a downtown raleigh blog

Spokes aligned: Biking in Raleigh

Spokes aligned

Buying a new bike for myself has been in the works for awhile; I’ve remained open to the right time and circumstance for spending the money, being mentally motivated, and physically capable (having the trails and neighborhood roads, rider friends, etc). This weekend the spokes aligned. We recently moved and now live only a few blocks from the Greenway, in a people-friendly neighborhood (Five Points at Crabtree Trail). My year of yoga is complete (still practicing, just more at home than at the studio), so I’m motivated to figure out a new way to get my exercise, and I’m ready to learn how to get around by bike in Raleigh. To boot, George is eager to hop back on his bike, and my gal pals love their bikes and go on frequent rides.

Saturday was a beautiful fall day. After brunch at Irregardless, we found ourselves at Oak City Cycling, off Person Street, across from the new Yellow Dog Bakery and The Farmery grocery container. I interviewed one of the owners, David, earlier this year about their new local bike shop and the biking community in downtown Raleigh. Laughingly, I walked in asking to purchase a bike for around $200, but I knew then and you all know reading this, that that price is just too low for a quality bike. I chose a black Citizen bike fit for roads and some light trails: a “middle-of-the-road” tire! for $395. I got Knog LED lights for the font and back and an awesome helmet by Bern. Totally worth it. I feel comfortable, stable, light… and most of all, happy!… on my new bike. Thanks to Oak City Cycling!

bike at OCC my new bike!

Oak City Cycling shop IMAG1119

The last bike I owned was a Cruiser (no gears, just for riding around a bit). I got it cheap on Craigslist, sort of as a training bike to figure out if I would want to spend the money on a bigger, better, real bike—but, it was just too different, and difficult with no gears, to really tell. I also lived in a small, second story apartment so getting it down and up was a pain. Plus, I didn’t have anywhere other than my living room to store it. Yesterday, I went on a 10 mile! trek from the my house to the Greenway (Crabtree Trail) to Crabtree Blvd to a friend’s house near Glascock Road. I wasn’t totally sure where I was going, but that was half the fun. Now, we just need a better app to help us get around Raleigh and our Greenway trails.

Raleigh Greenway trails IMAG1124

I know many of you have bikes—I’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and advice for owning and riding!
Do you commute to work? Are you in a club? How’s the traffic?
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28 Responses to “Spokes aligned: Biking in Raleigh”

  1. Ray

    DD,
    Glad you found a bike that works for you. I hope you will enjoy it more and more each day. I’ve found the weather here in this part of NC never gets too cold nor too hot for my daily commutes, but then, the longest part of my commute during the coldest part of the day, the early morning, is only 5.2 miles and 20-ish minutes. A longer commute would require some different clothing…
    Yep, I commute by bike in Raleigh just about every workday. I mostly ride on the roads, but sometimes, I’ll take a section of the Walnut Creek Greenway and the Little Rock Greenway in the afternoon. The greenways in Raleigh are quite nice. Just get out on that new bike and start exploring!

    Ray

    Reply
  2. David Zell

    Awesome article, Jen! We’re thrilled you found a bike and that you are exploring new greenways. Cycling through Raleigh is our favorite thing!

    Reply
  3. Melanie

    There is an app called RGreenway That is free. I haven’t used it yet but I’ve been told it’s helpful.

    Reply
    • Jen Wike

      Yes, I liked to it in the article. It’s a great idea, but unfortunately not as helpful as it could be. I might try to contribute to it’s betterment… if I get to it!

      Reply
  4. Todd Singleton

    Jen,

    Check out the Neuse River Trail starting at Horseshoe Park in Raleigh or Anderson Point park in Knightdale. It is by far the most beautiful “Greenway” trail in the area (thought technically it s not part of the Raleigh Greenway system). In 2014 it will connect near the WRAL soccer fields to the Greenway in Raleigh completing over 100+ miles from Raleigh to Clayton.

    Oh and BTW, you bought your bike from the right people.

    Reply
      • Jeremy

        Hey Jen, I do… sort of! It’s a lot like Raleigh really – you can make it work, but it’s not all sunshine.

        Parts of town are connected by greenway (most notably our (in)famous American Tobacco Trail) which allows for safe riding at a leisurely pace. In other places we have bike lanes. But there are some routes that are notoriously dangerous with no reasonable alternatives (the tragedy which claimed Seth Vidal’s life earlier this year was on such a road).

        The biggest limitation is when trying to get between cities in the triangle with a bike. Good luck! I love visiting Chapel Hill and Raleigh, but I realistically have to do it by car. I’d kill for trains or buses that would make it practical for me to go back and forth with my bike!

      • Jen Wike

        Right. I’ve heard the buses driving on the side of the lanes makes that better for transportation, but it’s still a haul. I would love would love one huge bike and walk only bridge! Haha.

  5. Brent Francese (@Revolu)

    Glad you used the OCC crew. Great dudes. I commute from Lions Park to Strickland + Six Forks every other day if I can + almost all of it is on the greenway (almost 24 miles round trip). It’s one of my favorite things about Raleigh. So many spots to see + get to. I used an old Raleigh fixed gear + it’s great work out. Biggest/trickiest thing is learning how to layer up when the fall/winter weather rolls through. A down vest is a fav piece of mine. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Jen Wike

      Brent, thanks for that tip! I def want to keep riding as the winter rolls through! The Bern helmet I got comes with a winter liner that covers the ears. If I know others are out there doing it, that’s more motivation to do so myself. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Jeff Highsmith

        The right lock is a compromise of security versus convenience, with the level of security needed depending on where you leave your bike. The U-locks and massive chains are the most secure but you might be fine with less if you park your bike in relatively safe places.

        The rack choice depends on your vehicle and how many bikes you want to carry. If you can easily reach your car’s roof, carrying bikes up there is great. If not, maybe a hitch mount in te rear, even if it costs the extra $80 to have a hitch put on. The strap-on racks are finicky and not nice to your car’s paint, but fine for rare use, if they fit your car and bike. Check out what’s available using the car-matching widgets on the Yakima and Thule website, then head to REI or All-Star to look at racks.

  6. Ray

    Jen and Jeremy,
    Riding the bus with a bike is easy. I commute to work each day by bike and bus from Carrboro to Raleigh. The CRX (Chapel Hill – Raleigh Express) bus runs six times during the morning rush and six times in the evening. There is also a Durham – Raleigh Express, the DRX. They’ve provided excellent service over the years. And carrying my bike on the bus rack up on front of the bus is quite simple and easy. And yes, “BOSS”, which is “Bus on Shoulder System”, works well. It’s nice to pass a long line of stopped and slowly moving cars in the comfort of the bus!

    Reply
    • Jen Wike

      Ray, this is great info to have. I’ve always wondered how difficult it is biking then busing. Seems like once you get the hang of it, you’re off to the races!

      Reply
  7. Joe Mecca

    Awesome! I love to hear about people falling in love with biking and discovering the greenways.

    We’re getting closer and closer to having more of the greenways connected, and local leaders seem committed to making biking easier. I live in Knightdale and a daily commute to Wake Forest Road is a bit dangerous, but by next summer I’ll be able to make almost the entire trip from home to work on greenways.

    Reply
      • Joe Mecca

        Indeed. Anderson Point connects the Neuse trail to the Mingo Creek trail, and will also be where the Crabtree trail connects next year.

  8. Tim

    Ms Dame- See this link for a great map of the greenways- http://goo.gl/maps/nrc1i Also, the city of Raleigh is coming out with a printed map very soon (by end of month or sooner) of the greenways- should be available at local cycing shops, including Oak City. http://goo.gl/KAC1Cj By the end of the month you will be able to ride from Lake Johnson to Clayton exclusively on the Greenway.

    Cheers,

    Tim

    Reply
  9. Tim

    Ms Dame- There is going to be a Bike Fest in Downtown Raleigh next weekend- Please come out if you can-

    Grassroots bicycle festival returns for second year of fun and festivities

    The full 10 day schedule of events is available online and also includes a social bike ride, bicycle maintenance event for charity, a public forum with city officials to share ideas about shaping the future of bicycling in Raleigh, Kidical Mass ride geared toward children, bike polo tournament, bike parts swap, and more.

    The most up-to-date information will be posted on the festival website so check http://oaksandspokes.com/events/ for details.

    Reply

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