Railbike Explorers: Railbiking Rhode Island!

Last week, we visited another railbike excursion, this time the RailExplorers: Rhode Island Division. We initially were scheduled to go on the northern tour, but with flooding wreaking havoc on the entire Northeast after remnants of Ida passed through, we were moved onto the southern tour. 

Just like with our visit to Tracks and Yaks in Frostburg, MD, we had an incredible time biking and taking in the scenery of southeastern Rhode Island! Luckily, by the time we'd visited, there were nothing but sunny skies and perfect weather, which certainly made filming our experience easier!

The railbike tour uses remnants of the former Old Colony & Newport Railroad line, which once linked Newport to Fall River, MA and points north, such as Boston. Through the product of numerous mergers and acquisitions, like many railroad companies, it would eventually become part of the much larger New York New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Like the rest of the New Haven, this became part of Penn Central and later Conrail. The State of Rhode Island stepped in to purchase the right of way, preventing its abandonment.

The sign welcoming us to the tours! The tours diverge from this point, either north or south.

Today, there is both a railbike tour and a heritage train that uses this line, the Newport & Narragansett Bay Railroad, that runs along the right of way from Newport to about Tiverton, visible on our Heritage Railways map. I'm not exactly sure where the north end of operations ends, other than the Tiverton Bridge is out, and has been for decades.

The railbike tour is slightly different than Frostburg in that it is not all downhill, and you do have to pedal a bit. Nonetheless, it's not that difficult, and nearly everyone should be able to enjoy it, especially with other riders.

Heading down the track, there's a familiar tune as your wheels hit the rails!

We did not ride the N&NB railroad, as the only experiences they have are a formal dinner (yuck), and a murder mystery (meh). So, the great outdoors of railbiking was the one way to go! As stated, there are two tours; the north one, which was flooded, and the south one which we took part in. The views and smell of the ocean definitely made this a different experience than Frostburg, but one that still a lot of fun and very enjoyable!

Now onto the trip itself. The tracks are shared with the aforementioned N&NB Railroad, so you get really up close and personal with their rolling stock!

This is looking north at the Melville train station, where the railbike tours depart from.

On the south tour, there are two road crossings that flaggers guide you through, but I was very impressed to see (and hear) the crossing signals activate on one of them!

I was definitely a fan of these bells!

A flagger cautions traffic, not that there was any, of the approaching railbikes.

On the tour's south end is a picnic area where riders rest for about 30 minutes, and take in awesome views of the ocean, relax and get ready for the return trip! All in all, the tour is about 90 minutes in length, and certainly well worth the trip for those who find themselves in Rhode Island. As much as I am a fan of the Rails to Trails movement, it's still nice to see the right of way of rail operations preserved in such a way that something like this unique excursion can exist. 

Hopefully, we'll be railbiking again soon in the years to come, ideally in Las Vegas! Thanks as always for reading!


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