Cycling is a great exercise. You get to use the biggest muscles in your body; the glutes, quads, and hams, while conditioning your cardiovascular system. As a result, you can enjoy superb endurance and overall fitness gains. That’s not where the gains end though; riding a bike is one of the most enjoyable ways of sustaining a green and eco-friendly lifestyle. That said, riding a bike through car-jammed roads can be perilous.
Before taking your bike for a ride next time, be sure to follow these safety tips.
Avid cyclists know that the ride starts long before they start pedalling; they first prepare by choosing their equipment and outfit. Whether you’re an amateur or a pro, choosing the right cycling clothing is crucial for enhancing your performance and keeping safe. Some cyclists go out covered from head-to-toe in spandex clothes, while others prefer a more comfortable approach with padded cycling shorts. If you’ve previously suffered from saddle sore, you’ll know how heavenly padded shorts can be. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, be sure your outfit is comfortable and reliable enough throughout the ride. Additionally, you’ll want to gear up with some safety equipment, which can include some or all of the following items:
- A well-fitting helmet
- Goggles or eye protection equipment
- Sturdy trainers
- Comfortable padding
- A safety kit that includes a spare inner tube, an inner tube patch kit, tire irons, and an inflation device
Also, be sure to stock up with water whenever possible. Dehydration can impede your fitness effort.
Pick your ride carefully
Just because you can ride it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit. According to sport medicine experts, the ‘right fit’ for a road bike should leave one to two inches of space between the rider’s crotch and the tube that connects the seat to the handlebars, when the rider stands flat-footed on the ground. In a mountain bike, however, the space should be three to four inches. You should also take into account the handlebar height, positioning and angle of the seat, and tire pressure. If it’s your first time getting a bike, it’s best to get professionally sized to find the best fit. Once you narrow down your choices, you’ll want to experiment with speeding options and understand the maintenance needs to keep your ride in tip-top shape.
Understand road hazards
Cycling can be either a light exercise or a hardcore activity – but with both modes, you can be left exposed to life-threatening danger. As a biker, not only should you be aware of the possible road hazards, but also of how to behave if you are faced with any. There are various road hazards you can face, depending on the conditions of the road itself. You may suddenly find yourself paddling over uneven or rough surfaces. You could also face obstacles, get a flat tire, or come across slippery surfaces. Even if you’re cycling over well-paved roads, you may face malfunctioning traffic signs, potholes, or road debris.
Unfortunately, road conditions aren’t the only hazards you might face. In cities like Sacramento, where there are many swoon-worthy biking trails, bike-related accidents and fatalities are especially higher among adolescents and young adults ageing between 15–24, and those older than 45. Worse yet, the Sacramento bicycle accident lawyers disclose that the injuries resulting from a vehicle-bike crash mostly result in near-fatal injuries for the cyclist. In the case of an accident, they should move swiftly to gather evidence proving the driver’s negligence (rather than their own) to establish a strong personal injury case.
There’s nothing like music to keep you entertained when venturing out into the open road on your bike, but you have to prioritize making the safer choice at all times. To do so, wearing noise-canceling headphones is surely not an option. Instead, be sure to stay alert while cycling; always keep your hands on the handlebar (unless you’re signalling), keep your feet on the pedals, and learn the correct biking etiquette and hand signals. Never enter a roadway before pausing and looking right and left, avoid riding at night, be sure to have a clear vision, and try to be visible. To be visible, you can install bike reflectors, headlights, and flashers and wear bright reflecting colours.
Taking your bike for a ride is more than just a fun exercise. Every time you hit the road, you’re shouldering a lot of responsibility. To make sure your ride ends without any complications, you should always be well-prepared for the road. Safety should be your number one concern. Be sure to suit up, choose the right ride, understand the hazards you might face, and always be alert.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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