Tips & Safety
Let us be your resource for riding tips and safety. Here are a few things we have learned along the way.
Must Have Items When Riding
- A properly fitted quality helmet
- Sunglasses for eye protection
- Spare tube
- Small pump or CO2 cartridge and inflation tool
- Tire levers to aid in tire removal
- A bicycle multi-tool with a chain tool
- An extra chain pin
- Inner tube patch kit
- Energy bar
- Cell phone
- Identification with a list of emergency contacts and personal medical information
- Knowledge of basic maintenance
- An understanding of safe riding practices
Items that are really NICE to have when riding
- Speedometer – They are fun, motivating, and inexpensive
- Comfortable riding clothing – To help make your ride more pleasant
- Clipless shoes and pedals – These help any rider have more comfort and control
- Stronger lungs and legs – To conquer the toughest climbs
- An area cycling map – To find the best roads and trail
- Altimeter – So you know many feet you’ve climbed
- Heart rate monitor – To help you work the most important muscle
- Power output computer – To truly know how your training is progressing
- A riding partner – To share the joy of cycling
Modern bicycle gears are very easy to shift by either twisting the grip or pressing a lever. Typically a bicycle has two or three gears operated by the left shifter for coarse adjustments and many gears operated by the right shifter for fine adjustments. To shift with grace, continue to pedal lightly and shift only one gear at a time. Try to anticipate the need to change gears and shift before pedaling becomes difficult. Modern bikes use indexed shifting which means that they will click and jump right into the gear selected. In certain gear combinations, the chain is at the two extremes which causes a rubbing noise. This does little harm but if it is bothersome simply select a different gear combination.
Washing a Bike
While modern bicycles have good seals to keep moisture out, care must be taken to properly wash your bike. For quick jobs, consider a bicycle frame polish that you spray on a rag to wipe off the frame. This creates a wax-like film on the finish of the frame that hastens future cleanings. If the bike is heavily soiled you can use soap and water to remove mud but avoid spraying the bike directly. A jet stream of water can force contaminates into the bearings.
After every exposure the bike has with water, the chain should be lubricated using a high-quality bicycle lube. On mountain bikes you can use a stiff bristle brush to clean the tire tread. Use alcohol and a clean rag to clean the braking surface on rims. The brake pads themselves can be resurfaced with sandpaper. This will remove any glazed surfaces and foreign matter embedded in the pad. Larger pieces of debris should be individually picked out. On bikes with disc brakes, be careful not to touch the disc rotor with chemicals or even your hands. The chemicals and oils will interfere with proper braking.
Lubricating a Chain
Lubricating a chain should be part of a bicycle owner’s regular maintenance. Fortunately this task is easy enough for anyone to complete. Make sure you have a bicycle specific lubricant to ensure the best results. First, shift the chain into the smallest gear so it is the furthest from the braking surface. Then slowly turn the cranks backwards while dripping a stream of lubricant on the center of the chain links. Let the lube penetrate for a few minutes. Finally, run the chain through a rag to wipe off the excess lube. This last step is important and will help clean your chain. A clean dry-to-the-touch chain attracts less grime and lasts longer.
Teaching your child to ride a two-wheeler
Help your child to develop balance by removing both pedals (turn the pedals toward the rear of the bicycle to remove them) and position the seat so the child can touch both feet on the ground with a modest bend in the knee. Allow them to run the bike around and coast like an old-fashioned hobby horse. Once the child has developed the balance skills for coasting, reinstall the pedals by screwing them toward the front wheel. The child will have more confidence on the bike and should quickly learn to balance and pedal at the same time.
Child Helmet Laws
Maryland law requires all cyclists under 16 to wear a bicycle safety helmet when riding on public property. This includes roadways, trails and sidewalks. Some local jurisdictions maintain their own local rules:
- Allegany County – under 16
- Howard County – under 17
- Montgomery County – under 18
- Sykesville MD – all ages (includes adults
Leave the car at home and enjoy the health, environmental, and personal benefits of getting there by bike!
- Leave clothing at work to lighten your load, drive in occasionally to replenish the stock.
- Secure a heavy-duty lock where you leave your bike, it will be one less thing to carry.
- Carry unscented baby wipes to use for quick clean ups.
- Install lights and reflectors on your bike to make yourself seen.
- Fenders are great for wet rides and keep you dry if you splash through a puddle.
- Invest in good tires so you reduce the likelihood of a flat.
- Smile and wave at rude motorists, take the high ground and avoid giving a rude gesture
- Think about the poor schmoes stuck in traffic as you pedal up a challenging hill.
- Mirrors are a great way to increase your awareness of surrounding traffic.
- Watch out for parked cars as they might swing their door open or pull out quickly.
- Painted surfaces can become slick when wet.
- Beware of rain or sewer grates.
- If you get caught in a thunderstorm find a low spot to huddle in and get away from your bike.
- If you ever ride on sidewalks be extra cautious at intersections where you must cross a road.
- Shower before you leave for work so when you arrive all you have to clean off is some sweat. If you shower at work, wait a few minutes so your body will stop perspiring before you bathe.
- Help support bicycle advocacy by teaching a friend about bicycle commuting, writing a letter, or joining one or more of the advocacy organizations fighting for the rights of cyclists.
Cycling is statistically a very safe activity, but you can make it even more safe by following a few basic tips.
- Make sure your helmet is properly adjusted. The front of the helmet should come just above the brow ridge, the chin strap should be tight and the two straps should create a Y just beneath the ears.
- Wear brightly colored clothing, lights and reflectors.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light, bugs, wind, and debris.
- Wear tight fitted clothing so nothing gets caught in the chain.
- Watch for painted surfaces that are often slick.
- Avoid drain grates which can catch your tire.
- Obey all traffic regulations.
- Stay far to the right hand side of the road.
- Do not ride on roads with speed limits over 50 mph.
- Avoid riding at night.
- If you must ride at night, use the best lights and reflective gear you can afford.
- Ride in groups when possible.
- When riding in a group, try to maneuver as a group.
- Make sure your bicycle is of good quality and in good repair.
- Make sure your bike fits you properly to avoid repetitive stress trauma.
- When you crest a hill and there is a car following you, signal to the driver if it is or is not safe to pass.
- Point the direction of your next turn at least five seconds in advance.
- Ride defensively and in a predictable pattern.
- When crossing railroad tracks, look and listen carefully for trains, then proceed cautiously across the tracks at a 90 degree angle to avoid getting caught in tracks.
Pre-Ride Safety Check
- Make sure both tires are properly inflated using a pressure gauge. The recommended pressure (psi) is listed on the sidewall of the tire.
- Check both tires for cuts and/or embedded debris.
- Try to turn the handlebar while holding the front wheel stationary to see if the stem is tight.
- Squeeze both brakes and make sure they require an even amount of pull (about halfway to the grip) to contact the braking surface of the rim or rotor properly.
- Spin both wheels to make sure they spin freely and do not rub the brake pads.
- Make sure the quick release levers are secured properly.
- Lube the chain and wipe off all excess.