Biking is like great sex: it leaves you hot, sweaty and out of breath—but it’s totally worth it. Riding a bike saves money, negates the campus parking problem and simultaneously does a little good for the birds ‘n’ bees (the other kind).
San Antonio is rapidly rising on the cycling scene, listed in Bicycling magazine’s top 50 bike-friendly cities. As Jessica Gonzales, owner of SA Cycles puts it, “It’s a really great time to be in San Antonio, to be a cyclist.”
A political push to encourage cycling has resulted in innovations like the B-Cycle program, which was recently awarded the 2012 Innovation: Energy/Sustainable Development award by Sister Cities International, as well as a growing number of biking lanes and routes throughout the city. For students on campuses near downtown, B-Cycle provides quick transportation for an off-campus lunch (take that, $5 crappy deli sandwiches!) or rendezvous as well as a 20 percent discount on annual passes.
The B-Cycle stations at the Witte Museum and SAMA (which also offer discounts for students) are a perfect opportunity for you to check out the latest exhibit, grab a B-Cycle bike and take the River Walk to your next art stop or drop it off at another downtown station while you shop, eat or vandalize street signs—whatever kids do for fun these days.
If you’re looking to get off campus for a bite or sip, popular cyclist-friendly hangouts include: Boneshakers Tap House and Pizzeria, which features live music, fantastic food and craft beer; the Friendly Spot Ice House, where you can chill with your pets while watching movies or playing games; and Local Coffee, neighboring Bike World on Broadway, allowing you to get your caffeine and muffin fix while your bike gets a tune-up.
If the Texas sun is too much to bear, San Antonio’s Cycle-In Cinema program (the first in Texas!) offers free pedal-powered film screenings on Thursday nights at Main Plaza for a new twist on “movie night,” where a shift on the generator bike burns enough calories to quiet the popcorn guilt.
The Monday Night Missions Trail Ride, which leaves from Blue Star Arts Complex every Monday at 7 p.m., is also a great way to get out and bike when the heat is less oppressive. The ride covers 18 miles of Mission trails before calling it a night or going out for dinner and drinks, giving cyclists a chance to bond over bottles of Fat Tire and replenish their calorie count with nachos and wings.
Another San Antonio cycling group is the Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club (HCBTC), which has weekly group rides as well as picnics, parties and overnight events. In addition to the opportunity to be a cycling socialite, some local bike shops give discounts to club members. Visit hcbtc.com for information on how to join.
While cycling is most helpful for getting around campus and meeting new people, it can also be a refreshing way to relax that’s way, way better for you than watching two seasons of Friends in one sitting (don’t pretend you haven’t done it, too).
Brackenridge Park, conveniently located down the street from the University of the Incarnate Word and snuggled up against the San Antonio Zoo, not only has plenty of biking trails and shade, but also easily accessible B-Cycle stations at the Zoo and the Witte Museum.
Another option is McAllister Park: 984 acres of green space, featuring 15 miles of trails, so you can get your quiet time and workout simultaneously, or Woodlawn Lake Park, which is a centrally located destination for cyclists.
The Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System is yet another way San Antonio is catering to cyclists—namely those who are tired of double yellow lines and batshit-crazy drivers, featuring 41 miles of greenway trails following the Leon and Salado creeks. The program is expanding rapidly and presently has the funding for 85 miles of planned trails, with a goal of 130 miles of hike and bike trails along San Antonio’s creekways.
Biking is healthy, it saves money and it earns you an environmental happy-face sticker. It’s also perfect for college students, whether you park off campus and bike to class to save cash or bike to get away from school and drown your knowledge of equations and AP writing style in a bucket of beer or a lap around the lake. It doesn’t matter if you use it for commuting, recreation, performance cycling or just lookin’ sexy, every student should own a bike.