It's Not ALL Up Hill!
Taking Life Lessons From a Bicycle Ride: The Road is Long. But it doesn't have to be weary!
Freedom isn't free, but worth the ride!
I love the freedom of riding my bike to the next city. Aside from the obvious dangers of passing cars and trucks on the highway, there are hills that seem almost insurmountable even in the easiest gear. In the valley there is no breeze. It's hot, stifling and sweaty work to climb each hill almost to the top - that's when the wind begins to hit me making me work harder still, but I know it will be worth it when I am gliding effortlessly down the other side with the wind whistling through the louvers of my bicycle helmet, cooling my head like a fan. I drink deeply from my water bottle and smile broadly for all the gas I'm not using. Be encouraged and remember - the hard work is all uphill but what goes up must come down. Hallelujah!
SAFETY FIRST: Getting Ready For Your Ride
Especially if you are riding on the highway, you need protection for your head, not only from impending dangers such as traffic that approaches from behind, and possible spills (God forbid!) but also protection from the sun. Those louvers in your helmet are there to cool your head. The insulating foam serves a double purpose: protection for your noggin’, and shade from the sun. So, wear your helmet, and bring the shade with you, even if you feel brave enough or carefree enough to boast a bare head on a bike ride.
Keep a cool Head Always!
SAFETY SECOND: A Spoke Tool
Your wheels can take a lot of jostling so check your spokes to make sure you don’t have any loose ones which can make your wheel, especially the rear one, lose its roundness. You can tell if your wheel has lost its roundness when it makes strange noises such as flopping noises or intermittent rubbing noises against the brake, and you don’t seem to be coasting as well down hill.
This is where an inexpensive bike repair tool kit with a spoke adjuster comes in handy. You can pull off the road and feel for the loose spoke and tighten it up quickly and be on your way.
Or, this takes a little practice to get the hang of it; do this test: Rest your bike against your side and hold it off the ground by wrapping your arm around the back of the seat and spinning your rear tire backwards with your other hand. If it spins freely you're good to go; if not stop it at the place where it rubs and tighten the spoke that's opposite the side of the wheel that is rubbing against the brake shoe. You might have to do 2 or 3 spokes in a row to balance it out but if you do it right, it will continue to true your wheel as you ride. Not a problem when you have the right tools!
Keep a true wheel!
SAFETY THIRD: Avoiding Flat Tires
Invest in a pair of flat blocker strips! They will cost you $15 or $20 apiece, but you will never have to worry about another flat tire from sharp objects in the road! It is very important that you install them correctly, according to the instructions; NEVER CUT THEM, it’s all right if they are too long. Nothing is more discouraging to a bike rider than to be walking your bike home every time you go on a bike ride! The down side about the flat blockers is that they outlive your inner tube. You can tell when an inner tube is starting to get old when they get holes for no reason and inner tube glue makes them melt. Yeah, that’s pretty old!
While you’re at the bike shop, get a bicycle tire gauge. Car tire gauges don’t typically register as many lbs as you will need for your bicycle tires, and they all lose air pressure over time.
Keep Air Pressure Up!
SAFETY FORTH: Change Brake Pads When Needed
Check your brakes to make sure they aren’t dragging on one side of the wheel or the other. I don’t change my brake pads often enough, so I sometimes have to tap the brake caliper with my heal to balance it out, and I can tell by the drag when I need to do that. You can experiment with the settings or replace your pads, which is infinitely better, and they aren’t expensive. But if you’re like me, and I haven’t replaced my brake pads since I bought the bike 4 years ago, you might conserve your brake pads by coasting to a stop on purpose. YOU NEED YOUR BRAKES!
Keep Your Stop!
SAFETY FIFTH: Throw Out the Plastic Seat!
If you weigh more than 200 lbs, you don’t want to trust your safety to a seat with a plastic frame! My son has lost his joy in bike riding due to a broken seat that caused him to lose control of his bike. YOU NEED A SEAT YOU CAN TRUST!
Keep the Pressure Off!
SAFETY SIXTH: New Use For An Old Sock!
Protect your pants from getting caught in the moving chain! You don’t always have to wear shorts or skin tight pants; you can cover your right pant leg with the cut-off top of an old sock like I do.
Keep Safe From a Chain Lock Up Crash!
SAFETY SEVENTH: Protect Your Seat From Thieves!
Get a long enough bike chain to run through the bracket under your seat and then through the frame of your bike, and leave it there. You can wrap the excess around your post and reel out however much you need to fasten your bike to various stationary objects. It also makes a convenient place to hang the padlock. You want your seat to still be there when you come out!
Keep Your Seat!
SAFETY ALWAYS: Protect Your Heart!
You don’t know what traffic is doing behind you. This is a good time to learn how to pray! My personal favorite for traveling is this: “Thank you Father, for the angels you’ve given charge over me to keep me in all my ways; they bear me up in their hands lest I dash my foot against a stone. The promise of the LORD is my shield and buckler, and You watch over Your Word to perform it. Praise God! Thank you, Jesus!” Then I throw my care to the wind, and ride! Hallelujah!
Keep a Carrier Handy
Update: Get the Wind at Your Back and Don't Out-Race it!
Go With The Wind!
Update! I've learned a few new things since I posted this hub:
Number 1: Plan long trips according to wind direction. The best way to tell wind direction is to hang clothes on the line. Why? Being out there in it and feeling the pleasure of the breeze drying your clothes for free, hearing the sounds of nature; even in the back yard you are still away from the house. It gets you in the mood!
Number 2: Most importantly, don't outrace the wind or you will work harder. Let the wind do the work and relax. You can go a little slower and still get there in plenty of time!
Number 3: Plan your return trip when the wind direction changes, even if you have to wait or stay over night with a friend.
There's nothing quite like riding the wind, even if it's on your bicycle!