By Mark Gibbons
At a recent downtown Cleveland running event, an Olympic gold medalist gave some running advice. He or she (they will remain nameless), gave us all one solid tip: “Tie your shoe laces tight.” Gee…thanks. As spring approaches, here are some useful tips from a 1,000 plus mile a year rider.
Stand up. Being in the saddle, gaining mileage and speed it just pure fun. Doctor’s orders are to shift up one higher gear, stand, and pedal for little. Flex your toes and ankles. On a hill coasting down, flex your calves. Motorcycle riders crouch down low for a reason, and that’s to avoid wind resistance. When you do over 40 MPH down Hogsback Lane, do the opposite and stand up at the very end to assist in braking to stop sooner.
Be seen and heard. Reflectors, lights and whistles are the way to travel at night. Neon yellow or green reflector straps may be Velcro strapped to any part of your body. On the trail, I sometimes where a whistle on my wrist in case I spill, or come across some deer turf. Sometimes, your LED strobe lights and orange shirts just aren’t enough for aggressive pickup truck drivers.
Avoid the gravel. This is the first biking tip my big brother John gave me. During the winter, the snowplow trucks leave mounds of snow on the road and in parking lots. Inside those mounds are suspended rocks, and gravel waiting for you. Those same tiny rocks will make even the widest tire kick out or shuffle underneath you. They can also get stuck in your tire, or be thrown by your 100 psi tire at an adjacent car.
Keep your old tubes. Cut a one inch by one inch square piece of rubber from your old tubes. Use it as a gasket to act as a buffer between your new accessories. You don’t want to ruin that sweet paint job with some scuffing. This tip comes in handy when you try to zip tie a device to an already cylinder tube or handlebar.
Stop for gas. This is a good tip if it is raining out. I use the blue towels by the squeegee to wipe my face, computer, and rims. Stop inside for a sports drink, and an energy bar. It’s another chance for somebody else to ask you about your cool bike. If it’s hot or muggy, then scout out one with a walk-in beer cooler.
Know where to hide. If you have a regular route, then take the time to observe where some shelters are in case it rains, becomes windy, or when you ran a red light. RTA bus stops, apartment awnings, parking garages, and church roofs are examples. If you stay dry under a Walgreens drive-thru pharmacy balcony, then just tell them you will be on your way soon.
Cross ride. No, not cyclo-cross ride (although that will be my next bike purchase). Use materials from other sports or hobbies for biking. Wanna buy a $10 yoga mat to place beneath your trainer, or buy a name brand one for $30? That light you put on your head for when you hike at dawn should be used on the road at night. Use your clear racquetball glasses on the trail or road for eye protection. Just use proper chain lube and not WD-40 instead. Your rooster tail free heiny will thank me later.
Take a class. Spin, Century Cycles, and Eddy’s all have maintenance and tip classes. If you ride in a huge outdoor event like the Sweet Corn Ride, or Bike MS Ride, then observe the workers in the mechanic tent. You might save some time and money (or embarrassment for me) when you can tune or adjust something on your own.
Enjoy the ride!
Bike guru, and teacher. Thirty one years old. Rider of about 1,000 miles year (outdoor, trail, and indoor).