Red rock, scenic views, rich forests and meadows—it is easy to see why Bryce Canyon and its surrounding areas are a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts. The trail within the park itself takes you up the Paunsaugunt Plateau, providing an excellent view of the amphitheater’s colorful spires, pinnacles and monuments along the way. But the adventure does not stop here. While you are not allowed to bike outside the paved roads within the park, there are a lot of other nearby trails that you can explore outside of it.
This double-track trail is perfect for beginners. It provides an easy route from the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance all the way to Tropic Reservoir. The entire loop is 12 miles long and takes you through meadows and Ponderosa Pine forests along the Great Western trail.
Here is another easy trail. It features a paved road that runs parallel Highway 12. The ride starts at the Red Canyon Visitor Center.
If you are looking for some red rock formations, then this is the place for you. It features both single- and double-track trails that pass by the Dixie National Forest’s awesome formations. The trails start and end along Highway 12.
Skunk and Badger
This one is for the more advanced cyclists. It features an 18-mile loop that passes Tropic Reservoir and overlooks Sunset Cliffs.
Here’s another one for the more seasoned riders. The technical singe-track trail consists of steep ridges and tricky hoodoos, and, if that is not challenging enough, there are also loose rocks to worry about.
To make things a bit easier, some riders start at the top of the trail and travels downhill. If you choose this option, your trail will begin at the Coyote Trailhead located at the top of the mountain close to Red Canyon’s east entrance and end at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead right at the bottom of Red Canyon.
Now, if you prefer a slightly longer but still relatively easier ride, then you can simply do a loop. Begin at the bottom of Red Canyon and take the easy Red Canyon Trail all the way to the top of the mountain. Once you’re there, take the Fremont Trail to get to the Coyote Trailhead and make your way down.
Of course, if you don’t like the idea of taking shortcuts, then you can just go up and down the 15.8-mile 3,000-vertical-foot mountain trail and take pride in successfully conquering the most challenging bike trail in the Bryce Canyon area.
Arches National Park treats bikers and hikers alike to its majestic collection of colorful natural rock formations. The park’s over 2,000 grand stone arches and hundreds of towering pinnacles, gigantic fins and massive balanced rocks promise a totally breathtaking experience. The paved 22-mile Scenic Drive takes you to all of the park’s major points.
Now, as for the trails, there are four to choose from:
You can reach this trail’s official trailhead by driving 7.2 miles north via Highway 191 from the bridge right above the Colorado River. You can park your car at the large parking lot west of the 135.5 mile marker.
The trail itself is 16 miles long round trip and features a total climb of about 1,500 vertical feet divided into three 500-foot sections. Most beginners who are in good shape should be able to complete the entire trail as it is relatively easy despite its length.
The trail is 9.4 miles long but you can easily make the ride shorter by driving a portion of the road to Kane Spring Canyon. The ride involves a total climb of 1,100 vertical feet but is still a relatively easy trail overall.
This trail was named in honor of the Monitor and Merrimac warships that were used during the civil war. It used to be just one big sea of hot sand guarded by aggressive biting flies so a lot of bikers used to stay away from it. Today, however, changes have been made to make the area more biker-friendly so expect a more comfortable riding experience.
The ride is 6.1 miles long and features a total climb of 500 vertical feet. The entire trail consists primarily of single track and open rock.
This world famous 13-mile trail takes bikers on a journey through beautiful sand dunes and eroded ancient sea beds. The amazing views come at a price, however, as the ride is very challenging in terms of the level of fitness and skill necessary to complete it.
The trail’s name can be quite misleading though as the type of sandstone that makes up most of its surface is by no means slick. In fact, it is practically as rough as sandpaper so bikers should have no problems with tire slippage except on rainy days.
The ride is divided into three primary sections: the out-and-back lead-in, the 6.8-mile loop and the optional 2.3-mile practice loop.
The “A” ListThe following supplements have consistently shown through quality, peer reviewed research to be effective for endurance athletes.
- Multivitamin - although multivitamin supplements do not appear to improve performance in endurance athletes, they are a proven general health strategy. Endurance athletes burn through a lot of nutrients during and after workouts, which can lead to depleted micronutrients. Even if these depletions are marginal, they can affect performance, recovery, and immune function. I have yet to come across a study that tests micronutrients, then does performance tests with athletes deficient in various micronutrients, then repletes and tests again. This would be a very difficult study to do without having uncontrollable influences. However, I can say through my experience with professional and elite amateur athletes that when we find deficiencies in an intracellular micronutrient test, then correct for those deficiencies, I typically get very positive feedback from the athlete about improved performance and quicker recovery. *Processing and brand make a difference with multivitamins, as a poorly processed multivitamin is not well absorbed. Take as indicated.
- Fish Oils/Omega 3′s - fish oils should be an essential supplement for every endurance athletes. These super powered anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplements are one of the most well-researched and supported supplements. They fight free radicals and oxidative stress, and reduce post-exercise inflammation. *Processing makes a difference. Omega 3′s in the triglyceride form have shown to be superior. The huge majority of omega 3/fish oil supplements out there are in the ethyl ester form because this form is easier and cheaper to produce. One over-the-counter brand that is in triglyceride form and can easily be found is Nordic Naturals. The ideal EPA to DHA ratio for athletes is 4:1. Most supplements are 2:1. This ratio is fine, but if you can find a 4:1 supplement (such as Nordic Naturals ProEPA) that is ideal. I recommend 1200-1800 mg per day with food.
- Vitamin C - strenuous exercise increases production of free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue, increase muscle soreness, and create inflammation. Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant, and can be taken in high quantities safely, easily, and cheaply. Antioxidants fight the production of free radicals. Vitamin C is also an immune booster and high intensity training can decrease immune function. Most professional triathletes and ultramarathoners I see have deficient immune systems throughout the peak of their training. There are well run studies that show vitamin C does reduce post-exercise muscle pain and speed recovery and there are well run studies that conclude it likely does not. My opinion…vitamin C is easy to take, is cheap, boosts the immune system, and probably helps with recovery. I recommend taking it throughout the peak training season. My favorite form is the Emergen-C packets, as they are bioavailable and easy to take. One packet per day (1,000mg) is adequate.
- Iron (when indicated!) - iron should be taken under the guidance of a physician. I will repeat, iron should be taken under the guidance of a physician. There are hundreds of thousands of endurance athletes blindly taking iron. When iron is indicated, this supplement can be essential to your well-being and ability to train and race. When taken in excess, it can be hard on the liver and cause gastrointestinal problems. For more information read the “Blood Test Monitoring” blog below. Take as directed by a physician.
- B12 (when indicated!) - when used correctly and at the appropriate time, B12 can help ward off anemia and pre-anemia. If you are monitoring your blood work during your training, a sudden change in the MPV (which indicates the shape of the red blood cells) and slight drop in hemoglobin and hematocrit suggest that it is time to supplement B12.
Magnesium - research shows magnesium can increase lactic acid clearance, decrease muscle aches and cramping, and possibly improve power output and performance. Magnesium is plentiful in foods, however some studies show that in athletes magnesium levels are very slow to rebuild once depleted by prolonged muscle use. In addition, alcohol, coffee, refined sugar, and high salt intake can deplete magnesium. Being we endurance athletes love our beer, coffee, and frequently partake in salty food binges, supplementation should be considered. Magnesium is also closely linked to potassium and calcium. When magnesium levels drop, potassium and calcium will soon follow. Drops in potassium result in severe muscle cramps. Drops beyond certain levels can be dangerous and will surely end your race and send you on a ride to the hospital. 500-1000 mg/day during training (can be part of a multivitamin). For two days prior to a race, up to 1500 mg/day can be taken, however if it leads to an uneasy stomach, back off to your regular levels (too much can cause diarrhea).
The 11-mile River to the Sea Bikeway, also known as WMPO Bicycle Route 1, features paved and off-road sections that run along the Historic Beach Car Line. The route passes through residential streets, multi-use paths and several arterial roadways.
The adventure starts at the end of Market Street, which is located at the Riverwalk. You should be able to see the USS North Carolina Battleship right across the Cape Fear River from here. The route then takes you through three beautiful neighborhoods: Old Wilmington, Bottom and Forest Hills. From there, you will cross Independence Boulevard and pass by Empie Park. You will then be taken to South Kerr Avenue via Park Avenue. The bikeway briefly merges with Peachtree Avenue, crosses South College Road and passes Pine Grove Drive along the way before rejoining Park Avenue.
Things get a bit trickier from this point. As soon as you reach Wallace Avenue, you will be riding through an off-road path all the way to 52nd Street, passing the University of North Carolina along the way via Wood Dale Drive. You will be riding on paved roads again between 52th Street and Hinton Avenue.
The sections beyond Greenville Avenue are the toughest of the trail and are in no way beginner-friendly. So, if you are new to the sport, then this is where you turn back. Wrightsville Avenue and Oleander Drive are very busy arterial roadways that do not have a lot of bicycle facilities. In addition, these sections also cross several bridges.
Access and parking
You can get to the downtown Wilmington trailhead by taking the Wilmington Downtown exit at US Highway 74. Just make your way south via North 3rd Street, turn right at Market Street and travel west until you reach Riverfront Park. You can park in the street or at the Wilmington parking deck located at North 2nd Street and Market Street.
Parking is also available at Empie Park. You can reach it by taking US Highway 76 northbound to Independence Boulevard. Turn right at Park Avenue and left at the park driveway. Just refer to the Route 1 signs for directions to the bikeway from the parking area.
Finally, if you want to start your ride at the Wrightsville Beach Trailhead, then just take US Highway 74 and take Salisbury Street once you reach the Salisbury Street-North Lumina Avenue intersection. Street parking is available here but you can also park at Wrightsville Beach’s municipal complex located at the Salisbury Street-Seawater Lane intersection.
This 84-mile multi-use trail starts at New Haven, Connecticut and stretches all the way to Northampton, Massachusetts. It is made up of three sections: the southern section between New Haven and Plainville, the middle section between Farmington and Suffield, and the northern section between Southwick and Northampton.
The development of the trail is not yet finished. Only 72% of the parts in Connecticut are done and 47% in Massachusetts.
The trail used to be a canal. It was constructed in 1825 when a group of businessmen from New Haven decided to push for a project similar to New York’s newly opened Erie Canal. It took a decade to complete and was in operation for twelve years. A rail bed was eventually laid out along its path in response to the growing popularity of railroads as a cost-efficient mode of transportation. The railroad operated for over a century. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by floods during the 1980s. It was never restored partly because of the increasing popularity of trucks and other vehicles as alternative means of transportation at the time.
In response to the dramatic decline in railroad use, people began exploring the idea of transforming old railroads and canal towpaths into multi-use trails. This eventually led to the formation of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in 1984.
In 1987, a group of Hamden and Chershire residents successfully convinced the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) stop the sale of the old canal to private developers and instead rebuild it as a multi-use trail. This group of volunteers later on formed the Farmington Canal Rail-to-Trail Association (FCRTTA), which, to this day, is still actively pushing for the continued development and maintenance of the trail.
The trail’s first six miles officially opened in 1996, with parts of the old canal left intact. In Chershire, only a single canal lock was restored, but it was later on made part of the Lock 12 Historical Park. The park features a museum, several carpenter and blacksmith shops, a picnic area and a lockkeeper’s house.
The Farmington Valley Trails Council (FVTC) was established in 1992. Its main objective is to increase public awareness and support of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy projects and facilitate the completion of these projects by coordinating with respective town governments.
The trail today
Thousands of bikers, hikers, runners and skaters visit the completed sections of the trail each day. The picturesque and historic views it provides are among the most loved in the entire New England area.
REV3 Finale: Venice Beach
Sunrise and wind. Photo by Eric Wynn.
It was really fun starting off with a quick little run first—with the exception of short-course ITU racing you don’t often find yourself in that large of a pack on the run in a triathlon. It felt like a real horse-race! I think the purpose of doing a 1.5 mile run first for the pros was to attempt to break up the field somewhat but most of the ladies ended up coming into T1 together anyway. It was a bit frantic with everyone trying to kick off their shoes and grab their bikes at the same time, not to mention that it was a really narrow space to begin with, but I had a good spot and was able to get through without any issues.
The 1.5 mile horse-race. Photo by Eric Wynn.
My strategy on the bike was to ride conservatively for the first half and let the tailwind do a lot of the work for me before pushing the pace and trying to make a move once we made the turn into the wind. Alicia Kaye and Becky Lavelle took it out REALLY hard and established a gap right away, but I hung back in a group that included Nicole Kelleher and Lauren Goss. I felt that I could afford to let Alicia go because she was not competing for the overall series, and while Becky was in the running for the series it was a tighter battle points-wise going into the race between Nicole, Lauren, and myself so I wanted to mark them for a while instead of risking a major blow-up by pushing too hard too early. This plan unfolded exactly the way I envisioned and I was able to bridge up to the leaders while building a gap on Nicole and Lauren in the second half of the ride. There was a short out-and-back section with about 10 miles to go where you could get a good look at everyone—and I liked what I saw! Rolling into T2 in 2nd place just steps behind Becky, I knew I was positioned about as perfectly as I could hope for going into the half-marathon.
I made quick work of T2 and actually got out onto the run course in first place. My lead was short-lived, however, as Becky came storming by within the first half-mile. I didn’t panic because I had done the math and knew that I still had some wiggle room in the overall series in relation to Becky. I’ve been guilty of taking the run out too fast on more than one occasion this season and my plan was to start off more conservatively and then build the pace. However, when I tried to tighten the screws down a bit there was nothing there. My legs felt really heavy, I could tell my form was not pretty and no matter how I tried I could not seem to get my feet to turn over any faster. Nicole passed me somewhere late in the first lap, then I began a steady slide backwards through the field. The second lap of the run was something of a death march and I’m pretty sure that Mile 9 was the longest mile of my life. By the time I crossed the finish line I had slipped to 8th place, which was exactly where I did NOT want to be: in a position that did absolutely nothing to improve my overall series score and would in fact drop me down to 5th place in the final series standings.
Post-race with Trish, my high school swim coach’s wife. She’s a stud! Photo by Matt Rydson.
I’d like to express my gratitude to the following for their support over the weekend: to Ray & Lynn for theirincredible hospitality; to Brittany for the good company and introducing me to Ray & Lynn in the first place; to Chris Jarc for the much-need post-race piggyback ride; to Charlie, Eric, Sean, Stu, Ashley, Alex…oh gosh, there are too many to name! To the entire REV3 staff for being the most wonderful, friendly, fun, supportive, and professional event staff around; to the media crew for the great work (can’t wait to see the TV coverage!); to the city of Venice Beach for the venue and to all the volunteers who donated their time to make this event a success; and of course to my sponsors who help make it possible for me to get to the starting line in the first place (REV3, Recovery Pump, Powerbar, Pearl Izumi, Rudy Project, Blueseventy, Fezzari, Maxxis, and The Bike Shoppe).
Special congratulations to Brittany Banker for capping off a stellar season and celebrating 8 years of kicking cancer in the butt, to Trish Rydson on her age group win (great to see you Trish & Matt!), to Becky Lavelle & Jesse Thomas on their impressive victories, to Nicole Kelleher and Richie Cunningham for their spectacular seasons and the well-deserved series titles, and to my teammate Jessica Meyers for a great performance and clawing her way up to third place on the day. One day I will be tough as nails like that!
Any excuse to play dress-up! Any guesses as to what I am? Photo by Ray Pecharich.
This 13-mile Oklahoma River Trail system, as the name implies, runs along the Oklahoma River (which is technically the North Canadian River). It starts east of downtown Oklahoma City on I-35 and goes all the way to either Meridian Ave. along the south part of the river or Portland Ave. on the north. This trail is perfect for a hybrid bike.
The official trail map shows all the parking areas along the length of the course. Each one provides direct access to the trail but some of them are via dirt/gravel roads. Below is a list of the ones that provide paved access:
• North Side
• South Side
o East of Shields
o Skate Park at Robinson
o SW 15th (east of Portland)
o SW 15th (east of Meridian)
Of course, all of the parking areas provide street access as well.
If you want to do a loop from Bricktown, head on over to the river’s north side (found just east of Byers close to the rowing club boathouse) and start your ride there. Once at Robinson, cross the bridge and make your way to Portland along the south side trail. As soon as you reach the parking lot, exit the trail and make your way to 15th Street. Portland is just a quarter of a mile from there. Take the pedestrian walkway to cross over the river and ride for another 50 yards from the end of the bridge. This will bring you to a paved road that leads back to the north side trail. The north side trail will take you back to the rowing club boathouse. This route aims to keep bikers on the Portland bridge’s north-bound side, ultimately keeping them from crossing the busy four-lane Portland road.
On the other hand, if you want to start a loop from the west, then head on over to either the Portland or Meridian parking lot and make your way to the Portland bridge. As soon as you get to the bridge, cross over to the north side, bike the entire length of the trail and make your way to Robinson. Once at Robinson, cross over to the south side. You can head back to your starting point from here.
Now, if you prefer to start your ride from Meridian, then just make you way to the trails’ east end and then ride back to Meridian. This provides a good 20-mile ride.
Despite the length of the loops, the entire trail system is still very easy because it consists of paved roads throughout.