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Many new and existing neighborhoods throughout Delaware are adjacent or close to the state’s hundreds of miles of biking trails. Some, like the trail that runs through Cape Henlopen State Park are pretty famous for gorgeous scenery, yet there are many others at other state parks, and some that run through new communities that are being built with an emphasis on outdoor recreation. 

If you don’t have a bike, you can probably get a good one at a big box or specialty store, where you’ll find lots of options in terms of size, durability, cost, and suitability for different trail and road surfaces. With that in mind, here are some key questions to think through, answered by Brian Kellman, owner-operator of Lewes Cycle Sports.

Q: What kind of bike is going to be right for me? Some trails have a mix of surfaces - the one that goes through Cape Henlopen State Park, for example, is part pavement, part gravel, and in one kind of sketchy curve, mixed with loose dirt. 

A: When choosing a bike, you want to ask yourself a few key questions: Where will I be riding? How far will I be riding? Who will I be riding with? What are my future aspirations as it pertains to fitness and cycling? All of these questions will help you choose the right bike. 

Where you will be riding and how far you will be riding plays a lot into tire and wheel size. The wider the tire the more stability you'll have on the bike, especially if you’re riding on the crushed gravel and sand surfaces. Wider tires also offer a softer and smoother ride. For wheel size, the bigger diameter of the wheel is, the faster it will roll. It will also cover more distance per rotation compared to a smaller wheel. 

If you have a group of friends or a spouse that you plan on riding with, you should probably make sure you have a somewhat comparable bike. For example, if you purchase a single speed beach cruiser and plan to ride with friends who all have lighter weight bikes with gears, you'll be working much harder than they are during the ride and may struggle to keep up. Riding with friends or a spouse who are more experienced riders or at a different fitness level than you? Consider an e-bike!

Lastly, think about what you may eventually want to do. If your goal is to work up to 20+ miles each ride, you probably want a lightweight bike with more aggressive geometry over a heavier bike with a big cushy seat. 

As far as price goes, expect a good bike with gears to start at around $600. E-bikes are about $1500. Usually, if you see something that is priced far below those prices, you are sacrificing significant quality and won't enjoy your rides as much as you should. 

Q. What are the rules about having a light on your bike? Is it mandatory and can you be cited by the police if you don't?

A. Lights are only mandatory at night BUT anytime you are on the road with cars you should have a front and rear light that is "daytime running". This means that it produces a bright enough light to be clearly visible to motorists. During the day these lights should be put on "blink" or "flash" mode. At night they should be in "solid" mode. 

Q. Too many people don't wear helmets. Tell me why you think they should . . . and what types of helmets are best.

A. How many times do you hear about a fatal car crash and hear "if only they were wearing their seatbelts?" The same goes with helmets for cyclists. Even the most experienced cyclists risk a crash at some point. We offer free helmet replacement within the first year of purchase if the customer crashes their bike. It's amazing and scary to see some of the damaged helmets that are returned - BUT the customers are alive to return it and get a new one!

Look for a helmet with MIPS or Wavcel Technologies

These offer significantly more protection vs. a helmet with just foam and padding. 

Q. What about small-scale fix-it kits?

A. We offer tools and flat kits that are meant to take with you on your ride. It's great to be prepared when you are out for a ride. Even if you don't know how to fix something like a flat tire, chances are there's someone else out there that does! If you have the right tools and a spare tube, you'll get back home on two wheels. 

Q. And what about locks? What are some popular models? And ways to carry beverages?

A. We're very lucky in Delaware because bike theft isn't as much of a racket as it is in other parts of the country. Most thefts happen because a bike is left unlocked. If you aren't storing a bike out in the open for long periods of time a cable lock is more than sufficient to deter theft. If you plan on traveling with your bike, you may want to invest in a heavier duty type of lock, like a U-lock.

There are a few options for carrying beverages. A simple water bottle cage attached to your frame or handlebars is something you'll want to have.

Q. Every year there seem to be more road rage incidents on the narrow trails with pedestrians walking two or even three across, blocking most of the trail. How can cyclists deal with these stressful situations?

A. Democrats vs. Republicans and cyclists vs. pedestrians. Unfortunately, no one really has a solution, and it continues to get worse. I went to a town hall meeting at the Lewes Library back in 2019 about Bicycle/Pedestrian issues. The room was packed with people screaming at each other. 

As a cyclist all you can do is be courteous, ride responsibly and give pedestrians a loud "on your left" or bell ring before passing. When riding towards someone I try to make eye contact, smile and give a "good morning/afternoon". When passing a pedestrian on the left, wave as you go by and say "thank you". It's hard to get angry at someone being nice to you. 

On both sides there will always be individuals like the walkers who didn't move over for you. Unfortunately, the way it works in life is that the negative experiences stick with us more than the positive. 

Q. What are your favorite trails for: 1) vigorous workouts with speed and hills 2) leisurely rides 3) nature sights? 

A. Vigorous workouts: what's left of the quiet back roads of Sussex County. Leisurely rides: Lewes-Georgetown trail is paved and flat, which makes it a nice and easy ride. Nature sights:  Cape Henlopen State Park - Bike the loop. Stop off at Fort Miles and climb the lookout tower for some extra exercise and amazing views. Upstate, the Jack Markell Trail is a great trail and has some beautiful views along the river.