Pedal-Powered Surfing

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Going surfing by bicycle is undoubtedly one of the great joys in life for us. Had we better predicted the added freedom, pleasure and convenience it would bring to the larger New England surfing experience, we would have embraced it ages ago.

Then again, it wasn’t until 2011, when we finally scored a bike trailer capable of easily and reliably carrying a solid quiver of surfboards, including a larger SUP board, that bicycle-powered surfing became practical for us. Now, especially when we are based on one of New England’s many offshore islands, it’s our preferred way to roll.

One of the nicest things about pedaling to the surf is that we are warmed up and ready for action, no matter how chilly a sunrise it might be. As an added bonus, the bicycle nearly guarantees us front row parking at the beach any time of day, at the brewery or wherever we stop along our route. After surfing in the evening hours, we’ll often pedal “home” with our wetsuits on, bound directly for the outdoor shower.

With our bikes equipped with fenders, racks and panniers, our pedal-powered adventures on the coast go well beyond our surf sessions, commencing after driving from our home in Vermont to a ferry terminal at the water’s edge. Upon rolling onto the ferry, our bikes become our primary form of transportation, so everything from dinner with friends to a morning spent harvesting shellfish combines as an ongoing bicycle adventure when we are coast bound. For the last couple of years, we’ve been towing two trailers while on the coast—one for the surfboards, and one for our now two-year-old daughter, Maiana. Last fall, we logged over two weeks living and surfing by bicycle, and while we were by no means on vacation, our pedal-powered ways often had us feeling as though we were.

Bike Powered Surfing

Bikes, boats, boards (right trailer), our baby girl (left trailer), and twenty minutes to spare before we hop on a big, big ferry off the New England coast. With a reliable and well-maintained trailer, it’s surprisingly easy to tow heavy loads by bicycle, especially if the terrain is gently rolling or flat.

Bike Powered Surfing

Emily rocks a trip to the beach with a few surfboards in tow, some miscellaneous gear strapped to the deck, and a little nourishment in the pannier bag. We use a simple pad and a couple of retired bike tubes to balance and secure the load to the trailer. It’s a Surly Bill trailer, and it can carry 600 pounds. That’s a lot of surfboards.

Bike Powered Surfing

The prize: Mother Ocean. There’s nothing quite like riding a well-formed and breaking ocean wave, spawned by a distant tropical storm—and for Brian’s sake, the wave was kind enough to offer him an exit before it crashed upon the shoreline.

Bike Powered Surfing

Morning surf check with the babe. Thirty minutes later, the winds turned offshore, the swell began to pick up, and one of the sweetest sessions of the late summer took shape. We surfed for several hours, and took turns playing with our daughter, Maiana.

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