This is the season for rediscovering the outdoors by bike—beyond Central Park, beyond Manhattan—where there are fewer people, less traffic, and vistas that don’t include concrete, glass, or steel.

If you were wondering where or if you can bring your bike aboard the trains heading out of Grand Central or Penn Station, the answer is yes and the options are endless.

For those who rarely bike off the beaten paths there are dozens of bicycle clubs—in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut—that schedule rewarding rides for every level, from a beginner’s outing of ten miles over easy rolling terrain to a day trip through killer hills. There are hundreds of clubs across the Tri-State area that would welcome new riders at any time for a nominal fee.

But how do you get there? The good news is that all trains heading out of New York City allow bicycles on board at certain times. Take a look at the websites below, which provide the rules, regulations, and costs for taking your bicycle on trains to Long Island (great flat riding), Westchester and points north (varied terrain), and New Jersey (scenic mountain trails).

If you’re out of shape and need a little more encouragement, consider the fact that you burn between 500 and 1,000 calories an hour (depending on your speed, terrain, and your own weight, of course), and this eco-friendly activity causes less strain on your joints than walking or running. And—after you buy a bike—the cost of using it is almost zero. What are you waiting for?

*Author’s Bike Route Pick for Intermediate Riders:
One of my favorite biking destinations is the Westchester Bike Trail that runs from Yonkers to Northern Westchester County. You’ll traverse a smooth mostly level, car-free road that has very few well-marked street crossings. You’ll be distracted by the beautiful blooming landscapes (including a number of small towns) so you won’t realize how much your working those quads. Purchase a $5 permit to ride Metro North (good forever) and get off at Hastings-on-Hudson. From the Hasting-on-Hudson train station, ride up Main Street until you come to route 9 which is also called Farragut Avenue.  Make a right and follow the road until you come to Ravensdale Road. Make a left turn then proceed east down to the Saw Mill River Parkway.  Just east of the parkway, you will pick up the bike trail, which runs north and south.

Photo: Courtesy of mnorri