If you’re worrying about the strange weather, polar bears drowning and cities choked with cement and exhaust, biking is a great alternative. Biking is clean, healthy, makes you more independent from the corporate machine and it is fun and ultra sexy! Biking shouldn’t hurt your body, but it can if you ride a bike that doesn’t fit you. To be safe and comfy and to treat your body right when you are biking, here are some tips:
1- Before riding, make sure your wheels are in the forks and that the quick release on the front wheel is closed. Check your brakes, make sure they are tight and make sure the tires have enough air and are in good shape. Tires that are low on air make riding slower and you have to pedal harder to move.
2- Use the correct gears when riding, i.e. a low gear when you’re starting from a stop or going up hills, and a high gear when you’re going fast. Using the wrong gears can damage your knees and requires you to pedal harder to get around.
3- Make sure your seat is set at the proper height. Your knee shouldn’t be bent when your foot is going around the bottom part of the pedal. You may not be able to touch the ground while sitting on a properly adjusted seat, but you will be able to touch the ground when standing over the top tube of the bike frame. When you come to a stop sign, you can stay on the seat by putting your foot on the raised sidewalk curb rather than the street.
4 – Pedalling the right way is good for your body. Set the ball of your foot over the axis of the pedal spindle — it helps prevent knee pain as well.
5 – Unless you’re racing and need to be aerodynamically streamlined, you can adjust your handle bars to make them higher so you sit more upright. It reduces weight and strain on your wrists, keeps your back straighter, and gives your lungs more room to expand since you’re not all bent over.
6 – Don’t carry heavy stuff on your back in a backpack — get a bike rack or bike basket (or trailer) and let the bike, not your back, carry the load.
7 – Wear a helmet, ride on the right side of the street, follow the street signs, make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians, be aware of your surroundings, use hand signals when turning and use lights if biking at night.
8 – Get a bell for your bike — you can use it to alert cars to your presence, to express your spontaneous joy at moving about without burning fossil fuels, and even to get the attention of attractive cyclists you may meet. Ride slow and talk fast. But don’t take your eyes off the road . . .