Whether this is your first time on a bike or you are getting back after a long hiatus, let us say . . . Welcome!
While we can’t claim to be new riders, we do remember well how intimidating it was when we started, including every time we ventured into a new cycling discipline (note: road riding is not the same as mountain biking).
With that in mind, we wanted to share some advice and resources to help take the edge off…
Know the rules
For those riding on the road, there are quite a few rules you should be aware of, as well as your rights as a cyclist. You can check out a comprehensive list on MassBike.org.
But rules aren’t just for the road. Those hitting the woods for the first time should become familiar with trail etiquette – including yielding to horses, riding safely around hikers, and when to yield to oncoming riders. There are lots of guides available online, including this one from SingleTracks.com. One of the best things you can do is be courteous to all other trail users.
Wear a (new) helmet
Massachusetts state law mandates anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet, but we suggest everyone join the fun. I know, I know, we didn’t wear helmets when we were kids, and we turned out fine, right? But we also didn’t wear seatbelts, and most of us have accepted that’s a good idea, and so are helmets.
While “a” helmet is better than no helmet, you want to replace your helmet every few years as the plastic can become brittle and the foam can degrade. Helmets released most recently also incorporate new technology that claims to help prevent concussions.
You will see lots of flashy kits (that’s what cyclists call cycling specific wearable items) and may hear strong opinions about proper sock length. Wear what works for you, but perhaps consider adding a pair of padded shorts. We promise you will thank us later.
If you do want to know the most popular style kit items for a particular cycling discipline, we can give you plenty of guidance.
Follow the Girl Scout motto “Be Prepared” before heading out on your bike. That means not just carrying the tools you need to fix a flat or make minor repairs, but also knowing how to use them.
In addition to tools, we also bring first aid supplies, money, and a copy of our ID and insurance card. During the summer we don’t bother taking off my Road ID which tells people who to contact should we be found unconscious (not to scare anyone!).
Find new places to ride
While some are happy to head out on their bike without a plan, others like to have an idea where they are going and how they will get home. Ride with GPS, Trailforks and RideSpot from People for Bikes are great resources for when you are ready to roam, but with a plan.
Join the community
Meet people to ride with, and learn about issues facing cyclists by joining advocacy groups, trail building groups, and user groups (Facebook has a ton of them). Joining virtually will allow you to listen in to the conversation, learn about issues and concerns, get advice, and make friends!
We know you have them because we did (and still do).
Beyond going online, you can usually find cyclists gathered near local bike shops, local coffee shops, and local ice cream parlors, and local breweries (do you sense a theme?). Post-ride is a great time to ask riders about routes, equipment, whatever – most cyclists we know will happily take time to help.
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