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Basic tips for better biking

If you are thinking of getting out the bicycle, here are a few tips.

If you are thinking of getting out the bicycle, here are a few tips.


After many years of riding all year long, I highly recommend fenders. There is nothing like walking into a meeting with a line of muck down your back. On that same note, wearing a backpack during the summer makes that white dress shirt see-through. I have switched to panniers (bike bags) that hang from a rack affixed to the back of the bike. Good ones are waterproof and you can carry a lot of things.


Last week I was a moving garden with two bags of soil in each pannier topped off with four potted plants. It worked fine. What didn’t work fine was when I tried to drive my bike with two 12-foot long pieces of lumber. Lots of looks.


Have some rain gear on hand. At the office I have a rain jacket and pants. Why? Because in Nova Scotia, with four seasons in one day, it is good to be prepared. Last month, I jealously saw someone wearing rain booties as I was hit with golf ball-sized rain pellets that oozed through my sneakers. On the topic of clothing, I went into a store recently to purchase some gloves, as I forgot mine in the middle of a ride, and my hands looked like blue zombie claws.


They said they were packed up for the season. Likely a decision made in a sunny southern head office. Pretty much all year in Nova Scotia you might need gloves, especially biking because of wind and cool and variable temperatures.


I also learned I can get blown off my bike by 90-km/h winds. So for those few hurricane days I leave my metal horse at home.


Make sure your bike is the right size for you, you have the right seat height (or you can hurt your knees and lose power), and you regularly check the brakes, air pressure in your tires, and chain. Yes, you do need to lubricate the chain often if you are biking a lot. Just like a car, there is optimal bike tire inflation.


There are rules for the road for bikes, including hand signals and bike safety features. The first weeks of June is HRM’s Bike Week. There are a number of activities planned, including auctions, rides, and safety courses.


Check it out at www.halifax.ca/bikeweek/scheduleofevents.html.



– Rochelle Owen is director of sustain­­ability at Dalhousie University. She has worked in the environment and sustainability field for 19 years; rochelle.owen@gmail.com.

 
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