This Spring/Summer, I’ve been leading an 8-week cycling class. Riding a bike is really my first and favorite exercise passion. I love this cycling group and helping people discover new rides and get out on their bikes. For those of you unable to join us, here are some tips for getting out there and enjoying the ride.
Give Your Bike a Tune Up
Before riding, make sure that your bike is in working order. A local bike shop can take a look at your bike, and show you what needs to be fixed. If you’re interested in learning more about how your bike works and how to fix it yourself, many bike shops offer basic mechanic classes. If you’re in the Bay Area, check out these spots below (and, these are just a few of many awesome biking resources in the area):
Biketopia Berkeley – offers classes, do it yourself repair, and community space to connect with other riders
Missing Link – a cooperatively owned bike shop that has a wide range of gear, offers repairs, runs classes on fixing your bike
Bike Kitchen San Francisco – a place to get assistance working on your bike or to build a bike from scratch!
Plan Your Route
You’re likely to be more enthusiastic about your ride with a particular destination in mind. Do you want to ride to a local café or park? Curious to check out a bike path? Seeking a scenic destination? Plan your route before you go. There’s a great series of cards of bike rides in different urban areas. This is the one for the Bay Area. These are great because you can shuffle the deck, and pick a card at random. This blog post gives a great overview of some of the best rides in Oakland. We’ve already done two out of the five in our bike group 🙂
I don’t care what this guy says, WEAR YOUR GODDAMN HELMET. It saves lives. Seriously.
Remember that cyclists must obey the same traffic laws as cars. This means
– Riding on the right hand side of the street
– Stopping at stop lights
– Signaling your intentions
Ride with awareness of what is in front of you, as well as in your periphery. Be prepared to react to sudden motions from cars. Anticipate what is ahead!
Ride with confidence! Even if you’ve only been riding a short while, riding with confidence, and “faking it until you make it” will help signal to cars that you know what you’re doing.
Make eye contact with drivers. Make sure you are seen!
Wear bright/reflective clothes and use blinking lights at night.
Find a Friend, Group, or Class to Ride With. Train for an Event or Charity Ride!
It’s so much more fun to ride with others, and there are so many great groups, classes, and organized rides out there!
Meetup.com is great wherever you are to find cycling groups for whatever level you are at.
In the Bay Area:
East Bay Bicycle Coalition – offers a great cycling safety series for beginners or anyone looking to brush up on urban cycling skills.
For folks looking to go on longer rides, these groups are open to people of all levels and offer a wide variety of longer distance rides. It is a great place to meet people and discover new routes. They are “no drop” groups, meaning that no one gets left behind 🙂
Training for a charity ride or long-distance ride is great motivation to get into a regular cycling habit! These are some of my favorite charity rides and long distance rides.
Cycle California Magazine – a great listing of organized long distance cycling events in California
Just get out there!
There’s no perfect way to ride. So much of bike riding is just getting out there and feeling it out for yourself. Get to know your bike, get to know your neighborhood. Enjoy it!