Tuesday, February 2, 2010
5 Tips: Riding More Miles
According to our recent online poll, the most common bicycling goal for this year is to ride more miles than last year. The reasons range from wanting to be more fit, to saving money on gasoline, or to just finding more ways to enjoy our favorite pastime. Whatever your reason, here are five suggestions for how you can squeeze in more miles on your bicycle in 2010.
1. Join a club or informal riding group. There's nothing like peer pressure to get you motivated to do anything. If you make plans to ride with somebody else, you'll be more likely to stay committed to those plans. There are a variety of clubs in the region, with riders of all different skill levels. You can find a list of local clubs on the Cleveland/Akron Bicycling Resources page on our web site. If you're not the club-joiner type, find one or two friends who ride at a similar level as you, and make standing plans to ride on a regular basis.
2. Commute to work or school by bike. This is the biggie, and could fill a whole book of tips and suggestions. If you're intimidated by the distance or terrain, then start small. Just ride one day a week; as you get used to it, move on to two days, then three. Drive to a park-and-ride facility, then bike the rest of the way. To help keep you committed and organized, get your riding clothes and other gear ready to put on the night before. For more ideas, see our Bicycle Commuting Excuse Busters and Myth Busters pages on our web site.
3. Run short errands by bike. Studies show that 40% of urban travel in the US is trips of 2 miles or less, and 90% of those trips are by car. Two miles is a very manageable distance by bike for anyone, no matter their fitness level, and you don't need a high-tech, lightweight racing bike to do it. Many avid cyclists have an older, rarely-used bike sitting in the garage. Set this bike up as your "errand" bike--put a cargo rack on it, a half-decent set of lights, and platform pedals. This way, you can jump on it and ride down to the corner store, coffee shop, or anywhere whenever the need arises, without having to change your clothes, shoes, or do any other preparation. Remember to still wear your helmet!
4. Extend your riding hours with a good lighting system. Riding in the dark presents its own set of challenges, but lots of people do it enjoyably and safely. The best way to insure you're seen by vehicles behind you is a good flashing taillight, such as the Planet Bike Superflash or the NiteRider Cherry Bomb ($29.99 each). If you're riding mostly in neighborhoods with good street lights, then a basic battery-operated headlight is sufficient to light the road directly ahead of you and alert traffic coming in the opposite direction. The Serfas SL-200 or the CatEye Uno ($29.99 each) are both good choices. If you're riding in more dark and secluded areas, a high-intensity headlight does a better job of showing you what's on the road or trail ahead of you. The NiteRider MiNewt Mini USB ($99.99) is a good all-purpose choice. Its lightweight lithium-ion battery gives you about 3 hours of run time per 4.5-hour charge. Step up to the NiteRider MiNewt.X2 ($209.99) to get about a third more brightness and almost double the burn time. Of course, you should also wear brightly-colored clothing with reflective accents to increase your visibility even more.
5. Learn how to maintain your bike. Don't be stuck at home with your bike hanging in the garage just because you have a flat tire. Sign up for one of our bicycle maintenance classes, or show up for one of our FREE Fix-A-Flat Mondays. Even if you don't think you can ever reach the skill level of a professional bike mechanic, having a basic understanding of how your bike operates, and knowing how to change a flat tire and make some minor adjustments will increase your overall comfort level while riding. This, in turn, will help motivate you to do more riding alone, so you can take the opportunity to ride when you have the available time.