Wind at your back, open road ahead – there’s nothing like getting fresh air and exercise along a local bicycle route. May was National Bike Month, and we celebrated by enjoying the spring weather on two wheels. Last month, we asked our team of seasoned riders from the Bike, Boat & Ski Store at our flagship campus in Freeport, Maine, to provide their top tips for getting the most out of your rides (and making sure you get to where you’re going).
Now, let’s ride into June with a roundup of cycling tips, tricks and tools of the trade.
1. Plan ahead – keep extra clothes and toiletries on hand at your daily destination.
Want to get your morning exercise in by cycling to work, but don’t want to be sweaty and gross on the job? Plan it out: is there a shower you can use at the office or nearby? Can you pack clothes for the week and drop them there ahead of time? These preparations make the difference between a good day and a stinky one.
2. Invest in good-quality tires.
Puncture-resistant ones are expensive, but worth it.
3. Pick up the essentials.
Wear a helmet and invest in a bell, mirrors and more. Our graphic below will give you some ideas.
4. Slow down when approaching train tracks and cross at a perpendicular angle.
Sound too particular? It’s not: the tracks can be deadly if you hit them at 45 degrees. Follow the rule above, and when the tracks are high or wet, get off and walk over them.
5. Be bright.
Let them see you! Invest in high-visibility clothing and bike defensively. This will help you stay safe on the road. Invest in two lights – one for the handlebars that faces forward and another that can be seen from behind.
6. Shield your eyes!
Sunglasses protect from sunny rays and flying debris (like bugs and dirt) during your commute.
7. Lock it up.
Bike thieves will steer clear if your ride is protected properly. Far too many bikes fall into the hands of thieves when a rider uses a weak cable or lock. One of our Bike, Boat & Ski employees uses a 21-pound chain (used for boat anchors) and a lock to keep his ride secure. Now that’s security.
8. Watch for obstacles.
Many common items can obstruct your commute, like open car doors and sewer grates. Learn to swerve (gently). Our bike shop folks suggest riding just to the left of the white line, as often pieces of debris are found in the breakdown lane. You’ll likely encounter far fewer punctured tires by riding just a few inches to the left.
9. Own the road.
You will often ride in a lane dedicated to cyclists, so use it to stay safe. Cars should be three feet away from you at all times. It’s the law in many states!
10. Enjoy yourself.
Gear, tips and ideas aside, the largest benefit of riding your bike is the enjoyment you get from it! It’s a great way to make your daily workout an exciting one.
What are your cycling tricks and tips? We want to hear them!