spring + beautiful weather = lots & lots of biking.
i have been a year-round bike commuter for a little over 2 years now & i get tons of questions about biking. i think a lot of folks think that biking is just for super thin men with huge calves & really fast bikes.
well, i am a girl [my calves are pretty sweet] & i dont have a turbo-speedy bike. ;)
i wanted to share my top 6 tips for bikers.
these tips are for YOU!
if you have a bike, you are a biker ;)
1) get a helmet!
seriously! get a helmet. i know a lot of women dont want helmets because a) they are ugly. b) they are a pain in the butt and c) you dont really need one. but please please please ; get a helmet. biking companies are slowly coming to notice all the female bikers & are making more appealing bike gear. plus, a helmet could save your life. i would never ride anywhere [not even around the block] without my helmet. i have a giro & its super cute ;)
2) use your manners!
this is another HUGE biking rule!
nobody likes a jerk-biker. learn biking hand-signals [if you are a CAR, i also suggest you learn them.]
i cant tell you how many close calls i have had because i have properly signaled, but a car wasnt looking // didnt know what the signals meant.
a lot of cars dont like bikers because they think we are wild, rebels that ride on the roads & dont follow the rules. a lot of bikers dont like cars because they think they are too distracted & dont give them enough space.
regardless, we are all out there, we NEED to work together.
if a car lets you cross at an intersection, USE YOUR MANNERS.
if you are biking on the road, you have to follow the rules. STOP at stop signs [communicate at 4-way stops!] signal your turns and be aware of cars.
with that said, AS A DRIVER, you need to give bikes 3-4 feet of clearance. be patient. no honking or name calling.
*bikers arent out there to ruin your day. bikers are riding to get to point b ; just like you!*
3) light up!
if you are riding anywhere near dusk or dawn, wear [a few] lights. blake & i each ride with 5+ lights whenever it is dark out. we might look like lite-brites, but at least we are safe & visible.
you should ALWAYS have a bright white front light, and 2-3 back [blinking] red lights. we also have clip-on spoke lights that flash as our tires spinn. the more well-lit you are [on trails or the road], the more visible you are. and that is never a bad thing!
4) pack a first aid kit.
a few weeks ago, i posted about how to create a first-aid kit for your bike bag. my kit is made for longer distances, but if you are just riding for 20-30 minutes, you should have a mini-version. falls, scrapes & flat tires can happen, no matter how close [or far] from home.
5) maps, tire tubes & bottles of water
living in portland & minneapolis, i am spoiled [they are the top two biking cities in the nation!]. we have tons of trails [hundreds of miles!!] to navigate. purchasing an in-depth map has been a life-saver for us. if you live in a smaller town, purchasing a map may not be possible.
also, if you are looking to bike to work, or longer rides on the weekend, look into taking a class [ours are offered [free] at REI, the local co-op & community ed] to learn basic bike maintenance skills [changing a tire, lubing a chain, ect]. learning a few basic skills will save you LOTS of money down the road [both in bike repair cost & parts]
and, if you planning on riding for 20-30+ min, i suggest you bring a bottle of water. wind wipes away sweat, so its hard to notice how much water your body is losing. its a great idea [with ANY workout!] to keep yourself properly hydrated.
6) be calm!
i know a lot of folks think that 'getting a bike' means 'having to ride on high-traffic streets'. if you NEED to ride on the road, take side streets ; they are always less traveled. know that YOU have every right to be on the road, just like drivers. stay calm & focused. TURN YOUR MUSIC OFF! and be aware of where the cars are.
TRUE STORY : last summer // fall, i was biking home from work. my route is 95% trail, but before i can get on the trail, i have to cross a busy highway [with a stop light]. i use to ride on the road to cross [since its against the law to ride on the sidewalk]. its only a block or two on the street & i move pretty fast. well, as i was riding, a car at the intersection called me a *****[mean name!] & threw a can of pop at me. the can missed me, but my little feelings were SO hurt.
in my head, biking to work is a good thing to do. it saves the planet, its good for my brain & body, and i LIKE doing it. i couldnt understand how this
the moral of this
what do you think?
do you have a bike? want to get one?
what questions do you have?
[can i ask you anymore questions?]
i will be back next week with a list of gear that everybody should have when riding!
be safe, everybody!