Northwest Arkansas Trails | A Beginner's Guide to Biking

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Josh Stacey, recreation supervisor at Bike Bentonville, says cycling has brought nothing but good to the Northwest Arkansas Community. 

"Cycling brings tax dollars into our community. It also brings tourism. People come from across the nation and the world to ride our trails. As an activity, biking enhances our quality of life and makes Northwest Arkansas a more attractive place to live."

Stacey says one of his favorite aspects of cycling is the sheer breadth of its appeal. With community-wide reach covering kids and adults, experienced riders and brand new beginners -- everyone has a chance to join this fun, healthy activity.

With access to award-winning trails, it's easy to run, walk or bike in the Northwest Arkansas community. "Biking is an opportunity to get out and be active and live a healthier happier lifestyle," Stacey says. 

According to Highroller Cyclery's fit specialist, Branton Moore, riding a bicycle summons the same feelings of freedom and adventure that most of us relished in childhood. But for those who are interested in reclaiming that sensation -- whether for recreation, exercise or socialization -- it can be intimidating to know where to begin. With miles upon miles of award-winning trails, Northwest Arkansas offers ample opportunity for exploration and adventure, but where does one begin when choosing a bike and setting a course? Moore was kind enough to give us the scoop.

 

Let's say I want to "test drive" biking as a hobby, and I don't want to spend too much money right away. What should I look for in a bike?

In today's bike market there are so many choices that it can easily become overwhelming. For beginners, there is no need to spend a great deal of money on a bike. In my opinion, the most important thing is to get a bike that is comfortable and that you like the looks of. (Most people are more likely to ride a bike they find aesthetically pleasing.)

If you truly want to just try it out, don't be afraid to borrow some bikes from a friend or to rent bicycles a few times before buying. Just be sure the bike is basically the right size for you.

 

What equipment is absolutely necessary?

We recommend a helmet, hydration in the form of a water bottle or backpack with a water bladder, a small bag under the seat to hold the essential tools for changing a flat and personal items.

Other helpful items:

  • padded shorts
  • gloves
  • a speedometer
  • a bell or a horn
  • flashing lights

 

Now that I have my equipment, and I'm ready to hit the trail, what are a few key pointers to keep in mind?

Keep in mind that most of our trails are not bike trails but multi-use trails meant to be enjoyed by all. I have always found that being mindful of other users as well as being aware of my surroundings is a good way to start. There are lots of different rules and regulations in place depending on the municipality. I have found this common sense guide holds true today:  http://www.ibike.org/education/trail-sharing.htm.

northwest arkansas biking

 

How often do you need a tune up? (And what is a tune up, exactly?)

A tune up is something that may be different at different bicycle shops. Broadly speaking, a tune up is a series of adjustments that improve a bicycle’s operation. Most riders can plan on a tune up in the spring and in the fall.

If a rider is on his or her bike every day, tune ups will be needed at more frequent intervals. However, it’s hard to put a mileage number on the tune up service interval because some bikes have higher quality parts that hold adjustments better (which brings us to a discussion about higher end bikes).

 

At what point would you recommend upgrading to a higher end bike?

Like most hobbies, cycling allows the user to pick the level that they want to be involved at. There is no specific point that one needs to upgrade, however, as a rider increases their usage and duration of use, the performance of their bicycle will become more and more noticeable to them.

The higher priced bicycles will have more technologically sophisticated shifting, braking and suspension systems (for mountain bikes). The frames of bicycles also become an area of differentiation at the higher price ranges. Nuances in geometry, frame material and suspension design become something that many riders look for in higher priced bicycles. Simply put, a rider should think about upgrading when they feel that their riding experience is being adversely affected by not having a higher end bicycle.

More Local Resources for Beginning Bikers in Northwest Arkansas

Bike Bentonville is working toward becoming a one-stop shop for biking in Northwest Arkansas. If you're new to the scene, this organization is a great starting point. 

Ozark Offroad Cyclists

F.A.S.T. 

Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks

Girls Bike Bentonville

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Last modified onTuesday, 15 March 2016 13:25
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