As winter fades and spring fever hits, you may be thinking it’s time to get out your bike again! Whether you live in the suburbs or the city, riding on roads or trails is a great way to get (or stay) in shape, enjoy the outdoors, and visit new or favourite places. More and more Canadians are using bikes to get to and from work as well, probably due to increased traffic in the cities and increased awareness of the health benefits of cycling. According to Statistics Canada, over the last two decades, the number of people using bicycles as their main method of commuting nearly doubled, rising 87.9 per cent.1 However, before you get back in the saddle this spring, here are a few tips you may want to keep in mind:
Protect your investment.
Make sure your bike and other equipment are in good working order. If you’ve been riding all winter, your bike may be grimy due to sand, salt, or mud from the roads or paths. If it’s been in the garage or basement, it could still use a tune-up to get it ready for the first ride of the season. You’ll want to check for flat tires, dry chains, and other issues that could derail your adventures. Contact your local bike shop as soon as possible – in other words, don’t wait for the first hot, sunny day, when there will be a line at the bike mechanic’s shop.
When you’re on your bike, you want to be seen. That means, wearing bright clothing, adding lights for night-time rides, and riding in plain view of cars if you’re on the road. Review the rules of the road and obey them. For example, the Highway Code states that at night your cycle must have white front and red rear lights lit.
Plan for success.
No matter what your goal – GranFondo, a charity ride, or a local touring adventure – developing a solid plan is essential to getting you to the end and enabling you to enjoy yourself along the way. If you’re planning on riding in a big event this year, build toward the mileage gradually to acclimate your body to the seat again. Ride with a group to keep you motivated and energized. If you’ve been away from biking for a while or just starting out, take short outings at first, in low-traffic areas.
Fuel for success.
Make sure you fill up your water bottle before you head out. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a bike, so remember to drink regularly. You’ll also want to make sure you eat right, before and after your ride, to fuel up your body for its best performance. If you’re serious about biking, stock up on bananas, squeeze gels, dried fruit, and muesli bars that are easy to store and take with you.