Take a Ride and Cure Those Quarantine Blues
Social distancing is inspiring people to get back behind the handlebars.
Between the warmer weather and the extra time at home, many people are rediscovering their love for cycling. After all, there’s nothing like the rush of the wind in your face and the whir of tires to shake off your cabin fever.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re casual or competitive— biking is a fun pastime for all ages and skill levels. Cruise through your neighborhood or round up the kids for a family ride. If you’d rather kick things into high gear, pedal your way through a workout or take a thrilling adventure on the trails. Biking can also provide a safe alternative to public transportation, allowing you to avoid crowds on your daily commute.
Dust off your bike and get back in the saddle this spring. These tips will have you rolling again in no time.
Tune Up Before You Head Out
Get your bike ready to go with some easy, at-home maintenance.
Even if you ride regularly, you should always give your bike a safety check. Phil Cable from our team at NEPA Velo Cycling Club gave us some tips for simple maintenance you can do at home:
- Pump up the tires to the recommended pressure.
- Squeeze and release the brakes to make sure they’re returning properly.
- Spin the wheels to make sure they’re not bent or rubbing anything.
- Put a little oil on the chain, then wipe it down to make it clean.
- Hold the front wheel between your legs and try to turn the handlebars. They might move with some force, but they shouldn’t move too easily.
You should also adjust your seat so you have a slight bend in your leg at the full extension.
“A lot of people like to ride with the seat low so they can stand over the bike seat with their feet flat to the ground, but at that point, it would be like trying to walk around in a squat all day. Your legs can get really tired,” Cable explained. “If your legs are straighter, it’s more mechanically correct so your body is more relaxed doing it.”
Sometimes You Need More Than Just a Little Air in the Tires
If you just unearthed your bike from the depths of the garage, it probably needs some extra TLC.
For some extra help, just call your local bike shop. The state has allowed them to remain open for services and repairs.
“Most of the shops offer a safety check or a basic tune-up that’s relatively inexpensive and gives you the assurance that the bike is safe for you or your family member,” said Cable.
Some bike shops are open on limited hours or by appointment only, so make sure to confirm before you go.
Local Bike Shops:
Plains Bike Shop
Pocono Bike Company
Around Town Bicycles, Inc.
Dutch Wheelman Bicycle Shop
Sickler’s Bike & Sports Shop
Sickler's Bike & Sports Shop
Clarks Summit, PA
Old Mill Pine
West Pittston, PA
Peterson’s Ski & Cycle
We’re All Tuned Up. Now Let’s Ride!
NEPA offers everything from casual family rides to rugged mountain trails.
Once your bike’s in working order, it’s time to get rolling at NEPA’s parks, roads and trails. The local rail trails are perfect for cruising along and enjoying the scenery. They’re usually flat and smooth with a gentle grade, so they’re a fun option for families and beginners.
If you’re up for more of an adventure, NEPA is home to single track mountain biking trails. The area has an awesome BMX scene too.
Road riding is a great fit if you’re all about speed and you’re ready to push your limits.
“It’s the closest thing to flying that we can do as humans on our own power,” said Cable. “It’s soaring; it’s the thrill factor of it.”
Gravel riding is also popular because it offers the speed of road riding, but allows you to travel off the beaten path on NEPA’s scenic, unpaved backroads.
If you have a competitive streak, Cable recommends using Strava as a way to stay connected with other cyclists, even when races and group rides are cancelled. The app allows you to track your miles and time and see how you measure up against other people who logged the same ride.
No matter what style of cycling is your favorite, NEPA offers plenty of places to ride. Check out our list of popular biking destinations to find a trail or park near you.
Where to Ride in NEPA:
Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
This historic, multi-use trail extends across Luzerne, Lackawanna, Susquehanna and Wayne counties. The Scranton section is an accessible, beginner-friendly route just minutes from downtown.
This 2.8-mile trail in Clarks Summit is fun for all ages and skill levels. The boardwalks and smooth gravel pathways make for a relaxing ride.
Back Mountain Trail
The Back Mountain Trail extends from Shavertown to Luzerne, following a forested ridge above Memorial Highway. It consists of two short sections, so it’s perfect for a peaceful afternoon ride.
Lehigh Gorge Trail
The Lehigh Gorge Trail is a 26-mile rail trail that extends from White Haven to Jim Thorpe. Between the amazing scenery and the easy grade, this ride is a must-see for all ages and skill levels.
Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails
Take a short drive from the city and escape into nature at this rail trail in Hazle Township. The main segment is four miles long, so it’s a fun and easy trip for the whole family.
The D&H Rail-Trail is a 38-mile trail that stretches from Carbondale to the New York state border. You’ll pass plenty of rural scenery and historic sites along the way.
This community park near Carbondale recently reopened to the public. Explore the eight-mile biking trail through the forest and along the lakeshore.
Luzerne County Levee Trail
Take a leisurely ride along the Luzerne County Levee Trail, a smooth, paved pathway along the riverbank. It consists of four different sections throughout the Greater Wilkes-Barre area.
Moon Lake State Forest Recreation Area
Moon Lake is a popular destination for NEPA mountain bikers, and it’s easy to see why. The park near Hunlock Creek offers tons of cool single track trails that wind through the forest.
Bloomsburg Rail Trail
The Bloomsburg Rail Trail is an easy, beginner-friendly ride along Fishing Creek. This out-and-back trail is about six miles round-trip.
The Howland Preserve in Tunkhannock is home to flowy single track trails. Sharpen your mountain biking skills as you explore the woods and meadows.
Join NEPA’s Cycling Community
Quarantine won’t last forever, but your love for biking just might. When life returns to normal, you can connect with other local cyclists and find cool rides and races all over NEPA. Check out groups like our team, the NEPA Velo Cycling Club. They offer a full calendar of cycling events for all levels.