Common Sense. I know it’s not so common these days, but a little bit still goes a long way!
While it’s not exactly etiquette, I’d like to talk about gear. Let’s start at the top – your helmet. You do have one, don’t you? Your helmet can save your life, or even more importantly, it can make the difference between living a normal life or living as a vegetable. We won’t ride to the corner without our helmets. We have personally witnessed several bicycle accidents where the helmet was the deciding factor in a happy or unhappy ending. The most recent was a woman just tooling along down the Holmes County trail when he caught a small buggy rut and it flipped her bike. She landed hard on her head, but was able to joke about it with the EMS crew because she was wearing a helmet. It was just a tiny rut in the trail and she was going slow and she saw it coming, and she still wound up on her head!
Get a helmet. Wear it.
Now, just because you’ve got a helmet on your noggin doesn’t mean it will save you. You need to have the chin strap buckled. And tightly! I can’t tell you how many people we’ve seen with a helmet on, but unbuckled or loose, wearing it like a derby. What’s gonna happen the second you hit something hard enough to throw you from your bike? Just as you and your bike shall part ways, so shall ye and ye helmet.
One of the most grievous scenarios that we witness is the parents with their children, either in a trailer, tag-a-long or their own bikes. The kid has a helmet, but the parent doesn’t.
What’s that teach the kid?
Now, I’m not the Bubble Wrap Police. I don’t think children need to wear a helmet just tooling up and down the sidewalk everyday, just playing with their friends. The fact is, kids bounce way better than adults. And adults have a longer distance between their heads and the ground. That equals more velocity. When cycling with your kids, set an example, wear a helmet. Besides, do you want them to grow up with out a parent because you were too cool to wear a helmet? Or even better, picture them spoon feeding you applesauce because you are at the cognitive level of a rutabaga.
Gloves. A little less dramatic here. Get some gloves. They can greatly reduce hand pain and fatigue because they are padded. And if you do happen to go over the bars, they can save you the pain of skin grafts and picking towpath limestone out of your palms for the next month and a half.
Eyewear. Protect your eyes. Even a wayward Junebug at 20mph is gonna feel like a bus. We use inexpensive safety glasses. You can get them tinted and in special sizes that can go over regular glasses.
Footwear. I see people wearing sandals. More power to ’em. To me, there are too many moving parts to a bicycle and way too many road hazards. I wear bicycling shoes. Plus, bike shoes are generally stiffer than regular shoes or tennis shoes. The stiffer the shoe, the more efficient your stroke. That’s what she said 😉
While I’m at it, for those who are wondering what the obsession is with spandex shorts, those shorts have built in padding. They help you to ride longer and with less friction because they are tight. Oh, and we don’t wear underwear either. Seriously. Less friction. Also, baby powder, Shea butter, diaper rash cream, all allies against friction and pain.
So the next time that you see a cyclist and think he’s just a goofball that dresses funny, know that he’s a goofball that dresses funny for a reason!