During the summer people start making their way outside more and more. What better way to get exercise and get out in nature on your own or with your family than with a bike ride? Depending on your fitness level and the age of those in your family, you or your family may use your bicycle just in your driveway, in your neighborhood or on a bike path. Whatever level you’re at, keep safety in mind before you go out for your first ride.
For the rider:
• Make sure you have a good fitting helmet. The strap should be tight enough to stay in place, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. Make sure that you wear it level and that it covers your forehead. Don’t wear a hat under your helmet.
• Fit: when you sit on the saddle, you should have a slight bend in your knee when the foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If your knee is straight, you’re reaching too far. Adjust your seat height so that you get that soft bend in the knee, otherwise improper positioning could lead to knee pain.
For your bicycle:
• If your bike has been sitting unused since last season, you’ll want to do a safety check:
• Make sure the brake pads are in good condition and that the pads squeeze the tire appropriately when you engage them
• Check your tires before each ride to make sure they are filled to the correct pressure. It should say on your tire the PSI that it should be filled to.
• Make sure your chain is in good condition and oiled properly.
• If you don’t feel comfortable doing the safety checks yourself, take your bike to a local bike shop and they can help you out.
• If you’re riding on a road or a bike path, wear bright colors so that cars, pedestrians and other riders can see you.
• If you are riding on a road, make sure you ride WITH traffic – that means on the right side of the road. If you’re riding with others, always ride single file.
• If you are passing someone who is either riding or walking, as on a bike path, always pass on your left and announce to the person ahead of you “on your left” so that you don’t startle him or her.
Have fun and enjoy the ride!!
Rachel Pope DPT, CYT is a physical therapist and certified yoga teacher. She is an outdoor enthusiast and marathoner who moved to VT in 2015 with her supportive husband and teenage daughter.