Hit the Road

Beautiful Biking AheadIn 1896 Susan B. Anthony was quoted as having said, “The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.” She was referring in part to how the bicycle helped to make bustles and uncomfortable women’s clothing obsolete, but I think today she would marvel at just how far the sport of cycling has come and how men, women and children alike benefit from it.

I grew up, through no fault of my own, in a “cycling family.” My dad was a serious bike enthusiast, riding and racing as much as time would allow, so my sisters and I were never without bikes of our own to use as our main mode of transport, going just as far as our little legs and Schwinns would carry us. As I grew I didn’t get into racing but I did my share of touring, some here in the U.S. and then later in Europe and as an assistant with a bike touring company. There is something uniquely satisfying about spending a long day cycling, taking in the scenery and fresh air and ending the day with a good meal and a nice, sound night of sleep at a B&B or other destination, then waking, eating and happily doing it all over again. New Hampshire has more than its fair share of long, winding roads, awe-inspiring scenic views and comfy, quaint inns (or plenty of state parks to camp at), making it an ideal location for bicycle touring. If she were here today, I’m certain Ms. Anthony would partake in a tour or two herself.Expert AdvicePeter Willis has been an avid cyclist for more than 40 years and does tours constantly from mid-April through mid-November. He has lived in the White Mountains region for the last 34 years and is the chef for the 1785 Inn & Restaurant, located in North Conway.

Leaf peepers flock to New England every autumn for the foliage. What’s unique about experiencing the colors and scenery from a bicycle vs. a car?

It is much more intimate. You are right in the scenery and feel part of it.

What gear and supplies do you recommend for people setting out on a self-guided bike tour?

A helmet, a water bottle, sunscreen, energy bar or other energy snack, a spare tire and pump, and a cell phone to call for assistance, especially if you are part of an organized trip like “Bike The Whites.” (www.bikethewhites.com)

What are some of the challenges of biking the roads during
this season?

Be aware that fallen leaves can be slippery during the foliage season.

What are the major differences between a regular road bike and a touring bike?

Touring bikes are a little heavier, more geared for hills and are a little more comfortably angled and seated. For novices we recommend (and which can be rented from “Bike The Whites”) hybrid bikes (a cross between a road bike and mountain bike) that have a wider tire for greater stability.

Is the “tour” experience manageable for someone who previously hasn’t logged many long rides?

As long as they are in reasonably good physical condition, there are routes appropriate for all ability levels.Impressive FactIn 2010 “Breathe New Hampshire” (www.breathenh.org) will celebrate its 25th anniversary bike tour in which participants cycle from Portsmouth, N.H., to Ogunquit, Maine, and back again to raise funds for the organization that supports lung health programs here in the state.Gear BoxYou’ll need to protect your noggin no matter how fast or slow you ride. This reasonably priced Giro helmet ($35) will do the trick in style.

If you’re biking during the fall in New Hampshire, you’re going to need a little wind protection. This lightweight Stratos 2 jacket from Louis Garneau ($49.99) is heavy enough to keep you warm and light enough to stash when the temps rise.

If you’ve got a support wagon hauling your gear then your storage needs will be light, but if you’re going it alone you’ll need some good panniers to stash all your stuff. The Rear Rack Pack II ($126.95) is a good option.

No matter the terrain, you’re going to need the added protection of a pair of biking gloves, like these Sierra cycling gloves from Louis Garneau ($14.99).

You can easily rent one, but if you like to have your own ride this Novara Safari Touring Bike is more than equipped to take you as far as you want to go. ($849)

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