Biking can improve heart health and cardiovascular fitness and is lower impact than some other cardio blasts. The activity does, however, require basic knowledge of the road and the bike itself. Here are eight great tips for getting the most out of your biking and staying safe on the road. They apply if you commute a few short miles or regularly ride a century (Hint: that’s a 100 mile ride).
Which lever is which?
Learning how to operate bike gears is key if you want to enjoy your experience. If your bike is in too high of a gear, pedalling will be very difficult and slow-going. To fix, downshift using the left hand lever. That lever moves the chains near your pedals, reducing the level of resistance you may have been feeling. The left lever is also responsible for big jumps in gearing.
On the other hand, if you can spin the pedals furiously and effortlessly, while still getting no where, you’re in too low a gear. The solution for this is to use the right lever which moves the chain at the rear of your bike. That is called ‘shifting up,’ which provides a bit more resistance when pedaling. The right lever is also used for fine-tuning if you want to make small changes to your gears.
A simple way to remember which lever is which? Right lever = Rear gear, Left lever = Front gear
Make some noise
If you’re riding on a trail shared by walkers and runners, you’ll need to use a bell or your voice to let them know you are coming up behind them and want to pass. To announce your presence, simply say “Left”, and then pass them to their left.
When approaching a steep hill climb, make sure you shift down to an easier gear BEFORE you start hitting the hill. The steeper the hill, the more gears you’ll want to shift down. The same goes for riding down a hill. Gradually shift up to a more difficult gear as you gain more speed.
Don’t forget your sunscreen
If you’re going biking for a long period of time, you will need sun protection. Since storage is at a premium while on your bike, store sunscreen lotion in a contact lens case – it holds the perfect amount.
If you’re riding your biking close to sunrise or sunset, it is always a good idea to make sure cars can see you by wearing reflective clothing. In a pinch on where to find reflective gear? Try reflective tape instead. It can easily be purchased at your nearby Wal-Mart, Meijer or local hardware store. Use a couple strips here and there where needed.
Use your hands
When sharing the road with cars, use hand signals to alert drivers when you’ll be stopping or turning. To signify you are turning left, extend your left arm out sideways with all fingers extended. For right turns, raise your left arm arm out sideways and bent upward at the elbow at a 90-degree angle. Before stopping, you’ll want to let vehicles know by extending your left or right arm sideways and bent at a 90 degree angle at the elbow with hand pointing downward.
Brush your drive train
Greasy drive trains (also called the chain) can be a pain. Keep it clean by taping two toothbrushes together so that they are facing each other, bristle to bristle. Then slip the chain between the bristles and scrub.
Obey the law
While on your bike, you do need to obey all traffic signs and signals like other vehicles.You are also required to ride with traffic. While it is not Michigan law to wear a helmet while riding a bike, helmet use can reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent and the odds of head, face or neck injury by 33 percent.