Melbourne, FL – June 1, 2014 – As the summer of 2014 arrives on June 21st this year, it is time to shine up your bicycle and get it ready to hit the road or trail. Cycling over the past ten plus years has grown very popular. According to USA Cycling, here are a few interesting facts about their organization that may shed some light on to cycling in America.
• As a membership-based organization, USA Cycling is comprised of over 2,800 clubs and teams; and 74,500 licensees that include officials, coaches, mechanics, race directors, and competitive cyclists of all ages and abilities across all five disciplines of the sport.
• Each year, USA Cycling sanctions over 3,000 events across the U.S. Additionally, the organization administers 10 national-level calendars and manages 18 national championship events for all ages and skill levels in road, track, mountain bike, cyclo-cross and BMX.
• USA Cycling has seen steady growth over the last decade as participation in cycling continues to grow across the nation. In 2012 there were 74,516 Licensees (+5.2% Increase over 2011), 3,135 sanctioned events (+3.6% Increase over 2011), and 2,812 clubs (+9.5% Increase over 2011).
It appears to me that with more and more cycling events like the Tour de France being shown on cable television, the sport of cycling cannot help but gain in popularity. With so many different kinds of bicycles and places to ride outdoor recreation enthusiast have so many choices. These days it is not uncommon for bike riders to have many different bikes in their garage for each type of terrain that challenges them from a mad dash down a mountain to a leisurely ride along a beach side street. So where does the adventure start?
Beachside Cruising: The slow pace of riding a cruiser bike along a beachside street, wooden hiking and bike trails through forest canopies or along any of the amusement park boardwalks that dot the coastline of America, can just be magical. A cruiser bike has been set designed to give the rider no-hassle experience where you can wear sandals and flip-flops or even go barefoot. Cruiser bikes are typically single speed with flat pedals. When visiting locations like Atlantic City, NJ, Sandwich Boardwalk, Cape Cod, MA, Coney Island, NY, South Bay Bike Trail Southern California, and the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk, Hollywood, FL, you can rent cruiser bikes at each destination. Looking for the best cruise site go to http://www.bicycling.com/ride-maps/featured-rides/best-boardwalks-cycling
Road Cycling: As one leaves the slow and relaxed pace of beach-side cruising and is lured by blacktop pavement and road bikes with their skinny seats and multiple gears, this kind of riding appeals to group of cyclist who long for the open road where doing a 50 miler before lunch common place. If this is your cup of tea, did you know that there are about 5,973 miles of U.S. Bike Routes scattered across 12 states that include Alaska, Kentucky, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Also more than 40 states are working to create U.S. Bicycle Routes (Adventure Cycling Association). These cycling routes have been broken down into three categories, Adventure Cycling Bicycle, Bicycling and Adventure Cycling Mountain Bike routes. One can purchase maps of all these routes in these 12 states on the www.AdventureCycling.org website.
Mountain and Trail Biking: This type of bike riding provides off-road experiences that take the rider on hair-raising rides down mountain slopes, over rivers and through forests. Mountain and Trail biking are not for the faint of heart, in fact it can be quite dangerous. The risk that comes with this kind of biking is what draws many cyclists to this kind of cycling. Mountain bikes are a breed apart from road and cruiser bikes. If you are looking for great places to hone your mountain and trail biking skills, you can purchase maps on the MTB Project web site. http://www.mtbproject.com/
Downhill Courses: For the more serious mountain and trail bikers, this is for you. Many of the east and west coast and rocky mountain ski resorts offer cyclist the opportunity to ride the ski slopes during the summer. Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to visit the Mammoth Mountain in October just before ski season started when I attended the Far West Ski Association Annual Conference. Mammoth was really hopping with downhill cyclist lined up two and three deep waiting for the chair lift to take them up the mountain which is part of the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. Outside Magazine has named Mammoth Mountain Bike Park as the number one off-road downhill area. The park offers over 80 miles of scenic cross-country single track and heart-thumping downhill courses. Being the biggest bike park in the West allows them to offer terrain for every type of ability— even if you've yet to experience the fun of mountain biking (Mammoth Mountain Bike Park). If this is your sport, you will need a very special version of the off-road mountain bike to enjoy this wild and crazy sport.
What’s New and Interesting? As the price of gas seems to be pegged by global pressures at around $3.65 a gallon, many commuters are turning to peddle power to get to work and to get around town. One segment of the bicycle marketplace that is getting more attention is the electric bicycle. Electric powered bicycles come in different configurations like power-on-demand, power assist and/or peddling the bike with electrical support. Companies like Electra, Currie Tech, Evelo, Stromer and Pedego all design, manufacture and sell electric bikes. If you already own a conventional bicycle and want to convert it to an electric bike, an aftermarket lightweight and highly efficient all-in-one design pedal assist smart wheel by FlyKly that fits on practically any bicycle may be your choice. The cost of an electric bike can be as low as $500 and as high as $4,000. Buyer beware, you get what you pay for with many of the top end electric bikes coming from European designers. Another interesting feature that is starting to trend are bikes that are designed to carry more things. The typical bike design does not give the rider many options to carry more of their, as George Carlin would say, your stuff with you when you bike ride. A company called Xtracycle has designed a cargo bicycle. Yep, I said it. A bicycle designed specifically to carry more of your stuff with you. This new kind of bike frame design has been named by Xtracycle as their “Cargo” bicycle and it comes in two different configuration, the Edgerunner and the Cargo Joe. The Cargo Joe folds in half to make it easier to carry or transport. They even have an electric cargo bike that was designed to climb the hills of Seattle and San Francisco. And of you cannot get enough of your stuff on a cargo bike, you can always get a bike trailer.
Where to Go? You would think that finding a great place to ride your bike would be difficult. Well, it is not. The Rails-to-Trails, Map My Ride, and Singletracks websites have bike riding location search engines where you can find great places to ride close to where you live.
And last but not least, while doing research on bicycles, I came across Mattias Fredriksson. Mattias is a freelance photographer who lives in Sweden. He travels the world taking amazing photographs of skiers, snowboarders, bikers and the great outdoors. You may have seen some of his work and not know it in Powder and Bike Magazine. Check out his work on his website, http://www.mattiasfredriksson.com/.
With the start of summer only a few weeks away, it is never too early to start planning your first summer bike trip.
Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.