Bike Riding Season is Back

by Eric Meyer

While some bike riders never go into winter hibernation, most put away their bikes during fall and wait patiently for the first signs of spring. Well, we’re seeing those signs now. So, let’s talk about how to make the most of the bike-riding season ahead.

The first thing to tackle is ensuring your bike is ready for the road or trail. You’ll want to check your ABCs:

  • Air: are your tires properly inflated?
  • Brakes: are your brakes working?
  • Chain: Is your chain lubricated and working smoothly?

It’s also a good idea to clean your bike and inspect it thoroughly to ensure that bolts are secure, tires don’t have cracks or splits, and the seat is adjusted properly (especially important if you’re checking your child’s bike). Doing these tasks may be something you’re comfortable with, but if not, your local bike shop can do a basic tune-up to ensure you’re good to go.

Next, a few reminders about safety. If you plan to ride on the road, I strongly encourage you to have a good quality flashing red taillight for your bike and be sure it’s charged up before you ride. A taillight greatly increases your visibility to traffic that is approaching from behind. While not as critical as a taillight, a headlight can help improve your visibility to oncoming and cross-traffic. If you plan to ride after dark, both items are legally required. It’s always helpful to wear bright clothing when riding on the road to maximize visibility. Finally, whether riding on the road or a trail, you should wear a helmet. Make sure it’s in good condition and fitted correctly before you ride.

If your rides in the past have been limited to a few tried and true routes, this may be the year to join some group rides. It’s a great way to meet new friends and learn new riding routes. The Hanover Cyclers Bike Club offers many options for group rides for people of all levels of ability and experience. Check out http://www.hanovercyclers.org/ to learn more about this great organization and its ride calendar. Another option is a group ride on Wednesday evenings from the Gettysburg Rec Park called Cranks and Dranks. This event consists of a social bike ride (they often have a short and longer ride option) followed by a gathering at a local watering hole for a beer or two. Look for their Facebook page for more details. Go to the Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc. (HABPI) website under bicycling/organized groups for more options.

In addition to these regular club or group rides, there are some great charity bike rides in the area for you to consider. First, of course, is HABPI’s Ride for Trails. Mark your calendar for Saturday, Sept. 21, and look for upcoming ride details. Other great rides in the area include the Chocolate Tour in Hershey, the Covered Bridge Classic in the Ephrata/Lititz area, the Three Creek Century near Shippensburg/Newville, the Civil War Century out of Thurmont, Md., the Tour de Belt in Harrisburg, and the Labor Day Century near Hanover. Most of these rides have routes of different distances to accommodate all abilities. They are well-supported and have great snacks and food as well. A little internet search will give you the details as they become available.

Finally, there are several good off-road trail options to explore. The Heritage Rail Trail in York County is a great 21-mile trail that runs from York to New Freedom. There are multiple options along the route for parking and trail access. The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is another nice option. Running between Shippensburg and Newville, the trail provides 11 miles of mostly flat riding through farmland. Other nearby options include the Northwest River Trail at Columbia and the C&O Canal trail, with several access points about an hour’s drive away. And if riding gravel roads appeals to you, Michaux State Forest is a great place to explore.

With so many opportunities to ride in the coming year, there’s something for everyone. So, get that bike ready and get out and have some fun.

Eric Meyer is vice president of HABPI and a retired engineer who rediscovered his love of biking more than 25 years ago.