This article was written for and published in Where Y'at, October 2015 issue. It is expanded upon here with links to trail rides.
I recently moved from the Marigny to the 7th Ward (basically Mid-City) area. This has brought on a lot of different changes--one such thing is my hatred of Broad has now turned into love--but the one I never thought about concerned an activity I do daily. Biking in New Orleans can be its own circus freak, psychedelic ride whether you are a road spinner, mountain biker wannabe, or leisurely cyclist with baguette in the basket. Everyone who has been on a bike here knows about the potholes, cars cutting corners, and the lack of bike safety lanes.
While living downtown I did have the luxury of getting almost anywhere in the FQ, CBD, or Warehouse district within 25 minutes. I have no idea why such drastically different neighborhoods bore the same commute time, but they did. Downtown, Crescent City Park opened up a beautiful space to continue the ride along the river, but most of the time you are dodging drunken tourists and potholes.
Now, with City Park only a mile away I have an expansive area to ride through trails, fields, and past the lake. Most of the time I document my rides on Strava which can be very fun. Strava lets users create their own segments which then puts them into the system where every user can compete, whether you realize it or not. While out on a leisurely bike ride I realized that I was the fourth fastest person to bike a certain segment on the lake all year. Time to step it up everyone!
I used to love biking down Nashville to Magazine, Magazine past the zoo and towards the fly, and then off into what I imagined infinity felt like. The levee is a fantastic place to just cruise or work on crushing personal records.
Audubon Park provides enough reclusive paths to make it feel as if you are on a nature ride. You may get dizzy going around in circles the whole time, but it is a convenient way to have a lovely and safe bike ride.
City Park, of course. With many paved roads, access to the lake, and completing a good 10 miles if you bike around it leaves City Park as one of the best places in the city to cycle.
Esplanade is picturesque and shaded but very tight with cars parked seemingly everywhere.
Beware the drinkers, revelers, and delivery trucks. No matter what time of day there will be a hellacious amount of commotion wherever you go, but the levee by the river is a great way to escape at least the cars. Dauphine and Burgundy are your second best bets as long as you are biking correctly when it comes to stop signs.
Crescent City Park has opened up completely and gives a great view of the Mississippi, Algiers, Chalmette levee, and the French Quarter.
The Warehouse District is very dicey and I try to avoid this at all costs typically by taking Magazine straight through to the LGD or coasting along Convention Boulevard. Also, there are plans on reconstructing ALL of the area surrounding the Convention Center and bike lanes are being added.
Also, it’s important not to forget, even though the ferry costs money for people and bikes now, it’s only $2 to take it over to Algiers and mimic the levee rides. Just make sure your bike is capable of handling unpaved roads.
Now, for the real fun. These are a list of places you can bike through, over, and around New Orleans.
Over on the Bonnet Carr’ Spillway you will find a group of highly enthusiastic bikers. They have created a group called NOMAMBO, or New Orleans Metro Area Mountain Bike Organization. Like I said, they’re enthusiastic. They actually build the trails themselves and are looking to expand. From their meeting back in February they have mentioned trying to work with the state park at Bogue Chitto stating, “Starting a North Shore club or chapter is imperative to the success of this trail and is a top priority.” Please follow up with them if you would like to help.
You can also follow this list if you are to venture outside of New Orleans. Although you won’t find a lot of “mountain biking” per say there are still a lot of trails to ride on. The Beast in St. Francisville seems to be the most arduous although you are still only changing elevation within 400 feet. It is filled with technical work and steep boarded trail parts that lend to the feel of a real track. Single Tracks gives all of the ratings too -- like a snow resort -- so you can pick which trail is best for your ability.
Famously known for its proximity to Abita Brewery, Tammany Trace on the northshore can get you up to 27 miles of action. The mileage chart is a great way to plan out the type and length of trip you want.
This is a map of a 52 mile loop around the city. Bike it twice and you’re headed for the next Ironman.