The Hippo


Oct 22, 2019









No matter what style of biking you’re embarking on, it’s important to do what Topham calls the “ABC Quick Check.” Is there air in your tires? Are your brakes working? Are chains and gears working properly? Make sure nothing’s rattling today that wasn’t yesterday. He advised installing blinking LED lights for both day and night — which he said has proven to result in 30 percent fewer crashes between cars and motorists — and a warning bell to let pedestrians know you want to pass.
Especially if you’re going on a longer ride, you should take a pack with you containing water, a spare tube, pump and simple hand tools for on-road maintenance in case something happens to  your bike en route. Keep clothing out of moving parts, like shoelaces or baggy clothes, and always wear a helmet.
If you haven’t road biked in a while, you can get back into it by joining a local organization or even taking classes, like with the Bike-Walk Alliance, which hosts a course on traffic safety.
Biking Organizations
Granite State Wheelmen,
Bike-Walk Alliance of NH,
NH Cycling Club,
Monadnock Cycling Club,
Lakes Region Bicycling,
Bike Manchester,
New England Mountain Bike 
Friends of Massabesic Bicycling 
Nashoba Dirt Organization Mountain Biking Club,

Choose your weapon
Mountain and road biking in New Hampshire

By Kelly Sennott

 Unless you’re going tandem or recumbent, there are two main options for bike riding: mountain biking and road biking. 

“There’s a bicycle that can satisfy any need you have for riding, whether it’s on the road at high speed preparing for a triathlon or a casual spin around Lake Massabesic, to soak up the terrain or have a picnic lunch. You can do it all,” said Dan Dwyer, a local bike enthusiast and vice present of the Southern New Hampshire chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association.
The bike
Road bikes allow you to go fast, with thinner, larger tires for efficiency’s sake, and a saddle (seat) height that positions you almost parallel to the road in an aerodynamic position. Mountain bike tires are more rugged, allowing bikers to master rocky terrain, with seat heights that put riders upright, balanced and ready to meet obstacles. Saddles are normally more narrow on road bikes and performance bikes. 
Other major differences have to do with handlebars — mountain bikes’ are usually wide and flat, road bikes’ dropped — plus gears and brakes. Mountain bike gears are lower, and brakes are higher-end, borrowing suspension and braking technology from motorcycles.
“When you’re off-road, descending steep trails, you really need good braking power,” Dwyer said. (Though these brake styles are also making their way into high-end road bikes too.)
If you’re not willing to sacrifice comfort or speed, or off-road options, shoot for a hybrid, or a bike that takes from the best of both worlds. Dwyer mentioned a new style called the gravel-grinder, which is like a beefier road bike designed for comfort and to facilitate off-road adventures. 
“You have quite a wide variety of hybrid bikes, crosses between mountain and road bikes, that have upright handlebars similar to mountain bikes, and that are lighter weight and go higher speeds,” said Dave Topham, co-founder and on the board of directors of both the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH and Granite State Wheelmen.
Both Dwyer and Topham said that staff at a local bike shop can help you find the best style for you, and determine how to size your bike to fit just right. 
With both road and mountain biking, your legs should be nearly fully extended at the bottom of the stroke — which means that you probably won’t be able to put both feet on the ground when at a standstill. Another way to measure is to look at the height of the top tube (the top metal bar connecting handlebars and seat). When you’re straddling the frame of the bike with both feet flat on the ground, there should be a couple inches of clearance.
Road biking rides
If you haven’t biked all winter, Topham said to start slow. Begin with shorter loops and work your way up. He recommended checking out the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s seven regional bicycling maps (, which contain road and route suggestions, plus information about local rail trails, paved and unpaved. Updates on the ongoing construction at the Granite State Rail Trail, a route spanning from Salem to Manchester to Lebanon, are posted at, where you’ll also find parking information. The longest paved segment of this trail is from Salem to Windham to Derry at 8.6 miles.
Mountain bike rides
As a Manchester resident and member of the Friends of the Massabesic Biking Association, Dwyer loves exploring the trails surrounding Lake Massabesic, most of which start near the parking lot in Auburn off the traffic circle.
Around Nashua there’s Mine Falls Park, which offers beginner-friendly flat trails, and Yudicky Park, which is a little more advanced. In Merrimack you can mountain bike through Horse Hill Nature Preserve, Grater Woods or the Wildcat Falls Conservation Area.
Farther north, Dwyer said he enjoys the trails behind Concord Hospital, which include the Winant Park, Marjory Swope and the West End Farm trails. Farther east is one of the “most highly regarded” venues for mountain biking, Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, and even farther north is Highland Mountain Bike Park in Northfield, the world’s only lift access mountain entirely dedicated to biking, according to to its Facebook page. 

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