As the spring season begins to loosen its grip on the greater Milwaukee area, summer activities are gearing up, chief among them — bicycling.
Metro Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs offer a number of biking options, and some of them run through Wauwatosa. Check out the following biking trails and gatherings; there's something for everyone whether your biking habits lean toward the serious or the social sides.
1. The Oak Leaf Trail
Winding more than 115 miles throughout Milwaukee County, the Oak Leaf Trail offers bikers a changing terrain of rural plains and municipal streets. More than a quarter of the trail hugs the shores of Lake Michigan. The trail meanders through Wauwatosa, from Currie Park near Capitol Drive, along the Menomonee River and Underwood parkways and swinging through the Village of Wauwatosa. There are more than 20 access points throughout the greater Milwaukee area. Check out this trail if you'd like to see a variety of landscapes or if you're in the mood for covering a lot of ground.
2. Brown Deer Recreational Trail
The Brown Deer Recreational Trail, which runs through the Village of Brown Deer, is a tree-line route that parallels an active railroad line. This 1-mile paved trail's end points are at West County Line Road and West Brown Deer Road. The Brown Deer Recreational Trail also offers connections between two other trails: the 30-mile Ozaukee Interurban Trail and the Oak Leaf Trail at its southern end.
3. Hank Aaron State Trail
Those looking for a variety of views ranging from wooded and prairie surroundings to urban and river landscapes should check out the Hank Aaron State Trail. The trail, named for baseball legend Hank Aaron, provides a continuous connection from the lakefront, west to 94th Place and eventually will connect to the Milwaukee-Waukesha county line.
It should be noted that due to the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange, part of the Hank Aaron Trail will be closed from 94th Place to approximately 123rd Street. A detour route using the Oak Leaf Trail and city streets has been posted. It's estimated the closed part of the trail will reopen in 2018.
For more information visit hankaaronstatetrail.org.
4. Hoyt Park Mountain Bike Trail
Milwaukee County has four formal mountain biking trails. All trails are primarily single-track and fairly flat with scenic views. The trails are maintained in conjunction with The Metro Mountain Bikers, the Milwaukee Chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. The 2.2 mile trail at Hoyt Park loops along the Menomonee River on Wauwatosa's west side. The trail includes both easy and challenging sections with minor roots and rock gardens and limited elevation, according to the Metro Mountain Bikers website. The website refers to the Hoyt Park trail as 'an excellent place to get started riding.'
5. Tosa Full Moon Bicycle Rides
Looking to change up your biking routine? Join a group of bike enthusiasts for the Tosa Full Moon Bicycle Rides. The group meets monthly for a social, slow-paced ride which averages 10 to 12 mph through Wauwatosa. All rides depart from North Avenue and 69th Street at the Wauwatosa city parking lot near Rocket Baby Bakery and the group usually meets afterward to socialize at a local eatery. Rides only take place during prudent weather. For more information search 'Tosa Full Moon Bicycle Rides' on Facebook.
Upcoming rides in 2016, with starting times and the spots to socialize after listed, are:
· 8 p.m. May 21, Red Dot, 6715 W. North Ave.
· 8 p.m. June 20, Walters on North, 6930 W. North Ave.
· 8 p.m. July 19, Camp Bar Tosa, 6600 W. North Ave.
· 8 p.m. Aug. 18, Wy'east Pizza, 5601 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee
· 8 p.m. Sept. 16, Saz's State House Restaurant, 5539 W. State St., Milwaukee
· 7 p.m. Oct. 15, Colonel Hart's, 7342 W. State St.
· 7 p.m. Nov. 14, Leff's Lucky Town, 7208 W. State St.
Tips for finding the perfect bicycle
When it comes to choosing the right bicycle, the possibilities are endless, said John Jensen, who owns Johnson's Cycle & Fitness on North Avenue in Wauwatosa.
There are bicycles with fat, knobby tires for riding during the winter months or for off-roading and there are bikes designed for 'totally smooth trails,' Jensen said. And then there are hybrid bicycles that fall somewhere in between.
Jensen said bicyclists should think about their cycling goals and match their bicycle choice to whichever type of riding they prefer. These days, however, bicycles and accessories can be easily tweaked to meet a rider's needs.
Fresh from a morning of adjusting bicycles and helmets for students at a Bike to School Day for the Wauwatosa School District, Jensen said these days it's fairly simple to adjust a helmet for a bicyclist; it takes merely minutes to ensure a helmet fits snugly thanks to user-friendly improvements.
For children, bicycles should be upgraded every few years to a bigger size so that riding feels comfortable.
'If you're an adult, you don't outgrow your bike,' he said. 'Kids do outgrow them.'
The handlebars should be within an easy, comfortable reach and seats should be adjusted to the proper height, he said.
And men's and women's bicycles fit differently, according to the respective body types. Women usually have longer legs, said Jensen, so be mindful of that when purchasing a bicycle.
To change up a biking routine, Jensen noted that tandem bicycles are a fun option. The bicycles allow more than one person to ride at the same time as they're usually equipped with two seats. Converters that strap on to the back of a bike allow an adult to ride with a younger child in tow, he said.
'A lot of people are getting back into bicycling,' he said.