June 19, 2024
Annapolis, US 77 F

Getting into the World of Cycling in Maryland


Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

Maryland is a great state in which to take up cycling. Much of the state is relatively bike-friendly, and there are some terrific places to ride. Even if you’ve never cycled before or you haven’t done so since you were a kid, you can start getting into it with the tips below.

Getting a Bike

On the one hand, you don’t want to shell out a huge amount of money on a bike before you know if you’ll even enjoy cycling or not. On the other hand, there’s a world of difference between riding a cheap old bike and a new, sleek one fitted for you. Renting before you buy is a good idea. Once you do start looking at buying one for yourself, you might be surprised by the cost. A good bike isn’t cheap, but you can look for used models to cut your costs. You could also take out a personal loan to pay for it instead of paying by credit card or another high-interest payment plan. Do your research before you buy, and consider such things as what kind of surfaces you’ll be primarily riding on and how easy you want maintenance to be.

Getting Started

If you’ve never ridden a bike before, your first step might be to learn how. You can do this on your own, with the help of videos online or perhaps by seeing if there are any classes in your area. Don’t be afraid to stop by your local bike shop and ask. This place can be a great source of information for you. You don’t have to become an expert bike mechanic unless that interests you, but you should learn how to do some basic repairs, such as fixing a punctured tire. Learn the local laws for your area–even within the state, this can vary among jurisdictions–and consider getting a helmet for safety even if it is not required where you live.

Where to Go

Just as hopping on an old model isn’t the best way to start appreciating cycling, neither is dodging traffic. There are some terrific cycling trails in Maryland, perhaps chief among them being the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. You can cycle on the canal towpath and several other trails, but do be sure to check ahead of time and make sure you understand which trails are only for hikers. Other great places to take your wheels for a spin include Assateague State Park, where you might spot wild horses on the beach; the Gwynns Falls Trail, which takes you through Baltimore; and the 159-mile Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail.

Finding Community

There are several cycling organizations throughout the state as well as more informal groups that meet to ride together. This can be a great way to build your knowledge and confidence. Some will offer rides or workshops aimed at beginners. If you don’t already know, you’ll gradually start to get a feel for what interests you, such as whether you are into racing, multi-day touring, using your bike as a main means of transportation or just tooling around the area where you live with your kids.

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