When I learned how to ride a bike at the age of 6, I vividly remember feeling like I could take over the world with this new found independence to explore beyond my neighborhood. Not even my first car made my heart skip quite like the rush of wind in my hair as I pedaled, until completely out of breath.
Like most people though, I eventually grew out of my bike phase until in my early 30s in Chicago. I was so inspired by the bicycle community there that I decided to invest in a bike as my primary mode of transportation. I purchased my beautiful Dutch bike Linus in Carolina-Blue and together we made great memories while going to work, grocery stores, happy hours, picnics, and everything in between. In spite of all the fun, I have to confess that since having kids and moving to Raleigh, Linus and I haven’t had too many dates together.
Thankfully, May is National Bike Month, and I can’t think of a greater incentive to get back into this simple pleasure in life! Sure, biking is good exercise, but just like the old days, it is also a magical way to connect with nature, with friends and family, and with ones own sense of adventure. So, let’s go ride a bike ya’ll! Here is a quick guide to get you started:
How to find a bike?
If you come short after looking for a dusty relic in your garage, I suggest heading to your nearest bike shop. Unlike the big box stores or the internet, the local shop will have greater expertise (not to mention, the variety) to match you with a perfect bike (yeah, it is kinda like dating). Some shops even carry used bikes so definitely ask if you want to keep the cost to a minimum. If you do possess a dusty relic, for safety’s sake make sure to get a professional tune-up before setting sail. LimeBike and similar companies now offer bikeshare options in the Triangle where you can use an app to rent a bike on an hourly basis. A more robust bikeshare program has been approved by the city of Raleigh as well, with a roll out as early as summer 2018 (you can find out more about it at BikeRaleigh).
A helmet is a no-brainer. Never ride without one. If this is your first time in a long time, make sure to venture out with a friend and carry plenty of water. If your ride involves spending time on a road, make sure you know the rules of how to share the road with cars. These safety tips by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has all the information you need to get you started.
Where to ride a bike?
Technically you can start riding right out of your driveway, but if your goal is to avoid cars, then you can’t beat the Capitol Area Greenway trail system. Again, your local bike shop is a great resource to get route suggestions to match your comfort level. Chances are, they might already have weekly group-rides that you can join to learn the ropes.
How to ride with kids?
If your kids are too young to ride on their own, there are many contraptions available to still make biking fun and comfortable. An iBert seat that goes in between the handlebars is a good options for young kids with head control. Trailers (like this one from Weehoo and Burly Bee) which connect to your bike also make for a good option. For kids who are ready to pedal on their own but can’t necessarily be trusted to do so the entire ride, there is the Trail-Gator tow bar. Just remember that every single rider, young and old, wears a helmet.
How to look good while biking?
Alright, so this is the least important part of biking, but if there ever was an incentive to embrace bicycling in your daily life, let fashion be it!! There are so many cool companies that make beautiful accessories and clothing specifically to meet biking needs. Things like bags (like the handlebar bag and panniers from Po Campo), fashionable helmets (like this cherry blossom print by Nutcase), and even bloomers(!) leave no excuses not to bike everywhere including to the office or to a date!
Now that you’ve been inspired to hop on a bike, all you need is a celebration to ride to, AmIRight? In fact, there are several great events going around town for National Bike Month like a few I’ve listed below. For a full list and specific details about each event, make sure to head on over to Oaks & Spokes Festival organized by the non-profit and bike advocacy group of the same name:
- Wednesday, May 9, 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. BikeRaleigh Pep Rally at Crank Arm Brewing
- Wednesday, May 9, Bike to School Day
- Friday, May 11, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m., Capital City Bike Ride at Raleigh Union Station Plaza
- Sunday, May 13, 10:00 am, CycloFemme Ride and Tea Party at State Capitol Building
- Friday, May 18, Various times and locations all across Raleigh, Bike to Work Day Pit Stops
- Saturday, May 19th, V Foundation’s Victory Ride to Cure Cancer
- Saturday, May 26, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Raleigh History Tour at the City of Raleigh Museum
- Saturday, May 26, 7:00pm, Neon Art Ride from Market Plaza to Dorothea Dix Par
Where is your favorite biking trail to ride in the Triangle?
Please share with us in the comments below.