Bike riding’s easy, right? You learned when you were six, and like they say, you never forget. It is easy, and as you get ready to ride again this year, remember these basics:
First, if going on a serious ride, drink regularly to replenish fluid lost by perspiration, and drink before you get thirsty. Down a 21-ounce (regular sized) water bottle an hour before you ride, another bottle for each hour of the ride, and a final bottle within an hour of your return.
Always ride with traffic, never into traffic. Why? Simple — riding with traffic reduces the speed differential between you and moving traffic, thus reducing the impact in an accident. Not to mention that bikes are expected to obey all traffic regulations the same as cars.
Watch for car doors opening when riding past parked cars. City riders have horror stories about either throwing bikers or being thrown themselves. Drivers not watching for bicycles can surprise you with a sudden car door in your path, causing you to dart out into traffic or take a door in the face.
When riding in suburban areas, watch for hidden driveways until it becomes second nature. A great many bikers are injured from drivers not watching for bikes, so you have to be doubly careful.
When riding down steep hills, sit back in your seat, or hop off the seat and put your weight over the rear tire. The further back and lower you can get, the steeper the incline you can handle. Use both brakes to slow yourself down — and teach yourself to know without thinking which is the rear and which is the front brake. Some would say use the rear brake when slowing downhill, but the most effective way to slow down is using both brakes simultaneously. Using only one brake can lock the wheels, and using only the front brake will send you head over heels.
When riding uphill, don’t lean over the handle bars. Stay on the seat and shift into an easy gear, or stand up while keeping your weight over the pedals. Try to keep some weight over the rear tire or that tire will spin out, giving you less traction on the ground. Keep your weight distributed evenly to prevent both wheelies or loss of traction. Shifting to a low pedal gear with high pedal revolutions before actually hitting the hill maintains momentum.
When cornering, keep the pedal on the inside of the bend at the top of its stroke. Lean the bike into the curve and your body out.
For better off-road riding, riding over curbs and obstacles, unweight and lift your front tire over the obstacle, then smoothly shift your weight forward to allow the rear wheel to follow more easily.