Two wheels good, four wheels bad
Where and how to bike in a car-dominated city
Maybe I needed to get in shape. Maybe I was tired of going nowhere on an elliptical bike at the gym while watching a Simpsons re-run or the fat ass in front of me. Maybe our environment really is becoming an inconvenient truth.
Or maybe I just wanted to go somewhere on a bike.
So I've been riding seriously since last spring. I feel better, I think better, and I'm saving money.
There are several classifications of bikers: the serious jock-minded hardcore biker you can only see in a flash as he passes by as if shot out of a cannon; the amateur enthusiast who dons the gear, puts in the miles, but doesn't necessarily consider them self a "biker"; or kids or drunks who have lost their drivers license.
I fall into several of these categories. No doubt so will you.
But forget categories. The question is, where to ride?
Sure, the path along the river is getting expanded, and there are already some gorgeous trails that carve through our various parks. But at one point or another you're gonna have to run with the cars. Finding a nice place to ride --- and a safe place to ride --- is the trick.
For some pointers, click on www.bikerochester.com. There you'll find clubs, bicycle shops, organized bike tours, and links to trails throughout New YorkState.
Ride Rochester --- A Neighborhood Bike Tour invites you to "rediscover Rochester neighborhoods from the seat of your bike." The next tour is of the South Wedge and Upper Monroe neighborhoods, Saturday, September 23, 8 a.m.-noon, starting and ending in MarieDaleyPark on Gregory Street. For info call 271-0520.
Or if you wanna venture out on your own, I suggest using secondary roads as much as possible. If you have to ride in traffic, look out and be aggressive. The meek may inherit the earth, but on a bike they'll inherit road rash. The paths I choose to get where I'm going are a hybrid --- some city streets, some shortcuts through parking lots, gravel trails, and side streets.
Here're a few spots to get you started:
Massive and relatively flat.A beautiful ride on the edge of the city.
Historically fascinating, placid and quiet but more of a workout than Holy Sepulchre.
Very hilly but beautiful, especially around lilac time.
Although you have to dodge the occasional oblivious pedestrian, the paths around the Gazebo, the merry-go-round, and old bath house (plus a ride out to the end of the pier are) so fun, you'll forget you're actually doing something good for yourself. Do, however, watch out for dogs.
-The river trail from TurningPointPark to MaplewoodPark
Real shady in some spots, and somewhat of an off-road ride with the gravel and rocks. A bit of upgrade makes going south a workout and heading north a breeze
-The neighborhood surrounding The Public Market
The smells of the market and the multi-cultural vibe from the throng in and around the pavilions ---especially on Saturdays and Sundays --- makes for a cool trail to weave in and around.
-The Canal path from Downtown to Pittsford or Fairport
This can be a hardcore trek distance-wise, but is fairly level and auto-free.
No matter where you ride, remember a few rules for safe biking in the city:
-Cars will simply not see you, will cut in front of you, will come dangerously close with rear view mirrors, and will honk whenever your 15mph ass holds up their important schedule.
-Once parked on the side of the road, people immediately fling their car doors open, clotheslinining you in the process.
-Dogs will chase you.
-Children, while hogging the whole sidewalk, often swing their lunchboxes and backpacks with reckless abandon.
-Potholes and faulty sewer grates can consume you whole.