Gotham Bike Tours
Bicycle riding and wineries are a great combination. What could be better than rolling through the beautiful countryside on your bike and then ending your journey with a bottle of locally made wine? The bottle even has your name printed on it and the number of miles you rode to get there to make the day extra special.
If you live in the New York Metro area, such an adventure is closer than you think. Gotham Bicycle Tours of New York City has teamed up with Cream Ridge Winery of Upper Freehold Township, NJ to offer an epic bicycle and wine journey for riders of all levels and abilities. The ride is called “Beaches to Farms: A Winery Experience” and it literally takes you from the ocean to horse country in less than a day. The ride is also 100% mass transit accessible, allowing anyone to participate without having to use a car to get there from Manhattan (or elsewhere). An overnight stay at the winery is also part of the experience.
First, the beach. The ride begins at the SeaStreak Ferry in midtown Manhattan where riders take the boat (with their bikes) to Sandy Hook Beach. From there Gotham Bicycle Tours follows along with a support van (in case anyone needs assistance during the day) while riders pass through the dunes of Sandy Hook and then onto a car-free bike path along an old railroad line that was once used to carry produce from the Garden State to New York Harbor.
After a stop for lunch at one of the sidewalk cafes in Freehold, riders take a turn onto the quiet backroads of horse farm country, dotted with farmstands where everyone can stop and buy local produce, and perhaps some cheese to eat with that wine which is waiting at the end of the ride.
Cream Ridge Winery is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by horse farms and natural preservation areas. On weekends, there is almost always live music. Tim and Jackie Schlitzer who run the winery are avid cyclists and runners who present each rider with a personalized bottle showing the number of miles ridden to the winery that day. After enjoying a catered dinner (and wine, of course) the group settles down for the night, camping amongst the rows of grapes in the winery. For those who hate the idea of camping, Gotham Bicycle Tours can shuttle you to a nearby hotel (or to a train station to head home if you only want to ride one day).
After sleeping under the stars in the winery (or in your hotel room) the ride back the next day offers another beautiful experience. This time the ride takes you through the forests of the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, and then through flat farmland where much of the region’s produce is grown. Those looking to keep the second day short can end their ride in Princeton where they can take the train back to Manhattan. If you are looking for a longer ride, the second day of the trip offers the opportunity to ride on the Delaware and Raritan Canal to Duke Farms (www.dukefarms.org) - a beautiful old estate once owned by Doris Duke that is now an ecological preserve. Filled with bike paths, it is an excellent place to explore at the end of your ride before having dinner at one of the many restaurants in Somerville, one more mile beyond. After dinner, take the train back from Somerville (with your bike). Gotham Bicycle Tours will reunite you with your luggage (and any wine you buy) later in the week.
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