This week's BWL column has 5 tips for getting ready for your fall ride, along with the list of upcoming running/walking and biking events.
Fall is the perfect time to get your bike in shape to ride. / Getty Images/thinkstock
Summer heat kept you off the bike paths? Just returning to your winter digs from your Northern abode and ready to hit the bike trails? If you haven’t been on your bike in a while, here are five things to do before you take that first fall ride:• Get your bike in shape. If it hasn’t been on the road in a while, it’s a good idea to make certain it checks out mechanically – tires, chain, brakes, etc. Any local bike shop will tune you up quickly and reasonably, with the parts and know-how to make it easy and done right. If you’re mechanically inclined (and have the tools you need to do it), you can do your own wrenching. Either way, investing in a little pre-ride repair beats getting stranded out on the road.
• Get yourself in shape. Even if you’re physically active, biking uses muscles that other forms of fitness may not engage. If it’s been a sedentary summer, consider taking it slow when you get back in the saddle … if you want to stay on the road and out of the doctor’s office. It’s better to ride yourself back to fitness than to back away from riding because of pain or injury. (If you’re coming back from a really long bike break, think about getting cleared by your doctor before pushing those pedals — or undertaking any strenuous activity.)
• Get your gear into shape. Just because things worked OK the last time you rode doesn’t mean they’re still safe or comfortable. If your helmet is more than 5 years old, manufacturers suggest you replace; if it’s cracked or brittle, that suggestion becomes a requirement if you want it to protect you. (And if you don’t have a helmet … well, that’s another discussion.) The same goes for the other parts of your riding ensemble – even if that ensemble tends toward shorts and T-shirts. Clothing that rubs or chafes or snags or binds or doesn’t cover the body part in question very well may need to be upgraded or discarded if you want a safe and comfortable ride.
• Remind yourself about the rules of the road. Whether you’re interacting with other bicyclists, pedestrians or motor vehicles, there are certain steps you can (or must) take to stay safe. Some are the law (like riding with traffic and obeying signs and signals if you’re on the road), some are just common sense (like no headphones, warning pedestrians when you are approaching them to pass and making you can see and be seen while biking).
• Check out the road (or path) when you map out your ride. There may be new routes nearby for you to try that weren’t there last year (or which were improved since you last rode them). There may be new construction that’s making an old-favorite one you should avoid for a little while. Or there simply be some changes in a familiar ride that you should be aware of before you ride up on them. Planning is not only safer, it allow you to keep things interesting and to keep challenging you to pedal just a little further.
Last, but not least: Remember why riding your bike in Southwest Florida is fun! Ride to the beach and enjoy that you can park almost on the sand while everyone else has to trudge across a parking lot. Ride to run your errands, and leave your car in the garage rather than idling in snarled traffic. Ride to lunch or dinner (if you have lights, of course), and enjoy that you’re burning up some calories on your way to take some more in.
— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users. Information at BikeWalkLee.org.