Vermont on Two Wheels: Overcoming Obstacles to Embrace Biking
Cycling provides accessible transportation, wellness, and connection to the outdoors. In this blog post we share some tips on how to start.
Cycling is a favorite activity throughout the year. Be it on Vermont’s bike paths, around town, on mountain trails, or on rural gravel roads – cycling provides accessible transportation, wellness, and connection to the outdoors.
There can be a mountain of barriers between you and your bike, but we’re here to share some tips to break those barriers down.
“If you have a body, you can be a cyclist,” says Jennifer Grant, a volunteer coordinator with our Wellness Revolution women’s cycling program. Biking was Jennifer’s primary mode of transportation growing up—it’s how she got to swimming lessons and to friend’s houses. But like so many teenagers, when she got her driver’s license, biking took a back seat. Joining a community program helped her find passion for the activity again as an adult.
Look for a Cycling Program
Programs like Wellness Revolution, Hike Bike and Paddle, and Gritty Girls Cycling exist to encourage Vermonters to get outside and bike with community support. Building a community for cycling ensures that you are not alone in your journey, and that people are expecting you to show up.
“I try to [bike] a couple times a week, but things get busy,” says Dina Bookmyer-Baker, a participant in Wellness Revolution. “If I have a time where I am meeting someone, it’s scheduled, and then I don’t skip it.”
Ultimately, the community you build around you will get you outside, and challenge you to reach whatever goals you set -- be it getting out each week for a ride on your local trail, or conquering a race you never imagined yourself riding in.
Learn Where to Ride
Another advantage to joining a group is that people will tell you about their favorite places to ride. If you don’t know anyone who rides, we recommend asking your local bike shop. These are experts with a wealth of knowledge, and most times they are happy to talk about bikes and the best local places to ride. Learning about where to ride can help you feel more prepared for your journey.
Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Kingdom Trails in Burke: accessible trail network for all levels.
- Cady Hill in Stowe and Perry Hill in Waterbury: mountain biking trails for all levels.
- The New Discovery and Big Deer campgrounds in the Groton State Park: nice maintenance roads for gravel riding without the traffic.
- The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail from St. Johnsbury to Swanton: level ride without traffic.
Get Your Wheels Ready
Another barrier to cycling can be feeling like you don’t have the “the right” equipment. But it’s simple -- all you should need is a well-tuned bike, a helmet, comfortable clothes, sneakers, water, and sunscreen to start your cycling journey during our warmest months.
Blue Cross offers discounts for members at the following local shops:
Starting something new can feel overwhelming, but there are many resources available to learn.
If you’re feeling lost and unsure where to start, there are many bike shops that host introductory workshops. For example, the Old Spokes Home in the Old North End of Burlington offers classes where people can learn the basics of bike maintenance that will build confidence with their machine. You might start to feel a bit more comfortable once you familiarize yourself with the mechanics of a bike.