Like many of you, last Sunday, I had the opportunity to take advantage of the great weather and get out for the first, out of the city, extended distance, cycle of the year. There are several observations and tips about this early part of the riding season that I’d like to share.
First off, make sure your bike is ready to go. Tires properly inflated, chain examined and cleaned, gears and brakes in proper working order. Safety features, such as a bell and lights, even a mirror, are now a must any time of day. Wear clothing that is comfortable, such as proper riding shorts and appropriate but removable warmers, riding gloves and a jersey with multiple back pockets. It’s imperative that whatever you wear makes you visible to others on the road. Carry the right equipment with you, such as spare tubes, a small pump or air cartridges(with regulator attachment), and small tools such as levers and an Allen Key set. Take along your phone(in a proper case or cover), ID, plastic and/or a small amount of cash. Always take a filled water bottle and a few gels. GU Vanilla Bean or Salted Caramel are my two faves.
Now let’s talk about you, the rider. The first thing I noticed when we started out on our ride was that there were muscles in play on the bike that hadn’t been worked in months. This, despite running spin classes, sometimes ten times a week. For example, something as simple as applying the handbrakes requires an unused grip, which will take a few rides of getting used to. If you’ve been spinning all winter or just haven’t been on a bike, you’ll also notice that you need to get used to the road bike posture again. Changes in seat height relative to handle bar height and extension versus indoors can wreak havoc on your back and hamstrings. You made need to make an adjustment, or if your road bike was previously fitted to optimize your performance, you might want to ease into your mileage slowly. If you’ve never had your bike properly fitted, it’s never too late. Many local bike shops offer that service. KindHuman Bicycles, on Avenue Road near Brooke, is a great place to start. Their mechanic is trustworthy, not only for fitting your bike, but for all aspects of service and maintenance.
Finally, here are a few points about road safely. This past winter did major damage to the roads. Be aware that there a numerous potholes out there that were certainly not present in the Fall. After a rain, it is not uncommon for a pothole to be disguised as a small puddle. BE VERY CAREFUL. I also noticed that motorists have become much more aggressive when in the presence of cyclists. Try not give them any more fuel. Be sure to follow the rules of the road, including stopping at ALL red lights and stop signs, signaling when making turns, and turning from the proper lane. Technically, it’s legal to ride two-abreast on a two lane suburban road, however, when it’s busy try to keep it single file, and unless the road is multi-lane, do not expand from two-abreast. Last, when you’re creating your route for a ride, make every effort to choose one with as many wide, paved shoulders as possible.
Hopefully this weekend you can get out there. Happy riding!