Tube rentals are available at Monkton Bike Shop for cool fun on the Gunpowder River

Tube rentals are available at Monkton Bike Shop for cool fun on the Gunpowder River (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun photo / July 23, 2011)

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.

Annapolis Canoe & Kayak

Annapolis Canoe & Kayak rents variety of kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards from their shop near the water in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis.

Contact: 311 Third St., Annapolis. 410-263-2303; ackannapolis.com

Rates: $20-$30 per hour; $50-$80 per day; $70-$110 per weekday overnight; $100-$160 per weekend; $220-$350 per week

Baltimore Bicycle Works

A worker-owned and operated shop on Falls Road in Baltimore, south of North Avenue, Baltimore Bicycle Works rents several models of bikes, including hybrids and road bikes.

Contact: 1813 Falls Road, Baltimore. 410-605-0705; baltimorebicycleworks.com/rentals

Rates: $25 per day, $100 per week

Baltimore Parasail

Located at Harborview off Key Highway, Baltimore Parasail offers parasailing rides in the Inner Harbor. Photo packages are also available.

Contact: 500 Harborview Drive, Baltimore. 443-765-7627; baltimoreparasail.com/contact.html (Note: Not open for season as of press time.)