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There are many great ways to tour the hidden parts of Trenton. Everyone loves the Mill Hill House Tour, or the tours sponsored by The Contemporary Victorian Townhouse Museum. And of course, we’re particularly fond of our own self-guided tour of the battles of Princeton and Trenton. But one of my favorite new ways to take in the hidden gems in the city is by bicycle–and there’s no better way to do it than on The Social Ride.
The Social Ride is a monthly guided tour through Trenton, organized by Trenton Social and cyclist/artist/activist Wills Kinsley. For $10 (cash only), you get an informative and relaxed 5-mile bike tour through Trenton, and then a meal at Trenton Social including a beer and a pasta dinner with salad. You’re probably getting $5 of food and drink and a $5 tour, and it’s hard to think of a better deal than that.
Wills’ tours are each unique. Every tour has a new theme (such as Trenton’s banks, or Trenton’s cemeteries), and he leads a gentle ride through the city’s streets with occasional pauses at historic sites, explaining their historical significance to the tour participants. The whole tour takes about an hour and a half, and often includes sites you wouldn’t normally get to see–on a recent tour of Trenton’s banks, we were let inside the now-closed bank at 1 West State Street, and we explored its underground vaults. The elegant building is on Trenton’s list of historic landmarks, and stands on the location of an 18th century tavern where the Continental Congress met in 1784 (presumably getting sloshed while they passed their laws). I learned all that on the tour. Now that Wells Fargo has moved out of the building, it’s not exactly the easiest site to get access to, and it’s a stately and handsome edifice with a rich and interesting history.
Wills rides fearlessly, which is all the more unusual because he’s leading the tour from what can only be described as a double-decker bike: an extra tall cycle of his own design, seating him 5-6′ above the road (you can see what it looks like in the header image of this review). The tour whizzes through red lights, blocks traffic, and takes over the streets. It is fun to own the streets of Trenton, imagining that this group of hipsters and middle-aged fun-seekers is some sort of historically-minded tourist bicycle gang. The ride is comfortably paced–nobody is going to get left behind here–and if you’re the sort that enjoys having a conversation as you ride, you’ll certainly find yourself able to do so.
Make sure you bring a spare tube, as some of Trenton’s streets can have broken glass and other detritus. We didn’t have any flats on my ride, and I’m sure if there were any, Wills would be able to help out quickly. He also leads and instructs the interns at the Trenton Bike Exchange–so the man knows his way around a cycle.
After the ride, you’ll end up at Trenton Social where you’ll get a ticket that entitles you to one of their $2 draught beers as well as a nice plate of pasta (from a steam table) and salad. Of course if you’d prefer you can also order anything off their full menu, and you can “upgrade” your drink ticket to a glass of wine or a cocktail.
The Social Ride is a lovely way to make some new friends, check out some new sites, and get some exercise. They don’t have a website, so the best way to find out about it is to Like their page on Facebook. We will also post their ride schedule on our Events Page when we have it. See you on the ride!