Actually, this article should just be titled, “Common Mistakes” – because we all make them, no matter how long we’ve been riding… Sometimes we can just get, um, a little overconfident or forget some rules, so a little refresher never hurts, especially when biking in a big city like NY.
“We love biking and we love NYC,” said Blair Nicole, spokesperson for Bike Rental Central Park, “and that means following some simple rules and guidelines.”
First, though, if you ARE a newbie, learn the rules of the road. In New York, there are plenty of booklets on safety. If you’re from another state, a simple Google search will bring up some documents.
That said, here are some things you want to avoid:
- A seat that’s too low
What a pain in the butt! (Pun intended–sorry, we couldn’t resist!). Seriously, though, if you’re experiencing pain in the front of your knee your seat may just be too low, making you to under-extend your pedal stroke. Your knee should be slightly bent at the bottom of your pedal stroke.
To check seat height, pedal unclipped with your heels on the pedals. You should barely maintain contact with the pedal at the bottom of the stroke, without rocking your pelvis.
The right seat height will make all the difference.
- The wrong size bike
That circles back to seat height, but you also need to consider reach. If the fit is painful, you’re not going to spend much time in the saddle, no matter how excited you are to ride.
Make sure the seat is high enough to give you a very slight bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke and make sure arms and torso make a 45-degree angle over the bike. If that reach is too long, your back will be sore reaching for the handlebars; if it’s too-too short, your knees will be too close to your arms.
If possible, take test ride on any bike before you buy to see that the size is correct for you. If you can’t, do ask a lot of questions.
- Being a “Weekend Warrior”
We’ve all heard that expression describing the person who does too much too soon. That’s one of the biggest causes of injury, so make sure you build up and give your body plenty of time to adjust to new distances.
If you’re on a long ride, some suggest breaking it up into thirds: The first part is fairly slow so you keep your endurance up and don’t burnout or get too tired. You can pick up the speed in the second part of the ride. If you still feel okay by the time you reach the third part, you can add even more speed so you can finish strong.
- Wearing the fanciest clothes or best accessories.
The priority is that you just get out there and ride. Worry about potential upgrades later.
- Not using gears properly
Low gear doesn’t necessarily mean the slowest gear, so you really need to understand what high and low gear really means. The purpose of these gears is to help you master the terrain.
- Not eating or drinking enough
Hydration is very important for cyclists. Water is one of the few things that can be taken before, during and after bicycle riding. Aim to take two to three gulps of water every 10-15 minutes of cycling.
As for eating, timing is the most important thing to consider when taking any foods. Ensure they also taken in the right quantities as too much intake of food would lead to stomach cramps – but to go completely without would lead to fatigue and burnout.
Cycling is a fun thing to do in New York City if you take the right food at the right time.