, and the large pink Somerset Cricket Club. Toward the end of the trail segment, you'll find yourself on Beacon Hill Road opposite the bus depot. Here you can turn around and head back to Somerset Bridge, or, for refreshment, turn left and ride to the main road (you can see Somerset Police Station), and make a sharp right turn to find Mangrove Bay and several small pubs and shops nearby. Because the Railway Trail is somewhat isolated and not lighted, you should avoid it after dark.
South Shore Road. This main island road covers almost the full length of the Island and passes absolutely gorgeous ocean views. South Shore Road—also known as South Road—is well-paved and, for the most part, wider than Middle Road, North Shore Road, and Harbour Road, with relatively few hills. However, it's one of Bermuda's windiest and most heavily traveled thoroughfares. Highlights are through Warwick and Southampton, looking down on the popular South Shore beaches.
Tribe Road 3. Tribe roads are small, often unpaved side roads, some of which date to the earliest settlement of Bermuda. They make for good exploring, though many are quite short and lead to dead ends. Beginning at Oleander Cycles in Southampton, Tribe Road 3 steeply climbs the hillside just below Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, with views of the south shore below. It eventually leads to a point from where you can see both the north and south shores.
In Bermuda bicycles are called pedal or push bikes to distinguish them from the more common motorized two-wheelers, which are also called bikes. Some of the cycle liveries around the island rent both, so make sure to specify whether you want a pedal or motor bike. If you're sure you want to bicycle while you're in Bermuda, try to reserve rental bikes a few days in advance. Rates are around $30 a day, though the longer you rent, the more economical your daily rate. You may be charged an additional $15 for a repair waiver and for a refundable deposit.
Riding a motor scooter for the first time can be disconcerting, wherever you are. Here you have the added confusion that Bermudians drive on the left, and though the posted speed limit is 35 kph, the unofficial speed limit is actually closer to 50 kph (while many locals actually travel faster than that). At most rental shops, lessons on how to ride a motor scooter are perfunctory at best—practice as much as you can before going on to the main road. Though many tourists can and do rent motor scooters, the public transportation system (ferries and buses) is excellent and should not be ruled out.
Eve Cycle. With three convenient locations around the island, Eve's office in Dockyard is just a short walk from the cruise terminal– perfect if you're arriving by boat. If instead you're coming to Bermuda by plane, take advantage of their "Fly N Ride" service that enables visitors to hop on a scooter at the airport without worrying about luggage (it's sent directly to the hotel). This cycle shop also rents out adult mountain bikes, as well as motor scooters, including your mandatory helmet. The staff readily supplies advice on where to ride and detailed maps of the island. Be prepared to pay an extra $20 for mandatory third-party insurance. Other branches are in St. George's and Paget, and if these are a bit of a walk from your accommodation, a shuttle service is offered. 10 Dockyard Terr., Dockyard, MA01. 441/236–6247. www.evecycles.com. 1 Water St., St. George's, GE05. 441/236–0839.
114 Middle Rd., near S. Shore Rd., Paget Parish, PG06. 441/236–6247.
Oleander Cycles. Known primarily for its selection of motorbikes and scooters for rent and sale. Single and double bikes are available and a $30 damage waiver is charged. Oleander Cycles' main store is in Paget, but it's Southampton location is convenient for Pompano Beach Resort guests since it's right next door to the resort There are also small branches at the St. George's Club, The Reefs, and Cambridge Beaches. 6 Valley Rd., off Middle Rd., Paget Parish, PG05. 441/236-5235. 8 Middle Rd., west of fire station, Southampton Parish, SB03. 441/234-0629. Maritime La., Dockyard, MA01. 441/234-2764. 26 York St., St. George's, GE05. 441/297-0478.
Smatt's Cycle Livery. Smatt's offers standard moped rentals with helmets. Their daily rate is $50 for a single-seater, plus the $30 damage waiver fee. Before a moped is rented, you'll be asked to take a riding test for your safety. They have two additional locations, one in the west end at the Fairmont Southampton Resort, and one at the Rosewood Tucker's Point Hotel & Spa. If you are arriving into Dockyard by cruise boat, the closest shop is the Hamilton branch (accessible via a 20 minute ferry ride). There are also a limited number of bicycles available for rent from the Hamilton and Southampton locations. Fairmont Hamilton Princess, 74 Pitts Bay Rd., Hamilton, HM06. 441/295–1180.
Fantasea Bermuda. This comprehensive recreational company offers an assortment of memorable excursions. The bike tour along the Railway Trail begins in Dockyard with a short boat cruise to the trail, where you will pick up your 21-speed mountain bike. After the leisurely 1½- hour ride, finish with a cool-off swim and a drink at a beach in the Somerset area. The trip is about 3½ hours, including the cruise and biking. It costs $75 per person and includes equipment and drinks. There is a $5 administration fee per reservation. 5 Point Pleasant Rd., Albuoy's Point, Hamilton, HM11. 441/236–1300. www.fantasea.bm.
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