Get outdoors and get moving with Baltimore-area outfitters that rent bikes, canoes, paddleboards and more.
By By Kit Waskom Pollard and For The Baltimore Sun
Apr 25, 2013 at 3:00 AM
Spring is a time for new beginnings, and that includes new hobbies.
As the air gets warmer and the days last longer, it's the perfect time to try out a new outdoor sport. The Baltimore region offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun, from biking to paddleboarding.
Thanks to local retailers that rent sporting equipment, budding outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen can try out new hobbies without investing too much money.
Gary Weeden, of Annapolis boat and bike rental shop Paddle or Pedal, likens renting to test-driving a car. "Before you spend your money, this is a great way to try things out. Like with cars: Before you buy, rent and say, 'This is what I like and don't like.' "
"If someone hasn't been on a bicycle for a while, and they're not sure of the type of bike they'll want to purchase, we offer several types they can try out at low cost," adds Jim White of Monkton Bikes.
Weeden also notes that, especially with boats, some people prefer long-term renting over buying. "You can try it out and decide if you want to go through the hassle of cleaning, storing and taking care of your own boat," he says.
Renters of outdoor sporting equipment agree that ultimately, one of the best things about their business is that it helps people discover sports.
"We just encourage people to try things," says Weeden. "It's not too big of an investment, so you can just try it and enjoy."
We rounded up some of the diverse sporting rental companies in the Baltimore region to get you started on that new hobby.
Chester River Kayaking Adventures rents single and tandem kayaks and organizes guided paddles near its location in Rock Hall.
Contact: 5758 Main St., Rock Hall. 410-639-2001; crkayakadventures.com
Rates: $40-$52 per half-day; $60-$68 per full day; $80-$88 per 24-hour period
Columbia Paddleboats rents traditional paddleboats and character boats in the form of swans, dragons and ducks for use on Lake Kittamaqundi.
Contact: Lake Kittamaqundi, 10221 Winocopin Circle, Columbia. 301-370-5105; columbiapaddleboats.com
Rates: $15-$20 per 30 minutes
East of Maui
This Annapolis surf shop rents a variety of kayaks, surfboards, windsurfers and stand-up paddleboards and offers lessons.
Contact: 2303 Forest Drive, Suite E, Annapolis. 410-573-9463; eastofmauiboardshop.com
Rates: Stand-up paddleboards: $40-$75 per day. Windsurfers: $125 per day, $30 per week. Surfboards: $25 per day, $100 per week. Kayaks: $30-$50 per day, $125-$200 per week
Hunt Valley Village/Chakra Cycle Station
From its location near the Northern Central Railroad trail, Hunt Valley Village rents a variety of bikes (including kid cruisers, carts and tag-a-longs) and river tubes. The Village also has a concession stand.
Contact: 1235R Paper Mill Road, Hunt Valley. 410-527-9997; chakracyclesstation.com
Rates: $5-$12 per hour; $20-$40 per full day (weekday and weekend rates may vary)
Inner Harbor Paddleboats
Located at Pier 1, Inner Harbor Paddleboats rents traditional and "Chessie" paddleboats, as well as electric boats, for use in the Inner Harbor.
Rates: Tents: $20-$40 per day plus a $100 deposit; backpacks: $10-$20; sleeping bags: $15; sleeping pads: $8-$10. Discounted rates for member.
South River Boat Rentals
Located near Annapolis on the South River, South River Boat Rentals offers sail and powerboat rentals and charters.
Contact: 2802 Solomons Island Road, Edgewater. 410-956-9729; southriverboatrentals.com
Rates: Sailboats: $160-$500 per half-day, $300-$900 per full day, $1,200-$2,300 per week; Powerboats: $500-$700 per half-day, $800-$1200 per full day; captains and instructors available for $100 per half-day and $200 per full day; tubes: $40 per day; water skis: $40 per day; fishing equipment: $40 for a four-person setup.
SunTime Rentals rents powerboat-oriented watersports equipment, from the boats themselves to water skis, on the South River near Annapolis.
Contact: 2820 Solomons Island Road, Edgewater. 410-266-6020; suntimerentals.com
Rates: Call for rates.
Operating out of two locations in Gunpowder Falls State Park — one near calm water (Dundee) and one near open water (Hammerman) — Ultimate Watersports offers a variety of nonpower watersports equipment.
Contact: Hammerman Beach, 7200 Grace Quarters Road, Middle Rive, and Dundee Creek, 7400 Grace Quarters Road, Middle River. 410-335-5352; ultimatewatersports.com
Rates: Kayaks: $15-$25 per hour, $45-$75 per day. stand-up paddleboards: $25 per hour, $75 per day onsite; $85 per day, $125 per weekend, $340 per week offsite; sailboats: $45-$65 per hour, $95-$145 per half-day, $140-$190 per full day; windsurfers: $20-$25 per hour, $60-$75 per day onsite; $70-$80 per day, $105-$125 per weekend, $280-$340 per week offsite.
Additional state park fee and boat launch fee may apply
Stay safe while having fun
Whether you're paddling, pedaling or camping, equipment experts offer advice about how to enjoy the outdoors as safely as possible.
Stay equipped. Every renter of outdoor equipment requires that renters follow laws related to sporting gear; shops may enforce additional guidelines, as well. Personal flotation devices are required on watercraft (some shops require renters to wear PFDs at all times) and bike shops make helmets easily accessible.
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Follow the rules. "Stay to the right, pedestrians have the right of way, the NCR trail is trash-free," says Hunt Valley Village's Kate Wright. She reminds customers of the rules of the road and water before they head out on adventures.
Know your limits. For watersports, it is especially important to be aware of physical limits, says Hal Ashman of Ultimate Watersports. "It's a good idea to have solid swimming skills before renting a watercraft," he says. "That means at least being able to swim the length of a pool and tread water for 60 seconds."
Do your homework. Ashman recommends learning about the characteristics of the water or trail you're exploring before your trip. Rental shops should be able to share key information about the location.
Dress appropriately. "Gear matters," says Ashman. "We make sure people are properly attired so they have a safe and comfortable experience." That includes making decisions about wearing a swimsuit versus a wetsuit, footwear, layering clothes in case of temperature changes, applying sunscreen and carrying a water bottle.
Ask questions. Outdoor equipment experts insist that the best instruction is personal. Talk to the rental shop about your goals and level of expertise to plan the best outing.
Stay in contact. Dave Isbell of Annapolis Canoe & Kayak says sometimes people are "having so much fun, they don't want to come back." But returning promptly is more than just courteous — it also lets the shop know you're safe. "If people aren't back by the time they expect, we're aware of it so we can be proactive," says Hal Ashman. "Always make a plan. Tell someone how long you'll be out, where you're going, where you're launching and when you'll return, so you can have an extra hand if you need it."