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A newbie's guide to biking in Milwaukee

Last weekend, right before the April showers, I bought a bike. I haven’t had one in a while, so it’s been fun getting out in the peaks of sun and even some of the misty rain when I have.

But as a newer Mliwaukee bike rider I feel a bit lost wandering around the city on my own. There’s actually quite a lot to explore and for all the joys of jumping on a bike and heading anywhere you want, I imagine there’s things I should consider.

So I wanted to feel out biking around Milwaukee. I reached out to Jake Newborn of Wisconsin Bike Fed. He says I’m not alone in starting this adventure. There was a huge spike in bike sales last summer as people sought ways to get outdoors and have fun safely during the pandemic. When scouting a bike for myself, a few bike shops said they were experiencing a lot of demand again. So maybe don’t hold out if you’re thinking of buying a bike.

Photo credit: Michael Anderson

One thing Jake and I talked about was finding a bike for yourself. I asked whether it’s best to buy a mountain bike or road bike.

“You don't need a big suspension bike or big knobby tires,” says Jake. “Or necessarily even road racing bikes with those skinny tires. It's getting something that you're comfortable on to ride and the roll is pretty smooth.”

When out riding, Jake brought up that people should bring spare tire tubes and pumps or even screwdrivers on their trips. You never know when a tire will pop or you might see someone stranded who needs a little help if their chain fell off or a screw came loose.

Jake recommended four trails to start on: the Oak Leaf Trail, Kinnickinnic River Trail, Hank Aaron State Trail and Beerline Trail. In particular Jake recommends the Oak Leaf Trail.

“It goes through parks, it's got beer gardens along the way if you want to stop and make an afternoon of it,” says Jake. “I love stopping in Cedarburg for coffee and lunch. It's probably the most popular but I think there's a reason why; it’s nice and long. You can go as far as you want or as short as you want and there are great steps along the way.”

Some local resources

Bike maps -
Events -
Trail etiquette -