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March 6, 2008

Outdoor Bicycling - 6 Tips

By Lori Ryan

You got yourself this awesome mountain bike and you’re so pumped about getting out there and riding it for hours and hours. Unfortunately, you heard about some serious car accidents that involved bikers and the last thing you want to do is to get injured.

But you don’t have to, if you follow some simple rules of the road and follow all my fantastic advice. Bicycling doesn’t have to be a life-threatening sport, so long as you ride like a star.

Outdoor bicycling tip #1
Follow traffic rules

Too many bikers think that traffic lights and turn signals don’t apply to them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you blow a red light or turn when you shouldn’t, you could end up getting hit by a car or hitting a pedestrian.

Think of yourself as a car and obey the laws of traffic. Even if you have more maneuverability, you shouldn’t take advantage of it because you will begin to do it more often and stop being so careful, and that’s when things might get messy.

Outdoor bicycling tip #2
Wear safety gear

I hate helmets because they ruin my hair and make me all sweaty, but I’ll take flat, sweaty hair over potential brain damage any day of the week.

And this doesn’t just apply if you ride your bike in the city; you should wear a helmet every time you get on your bike, no matter where you plan to ride.

Kneepads and wrist guards are optional, but the helmet is an absolute must.

Outdoor bicycling tip #3
Don’t dodge traffic

Yes, you can easily fit between cars and you might even get to your destination that much faster, but what you may not realize is that a car can literally kill you.

Most drivers take serious issue with bike riders who ride between cars and hold onto cars while waiting for the light to change. You want to be friends with drivers, so you will not dodge anything and you will remain on the right-hand side of the road at all times.

Outdoor bicycling tip #4
Be alert
It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going around you, but if you’re not paying attention to the traffic, skaters, pedestrians, dogs, and the ground below you, there’s no doubt that you’ll get hurt.

There’s a lot you need to keep your eye on and looking ahead to make sure that there are no upcoming holes in the street or slippery items on the ground is right up there with everything else.

Even if you’re riding around on bicycle trails, you still need to keep your eyes open because there are so many people who aren’t on bikes roaming around on the trails.

Outdoor bicycling tip #5
Understand your brakes

Before heading out with your bike, take some time to get intimate with your brakes in a quiet setting first (that sounds so wrong). Figure out how quickly you can come to a complete stop.

This is an important exercise because should you need to break in a second’s time because a parked car door has been opened or because a child jumps out in front of you, you’ll know that you can.

Outdoor bicycling tip #6
Light yourself up

If it’s dark out, it’s important that drivers and pedestrians alike are able to spot you from a distance. Make sure your bike has reflectors facing towards and away from traffic.

As well, put some reflectors on your helmet if you can. The brighter you are in the dark, the better.

Outdoor bicycling safety

Now that you’re familiar with what it takes to be a responsible cyclist, you can get out there and pedal your heart out with confidence.

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