Ride the railcycles with B&ML RailCyclers in Thorndike

++ Get out (but, like, not too far). We all love and appreciate the positive effects of the Maine outdoors. Hopefully we’ll be back to all kinds of adventuring soon. But for now, press pause. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has some great advice: stay close to home, steer clear of busy locations, keep your distance (and stick to walking/hiking with folks from your household). ++

Ride the railcycles with B&ML RailCyclers in Thorndike

August 22, 2019RailcyclesThorndike2382Views2Comments
view of legs pedaling a 2-seater bike on railroad tracks

Feel the wind on your face and listen to the rhythmic tunk-tunk of wheels on railroad tracks during an easy-going ride on a railcycle.

These neat two-person pedal bikes are a hoot to ride, and railcycles make for a pretty unique and easy-going experience through the woods in Thorndike.

But first, it should be noted that it is generally frowned upon to ride a bicycle or otherwise loiter about on railroad tracks. Because trains. The railcycles on the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad Tracks were designed for the purpose and are used on a section of track that isn’t currently in use by trains. The good folks in charge are there to make sure you don’t encounter any locomotives.

Four wheels and two seats. It’s a railcycle. Shannon Bryan photo

Each railcycle seats two people, so you’re encouraged to bring your favorite person to ride with you. If you have two favorite people or no favorite people or otherwise have an odd person out, there’s also an option to book a seat next to the guide who’ll lead the trip. (A two-person railcycle is $32 for the one-hour ride. A seat next to the guide is $16.)

[Book in advance on Facebook or on the website.]

Railcycler Angie, right, next to our guide for the day, Ally. Shannon Bryan photo

Rides begin from 37 Gordon Hill Road, Thorndike (the Farwell General Store – definitely check the place out after your ride). There you’ll be greeted by your guide (ours was Ally, and she was friendly and excellent), sign a waiver, and get a neon safety vest to wear during your ride (safety first!).

Then it’s time to ride.

The route distance can vary based on the group, but generally is around two miles each way. The ride out has a slight incline, and while these are train tracks and are relatively flat (this is hilly Maine, after all), your legs will feel that incline, at least a little.

Pedaling a railcycle. Shannon Bryan photo

But more than that you’ll notice the rhythmic tunk-tunk of the wheels on the tracks. And the ongoing woods that break now and then to reveal a creek or farm or cabin as you pass by. There will probably be butterflies and birds and sunshine glinting through the trees. It’s an entirely chill and calming ride.

The long railroad expanse. Shannon Bryan photo

At the halfway point, we got off our railcycles to turn around – and to watch some turkey vultures circling overhead – clearly they’d found something dead and delicious.

Turing a railcycle is a low-tech affair. It involves lifting the railcycle and physically turning it around and placing it back on the track. This means whichever bike was in the front on the way out will now be in the back. The way back is also slightly downhill, which means you can coast much of the way. How nice!

Outside the Farwell General Store. Shannon Bryan photo

And eventually you’ll arrive back at the general store where you first started. And you should go it if you haven’t already. This space was originally storage and the general store was in the adjacent building, but that one’s in disrepair and funds are needed to fix it up. Inside the shop you’ll find a wonderfully curated collection of old goods – spectacles, shoes, books, photographs, buttons, and animal skulls – as well as newer items like note cards and notebooks and the work of local artists and basketmakers. It’s really cool in there.

The Farwell General Store. Shannon Bryan photo

Also make a point to stop inside Garden Variety, another cool shop that’s just around the corner, for a selection of homegoods, art, cards, kitchen items, kids things, and more.

Garden Variety, another cool shop in Thorndike, is just around the corner from the railcycles. Shannon Bryan photo

Railcycles are accessible to lots of riders, even folks who don’t ride bicycles very often. Be sure to wear closed-toe footwear (no sandals, clogs, crocs, or open-backed shoes, either). Pedalers must be at least 10 years old and the weight limit is 250 pounds.


B&ML RailCyclers
37 Gordon Hill Road, Thorndike (Farwell General Store)
$32 for a 2-person railcycle
$16 to ride with a guide
See the schedule and book your 1-hour ride:


This post was originally published on June 8, 2019

Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan

I don't like "exercise" any more than you do. But you know what I do like? Paddleboarding with a friend all afternoon (and then sitting in the grass to drink chardonnay). Bike rides and nachos, hikes, yoga classes held in breweries, group paddles to Fort Gorges, you get the idea. Because Maine is my gym.