Safety is always my biggest and first concern. Safety starts with being seen by the motorists. How do we achieve this? Multiple possibilities, like wearing bright colored clothing because they are more likely to attract attention and to be seen by motorists. Have lights on your bike and use them always, also in daylight. They increase your visibility greatly and therefore make your riding safer. These modern lights do not weigh much anymore and are easy to use and easy to charge.
We also have passive ways to make our rides safer. The most important thing here is to wear a helmet. Always wear a helmet, including on very short rides or training sessions. Plan your ride, pick safe roads with good road surfaces. Search for routes with less car traffic. Use the bike lane if available. Ride in groups so you can help and support each other. Bring some money, maybe a credit card, and a photo ID with you on every ride so you can always pay for a taxi if you cannot ride back home. You need to know how to change a tire and bring some spare tubes with you, or at least one. The use of sunscreen should be something I do not need to address anymore, right? Everyone today knows about how quickly one can get burned on a longer ride in the sun. And of course, drink enough. On a hot day it should be a minimum of one bottle every hour; more is better.
That leads us to the next point: Healthy food choices. Clearly, we cycle to stay fit and healthy and we should support our active lifestyle even more but supporting our fitness program with good food. Cycling does not mean you have to eat less; just better quality. Stay away from simple sugars and most of the fat. Unsaturated fat in small doses is needed and okay for the body, just not too much butter and fat in general. Try to cut down on chocolate and cakes. I know they taste great, but they are not the source of energy your body needs. Grab an apple or a banana instead of a chocolate bar. Try to stay away from sugary drinks. Water is still the best for you and your healthy body. Eat a little every hour, to avoid that your body goes “Hungerflat”, which means you simply run out of energy. My suggestion is to eat a minimum of 60 grams of healthy muesli bars per hour. Either 30 grams every 30 min or one time 60 grams on longer rides. If I am not training for a proper race I recommend stopping at a coffeeshop and rest a while, enjoy a nice coffee and once recovered you can ride home.
Break your ride up in a few smaller groups to make it possible for traffic to pass. Easier riding and safer riding comes in hand. As a rider you can eat basically all food groups, just be careful with the amount of food you put into your body. You do burn more calories while riding but don’t think you need to eat for two persons now.
To sum it up:
- Use the tools that are made to make your ride safer; be seen!
- Eat healthy and drink enough water.
- Ride with friends.
- Use sunscreen.
- Always wear a helmet.
Lastly, do not get too ambitious. Your body needs time to adapt to riding the bike. If you are a beginner, then start slowly. Raise your distance and intensity step by step. Basically, use your commonsense and you should be good.
Jens Voigt is the global Brand Ambassador for Trek Bikes