May is National Bike Month, but here in Madison, biking is a beloved, year-round activity. With 75 miles of bike paths, 200 miles of trails and even a “Bike Barometer” next to the Monona Terrace that keeps track of how many bicyclists have passed by daily and yearly, it’s safe to say that our city is a haven for biking enthusiasts.
But perhaps you’re not plugged in yet to this thriving biking community. Whether you’re a visitor who would like to explore Madison on two wheels or if you’re a local who would love to dust off an infrequently used bike, biking stores, repair shops and routes are right there waiting for you to pick up the hobby.
This spring, take a fresh look at Madison and all of its exciting biking opportunities.
To Purchase a New Bike or Repair an Old One
Here in Madison, you’re in luck because bike retailers and repair shops can often be found in the same place. Whether you’re in the market for a shiny new 21 speed or want to show some love to a forgotten-about bike, these destinations have you covered.
Located right on the Lake Monona Bike Loop, you’ll conveniently find Machinery Row Bicycles. Housed in a stately brick building since 2003, this lakefront locale has it all, from rentals to apparel to every new bike you can possibly imagine: mountain, hybrid, electric, triathlon, oh my! Plus, they offer services like bike repair and fittings and they even have a trade-in program.
Middleton’s Wheel & Sprocket is only an eight-minute bike ride from the beautiful Pheasant Branch Conservancy. It’s another got-it-all biking destination that purveys bikes, parts, helmets and more and also provides helpful services, such as repair and even fat bike rentals if it’s a snowy day.
Found on Regent Street downtown, Budget Bicycle Center has been a biking mainstay in the community since 1979. With three stores handily located within three blocks of each other, each one has its own vibe and suits different needs and interests. The 930 Regent Street location offers a huge selection of used bikes and even a vintage museum. At 1230 Regent Street, you’ll discover tons of new bikes. And at 1124 Regent Street, you’ll find biking accessories and a repair shop.
If you’re not ready to purchase a new bike or if you’d like to try an electric bike, consider taking a Madison BCycle for a spin. Specializing in e-bikes (in fact, it’s the nation’s first all-electric bike share experience), you can use the app to take out one of 300 available bikes at 50 stations around town, found primarily across the isthmus, UW campus and near east side. It’s the greenest way to tour Madison.
Madison Area Bike Paths to Try
Madison has a plethora of bike trails available to all biking levels and abilities, and there’s no doubt you’ll find a few to try out this Spring.
First of all, the City of Madison has a handy Bike Madison website that features an interactive map, a Plan Your Ride option to map out your route.
If you’re searching for a bike route that’s adored by locals and visitors alike, look no further than the scenic Lake Monona Bike Loop. Spanning 13 miles and offering an unbeatable panorama of Lake Monona, you’ll be able to see the city’s stunning skyline and up-close views of the Monona Terrace. It’s entirely paved and traverses into historic Madison neighborhoods as well.
In Fitchburg, tour the area with three fun routes including the 18.5-mile Paoli Loop, the 10-mile Cannonball/Arboretum Loop and the one-mile McKee Farms Park Loop, perfect for biking families. These routes provide a mix of gorgeous natural scenery and local haunts where you can stop for a snack and a pint if you please.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to take a tour of the UW-Madison campus. In that case, you can really take it in with the help of a bike, wheeling your way from the Memorial Union to Picnic Point to campus buildings.
Maybe mountain biking is more your speed. To hit the trails, you’ll want to make a stop at the Middleton Bike Park. Found at Pleasant View Golf Course, it features plenty of loops, tracks and jumps that will get your heart pumping. Back in Fitchburg, Quarry Ridge Recreation Area is a must. This mountain biking paradise is directly accessible from the Military Ridge and Capital City State Trails and offers more than three miles of off-road trails for skill levels ranging from beginner to expert.