Long distance bike rides are a lot of fun. It gives you an opportunity to explore your local surroundings and appreciate your local community. You get to go to places you want to go and lose weight while doing so. Plus, riding a bike offers many health benefits.
To ensure that you stay as safe as possible when you’re out on your bike, you need to make sure that you’re prepared for the ride physically and mentally. Also, you want to make sure that your bike is safe and functioning properly. Allot a few minutes of your time doing a visual inspection of your bike’s main components. Performing these checks regularly will prevent unwanted incidents and mechanical failures, which can lead to a crash. They won’t take up too much of your time, so please don’t skip any of these steps.
Here are 5 important steps you should take before going on long distance bike rides.
Plan your route
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Careful planning is a must for long distance bike rides. As such, we highly recommend that you check the map at least a few days before the trip. If you have a destination in mind, then try to map out a bike route to get there.
Try to visit a local bike shop to see if they have bike maps available. If you live in a bike-friendly area, chances are good that you’ll be able to get your hands on a local bike map that highlights bike lanes, area trails, and lower traffic roads.
Apps such as Cyclemeter, Bike Hub, BikeBrain, Bikemap.net, and MapMyRide are great apps that can help you plan your biking routes and navitage them with ease. These apps can also calculate your distance, duration, pace, and calories burned. That means you don’t need a separate app to reach your desired destination and track your cycling fitness.
Test the brakes
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Stopping and slowing down are just as important as moving forward. While laws and rules for brake performance vary, each bike is required to have two functioning brakes. This will ensure safety and your excitement during the ride.
The brakes should be able to stop your bike in fairly short distance. Before riding, spin the wheels to make sure the pads aren’t rubbing. Apply the front and rear brakes to see if the pads hit the braking surface correctly. They shouldn’t rub the tire in any way. Rather, they should contact the rim evenly on both sides. Also, make sure that the brake pads aren’t worn. If the brakes work well, try testing the brakes again, but this time, do it while riding the bike. Perform the test in a safe space like a parking lot. Don’t take chances when it comes to braking.
Check the wheels and tires
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Each tire has a recommended psi. Typically, you can find this on the sidewall. Unfortunately, bike tires usually lose air pressure overtime. Oxygen molecules can escape from a tire; hence, losing pressure.
An underinflated tire will wear out faster. They will make cycling harder and will lead to a loss in performance. It also increases the risk of injury and damaging your bike. As such, we highly recommend that you check your tire pressure before getting on your bike. Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Also, inspect them for baldness, blisters, cuts, and cracks. Ultimately, check your wheels and make sure that they are securely fastened.
The last thing you want is to experience issues with your tires or wheels on long distance bike rides. These quick visual checks are a must for your safety. Not only will it prevent your wheels from coming off, it will also prevent you from experiencing flat tires.
Eat and drink
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If you planning to go on a long bike ride, then you’ll need a lot of energy to get you through the ride. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, but they will provide the energy you need to complete your ride successfully. Load up on carbohydrate-rich foods the night before the ride. Fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta are excellent sources of carbohydrates.
Start eating and drinking during the first half hour of your ride. Then, continue doing so every hour you’re on the bike. If you wait until you’re hungry or thirsty, then you’re already too late. Aim to eat one gel or power bar and half a bottle of water every hour on the bike. This should be your minimum consumption at moderate intensity. Increase your fluid intake if it heats up.
Wear safety gear
Riding a bike is a lot of fun. This is especially true when you’re exploring new places with a bunch of friends. Unfortunately, accidents can happen if you’re not careful. No matter your riding style, it is always important to wear safety gears before riding the bike.
Invest in a good quality helmet and make sure that it fits you comfortably. Its job is to protect the most important thing while you’re out on your bike – your head. It may itch on the strap or it may be hot and sweaty outside, but don’t leave the house without wearing a helmet. You may not think of it as a big deal, but wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of head injury by as much as 85%. Replace your helmet if you notice any cracks on the foam or it’s been dropped onto a hard surface or involved in a crash.
Cycling can be pretty hard on your hands. Gloves are also an important part of your cycling gear. They can help keep your hands warm in winter. They also trap sweat that would drip into your shifters on those warm and humid days. This provides a better grip on the handlebars, which is especially important on long distance bike rides.