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10 Things to Keep in Mind Before Going on a Long Bike Ride

If you’re planning on going on a long bike ride, remember to plan ahead and take care of your body before you get started! No matter how much you prepare, riding your bike for hours can be tough on your body. Make sure you know what to do in the event of an emergency or an unexpected issue so that you don’t have to call it quits early. Pay attention to these 10 things and your next long bike ride will be safe and enjoyable!

1) Protect your bike

Secure your bike with high-quality U-locks and chains that can’t be cut or undone by the use of leverage. Consider using additional locking methods if the area is known for theft, such as wheel locks and lockable racks, or paying for better insurance.

2) Pace yourself

-Increase your biking mileage by no more than 10% each week. Try for 10 miles the first week, then add two more miles the next week, and so on. This will give your body enough time to adjust and prevent injury from overuse. -Adjust your bike seat so that you’re able to reach it easily when it’s at its most extended point, which is typically about 8 centimeters above the seat post.

3) Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your ride. Sports drinks are also recommended during the ride. And don’t forget to bring extra water along with you so that you can keep drinking even when you’re away from any possible source of hydration.

4) Make sure you have food & snacks with you

Have plenty of water with you and keep drinking. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of short-term discomfort during long bike rides. Remember, your body needs 8 cups (64 ounces) per day but you might need more while exercising because exercise can increase your thirst and raise the temperature of your body which can make you sweat more. Drink at least 16 ounces (2 cups) each hour you are on the bike or exercise machine.

5) Sunscreen is important

It might seem counterintuitive to think about sunscreen when you are gearing up for an outdoor adventure, but it’s important to think ahead. Depending on the time of year and location, your skin could be at risk for burns and sun poisoning, both of which can be prevented with sunscreen. It’s recommended that you slather yourself with SPF 30 or higher 45 minutes before you go outside.

6) Know your starting point and destination

Make sure you have ample snacks and water before embarking on your journey. Ensure that the weather is conducive for biking or adjust accordingly. Pack extra clothing layers and arm warmers if necessary. It’s always good to be over-prepared, rather than under-prepared, so bring along essential tools (pump, spare tubes, phone charger) in case of emergencies.

7) Let someone know where you are going, when you’ll be back, what to do if you don’t return when expected, etc.

  • Let someone know where you are going, when you’ll be back, what to do if you don’t return when expected.
  • Pack clothes for any weather (make sure your pockets have plenty of space).
  • Bring sunglasses, water and snacks as well as water resistant bags or containers for items such as electronics and phones that might not survive a dip in the lake.

8) Wear appropriate clothing

  • When riding, it is important that you wear clothing that fits properly and is not too loose or too tight. Clothing should also have some ventilation so you don’t overheat when pedaling. When it’s windy, be sure your sleeves are long enough to cover your hands, and tie the bottom of your shirt so it doesn’t fly up when you pedal hard.
  • Gloves or mittens will help keep your hands warm and dry during chilly fall rides.

9) Don’t ride if it isn’t safe out there

In some areas of the country, it’s impossible not to ride in the rain or snow. However, if you can avoid it for awhile before taking a long bike ride, it’s probably worth it. Wet clothing can lead to overheating and hypothermia as you ride along, and if you break down somewhere there will be no one around who can help. Wet surfaces are dangerous too- like icy streets or manhole covers. Be extra careful when biking on these types of surfaces and wear something reflective to make sure drivers see you. When out on the open road, put your hands up when stopping so that other drivers have time to see you and react accordingly. Make sure your tires are pumped up properly before going out on any long trips with your bike! Lastly, always remember that bicycle safety is never negotiable! Wear a helmet at all times (even if riding around town) because one crash could end up changing your life forever!

10) Have fun!

-Always ride with at least one other cyclist; you’ll have a better time and can catch up with friends along the way.
-Inspect your bike before each ride: be sure your tires are inflated, brakes work properly, reflectors work, seat and handlebars adjusted as needed, chain is well lubricated, etc.
-Watch for any hazards such as branches hanging over the trail that could impede your progress or logs that may be hidden under leaves.

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