Cycling can provide a great workout, an effective means of transportation, and a fun way to interact with the world around you.
Although the professionals in the Tour De France make racing look easy, these races couldn’t take place without respect for safety procedures and precautions. Whether you’re riding on a strenuous path or joining a stationary bike class, consider the following safety tips.
Tip 1: Suit up
Wear proper clothing and safety equipment to help enhance your performance, keep safe, and prevent possible injury. Wearing the proper clothing and safety equipment may not only help to enhance your performance, but it will also help protect against injury.
For more information about bike safety and the cycling performance services offered by UPMC Sports Medicine, please call 1-855-93-SPORT (77678),or visit the UPMC Sports Medicine website.
Some cyclists prefer to ride dressed head-to-toe in tight, spandex clothing. Special cycling shorts can offer additional padding and comfort. This material can reduce chafing and help riders to feel cool and loose for miles. However, it is also perfectly acceptable to wear everyday clothing on a casual or recreational bike ride.
Safety equipment cycling should include:
- A properly fitting helmet
- Bike reflectors, flashers, and headlights
- Eye protection
- Proper shoes
In the appropriate seasons, be sure to wear sunglasses and sunscreen to help protect from the sun’s powerful rays.
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Tip 2: Pick the Right Ride for You
According to our experts at UPMC Sports Medicine, your bike should leave one to two inches of clearance between the rider’s crotch and the tube connecting the handlebars to the seat. This clearance should occur when the biker stands flat-footed on the ground. Pay attention to handlebar height, tire pressure, and check the angle and positioning of your seat. Consider getting professionally sized for your best fit to make sure you can hold good posture while riding.
Once you’ve selected your best bike fit, check it often to make sure it is up to speed with your changing needs. Continually monitor and maintain the condition of your bike to ensure long-lasting success and safety. All cyclists should be able to change a flat tire before venturing out onto open roads.
Communicate your route, departure time, and anticipated end time of your ride to a friend or family member. Also always carry a form of identification and a way to pay for unexpected expenses.
Tip 3: Carry a Safety Kit
While riding, bring a safety kit with you in case of emergencies. This safety kit should include:
- Inner tube patch kit
- Spare inner tube
- Tire irons
- CO2 cartridge inflation device or a separate frame pump
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Tip 4: Be Conscious of Your Surroundings
Wherever your path takes you, pay close attention to riding conditions. Although music can provide a nice soundtrack for rides, it can also interfere with your awareness of the surroundings. Particularly when cycling on roadways, make sure you can hear and see the full road in front of you. Monitoring the path and biking defensively are good, safe riding strategies.
Tip 5: Stretch Before and After Your Ride
Before beginning any physical activity, take time to stretch and warm up to prepare for the roads ahead. Warming up your body through stretching and light calisthenics can help prevent athletic injuries. After finishing a ride of any length, stretch and cool down to stay loose and help avoid cramping and aid in recovery.
Tip 6: Observe Cycling Etiquette
Be courteous while riding and observe basic cycling etiquette. Some tips include:
- Share the road with cars and paths with runners, walkers, horses, and other cyclists.
- Ride on the right side of the road or path, following the direction of traffic.
- Use hand signals to make cars and other cyclists aware of your turns.
- Observe traffic laws, including traffic lights and stop signs and speed limits.
- Announce yourself and your intent to pass other cyclists saying “On your left” when passing cyclists.
Tip 7: Stay Hydrated and Fueled Along the Way
Bicycling is a strenuous athletic activity. To prepare your body for the challenge, hydrate before, during, and after your ride with plenty of fluids. Our experts suggest to refuel after rides with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and proteins.
About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.