Today we moving through the swim-bike-run that is the basic platform of a triathlon and talking about bikes! I went over how to find a bike for you before, so I’ll be shaking up my end of this banter and talking about something that everyone should be deeply aware of- cycling safety.
|These safety tips don’t start with ‘ABC’. Sorry guys.|
So let’s talk riding safety. It’s getting to be that time of year when cyclist and motorist need to share the road. Goodness knows I’ve already been out a handful of times this year.
Wear a helmet!
This may seem obvious, but seriously, do not ride without a helmet. And go buy a half way decent one while you’re at it. A helmet is basically the insurance you purchase for your brain. Protect it. And don’t forget helmets should be replaced every two to three years. The material they’re made from breaks down over time, so if you haven’t gotten a new one in years, go get one. Also, if you crash you need a new one. You may not see damage to your helmet, but it’s there, lurking. Remember, this is brain insurance. Just get a new one.
Wear reflective gear, wear bright colors, wear a head light if it’s going to be getting dark in the evening or is still dark in the morning when you’re out. Not only do you need to see where you’re going, but you want others to see you too. Namely cars. This also means communicate your intentions. Use proper hand signals so cars know what you’re doing.
|I drive the less than two miles from my house to the State Park entrance so I don’t have to ride through town to get to my favorite bike route. Hate trying to content with cars on narrow city roads and hit a dozen lights.|
Follow the rules of the road
As cyclists we often times place blame for our safety on motorists and scoff at them not seeing or respecting us. But when push comes to shove, we are vulnerable, not them. If it’s you, a cyclist, versus a multi-ton vehicle, you will lose. Every. Single. Time. While I believe motorists do need to be respectful and share the road, it’s also our duty as the impeding and less safe party to make sure we respect the rules of the road. This means riding with traffic flow, stopping at red lights and stop signs. Again, use hand signals and stay on the shoulder or bike lane. Don’t ride in between lanes if you can avoid it. That being said though, if you need to make a left turn, you should use the turning lane and obey traffic laws.
|If you don’t know the basic hand signals for cyclist, here they are. Know them, use them.|
You should always ride with you phone and ID on you. Cycling and tri tops have pockets on the back of them and my Samsung GS3 fits perfectly in the, even with a small case on it. You can also invest in a top tube box or Bento Box. This is a small rigid pouch the hooks to your top tube in front of your handle bars and can hold your phone, ID, and food. Another option is to have a Road ID. This is a small bracelet that has your name, address, emergency contact, and any pertinent medical history engraved on it. Should you ever end up in an accident, be it anything from a nasty cycling crash to falling alseep on a bench after a rousing shopping spree, people can find out who you, who to contact for you, and whether they can give you penicillin, touch you with latex gloves, etc. Seriously, best $20 ever. There’s a million stories out there about Road ID saving lives. Get one.
|Along with the important information, they also offer cute little add on pieces!|
I cannot stress this enough. Be cognizant, be aware, know what is going on around you at all times. Look up and lose the head phones. I’m so guilty of the head phone thing, but seriously, one earbud only or speaker if you need some music. I tuck earbuds under my helmet straps by ears so I can hear my music just enough but can hear everything around me more. Do not impede your hearing entirely. Look around and stay focused. With two cyclist deaths at my local triathlon, the Musselman, last year it’s important to be aware. The first death in particular was due to the rider having his head down while riding. He never saw the stalled car that had run out of gas and pulled over on the side of the road before he hit it head on doing about 25mph. Be aware of your surroundings.
Riding a bike is a great workout and incredibly freeing. The wind on my face as I’m coasting along is one of m favorite feelings in the world. I work hard to stay safe so I can continue to enjoy that freedom for years to come.
Next week’s Tri Talk Tuesday theme- Run! So write a running related post and get ready to play along!
Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!, The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.