Biking in Bolton Landing

You never forget how to ride a bike!! However, biking has definitely changed in the last few years (or decades, as the case may be). It has been a while since I’ve been on a bike, so I asked a local authority, Mark Galluci, who works for Elevate Cycles, about the different types of bikes and biking. There are many kinds of bicycles, even if you are only counting the two-wheeled varieties – unicycles, tri- and quadra-cycles aside. The two-wheelers can be utility, mountain, racing, hybrid, cruisers, touring and BMX (named for the sport of Motocross racing, which is done on dirt with obstacles). The less common two-wheeled bicycles are are tandems, lowriders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models (for easy travel), amphibious, and recumbents. Oh, my – a very long way from the Schwinn easy rider! The kind of bikes most people use are usually chosen for the kind of riding you like to do, basically road or dirt – and then the bicycle is fit to your body and style – wheel size, seat, gear type, brakes and handlebars (up or down). Fit is extremely important for comfort and safety – any kind of biking is meant to be fun.  Mark said that anything goes, the point is to get out and ride! The price range for a new utility bike is anywhere from $150 to $500 in a general store, on up (way, way up!) for custom bikes from high-end or specialty bike shops. The frame material (steel, aluminum, or specialized metal), gears, and wheel and handlebar types have a lot to do with the price. You can rent bikes at some shops. There is also a huge market for used bikes, which can be found on Craig’s List, E-Bay, in newspaper ads, flea markets, auctions, and at different bike shops. Be sure to check out the condition of the bike, and try it for size and feel before you take it home. Safe and sane is the order of the day, no matter which kind of riding you do. After you get the best bike and equipment for your style, here are the

Safety First Rules of the Road:

  1. Wear a helmet – helmets are required by law for anyone under the age of 14, and are simply good sense for any age.
  2. Use lights a headlight in the front, and red taillights – you may be able to see where you are going, but it is important that other vehicles can see you, especially at dawn or dusk.
  3. Wear reflective clothing – speaking of being seen, wear clothing that has reflective qualities or bands – it is almost impossible for the driver of a vehicle to see you on dark or rainy roads if you are not wearing something highly visible – that safety rule goes for walking on dark roads, too.
  4. Weather – wear and bring clothing that is suited for the weather, which can change alarmingly fast in the Adirondacks. Layers work, and Gore-Tex wicks better than cotton. There are waterproof astronaut blankets that fold up to nothing and weigh only a few ounces, but are wonderful to have if needed.
  5. Make noise – have a horn or a bell that you can use when needed to let other people know you are there, and if you wear a whistle you can signal for help.
  6. Carry an emergency kit – these come in tightly packed containers that fit under the bicycle seat so you don’t even know they are there – until you need them. They generally contain a first aid kit, pump and patch kit, a spare tube, map and compass. Yes, take five minutes and learn how to use a compass, it is easy to do and may save you hours if you get lost. If you are doing trail riding, you may puncture a tire on a sharp rock – and it could be a long walk back. Ron’s ACE Hardware in Bolton Landing carries patch kits, tubes and bicycle pumps.
  7. Know where you are – have a map and a compass, and know how to use them, and carry a charged cell phone – you may not always have a signal, but when you do you can call for help if needed, and if the phone has a GPS system, that’s even better. Check out the Lake George Kayak Company in Bolton Landing for maps and compasses.
  8. Bike with friends, and let stay-at-home friends know where you are going and when you plan to return, especially if you are biking by yourself.
  9. Food and Water – you will get hungry and thirsty – especially thirsty – to keep well hydrated, bring lots of water! If you are planning on drinking from streams or lakes, bring a purification kit. Energy bars are good condensed food,  compact and light-weight, and really do give you quick energy.
  10. Watch the weather – wet roads, especially in the fall and winter, can be dangerous. Leaves and snow can mask faults in the road.
  11. Ride single file on public roads – easier for vehicles to pass you.
  12. Courtesy rules the road: trails are often shared with hikers and equestrians. Here’s how: be aware of your surroundings, slow down and sound your bell if you come across a hiker, so they know you are coming and won’t suddenly decide to check out that rare species of flower on the other side of the trail just as you were going to whiz by. If you approach a horse from the front, stop and let them pass you. If you are approaching a horse from behind, get off your bike and walk around. Some horses startle easily, and can dump both their rider and you in an instant.
Remember Mark’s advice – whatever style you choose –– just get out there and ride! What is your favorite kind of riding – a tour sponsored by a local bike club? A special fund-raising bike race or event?  An family outing at a state or national park? Penelope Jewell                    ]]>