Safe cyclists are happy cyclists - be one!
Drive your bike as you would drive a car, and be personally concerned for your own safety. How can you do that? Here are some tips for happy cycling:
1. Have a bike mechanic go over your bike and adjust it to your new size if you’re still growing; replace worn brake blocks and ragged cables.
2. Wear bright clothing every time you ride. "Notify" the driver of other vehicles that you’re on the street or road by wearing "bright or white" every trip. He’s moving fast, and you want him to see you from a long distance.
3. Be off the road before drivers turn on their headlights. Call to be picked up instead of taking a chance.
4. Obey all traffic rules even if you think they’re silly.
5. When you stop and get off your bike, move off the street or road at once, to the grassy shoulder or to a driveway or other safe spot.
6. Ride single file when in a group, and be six bike lengths behind the bike you follow.
7. Avoid stopping on hilltops. A bicyclist standing at a hilltop, on or near the edge of the pavement, causes cars approaching from both directions to swing wide. They could crash head-on!
8. Ask yourself: "If I were that driver and he were on his bike, would I like our sharing the road?" The Golden Rule is alive and well!
9. Beware of vehicles, children, dogs, sheep ... coming from driveways and side roads. Be aware of chug-holes in the roads - also sand, walnuts, stones, water puddles, oil or sticks on the roadway. They can throw you or trap your wheel. Expect a parked motorist to open his door just as you start to pass.
10. It’s dangerous for a vehicle to follow close behind you "to protect you." When other cars go around a slow moving vehicle they might cut back in line and hit the bicyclist they didn’t see. If a family member is on the road where you’re riding, teach him to drive on to a parking space. You’ll stop there if you need something.
11. Loose luggage, locks, stretch straps, a purse or other items can suddenly lock your front wheel, sending you up, over and onto the pavement.
l2. Balance your saddlebags with equal weight, carried low, on each side of the rear wheel. A heavy book pack on your back can cause more trouble than loaded saddlebags.
13. Improve your riding skills. Before you take a trip of 25 miles or more, take short training rides with full pack and get your body into good condition.
14. Gradually work up to the mph you wish to ride. Ride 25 miles in three hours; ride 50 miles in five hours. Shift to one speed lower, and pedal in a slightly faster, smooth cadence - to get more mileage with less muscle.
15. Speeding down hills could land you in the hospital if you hit loose gravel, your hat blows off, your brakes grab or a cable breaks, a cyclist in front of you stops or you get dust in your eyes.
Who am I to suggest these things?
I’m a bicyclist who rode 3,200 miles when I was 58 years old.
I have carried full saddlebags on bikes in travels in the United States, Nova Scotia and across Newfoundland.
I’ve led family tours and groups of college students in Europe where we couldn’t speak the language and in the British Isles.
And I rode almost 200 miles in China.
The only mishap I had needing a doctor’s attention was in Columbia when I violated my own advice. See No. 11 above!
Have a happy summer of cycling!