W hen it comes back to life on Friday, the historic Laconia Train Station will be the home of Rail Bike Adventures, the newest three-season attraction in the Lakes Region.
The trip begins at the 1892 train station and goes west along the shores of Lake Winnisquam in Laconia and Belmont to an area behind the Belknap Mall, where the rail bikes will be spun around on a turntable for their return to Laconia.
The round trip takes between 80 and 105 minutes and at its midpoint riders can step off their rail bikes to stretch their legs or sit on log benches and take in the view of the lake, said James Nigzus, manager of Rail Bike Adventures.
The four-wheel rail bikes can accommodate up to four riders.
“The seats are the most comfortable rail-bike seats that you’ll find in the industry,” said Nigzus, who from 2015 to 2020 was a conductor on the Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads.
Nigzus said he’s thrilled with the railroad history that Rail Bike Adventures has on site at the train station and the other historic sites that it will pass by on tours, including the former Laconia Car Company, which is among the first landmarks riders will encounter on a five-mile round trip.
The Boston & Maine Railroad Historical Society has loaned a number of items on display in station, said Nigzus, who is vice president of the society.
Being in the restored Laconia Train Station is great, said Paul Giblin, a spokesman for the Hobo Railroad, Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad & Rail Bike Adventures.
The station was built for the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad, later the Boston & Maine.
Giblin said when the owners of the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads bought the building more than a decade ago, the soaring rotunda had sustained “a lot of damage,” including to its stained-glass windows.
He said the train station may also eventually serve as a rail connector for the Colonial Theatre in downtown Laconia and the Lakeport Opera House.
The latter venue recently re-opened as an upscale, intimate performance space. The Colonial, which was renovated at a cost of $14.4 million, is scheduled to open in late July.
Giblin said the plan eventually is to coordinate passenger service from the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad’s depot in Meredith with performances at those Laconia venues.
But “that’s down the road,” said Giblin, noting the immediate thing is to celebrate the opening of Rail Bike Adventures.
The cost of the guided rail bike tours at Rail Bike Adventures is $151 per rail bike for up to four riders. Advance reservations are required and can be made by visiting www.HoboRR.com/rail-bike-adventures/.
Nigzus said riders should arrive 20-30 minutes in advance of their scheduled visits to sign a waiver, do a safety review and to familiarize themselves with the rail bikes. There is a basket on the front of the bike where riders can place items, and every seat has a built-in bottle holder.
Riders are required to wear a seatbelt, but do not have to wear a mask or helmet. Two Rail Bike Adventures employee guides, one at the front and the other at the rear, will accompany each group of riders.