I know bragging is not becoming of a lady, but I have to do it: I completed a 40 mile bike ride this weekend – the longest ride to date!!
New experiences of course mean new knowledge to pass on, so with that in mind, I’m offering up the quick-and-not-dirty beginner’s guide to long bike rides! Some of this may seem intuitive, and some you might think I should already have known, but just do as I say, not as I do (or have done in the past), and you’ll be golden.
1. Don’t Be a Dunce – Prepare Yourself!
Long bike rides mean you basically need to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice, which means taking time to gather your resrouces before you even leave the apartment.
– Air up your tires! This makes riding smoother, and helps prevent blow-outs. Speaking of blowouts…
– Carry a kit. They’re small, they fit easily on your seat post, and they contain all the necessary tools in case you puncture your tire and need a quick fix. An extra tire tube itself can fit in here, too. Getting stuck when you’re out in the middle of almost nowhere blows (no pun intended).
– H20-Nation. I was resistant to mount a water bottle holder on my bike. After 40 miles with a water bottle in a small backpack, I’ve changed my tune. Just get one and save yourself the discomfort.
2. Play Nice With Others
Apparently, there is a bit of an unspoken code of conduct when riding in packs. Since this was my first pack ride, my friend Noah gave me the run down which I’ll share with you now…
* Wave to other bikers going the opposite direction. Much like truck drivers do – acknowledging people who are in your community is nice. Naturally, this reminds me of my resistance to saying “hello” to passing runners…luckily, I’m still too shakey on the bike to move my hands away from the handle-bars, so for now, I’m not worried about it.
* Wait at the top. Bikers are going to get up hills at different speeds; it’s polite and recommended to wait at the apex of the incline (unless, as Noah pointed out, you don’t like someone very much. But that seems a little mean).
* Call out “Car” especially if you are in the back of the pack. Letting everyone know a vehicle is approaching is not only polite it’s safe. Hella safe, even.
* It’s actually polite to point! Use your hands to draw attention to pot-holes or uneven terrain on the road. Bonus if you also note roadkill.
3. Speaking of roadkill…
Just be aware of it: the fact that exists, that you will see it, and that you’ll not want to run over it again. I saw more roadkill on my bike ride than I ever see running (even during 26 miles of running!) and it made me sad every time. Knowing you’ll be peddling by can be helpful.
Oh, how I wish I’d worn the pair of gardening gloves I left sitting on my kitchen table. Any gloves would have been appreciated. Your hands will hurt from gripping the handlebars and squeezing the breaks. And the more you squeeze those brakes…the more your hands will ache. I don’t advise having to make espresso drinks for six hours after your ride. When I first went to grab the port-a-filter, I literally dropped it since my grip was shot.
5. Remember the golden rule of Northern California: Layering
Just like any time you leave your house in the Bay Area, you’ll want to have layers of clothes on for your bike ride. We went from a little chilly to fairly warm to overly foggy to incredibly cold back to warm. Yeah, all within a little over two hours. Those arm-warmer things looked mighty handy…
6. Have a kick-ass time.
Enjoy yourself. Peddle hard, but chat with your biking buddies if they seem interested, involve yourself in the scenery, breathe all the different air. Have at it!