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The Survival Guide for New Cyclists

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Tips for New Cyclists

There’s nothing quite like riding down the open road while taking in the sights and sounds of your surroundings and feeling the wind whip around you – and getting some exercise to boot! Many people enjoy cycling not only for its practical benefits, such as reduced spending on gas, but also for its recreational value. A ride down the city streets or on a back country road can be a lot of fun, especially with friends and family. However, the joys of cycling come with their own caveats.

Unlike most other sports, cycling generally does not take place in a controlled environment. There are cars, pedestrians, pets, and other bicyclists sharing the road. Not only that, the road itself can pose various hazards, including potholes, slick spots, and such. While everyone on the road has a duty of care to others around them, it is up to you first and foremost to watch out for yourself.

Do you want to enjoy your bicycle rides without incident? Just remember that inattention and poor technique are your worst enemies. Use the tips below and you’ll be less likely to take a tumble.

Maintain focus and keep your head up and your eyes forward. Don’t stare at any one object. Rather, keep your vision wide while constantly scanning your surroundings for potential hazards. This will help you avoid bad scenarios before they start. Also, try not to lose yourself in your thoughts. Daydreaming cyclists end up on the road in a bad way.

Keep your bike in tip top shape. It’s your first line of defense against road hazards. Repair or replace faulty parts sooner rather than later. Playing the game of “just one more ride” is a loser’s gambit. Don’t test your luck. When something feels off, bring your bike to the shop ASAP.

Tires are everything. Make sure you use tires with a Kevlar belt under the tread to avoid dangerous punctures. Also, don’t forget to check inflation pressure every couple of days. Soft tires screw up a bike’s speed and handle. Finally, get your tires replaced before they become too worn out. Thin tires are virtually useless against pointy objects.  

Avoid potholes. Swerve around them whenever possible. But what if there’s traffic or you’re surprised by a pothole you cannot possibly avoid in time? This is where the hopping technique becomes useful. Practice popping the front wheel over small cracks. Once you can achieve that, practice popping the rear wheel over the same crack. By lightly hopping your bike, you can practically glide over potholes.

Don’t ride too close to parked cars. Have you ever heard of dooring? You can probably imagine what it is by the sound of it. An occupant of a parked vehicle inadvertently opens his or her door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, causing him or her to either swerve into traffic or collide with the door. Neither option is preferable, to put it lightly.

Be careful when crossing railroad tracks. Slow down as you approach, rise slightly off the saddle, and cross the track at a right angle. Going too fast can lead to a pinch flat and the slightest imbalance can send you sprawling. If you’ve gotten the aforementioned hopping technique down, you can jump the tracks. Just don’t forget that there are not one but two rails to clear.

Slick spots are tricky. If you can, avoid them completely. For those moments when you can’t, keep the following rules in mind: stay upright for wet metal and wet leaves, cross paint stripes as close to a right angle as you can, and when cornering slick roads, drive weight into the lowered, outside pedal to retain as much traction as possible.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where a cyclist can follow all of these safety tips to a tee yet still get into an accident because of another person or party. If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact Wilshire Law Firm for legal assistance. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages during recovery, pain and suffering, and more. To discuss your case with one of our dedicated California bike crash lawyers, call (800) 522-7274. We offer FREE case evaluations.

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