Warm weather here means three things: pizza, bikes and sundresses, and this summer should not be one to disappoint.
In Boise, a city with an emerging bike community, cyclists stand together through diversity and a love for the sport. Anyone and everyone, including mountain bikers, road cyclists and the infamous fixed gear fanatics can find a niche some place in town that can facilitate their particular interests. For those not in the know, here’s a guide to biking in Boise.
For the ‘DIY’ kind of rider
“The bike scene in Boise is great and it’s getting bigger and bigger,” said Jimmy Hallyburton, executive director and co-founder of the Boise Bike Project (BBP). “I remember growing up when it was pretty much non-existent. There was maybe some people mountain biking in the foothills and few folks commuting. Within the last four years or so it seems like it’s just kind of exploded.”
Hallyburton grew up mountain biking in the foothills and working in shops, but it wasn’t until he spent some time fighting fires that he realized he wanted to open a shop that catered to education rather than just convenience.
Maintenance is a key part to owning and operating a bicycle, but for those who aren’t mechanically inclined there are places such as the BBP which are designed to aid people in keeping up with the daily grind and wear that comes from riding a bike.
BBP started with 62 bikes that were fixed up and donated to children in the community. From there it became a cooperative workspace which gave cyclists an opportunity to come from the street and perform any required maintenance under the supervision of experienced mechanics.
“What makes us different is that we don’t fix bicycles for people, we teach people how to fix their own bikes,” Hallyburton said. “If you don’t know how to do it we have mechanics that can guide you through the whole process. The whole cooperative aspect is something that you don’t really see at other shops.”
Not yet an avid road warrior?
The first step is to find a local bike shop you can feel comfortable frequenting for routine maintenance and for purchasing any products that are needed.
Paul McKenna, owner and operator of Meridian Cycles on 830 North Main Street, has been in the industry for more than 20 years. After traveling as a bike rep, selling products to shops around the country, McKenna settled down and opened the shop with his wife.
“The casual consumer doesn’t see a difference between the $150 bike at Walmart and a $1,500 bike at the bike shop,” McKenna said. “The cheapest product isn’t the product with the most value. There is a value to something that is usable as opposed to disposable.”
Don’t just grab any bike with wheels and a seat, grab one that fits you. It will make a huge difference on pavement, dirt, or any other avenue of travel.
Jon Warren, owner of Bicycle Mania on 8305 West State Street, started cycling when he was in college. With a background in accounting and experience as an amateur bike racer, Warren settled down after he was exposed to the Los Angeles bike scene and decided to open the shop.
“With every bike sale that I do, I do a fit, especially if they’re on the borderline,” Warren said. “I have people that come in that have short legs and long torsos, some that have short torsos and long legs, and there’s all these combinations that just make your head spin.”
Why become a cyclist?
Commuting is a great way to get murdered, but have no fear, with the proper safety gear and knowledge of the road it can be one of the most liberating feelings. Hand signals to bikes are like turn signals to cars, so learn the ways of the samurai and get to spinning.
It is important to always use your left hand for signaling a turn. To indicate that you are headed to the left stick your arm straight out from your side. To signal a right turn, stick your arm straight out make an L shape so that your hand is pointing to the sky. To signal a stop, make the L shape once again but point to the ground.
Need somewhere to take the kids because you can’t stand to listen to another second of them playing Grand Theft Auto: When Hookers Have Had Enough? Cycling through neighborhoods or around the block is an excellent way to get those whippersnappers out of the house and into a lifestyle that is as green as the grass stains on their jeans.
“You can have as much fun pedaling your bike around the neighborhood with your kids, as you can out hammering trails or flying down the road with your buddies,” McKenna said.
Cycling appeals to more than just the youthful. A ride down the greenbelt demonstrates just how many people have taken to this sport as a new way of life.
“If you’re 55 you used to go to the golf club, play a round, and have a drink,” McKenna said. “Now cycling is the new golf. It’s cool to be 55 or 65 and out there riding a bike.”