Updated: May 10, 2021
So, you’ve just purchased a brand new urban, road, or hybrid bike & you’re ready to head out on an adventure. Riding around your neighborhood is great, but you’re ready to do some wider ranging...some further exploring. Northwest Arkansas has plenty to offer you. The premier place to stretch your legs is our numerous greenway (paved) trails. The Razorback Greenway is a 36.7 mile paved trail that travels on a north-south axis through Northwest Arkansas. It connects Walker Park in Fayetteville to Lake Bella Vista north of Bentonville. It also accesses schools, businesses & cultural amenities along the route. So you’re committed. That’s great! What do you need to know before you head out? Here’s a brief summary of what you’ll need to keep in mind to hit the route.
Like all other sports -- or vehicles on paved roads -- there are some rules that you’ll need to follow to avoid confusion & keep yourself & others from getting hurt. Before you head-out, please don’t forget to wear a helmet. You’ll be traveling at speeds of 7-15mph, a helmet is critical to keep your melon safe if you have an accident. Don’t think you’re immune from crashes. You’re not...no matter who you are. It’s also important to wear gloves. They prevent blisters, keep your hands from slipping on the grips & protect your palms in the event of a crash. A padded short is also advisable, but not a “must.” They provide comfort for those nether-regions...especially on a long ride...or with a new saddle.
So, you’re ready to roll. There are rules of the trail that you need to know, just like the laws that you need to know to drive your car on the road. Key is to PAY ATTENTION. This may seem obvious, but by 10 minutes into your first ride you’ll understand why I’m writing this. There a loads of riders new to riding & unaware of trail etiquette. Often people get in the zone, oblivious to traffic on the trail or perhaps are working to reign in pets or kids still learning. It's important to be safe & respectful of those around you so that EVERYONE can enjoy their time on the trail. Ride single file or closely side by side on YOUR SIDE of the trail. If you need to pass another rider, pass on the left. It’s customary to say “On your left,” “Rider,” “Coming through” or something to let the people in front of you know that you’re behind them & ready to pass to help avoid wrecks. If somebody calls out that they are passing, don't move to your left, simply give them birth to PASS on your left. Move swiftly to the RIGHT side of the paved trail (if you aren't already there) to let riders pass...always.
Each city has a list of rules to abide by on the greenways. While they all have some slight variations, here’s a list of rules that you will need to follow as you go through the various town's paved trail systems:
There is a speed limit ranging from 7-15mph depending on the city.
Wear a helmet. Some cities require this for every cyclist and other require them for any under age 14.
Never stop in the middle of the trail. Is this OK to do in a car? No, it’s not. Don’t do it on the Greenway, either. Pull off to the side of the trail, out of the way of traffic.
Obey all trail signs.
Ride/run/walk in the RIGHT lane and do not take up more than half of the trail. We are all at various speeds & abilities so give room for all.
Remain in single file when the trail’s traffic is congested.
Motorized vehicles, of any kind, are forbidden.
E-bikes are appropriate, but do not go blasting down the trail, remember the speed limit at it's highest is only 15mph and no vehicle with a throttle is allowed.
Listen for other riders or walkers: Headphone volume should be kept low enough to hear others.
Bikers must yield to pedestrians at ALL times.
Provide an audible warning before passing others.
Use bike lights at night.
Keep your head on a swivel, watching out for others to avoid collisions.
Keep pets under control and ALWAYS pick-up after them. No one wants to ride through or step in a pile of poo...
Show courtesy. Greet others & make the Greenway a friendly community space that everyone would like to use.
While gloves are certainly not a requirement on the trail, like helmets, they can improve you ride quality and safety. Arkansas is not know for its cool, dry temps. On the contrary, heat & humidity is the dominant weather and with that comes sweat. It is easy for your hands to get extremely damp while riding, which can cause your hands to slip. If your hands are slipping around on the bars, you could easily miss judge your braking, fail to shift into the desired gear, or loose balance altogether. If any of those situations occur, it is sure to make for a bad day. Riding on the greenways doesn't call for heavy duty glove protection, a simple moisture barrier between your hands & the grips is really all you need. That barrier can also help prevent blisters forming by holding onto the bars for sustained amounts of time. If you are going on longer rides, getting a pair that provides a bit of padding in the palms can help with the pressure of riding those long miles. Many brands, like Giro, have short fingered gloves that can give you more breathability, but provide protection & moisture barrier where it's needed on those paved bike rides.
Gloves are a small investment that can make a positive impact on your ride. Come by the shop between May 7-20, mention this blog, & receive 10% off any glove purchase.