Two groups of tandem riders enjoy a rail bike tour, which are available for the season until Dec. 9. Photo courtesy Adam Forshee.

A Ticket to Ride… or Pedal

A disused train track has become a ticket to exploring the scenery of Maryland’s Eastern Shore this summer. Tracks and Yaks has opened their second location in the state at Berlin, a small town just west of Ocean City.

After a few years of success in their first location in Frostburg, Maryland, the company decided to settle on the tracks of the old Maryland and Delaware Railroad this summer.  “The charm of the town of Berlin, America’s Coolest Small Town, is there are lots of folks walking the streets every day. It’s just a neat little small town, and its proximity to Ocean City— we hope to draw some visitors off the beach for a day—seemed like a good fit,” says owner Adam Forshee.

Anyone can pedal the rail bikes—no cycling experience required. The concept is like a one-speed bicycle, Forshee said, defining the activity as “not strenuous, just consistent.” As long as someone is always pedaling, picking up the slack when others might need a break, the bike will continue to move. 

With adjustable seats and different excursion options, the whole family can take a trip through the town and its historical landmarks. Tours are available on two-person or four-person bikes for either 6.5 miles roundtrip or 13 miles for the more ambitious. 

The Ironshire Express trip, best for a casual ride, is about 90 minutes long, departing three times a day. Booking is available online at $99 for a tandem rail bike and $159 for a quad. 

For a longer trip, guests can take the Queponco Excursion, a 13-mile tour that stops at the preserved Queponco Station for 15 to 20 minutes midway through the ride while the bike is being turned around. Explore the 1910 train station that once served as a lifeline for the Eastern Shore.  

The Queponco Excursion is about three hours long and costs $149 for a tandem rail bike and $249 for a quad. The tour usually leaves in the morning when temperatures are cooler, according to Forshee. For this tour, the company recommends that at least two people be able to moderately pedal the entire trip. 

In Maryland’s “only tour of its kind,” participants will be accompanied by three first-aid-certified guides, according to a press release from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce. Forshee said staff members on the lead bike also share historical information, ensure the safe crossing of roadways, and turn the bikes around when returning to the starting point. 

According to Forshee, Tracks and Yaks has a positive relationship with the local businesses and restaurants as people come for the rail bike tours and end up eating at local restaurants, spending the night and likely heading to the beach for a day.  

“So, I think it will be a good fit, a lot of synergy,” Forshee said. “People that have already discovered Berlin before as a neat little small town, this will give them one more thing to check out and do and a reason to come to town.”