Biking is one of the best forms of exercise, and there are few places more glorious to pedal than central Massachusetts in springtime. Whether you prefer a leisurely outing on the paved path around Blackstone River or the more challenging terrain of Sparrow Trail, our community offers easy access to a wide range of scenic adventures.
Your experience and preferred type of route determine what kind of bike and footwear are best. Below, Central Massachusetts Podiatry offers guidelines to help you gear up for the spring cycling travels of your choice.
There are an extensive array of bike types (mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid bikes), as well as, subtypes (racing bikes, cross-country bikes, trail bikes), each offered in a variety of different materials (steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre), price points (hundreds to thousands of dollars), and different options of components and features (frames, gears and brakes).begin by choosing the type of bike that suits where, how often and how far you plan to ride. Some of the most popular choices are:
- Mountain bikes. This is a huge category with lots of options. Overall, though mountain bikes are designed to tackle unpaved terrain. Therefore, they all feature suspension on the frame and fork, large knobby tires and heavy-duty brakes.
- Road bikes. Made for zipping at high-speeds on paved surfaces, road bikes have narrow tires, a short wheelbase, and a lightweight frame. Handlebars are available in two styles. Drop-bar handlebars allow for multiple positions of both your hands and entire upper body. Flat-bar handlebars, by comparison, offer a more upright posture, often preferred for shorter rides.
- Hybrid bikes. A cross between a road bike and mountain bike, a hybrid offers comfort, speed, and durability. These bikes are perfect for short trips around the neighborhood on paved roads. Hybrids have an upright handlebar position and slimmer frames than mountain bikes, but are sturdier than road bikes.
Finding the right fit
After you’ve selected your bike type, focus on fit. Experienced bike store personnel can help with this. A professional fitting should entail measurement and adjustment of your cleat position, seat height and the reach and drop to the handlebars. Proper fit ensures your comfort while riding, as well as, help you avoid feeling aches and pains the following day. The final step should be a 10-minute test drive that includes a short hill. Try several bikes to decide which ride is most comfortable.
How to choose shoes
The selection of available bicycle shoes is nearly as overwhelming as bikes. In general, bicycle shoes are made with stiffer soles than traditional athletic shoes to facilitate the transfer of energy as you pedal. The two most important factors in picking a shoe are pedal compatibility and fit. A clipless shoe-pedal combination offers superior control and efficiency. When it comes to riding around town, the best choice is a shoe with rubber outsoles and recessed cleats that allows you to walk easily when stopping for a latte or smoothie. As with any shoes, comfort is key. Try on lots of pairs and remember to do so wearing the same thin cycling socks you plan to wear while biking.
Once you’ve chosen your bike and footwear, pop on a properly fitted helmet and enjoy the ride.