Hitting the streets

This weekend marked my first bike ride of the year. Actually it was my first bike ride in "forever". The weather was wonderful, people were out in force, and I had a great time.

There were a few things I learned or thought of along the way, however, that I thought I should share.

1. Be sure to take your bike in for a pre-season tune up. I live in SW hilly Portland. Zooming down the side of a mountain at 'X' miles per hour is NOT the time to find out that ANYthing is wrong with your bike. Seat adjusted? Bolts tightened? Brakes, anyone?? While I didn't have any problems, but I SURE DID think about it as I whizzed down that first gynormous hill!

2. Wear the proper gear. My ride was more than two days ago but even now certain areas of my anatomy still echo the effects of 5+ hours of sitting on what felt like sculpted rock by the end. Bike pants and shorts have strategic padding to increase your comfort and wick away moisture to lessen chaffing. Gloves can save your hands from the roughness of the rubbered handles. And, don't forget your helmet!

3. Bring water. Fortunately, I don't often leave home without H2O, but I did see people on the road without any. During short rides it might not be too bad, but I was out for the entire afternoon and would have definitely felt the effects of dehydration had I not been prepared. You may also need to bring a snack or be prepared to stop somewhere to eat (be sure to bring a lock for your bike). Remember that it takes food to fuel the engine of your body, so be mindful of your situation.

4. Keep track of how long you ride AND how far. When you're having fun, exploring and "seeing what's up there" can be exhilarating! Realizing at the end of the day, however, that you now have to make your way BACK to the beginning, not so much. Also, note your terrain. Remember the mountain I whizzed down. Yeah, I also had to get back up. That information is important at the end of your ride when you are fatigued.

5. Learn bike signals and follow the rules of the road. Since I really hadn't biked for years, I felt quite like a fish out of water at first. Common sense was not always so common, unfortunately. Once I had my "duh" moment, however, things were fine and I became more aware of what cyclist go through and their perspective. So drivers, do be kind. Sometimes "nit wit" just happens.

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