Before you head out on your next bike ride, make sure you know all the basic rules of cycling. Whether you're training for your fifth Ironman or just on a leisurely weekend ride, these will help you stay safe and make it back home without an unnecessary accident.
- Know your bike/equipment.
- Get fit by a professional – it will make you more comfortable, less prone to injury, more efficient, and faster. With all of that, it should also make you happier.
- Learn and practice some basic maintenance.
- Understand the basics of how the bike, gears, brakes, etc.
- Work and know some basic troubleshooting fixes. Check out ABC quick check and other great info and tips at the league of American bicyclists’ website.
- Keep your bike clean (from road grime, sweat, nutrition products) and in working order.
- Keep your chain clean and lubricated.
- Replace your tires when appropriate to reduce the risk of flats.
- Before every ride, check your tire pressure and inflate to proper as needed – your bike will be safer as well as more efficient with proper tire inflation. Consider temperature extremes as they may influence the proper pressure even for the same tire.
- Carry a multi-tool for minor adjustments.
- Know how to change a flat tire (tube) and patch a tire and carry the necessary equipment/supplies to do so.
- Establish some bike handling skills; ease into riding in groups and pace lines, etc. (usually best to stay off tri bikes or at least aero position in these settings!)
HEADING OUT FOR A RIDE
- Plan your route. Consider road types, road conditions, traffic, weather – temperature, precipitation, sun exposure/vision impairment, wind. Also consider rest stop options for nature breaks (going to the bathroom!), water refills and other fuel needs if you're going a long distance and you’ll need more than you can carry. Maybe also consider some bail out options.
- Tell someone when and where you’re going.
- Carry a charged cell phone, water, a snack, flat tire necessities, and maybe a multi-tool as mentioned above.
- Wear comfortable, functional (well fit, good chamois, etc.), ideally BRIGHT, sun-protective clothing (check out Tri Sirena's performance gear), cycling gloves (sunburned hands are no fun), sunglasses (your eyes need protection too, from the sun and foreign bodies!) and sunscreen! Carry sunscreen with you for reapplication – on the bike, folks rarely know they’re getting burned but the exposure can be intense and dangerous!
- Wear a properly sanctioned and fit helmet. Always. Your noggin is too important to risk worse injury without it.
- Consider lights or at least reflective accents and gear even in daylight. Be safe = being seen!
ON THE RIDE
- Obey traffic laws – ride to the right and single file in any traffic or use bike lanes or paths (but not sidewalks). Stop at stoplights and stop signs. Signal and use turn lanes as if you were a motor vehicle.
- Be predictable – hold your line.
- Assume you are not seen.
- Don’t wear earphones or at least consider not wearing one in your outside/traffic side ear. If you must wear them, keep your entertainment at a low volume.
Keep your cool – honking of horns, whether polite, uninformed, rude/aggressive/antagonistic or not...run-offs and other altercations WILL happen. They can only be worsened by uncontrolled tempers, hotheads and yelling. Take a deep breath and the high road. Smile, wave and say thank you to motorists even when they’re in the wrong. One bad cyclist, or even just isolated bad behavior of a good cyclist provides fuel for already angry and resentful motorists and puts us all that much more at risk.
An army of good behavior and interactions can help our cause and give us all a better chance at mutual tolerance on the road and ultimately safer riding.
Written by Katie Diehl, Siren Luminary
Follow Katie on Instagram @kate.siren.9