Bicycling has certainly increased due to the pandemic. Folks are digging out bikes from their basements and the backs of their garages. There are fewer cars crowding the bike lanes.
Before we share how technology can contribute to your enjoyment of cycling here are some things to consider before you get on your bikes and ride!
It’s good to wear a helmet: Fluorescent green is the most visible. Some even have flashing lights built into them!
Biking gloves are a good idea: They provide padding for your hands as well as protection from road rash if you fall. They are available in bright colors for visibility when signaling turns.
Wear sensible shoes: Bicycling in flip flops or open-toed sandals will not protect your feet from getting sunburned, nor will they protect you in case of a fall.
Dress to be seen: Fluorescent green, orange, and red are good choices. Combining two or more colors may not be stylish, but you will be visible to cars and pedestrians.
Dress for the weather: Protect your skin from the sun with sunglasses, a visor, long sleeves, and long pants. A couple loose layers will allow you to regulate temperature and provide wind protection. Choose synthetic clothing. Avoid cotton. It is uncomfortable when wet and stays wet. Check the weather forecast before heading out, especially if you’re going for a long ride.
What to Bring and More Safety
Bring water and snacks with you. Most bikes have bottle carriers or a way to attach one. You can carry water and snacks in a bike bag, a small backpack or fanny pack.
Lights and reflectors will help others see you. Unless you’re riding at night you don’t need a bright headlight. A couple flashing lights, white facing front and red facing back will greatly improve your visibility. A light on your helmet or strapped to your arm or ankle will also help. Here’s two examples of how to dress for cycling success!
Technology can enhance and support cycling before, during, and after you get on your bike and ride. But first, a reminder that you should never allow your phone to distract you from riding safely. Always pull off the road and get off your bike before using your phone.
You can connect with other cyclists online with simple keyword search for “bicycling, your city or state.” Here’s what comes up when searching “cycling Maine”. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has lots of information for cyclists at https://www.bikemaine.org/
If you’re looking for some help repairing, tuning up, or buying a bike you can do a search for “bicycle shops near me” Here’s what comes up. There are phone numbers, addresses, map locations, and operating hours. Pretty cool!
If you’re interested in connecting with other cyclists to ask questions, share information, and possibly participating in some group rides you can head over to Facebook. Yes, people do non-political things on social media! Here’s what came up with a Facebook search on “bicycle clubs”.
Here’s a club’s Facebook page with pictures and a map of a recent group ride. You can interact with the group simply by clicking on the blue button “Join Group”. If you’re looking for riding companions, there they are!. Of course you will find groups closer to you. Or start your own!
There are loads of apps available that can enhance your cycling experience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the fitness apps out there. Let’s focus on just two for now. Most phones come with a health tracking app included for free. Apple’s iPhone app Health looks like the image on the left below. The screen shot in the center shows you some of the health information available on the app. Selecting the “Activity” category brings up the image on the right-hand side. Here you can see information for various activities, including cycling!
Here’s where the second app comes in. The Health app gets its information about cycling from another app. There are lots of apps that keep track of physical activities. One popular app available for different devices is Strava. In addition to communicating with your Health app, Strava will map your ride and give you information such as how far you rode, how high you climbed, and how long you rode. If you hike and swim, Strava can be set to share that information as well. So as Freddy Mercury of Queen belted out in one of their hit songs, “Get on your bikes and ride!”
Editor’s Note: BoomerTECH Adventures guide, Chris Toy, is the author of this blog post.