Cycling Safety

Cycling Safety is Your Responsibility

Safe cycling is the responsibility of the cyclist not the motorist and if you knew the opinion of many of the motorist that are driving around you you wouldn’t want to leave your safety in their incapable hands.

Know your hand signals

Just as a working turn signal or break light on a car is important to highway safety so is the use of hand signals when riding your bike on the open highway.

If you are driving your car behind someone and you are making the decision whether or not to try to past them the first thing that you will be looking for is their turn signal. You do this because you wouldn’t want them to turn in front of you they didn’t realize that you were trying to pass them. That is the same reason that you do not want to make a turn without using a turn signal with your arm when you are riding your bike on the highway.

Hand signal safety on bicycles are probably one of the most neglected safety rules of cycling. It is my opinion that anyone breaking these rules while cycling should receive a citation from law enforcement just as a car driver would. This would increase the cyclist awareness for the need to use them.

Here is a short video that will demonstrate the safe use of cycling hand signals:

Know When to Stop

Cyclist should make it a habit to always stop for all stop signs and red lights. I know that it seems easier to just coast really slow, look both ways, not unclip your feet from your pedals and just go. But mark my words that once that has become a habit there will be one time that you will do it and someone will be coming and you will get all confused trying to unclip your feet in time to stop and there will either be a close call or you will have used up your one and only chance to do it safely. Once that opportunity has been used it can’t be taken back.

Please take time to slow down, unclip, and stop so that you will have a nice safe ride for you and all of the cars around you.

Be Aware of Where you are on the Road

Defensive driving is one of the most important aspects of safe cycling there is. We like to think that all of the cars out there on the roads are paying attention to us and realize the potential for hurting us. That just isn’t realistic. Everyone takes their eyes off of the road sometime.

That being understood means that you as the cyclist should be paying close attention to the motorist on the road as well and you too should realize the potential for them hurting you. You should also be paying attention to the road in front of you. I always make it a habit to look at least ten feet in front of me for pot holes or any debris that could cause me to have a wreck or to dart into traffic trying to dodge something. As well you should relay this information to any other cyclist that may be riding in a pace line behind you. Here is a short video that will demonstrate how to signal other riders in your pace line of road hazards.

Helmets

Last but not least there is helmets. Originally I was going to recommend that you know the helmet laws in whatever state that you might be riding in but now I just want to tell you that it is simply foolish to tempt fate by riding without a helmet. You just never know when having that helmet on will save your life. Don’t ride without one please.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

 

 

 

 

Dog Attacks

Ever Been Hounded by a Hound on a New Ride?

Have you ever decided to take a new riding route that you were really jazzed about only to find Fido the mutt standing in your way of having a nice ride? I have and I agree with you that it is an awful experience.

I have gone on rides that I had been looking forward to for months only to have two giant beautiful yellow labs come running out of the yard after me. It sent terror through me and all I could think was how am I going to get past those two coming back.

Since my experience I have done some studying on how other riders have learned to deal with the dog situation.

Dog Attack
Dog Attack

The First Step

You should know that dogs are territorial by nature. So keep in mind that they are not likely to chase you very far.

The Second Step

You should know that dogs like to come up from behind you and try to nip at your ankles. The fact that they are coming from behind you does give you a little head start to try and out sprint them.

The Third Step

You should know that in some cases dogs are focused on attacking your bicycle in much the same way that they attack a car. This means that they are going for the front tire. Usually instead of biting it they end up under it and dumping you over the handle bars. So be prepared to slow or dart away from him if he seems to be doing this.

The Fourth Step

Some people have other techniques that they like to try at this point. For me, if the dog is getting to close and I don’t seem to be making a good escape I go ahead and unclip my feet from the pedals. If he is not a large dog and starts to nip at my heals I will kick him right in the top of the nose. When dogs run and try to reach to bite they are a little front heavy. If you kick them in the top of the nose they will role heals overhead. Tried and proven.

If this is a large dog I will go ahead and dismount on the opposite side of the bike from the dog. Keeping the bike between me and the dog. Many times the dog seems to lose interest as soon as you are off of the bike.

Lastly you should realize that if this dog chases you even after you have dismounted, then he means to hurt you and you should feel the same way about him. Use your bike as a weapon or use pepper spray. Never kick because they are quicker than you and will most likely catch your foot with their mouth. If they get ahold of your leg you should have no mercy and go for their eyes. I promise they will let you go then. This sounds harsh but it is better than being maimed for life.

After any near attack I recommend that you let the animal services know that there is an unleashed dog and where he is so that they can take action. I don’t recommend confronting the owners as they are often aggressive about their dogs. If they cared they would have had the dog in a fence or on a leash to begin with.

If you are bitten by any dog you should at once go to medical services and give them the address of the dog that bit you so that he can be quarantined to insure that there is no signs of rabies.

Pepper spray is a good weapon for fighting most dogs but never try to spray it on the dog while riding as you may inadvertently spray yourself, spray into the wind and it blows back onto you, or just wreck trying to spray it.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Winter Cycling

Riding in Cold Weather

It is September and the cold air is coming in quickly. We will have a little excellent riding before it turns nice and cold. Do you plan to train in-doors all winter or will you be getting in some great winter riding time?

Riding in the winter time doesn’t have to be just for the hard core rider. With a little preparation you too can enjoy riding in the winter and even come to look forward to it.

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Preparation

Checking the weather forecast at least two hours before getting dressed for the ride is a good habit to get into as the weather can change from the forecast the night before. I find that I get the best information from the “feels like” portion of the forecast. This takes into account the wind chill and humidity and tells you what the weather will feel like and that is what matters to me.

How should you dress for the ride?

The most common dressing mistake that first time winter riders make is overdressing. Overdressing can lead to overheating as well as dehydration from excessive sweating. The best rule of thumb is to dress a little on the cold side and as you warm up you will break even. It usually takes about ten minutes of steady riding to reach your upper temperature.

Layering is a good technique that will help you to stay warm on those cold rides. This is the process of trapping insulating air in between layers of clothing thus trapping the heat in. You should try to use clothing that’s designed for cyclist that uses a wicking system that moves moisture from your skin upward. This will keep you from getting soggy wet underneath and thus getting cold on your core. Then on the outside I prefer to use a nylon windbreaker that will block the wind form coming through. Blocking the wind is at least half of the battle as the wind chill factor definitely comes into play when cycling in the winter.

Lastly you will want to determine whether you need to protect your head from the cold. There are many different hoods that can be worn underneath your helmet that will not only keep your head warm but some have flaps on them to keep your ears warm as well. I prefer to only wear ear protectors when I can get away with it to help keep me from overheating as I tend to run a little hotter than some people but that is where you have to learn yourself and your preferences.

 Conclusion

As you can see there is no reason to miss out on riding just because it gets a little cold. There are many products that when used properly can make riding in the winter even more enjoyable than trying to ride in the summer’s 100 degree weather. So this year don’t let the cold keep you in. Get out there and spin those wheels.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Clip-N-Pedals

Clipless Pedals

To clip in or not to clip in that is the question.

What are clipless pedals?

clipless shoes

Clipless pedals

The clipless system consist of special shoes that you attach a cleat to and a special set of pedals that your cleat will lock onto when you are riding. To lock your shoe to the pedal you will step down onto the pedal lining the cleat with the pedal. You will be able to tell when it engages. Don’t worry. It is easier than it sounds. After riding with clipless pedals for two or three months I found that I would lock in without even thinking about it.

This clip system will secure your foot to the pedals while you are riding.

To release the cleats from the pedals twist your heals outward. You will feel the cleats release.

Benefits of using clipless pedals

Clipless pedals hold your feet in place making it easier for you to keep a steady pedaling rhythm. This is important as it allows you to learn to pedal without thinking about it.

Clipless pedals are safer because they will keep your feet from slipping off of the pedals causing you to dump the bike and possibly injure yourself.

Clipless pedals also allow you to pull on the pedals with you up-stroke. This is an excellent technique used while climbing to keep your feet from falling asleep from the pressure that you are putting on the pedals. I use it all the time. It can make all the difference between making it to the top of a hard climb and having to get off and walk it. While there is no shame in having to get off and walk it (I have done it more than once) the optimal idea is not to have to.

Last but not least they are simply more comfortable. While there is a learning curve to using them it is well worth it.

Alternatives to clipless shoes

If or when you start looking for clipless shoes you will undoubtable see what is referred to as basket pedals. I started out with them myself and I do not recommend them at all. They seem to be easier looking at them but if you buy them you will be wasting your money (in my opinion). They are so hard to get into that you will have an accident looking down at them. They constantly role upside down because they are heavier on top.

Buying Guide

I have never paid for any companies high end pedals (not to say that any of them are cheap) and I have never had any problem with the ones that I have used. Some people are really caught up in having as little weight on their bikes as possible and if that’s their thing then more power to them but I would rather have some money left over to buy a new jersey or water bottle.

After looking around online to familiarize yourself the product and its high and lower price range I wouldn’t worry about trying to figure out which ones to buy or getting the right fit. I personally think that from there it is well worth it to just find your local bike shop and let them set you up with the rest. Let them know where you primarily ride and what your concerns and price range are and they will work with you from there. You may have to tell them no a couple of times when they try to push the more expensive pedals at you but they will set you up with what you need far better than you will ever be able to by studying about them.

Getting used to riding clipless

The trick to getting used to riding with clipless pedals is just like anything else, practice. You have to clip in and out of them until the motion becomes a reflex. Warning. This does not happen overnight. The number one thing to remember is to unclip about thirty or forty feet from where you need to stop. This allows you to be relaxed. Panic is the thing that will cause you to get locked up and fall every time.

Two, it allows you to find something to grab ahold of if you get stuck and can’t get out.

You are sure to get the hang of it in no time but please be sure to get very good and comfortable with it before you ride trails and definitely before you get out on the road. It is probably a good idea to ride with a friend at the park for a while until you have mastered the technique.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Work out Day

Being Focused

For me work out day means having to stay focused on saving some energy for myself and my home. I work a very demanding job that will suck the life out of me if I were to allow it.

I try to stay focused on saving both physical energy and mental energy for myself. This enables me to be able to work out on the days that I am going to work out without or to work around the house on the in-between days. Life is about balance and sometimes we have to work really hard at finding that balance but it is well worth the effort.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R

Indoor Training

Riding a Recumbent Bicycle Trainer

If it were up to me I would ride my bike 7 days a week or more but unfortunately there are these things called bills and they require me to work 10 and 12 hour days to pay them.

In the past I have been sneaking in a ride on any occasion that I could find. Take a day off, holiday, sick day, and when I could muster up the strength I would even ride after work.

My wife has a recumbent trainer that I have been reluctant to get on because I thought that it would be too different for me since I am so used to riding a standard road bike. However, since I have decided that I am going to train to ride a century (100miles) next year I figured that I am simply going to have to develop a consistent training schedule. So I decided to give the indoor bike a try. I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised at the workout I got from riding that bike.

exercise bike
exercise bike

My legs felt like they got the exact workout that I would receive on a standard bike but my core seems to have gotten twice the workout that it would have normally received. I am pleasantly surprised and I have decided that I will no longer assume that something will not work for me without trying it.

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Sincerely, Tony R

Cycling: A Great way to Lose Weight

Have you ever wished that you could just have fun and lose weight at the same time?

Are you sick of gyms telling you that you have to pay their ridiculous membership fees to be able to get into shape? Are you sick of the television commercials telling you that you have to take their pills that may or may not kill you? Or are you just sick of confusing diet plans that no one working a real job could ever have time to keep up with?

If you answered yes to these questions then you and I have something in common already. I don’t have the determination or drive to work out like a professional athlete. I can’t afford to pay the gym hundreds of dollars to provide me with the machines and trainers to get me healthy. I am pretty sure that the pills that they are selling on television will shorten your life dramatically and I can’t afford to have a chef in my kitchen designing my food for me so that I am eating the right amount of all of the right things. I am even happier to be the one to tell you that it isn’t necessary to do any of those things. You don’t have to be a slave to media or weight gain anymore.

My Story

I was never the skinny guy but after I quit smoking I found myself about 87 pounds heavier. Even though I am 6’1” and have a medium size frame 322 pounds is still a lot of weight to carry around every day.

I have had inherited high blood pressure all of my life and the weight wasn’t doing it any good either. So I was taking more and more medicine to keep it under control.

However the real kick that got me motivated was when the doctor told me that I may be a diabetic and then the following A1C test confirmed that I was. I knew that I had to do something so I decided that I needed to change my eating habits and decided to start cycling. Of course I made all of these decisions along with the doctor’s blessings. It is important that you know how healthy you are before you start riding.

Cycling along with a healthy eating plan is a great way to lose weight and to keep it off. I myself lost over 75 pounds. Was it always easy? No. Were there set-backs along the way? Absolutely. Everything you try to accomplish in life has its ups and downs but those are the very things that are worth fighting for because they can change our lives and often the lives around us. Following is my method for losing weight through eating healthy and cycling.

I Never Starve Myself

Starving yourself to lose weight is a myth told by the devil himself. Starving yourself is the best way to gain weight not lose it. You should eat at least four small meals a day. It is ok to eat some starchy foods but they should be kept in small portions. Your meals should consists of more protein and veggies than anything. I try to stay away from bread altogether but you don’t have to but if you are going to eat bread then I would at least eat whole wheat and still very sparingly. Try to have lean caught fish at least twice a week. Farm raised fish is not bad for you but caught is much better. Chicken and unprocessed turkey are also good staples for eating health as they both can be prepared in many different ways that will help to keep from getting tired of them.

Drink primarily water throughout the day. No sodas and less diet sodas. Sorry for this one but the sugar has to go. There is no time that sugar is good for you.

It’s not Exercise, its Recreation

It really doesn’t take as much exercise as you might think to lose weight. You can burn between six and eight hundred calories by cycling for twenty to thirty minutes. Although you can find many charts on the Web that claim to tell you how many calories you burn per ride its actually impossible to say exactly how many calories you burn per ride because there are so many variables to take into consideration. Such as: How much you weigh, how fast you ride, how far you ride, how many hills you climb, and what kind of condition you are in.

I find that it is easier to determine how long you should ride by how tired you get. When you start to get tired then go just a little farther then turn around and head home. It isn’t necessary to train like “Rocky Balboa” to lose weight. It is much more important to enjoy yourself while you ride. That’s what keeps you riding. That’s the secret that kids have that makes them so active. That and they have no bills.

Getting Started Riding

If you don’t already have a bike I would recommend that you find a nice 200 dollar bike at Wal-Mart that is made of aluminum rather than opting to buy one of the cheaper metal bikes or one of the very expensive aluminum or carbon fiber bikes. With the two hundred dollar bike you haven’t blown a lot of money if for whatever reason you decide that riding isn’t for you and if you get one of the cheap metal bikes you will not enjoy yourself because the bikes are just too heavy to peddle up hills.

Be prepared to get a little saddle sore from the bicycle seat. Unfortunately there is no easy way around it you will get sore. The further you ride the more you will start to notice that the seat will make you sore and/or numb in your hind quarters. About the only thing that you can do about it is to invest in some good riding shorts that have cushion in them but even with them you will still have to get used to the seat before the pain will go away. But it will. I assure you it will. I don’t recommend you getting a bigger or fluffier seat as they will only tend to make you sore in different places.

It is also a good idea to plan to get a computer for your bike. No. Not a laptop but a small computer that sets on your handle bars that tells you how far and fast you ride. They help to motivate you to do a little more than before as you start to see patters in your riding habits.

Food Cravings are not a Sign of Weakness

After about a week of eating small meals and exercising be prepared for your body to start to want a little more to eat. This is a perfectly natural thing so prepare yourself for it. Don’t let it catch you off guard. You are not feeling this because you are weak or because or have poor self-discipline. You are feeling this for two reasons; (1) is because you are simply used to eating more and (2) is because your body is starting to burn more energy. So you should be happy to fill that void with a piece of fruit but not too close to your next eating time or you will be eating on top of it. However, before you eat that piece of fruit take a moment to decide if you are truly hungry or if you are just eating out of boredom. If you are truly hungry then have that fruit and enjoy.

 

Visualize Your Sugar Graph

One way of understanding why eating like I do works is by visualizing your sugar graph. Eating small portions of food per meal with smaller amounts of carbohydrates allows your sugar levels to remain constant. If you eat too much you will spike your sugar levels which causes two things: (1) Your body will be unable to burn the sugar that it has created meaning that all of the extra sugar is turned to fat and (2) you will become hungry soon after; creating a never ending cycle of eating. If you want to lose the weight then you have to break that cycle.

Don’t be Afraid of Flavor

Sometimes we seem to think that healthy food has to be bland. Having so little taste that most dogs wouldn’t care for it. This is simply not true. I have read time after time and proven it with my own experience that food that taste good is more satisfying. Food that taste good also keeps you satisfied longer. So don’t be afraid to eat a little Salt, Pepper, and Spices on your food. Another added effect of having a little spiciness in your food is that it tends to raise your metabolism therefore burning more calories.

Weighing Yourself Could be Dangerous

Weigh yourself in the morning but not every morning like some would suggest. You don’t want to develop an addiction to weight loss. Not all people are susceptible to this but it is better not to test it to find out. It will drive you crazy stressing over your weight being up or down a pound or so every day when your body will normally go up or down water loss and water gain. I recommend that you weigh in on Mon. and Thur. to keep you motivation positive and focused. If you stick to it you will lose weight so don’t stress over the scale.

The Two Number One Keys to Success

(1)Do not beat yourself up over bad days. Just reset yourself and get a fresh start the next day. Most times you will not even see a gain or loss from one day of bad eating.

(2)Take time both in the morning and in the evening to set somewhere comfortable and relax, not sleep, relax and clear your mind. Throughout the day slip back to the memory of that restful mindset so that you are able to keep your stress levels in check. Low stress levels help to keep your body working at peak performance. It is widely know now that stress is one of the triggers that causes your body to make hormones that lead to weight gain along with a host of other ailments.

 

That’s all for now. See you on the road.

Tony R.

Spare Tires and Tools

Who needs a spare tire and a pump on a bike ride?

I rode for years without a spare tire, pump, or any tools with me. I never had the first problem. I have ridden 100 mile rides with no tools of any kind. Everyone else had their tools and made like I should have tools but why did I need them? That was for those guys that had to have all of the right stuff. All of the right gear to be like the other guys that they hung around with and rode with.

The ride

I didn’t ride for several years and last year I decided to pick it up again and started getting back into shape. After about six or eight months I decided to set out on my first fifty mile ride sense I started back to riding. Ten miles out in the middle of nowhere I began to feel bump eddy bump and my stomach sank.

I had taken the day off in the middle of the week so everyone that I know was at work, including my wife. I called my Mom but she was waiting on someone to come to her house and couldn’t come pick me up for about two hours. I walked about eight miles and I assure you that it was a lot more fun riding them than it was walking them.

The first place that I visited before my next ride was my local bike shop to by a new tire to put on and a new tire, tube, and pump to carry on the bike with me.

Learn from my lesson. Don’t get caught in the middle of nowhere just because you are hardheaded like me. Here is a great video that will show you exactly how its done. If it is a back tire do take a minute to look at how the chain goes around the gears. Its not that hard but you can get confused your first time. I did. I was surprised how easy it was when I did mine. You will be too. Because sooner or latter you will have to.

 

Why Tony Loves Cycling

Freedom

First and foremost I love cycling for the freedom that I feel when I’m out on the road. Just me and the bike I’m riding. I feel this feeling most when I am road riding but I still enjoy an occasional romp on a good trail with a trail bike.

Health

There are many health benefits to riding regularly. It has been proven to increase circulation, weight control, and helps to reduce high blood pressure. You should however get cleared by your doctor before you start any knew exercise routine.

Social

There are great social benefits to cycling as well. It seems that any bike ride containing more than two bicycles becomes a social event. Cyclist will come from all around the country to ride in any popular event such as the Claxton’s Cruisin in the Country. This was my first really organized ride and I will never forget it. It was the first time that I had ridden 100 miles on my bike. There were rest stops about every ten to twelve miles with all kinds of refreshments and Gator Aid a plenty. There is also what is known as SAG patrol which looks out for the welfare of all of the riders in the ride to ensure their wellbeing. You don’t however have to ride 100 miles to do this ride. They have marked off for you 25, 50, and 75 mile markers as well.

Conclusion

So take it from me, get you a bike and get out there enjoying all of the sunshine, exercise, and meeting new interesting people that your little heart can stand. Life is good live it good with biking.