For those looking for a fun way to stay in shape and enjoy Hilton Head, there’s no better way than bicycling.
“For beginning and intermediate cyclists, this is a fantastic place to ride,” said Beverly Perfect, co-founder and past president of Kickin’ Asphalt Bicycle Club of Beaufort County. “There are tons of rental shops (and) bike paths, and that doesn’t even include the plantations.” For starters, Hilton Head offers more than 50 miles of public pathways that are available for bikes, walking, rollerblading and other activities. Perfect said the pathways are crowded sometimes, especially with so many uses for them other than bicycling.
Perhaps one of the least congested sections of the pathways is a new addition: a 1-mile stretch on the northern edge of Palmetto Bay Road. This stretch leads to the Cross Island Parkway Bridge and combines the beauty of the island and the challenge of an uphill climb to cross the bridge, a rarity on flat Hilton Head.
For those looking to traverse deeper into the area’s habitat, Perfect recommends renting a mountain bike and heading to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. A ride there not only provides incredible access to our area’s habitat, it also bypasses the traffic on Hilton Head.
“Especially if people are insecure and get nervous about riding around traffic, those places would be the best,” said Perfect of off-road locales. “It’s relaxing, you don’t have to go as fast and can let up your guard. You’ll see ibis and herrings, alligators, anything Lowcountry. They’re abundant out there.”
Perhaps the best way to bike on Hilton Head is along the beachfront. Making sure to ride at low tide, riders need only a one-speed bike that’s not a road bike — because of the needed tire width — to easily traverse the sandy beaches. There’s nothing like a relaxing cruise with the ocean breeze and waves crashing within earshot.
“Beach riding is a lot of fun,” said Perfect. No matter where you’re riding, though, Perfect said to follow safety precautions, starting with wearing a helmet. She said rental shops typically don’t rent helmets, so bring your own.
“I would never, ever ride a bike without a helmet,” she said. “Once you go down, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like driving around in your car without a seat belt.”
It’s especially important when riding on the road or pathways because of the heavy car traffic on William Hilton Parkway. Perfect also recommends wearing bright clothing, and if traveling on roads, cyclists are required to follow all traffic signs.
For locals seeking riding companions, or any tourists who want to take a long ride in the area with locals, check out Kickin’ Asphalt’s ride schedule at www.kickinasphalt.info.
For those searching for specific trails or just looking for a change in their biking or walking routine, maps are available at www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov; go to “About Our Island” and then to “Maps”; or at www.greaterblufftonpathways.org.
- Wear a helmet--A well-fitting helmet is a must if you plan on biking, notes the Mayo Clinic. There should be no exceptions to this rule for your family.
- Wear bright clothing--When out riding, it may be hard for cars and other vehicles to see you easily. That's why it's necessary to wear bright colors while riding in the daytime, and reflective gear while riding at night.
- Obey traffic signs--When riding your bike, act as if you were riding in a car and obey all traffic lights, signs and protocol. Even if you
- Ride against traffic--You may think it's a good idea to ride against traffic in order to see cars more clearly, but riding against traffic can leave you open to dangerous head-on collisions.
- Wear your iPod--While listening to your favorite songs on your iPod may be your favorite way to bike, the American Academy of Family Pediatricians warns bikers to always be alert when riding.
- Don't show off--Bike tricks like jumping on curbs, riding without hands or riding double are dangerous and should not be done, notes the National Crime Prevention Council.
- Make sure your bike lock works properly before leaving the bike rental shop.
- If you want to carry water or other items, bikes with baskets are the way to go.
Following is a list of some local bike rental companies. Many of them have pick-up and delivery, a wide variety of bicycles for all ages and safety equipment.
All American Bike Rental: 843-842-4386, www.hiltonheadbikes.com
AAA Riding Tigers: 843-686-5833, www.aaaridingtigers.com
Palmetto Bike Barn: 843-686-6068
101 Arrow Road
Atlantic Bike Rentals
83 Pope Ave.
6 Heritage Plaza
Bikes and Things
Coconut Bike Rentals 843-686-5055
Island Cruisers 843-785-4321
13 Executive Park
Discount Bike Rentals
26 Palmetto Bay Road
Go Tri Sports
33 Office Park Road
Hilton Head Bicycle Co
112 Arrow Road 843-686-6888
Pedals Bike Rentals
71 Pope Ave.
Harbour Town Rentals
Sea Pines Center
Sea Pines Center
Sea Pines Bicycle Rentals
100 N. Sea Pines Drive
South Beach Bicycle Rentals
230 S. Sea Pine Drive
Bluffton Bicycle Shop