Cycling is dope. Cycling is cool. The growing number of cyclists on trails confirms that. It may have been years since your dad guided you down the driveway on your first spin on a bike. That led to a childhood exploring your world by bike. Then life happened. Your two wheels were replaced by four wheels.
You never forget how to ride a bike. The current pandemic has brought many people back to cycling and many new to cycling. It may be because you have more free time, the refrigerator has been calling your name too frequently, or you need time to relax and to unwind.
Here are some tips on making your time on the bike safe and enjoyable.
Driver’s pedaler’s ed
There are rules for the road for cyclists. For starters, buy and wear a helmet. It can save your life. Here is a good resource for choosing the right bike, helmet, and accessories to be safe on a ride.
Learn how to let others know where you are going. Don’t be the person who doesn’t know that their car has turn signals. You have them on your bike. They are called your arms. You can find a good summary of the basics here.
Cycle on the right and pass on the left. Verbally let people know you are passing, “Passing on your left.” You can find a nice summary of trail safety tips here. Finally, obey all traffic signals and come to a complete stop with no California rolls.
Be prepared like a Boy Scout
That means carrying the basic things in case of an emergency, usually a flat tire. Buy a seat bag and put these things in that bag: a spare inner tube, tire patch kit, 2 tire levers, and a bicycle multi-tool. You may not be bicycle repair savvy, but a good Samaritan can come to your rescue if you have these items. Here is a nice visual representation of these items and others to consider.
Accessorize and express yourself
Give your bike a personality and maybe a name. A handlebar bag, phone holder, lock, lights, water bottle and cage to hold it (if your bike did not come with one) are some basics. Pick up a bike computer or install a mobile app to track your rides and progress. There is an endless array of things to make your bike a personal statement of who you are. Cycling shorts, jerseys, socks, helmets, caps, and much more are available for the bike fashionista.
Visit your local bike shop
Looking for some advice on what to buy as a new cyclist? This is the place to start. Sooner or later you will need some repair. This is where you will find that help. Your local bike shop is a wealth of person-to-person advice and assistance that you cannot get on Amazon. Bike shops are the town halls of the cycling community. You meet other like-minded people there. Bike shops often host social rides and hands-on education.
Find your biker gang
You don’t need to be a spandex-wearing cyclist to belong to a bike club. Start by asking your friends and family out on a ride. Your local bike shop can point you to cycling groups. Facebook groups and meetup.com are also good places to begin your search. There is a cycling tribe out there for you whether you are a serious heads-down road cyclist, a casual recreational cyclist, or a family enjoying life on your bikes.
Get out and ride
Many people are timid cycling on the road. Many communities are installing bike lanes and making the streets more bicycle-friendly. Multiuse trails in parks are a good starting place with cyclists being more protected from traffic. The national network of rail trails is growing. There is a good chance that a rail-trail is within a 15-30 minute drive from your home. Here is where you can find them. Businesses thrive on bike lanes and trails. It is convenient to grab a beer, ice cream cone, or bite to eat on your ride.
Cycling does not free you from social distancing and COVID-19 prevention practices. Be a socially responsible cyclist that prioritizes the health and safety of all people. Check your state and local COVID-19 guidelines before you head out for a ride.