RTC hopes these tips will help you embrace and enjoy winter riding, but, if you’re new to it, just take it slow. Start by testing your equipment and comfort level with shorter, close-to-home trips, and ride with a buddy, if you can.
Getting outside right now, especially on local trails, can provide a wealth of benefits to your body and mind—once you get in the habit. Some of the most common trail activities—biking, skating, running—can burn over a thousand calories in an hour’s time. And being out in nature—especially right now, as more people are staying home and cool weather is making people less inclined to step outside—can strengthen your resilience and mental health.
The outdoors always brings me pleasure and relaxation, but this year it means more than ever. I explored new places and identified new flora and fauna. I developed a better appreciation for the natural world in my part of the state.
John became a staunch advocate for wear-a-helmet programs after the accident that would change his life. While bicycling downhill, a car pulled in front of him—resulting in a collision in which he was propelled through a windshield at 38 miles an hour. He was not wearing a helmet. As a result of the accident, he suffered a brain injury that caused severe short-term memory loss, speech and vision problems, and partial paralysis on his left side. He walks with a cane.
The beauty of autumn also means cooler temperatures, earlier sunsets and sometimes less-than-ideal weather. For the many of you who picked up biking for the first time this summer or returned after a long hiatus, the thought of braving colder weather while riding might feel intimidating.
Across the country, some trails spiked to levels more than 200% higher than the same time last year, according to trail count data released by RTC in July. Currently, trail use is still far exceeding previous usage; since the pandemic began, RTC’s trail count data shows that usage has been 60% higher [on average] than in 2019.
While my moments on the trail can’t fix the systemic inequalities that women face, or the uphill climb many of us are facing during and after the pandemic, these moments on the trail can help me rebuild my resilience. And they are—as often as I can create them.
One significant way millions of Americans are addressing their mental health needs during the coronavirus is through frequent activity in the outdoors. In Lincoln, Nebraska, where I live, the city’s robust trail system has been packed with more cyclists, roller bladers, runners and walkers than I’d ever encountered before in a spring trail season.
“For me, the special part of those experiences has been having so many different types of people participating,” enthused Keith Russell. “You have families come out with kids and people who are in their 70s and 80s. I’m always so thrilled that you have such diversity; birding doesn’t just attract one section of the community or one type of person.”
Sleeping Bear Dunes had almost everything I was looking for, even one of the best rail-trails in the country. I’d heard too many great things about the 22-mile Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail over the years, and I wanted to finally ride it myself.
As trails remain on the front lines in providing outdoor opportunities and mobility for Americans, managers continue to explore new ways to work with their communities to ensure positive experiences for record numbers of users in the face of limited maintenance resources, reduced staffing and curtailed volunteer activities.