2020 Has Been the Year of the Bicycle
For a lot of people, cycling ends up like the movie Toy Story. As a kid, a bicycle means freedom, speed, adrenaline and, most of all, independence. Then comes the learner’s permit, and the bicycle gets left behind like poor Woody.
That is, until now. 2020 has taught us that “living well” is about the simple things… like riding a bike! It seems like the whole world has rediscovered their bicycles during this unique year. You see people riding almost everywhere– through the parks, rail-trails, woods, streets, cities and the endless NEPA countryside.
If you’re just getting back into cycling, you’ll notice that a lot has changed over the years. Here in NEPA, cyclists have been working tirelessly with rangers and local municipalities to build trails, advocate and plan for the completion of rail-trails and bike lanes and organizing various group rides and events. It will feel like you just opened your eyes to find that you live in one of the best places to ride!
Explore NEPA From Behind the Handlebars
The bicycle offers something for almost every personality and inclination.
First off, the most important question you should ask yourself is where you see yourself riding. Whether it’s carving through the woods on a mountain bike, cruising the shaded rail-trails and levees with the family or heading out to discover the less-traveled roads through the hills and valleys, Northeastern Pennsylvania has a spot for you. Or maybe you’re ready to train for a triathlon or dive into road riding, gravel riding or BMX racing (it’s not just for kids!). No matter what, you’ll find plenty of places to ride.
There are so many great places to mountain bike in NEPA. The trails have been thoroughly thought out, built, groomed and maintained by local cyclists. If you’re new to mountain biking, please note that the trails are there for everyone to enjoy. Riding in wet conditions is frowned upon as it causes excessive deterioration of the trails.
How great are bike paths?! The ability to ride flatter routes with little to no motor vehicles makes them great for new cyclists or families with kids. For the past 20 plus years, a handful of dedicated people have been advocating to develop bicycle paths and the convert our old rail roads. It has all come to fruition just in time for this amazing increase in the number of cyclists.
These trails come in a variety of surfaces from pavement to packed cinders. While you can ride most any bike on these paths, the hybrid or gravel bikes are the best suited with their easy-rolling, mid-width tires that provide both sure-footedness and low rolling resistance. Not too skinny and not too wide– just right!
Bike Paths & Rail-Trails:
Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
Trolley Trail – Clarks Summit to Dalton
Clarks Summit, PA
Luzerne County Levee Trail
Back Mountain Trail
Susquehanna Warrior Trail
Lehigh Gorge Trail
White Haven, PA
Bloomsburg Rail Trail
Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails
Hazle Twp., PA
Out your front door and make a left! There are tons of options, but Coxton Road in Duryea is one of the most well-known in NEPA’s road cycling community. It’s a gateway to some of our most treasured riding along the Susquehanna River, featuring a waterfall, rock cliffs and occasional train sightings. It’s a main cycling artery out into some of the most beautiful countryside you can find.
Iron sharpens iron if you’re interested in improving and learning.
Riding with others can be intimidating, but you’ll quickly find that most cyclists enjoy sharing their sport. Since there’s so much to learn, joining a small, manageable group can be very beneficial. They can help with mechanical issues, show you the dos and don’ts, teach you about bike fit and share other riding tips.
The number one piece of advice we can give is to get connected. Become an active part of the cycling community through our regional bike club, NEPA Velo. Check out our Facebook page and our page on Meetup, the region’s one-stop calendar for riding. You can find many small groups with various rides and gatherings for all types and levels of riders. COVID may have put a damper on our original 2020 plans, but we’re starting to rebuild with safe, small group rides.
Also, find the bike shop that works for you. Every bike shop in our region is staffed with kind, knowledgeable cycling folks who love to help others find their niche in the sport. Like their Facebook pages to stay up to date on rides, deals and general information about cycling in NEPA.
Hit the Roads and Trails
Pump up the tires and go for a ride.
I’ve often likened riding a bicycle to flying. It’s the closest thing we can do under our own power to glide along carefree with the wind in our face. Not to mention, it’s one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. So dust off your bike, get in touch with the cycling community and start exploring. We’ll see you out there!
We’re riding along with the DiscoverNEPA Cycling Team to learn all about places to ride and people to meet. Get out on the roads and trails with these tips from NEPA’s own cycling community.