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

 

 

 

 

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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

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.

 

Buying a bicycle

Buying your first road cycle

If you have been riding an old bike and you’ve discovered that you love riding and want to get a road bike that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. Then it is time for you to put your shopping shoes on.

What should you be looking for in a bicycle?

The first thing that you want to consider before you start shopping for that new bike is comfort. If you buy a bicycle just because it looks ok and its the right price then you’ll have problems latter on down the road. Those things are important but fitting a bike to your build should be your most important step.

You will need to consider your height and proportion when you are looking to fit yourself with the right bike. There are some very good tutorials online for doing that. The first basic principle is that you should be able to stand flat footed over the bike without having to lean sideways. Best case scenario is that you have a couple of inches between the top of your inseam and the top tube of the bicycle. In some cases however you will not be able to have that couple of inches if you have short legs for your height. I myself am 6’1” but I have short legs for that height. It is however recommended that you fit your upper body rather than your lower body because if your bike is too short from seat to handle bars you will be crunched up and your back and neck will pay the consequences. Here is a guide that will get you close to the right bike for your height. Height Guide.

How much should you pay for your bike?

There are some very nice bikes out today for around 200 dollars. There are really nice bikes out there for around 1000 dollars. Then there are the 2600 dollars and up bikes. I have owned one of each. I presently ride one that falls in the 1000 dollar range. If you look carefully at the different bikes and there differences you will see that there are some important differences between the 200 dollar bike and the 1000 dollar bike. But it is my opinion that there is not that much difference between the 1000 dollar bike and the more expensive ones. I think that the most difference I find is availability and service. You get a lot more service from the sellers of the expensive bikes than you do the cheaper ones. They will fit you to the right bike and make sure that you have everything that you need. But if you take a little time to research the bikes and be sure that you get the right bike for you then you will be just as happy and still have some money left in your pocket.

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

Tony R.

Adjusting the Shimano Front Derailleur on a Road bike

The Derailleur Failure

Recently I ran into a problem I had no idea how to deal with. I am not sure if hitting a small pothole caused the problem or not but after hitting it I found that I could no longer shift into the big chain ring (or big gear on the peddle side) and was bound to use the small one for the rest of the ride. I have been working on getting strong enough to use the harder gears more and have started to get the hang of it. So this totally bummed me out. Those of you with some riding experience know that you use your easy gears to rest your legs and your heavy gears to rest your lungs. Doing this back and forth throughout your ride can make you last a lot longer on a ride.

Not having time the rest of the week to work on my bike, thanks to work, I decided this Saturday to try and get that derailleur set up so that I would be able to ride Sunday. After all it couldn’t be that hard. There are only two screws. One sets the outside distance movement of the derailleur and the other sets the inside distance. You can  usually bet that if you think that something that you have never done before is going to be easy you’re in trouble.

Now I knew that the inside screw would adjust the inside distance so I made sure that that was set properly then I used the outside screw to adjust the distance on the outside but that didn’t seem to move the derailleur at all. I turned it one way and then the other. No good. I tried it out by riding the bike and found that it was ten times worse than it was before I started with it. What to do? I started searching the web for answers and found a lady’s post that recommended never messing with the screws once they had been set by a professional but to adjust the tension on the cable with the barrel adjuster. You turn it toward you to loosen it and away from you to tighten it. I sure wish that I had found that post before I had messed with the screws.

I then looked for a video and found one that walks you through the entire process of setting up the derailleur professionally. I found that the whole problem had been that my cable needed to be adjusted as it had become too loose and possibly the bump had pushed it over the edge.

Now I recommend that you watch this video at least once to familiarize yourself with this process so that you are not caught unprepared like I was. You should also add to your travel pack on your bike, if you don’t already have these tools there, a Philips screw driver, a small pare of plyers, and a medium size Allen pack. That is all that you will need to correct this problem out on the road.

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

Tony R.

New riders must know

Beginners

New to bike riding? Are you struggling to fit in with the experienced cyclist in your area? Don’t. If you do a little lite reading on the subject and get out there and start riding you’ll figure it out all in good time. Try out some of the riding techniques that you read about on the web and see which ones work for you. Know that it will take time before you are riding like one of the pro’s but I promise if you do it and don’t try so hard to be one of those guys then you will soon find that it is not about being one of those guys but it is about the love of the sport itself and the experience that you have when riding through some small unknown town that you would have never seen otherwise.

Ways to learn about riding

Reading riding magazines, reading about riding on the web, and buying books about riding are some very good ways of finding out about riding and riding techniques but the best way to find out about riding…………….

Ask someone that rides. All of the cyclist that I ride with and have come in contact with during the time that I have been riding love nothing more than to tell someone about what they love, riding. Just like anywhere else there are some riders that are stuck up and think that if you don’t ride just the right bike or if you are not bone skinny you don’t fit in but please don’t let people like that get you down. There are many more that are just the opposite. You don’t have to do any of that to be a good cyclist.

What you have to have to get started riding

Obviously you have to have a bike to ride. If you are just starting out and you’re not yet sure that riding is for you then I recommend that you rent a bike from a bicycle rental service and try it out.

I worn you up front that it does take time and work to get into riding shape. However, contrary to what some riders may tell you, it is not all about loosing weight. You don’t have to be pencil thin to ride. I am sure that it would be easier to ride up a hill at 160 pounds as apposed to 275 pounds but I wouldn’t know because that is how much I weigh. I have seen some little skinny guys that couldn’t keep up with me going up hills. It is about strength, riding technique, and lung and heart conditioning.

As with any sport safety should come first. Whether you are road riding or trail riding you should always have on the appropriate riding apparel. I can’t stress enough that you should wear a helmet. Knee pads and elbow pads I would recommend more for trail riding and gloves are a good ideas for both but especially for road riding because it helps cushion your hands against the handle bars and gives your wrist some support as well.

The number one thing that you have to have to get started riding is the desire to ride. If you really have the bug to ride then nothing or no one will stop you. Don’t let them.

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

Tony R.