- Virginia Johnson
In a world filled with SUV's, ever-rising gas prices, and hotels that cater to their customers' perceived desires to be surrounded by plush conveniences, some eccentric souls will look for opportunities to kick back, simplify, and enjoy a break from the daily smog-encrusted rush.
On a bicycle, the world seems a different place. It certainly moves at a different pace, faster than on foot but slow enough to experience the sweet fulfillment of the day. Getting back on a bike after many years is a pleasure you should not put off.
Consider making biking a part of your vacation plans. If you're not in top physical shape, an ambling ride along the boardwalk may be just the thing to get you started again. If you're up for more of a challenge, mountain biking or adventure travel options abound. In Europe (land of even higher gas prices), biking is extremely popular. Combine a leisurely scenic bike route with local bed & breakfasts or youth hostels to have a memorable vacation that moves at a humane speed.
If it's been a few years since you ventured out on two wheels, consider checking with your local bike shops for your new trusted companion.
Yes, a better bike will cost more than what's available at a big store that sells everything. However, what you will get for your extra money will be a faster, lighter bike that will meet your needs and make biking something that you want to do. The sales staff can find a bike that fits you in all ways. Tell them honestly how you intend to use the bike, how often you will be riding it, and the price range you had in mind. Some shops will have reconditioned used bikes that offer the best of both worlds, a better machine at a better price.
Below, we offer suggestions for books, magazines, videos, and Web sites to get you back in the groove of cycling, whether you choose a mountain bike, a road bike, a touring bike, or a cruiser.*
"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." ~John F. Kennedy
"Bicycling Magazine is the world's leading road biking, mountain bike, and cycling magazine. Find bike and gear reviews, cycling and mountain biking tips, and more." Approximately 11 issues per year.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cycling by Vic Armijo.
"This guide provides useful information on: deciding what kind of bike is right for you; the differences between road, touring, racing and cross bikes; bike safety; exercise tips and calorie-burning workouts; long-distance and wet weather riding; training tips; and more." The eBook edition requires you to create a separate netLibrary account to access it. Click here for information on setting up an account.
Cycling Past 50 by Joe Friel.
"Cycling Past 50 will show you that with proper training and the right attitude, your biking years after 50 can be your best ever. Inside you'll find: key training principles; advanced workouts for endurance, climbing, and sprinting; training advice for 100-mile events and multi-day tours; strategies for getting into racing form; tips and exercises for preventing injuries; advice on proper body fueling; and ideas on how to get mentally psyched to ride. " An eBook.
Fitness Cycling by Chris Carmichael, Edmund R. Burke.
"Whether you're a serious cyclist or simply ride for fun and fitness, you'll appreciate the expert advice, wide range of workouts, and helpful sample training programs in Fitness Cycling. Inside you'll find tips for starting a cycling training program, from choosing a bicycle to determining your present fitness level; six color-coded workout zones containing 56 workouts (45 on-the-road and 11 indoor) that allow you to train at the pace and distance you prefer; and six sample cycling programs that show you how to organize the workouts into a safe and effective training plan that meets your needs." An eBook from netLibrary.
Keep on Pedaling: The Complete Guide to Adult Bicycling by Norman D. Ford.
A guide for those over 40 who want to bike for fun and fitness, not competition. Tells how to pick the right bicycle, gearing, simple repairs, accessories, clothing, nutrition, club riding, travel with a bike, organized and independent tours.
Mountain Bike Magic by Rob van der Plas.
Quickly covers bike frames, components, maintenance, clothing, accessories, touring, and more. Has chapters on basic skills and advanced off-road techniques.
A Woman's Guide to Cycling by Susan Weaver.
Discusses aspects of cycling of particular interest to women: cycling during pregnancy, how to choose comfortable accessories, how to handle harassment, and more.
Where to Bike
"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." ~Ernest Hemingway
25 Bicycle Tours in and around Washington, D.C.: From the Capitol Steps to Country Roads by Anne H. Oman.
The lively way to get to museums, monuments, and other points of interest in and around D.C. Includes treks to Gunston Hall, Mount Vernon, Virginia vineyards, covered bridges, Harpers Ferry, and more.
The Best Bike Rides in the Mid-Atlantic States: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia by Trudy E. Bell.
Rides are divided among rambles (the easiest), cruises (25-60 miles), challenges (more than 50 miles), or classics (75 miles to more than 100 with major climbs). Each ride includes a set of directions and accompanying map as well as a basics section, which lists the ride's starting point, length, and terrain. Part of the Best Bike Rides series.
Germany by Bike: 20 Tours Geared for Discovery by Nadine Slavinski.
Bavarian backwaters, romantic roads, castles, and vineyards, so much awaits! Includes good advice on finding lodging, using trains to get around, and language tips.
Hiking, Cycling, and Canoeing in Maryland: A Family Guide by Bryan MacKay.
Lots of details on places to bike, from Gettysburg to Assateague. Also includes the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail, Patuxent Research Refuge, Rock Creek Trail, Point Lookout State Park, and others.
Mountain Bike! Virginia: A Guide to the Classic Trails by Randy Porter.
"You'll find detailed information on over 90 trails in coastal Virginia, the piedmont, northern Virginia, the mountains of western Virginia, and the Blue Ridge Highlands. Author Randy Porter gives you the lowdown on trails in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, York River State Park, Belle Isle, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, the D.C. area, and many other fat-tire friendly places.
Each route profile features at-a-glance information, a thorough ride description, a detailed trail map, helpful sources of information, proximity of important services, valuable commentary on elevation changes and possible hazards, and a rescue index."
Short Bike Rides in and around Washington, D.C. by Michael Leccese.
"With over 48,000 acres of parkland and more than 670 miles of paved, off-road multi-use trails, Washington, D.C., is an urban cyclist's dream! Biking is fun for the whole family, and whether you're a dedicated cyclist or just want to have a memorable weekend with the kids, a bike and a couple of hours are all you need to enjoy the carefully selected scenic routes in this well-researched guide. Each ride includes precise written directions, excellent route maps, level of difficult ratings (including mileage), safety tips, availability of food and facilities, and vivid descriptions of points of interest. So park you car, put on your helmet, fill your water bottle, and discover the best way to see the sights in and around Washington, D.C. - on two wheels."
The Traveling Cyclist: 20 Five-star Vacations by Roy M. Wallack.
Roy Wallack's idea of a good time is crossing Costa Rica in three days or going 508 miles through Death Valley country. However, in The Traveling Cyclist, the sports journalist goes into an easier gear to describe enjoyable bike tours that range from beginner level to quite advanced.
"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live." ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"
Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes: Over 1,000 Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Maximize Performance, Minimize Repairs, and Save Money by Jim Langley.
"Fix a broken chain with a shoelace! Improve shifter performance with dishwashing detergent! Inside are thousands of tips to repair and maintain any road or mountain bike. Whether it's the latest model or a classic that has thousands of miles on it, beginners or experienced riders can keep their bikes on the road longer and spend less time in the repair shop."
The Fundamentals of Bicycle Maintenance.
"A complete guide to at-home bicycle maintenance and repair, focusing on preventive maintenance." On VHS.
Mountain Bike Maintenance: Repairing and Maintaining the Off-road Bicycle by Rob van der Plas.
Step-by-step instructions show how to fix a bike at home or on the trail.
For Parents and Kids
"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard." ~Sloan Wilson
The Best Book of Bikes.
A Popular Mechanics for Kids book that takes a comprehensive look at bicycles -- their history, evolution, profiles of cycling greats, mechanics of bicycles and maintenance instructions, puzzles, stories and more.
Bicycling with Children: A Complete How-to Guide by Trudy E. Bell.
Table of Contents: Bicycles and accessories for parents and teens -- Bringing along baby: toddlers and preschoolers as passengers -- Tandem cycling : parent-child teamwork -- Buying and caring for children's bicycles -- Learning to ride: ready, set, balance! -- Teaching traffic safety to children -- Family and group rides: where to go, what to take -- An ounce of prevention. An eBook.
Wheels! The Kids' Bike Book by Megan Stine.
Discusses choosing a bike plus equipment, accessories, instructions for riding, and customizing.
On the Web
Bike Clubs and Where to Ride
"When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart." ~Diane Ackerman
"This site provides details about all the great recreational bicycle facilities around the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. Listed here are many area recreation trails and bicycle routes. These routes attempt to avoid heavy traffic areas by making use of various recreational paths, rail-trails, and back streets." Includes information on where to rent bikes in the D.C. area.
"The Fredericksburg Cyclists is a non-profit organization which exists to provide organized bicycle rides for all categories of riding skills for its membership. The club promotes bicycling in our area as a means of recreation, sport, fitness, and transportation. Moreover, the club seeks to promote the incorporation of bicycle-conscious initiatives by city and county governments into their development plans."
Sections include: Where to Bike, Know-How, Gear Guide, and the Nitty Gritty (trails, events, clubs, and more). Site requires free registration.
Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, Inc.
Our energies are directed primarily toward providing a weekend ride schedule to accommodate the experience and ability of each member, whether novice or veteran. Saturday and Sunday rides number more than 1,000 each year, comprehensively covering the variable terrain of the National Capital metropolitan area and the surrounding countryside. Distances range from 10 miles to 600 km, and average speeds range from 8 to more than 20 miles per hour.
Field Trip! Taking Your Bike with You
"The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets." ~Christopher Morley
Amtrak: Bring Your Bicycle Onboard
Some Amtrak trains have onboard bicycle racks which can be used for a fee. Collapsible bikes may be brought aboard as carry-on baggage. Bikes may also be checked as baggage in a container or secured by tie-down equipment. Check the site for more details.
Greyhound: Baggage Information
Guidelines for getting your bike to go Greyhound.
Local Bike Shops
"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." ~H.G. Wells
Olde Towne Bicycles
1907 Plank Road
Revolution Cycles, Inc.
100 Susa Drive
Stafford, VA 22554