Safe and comfortable cycling

364 days to go!

Last night’s ride was a tough one as far as motivation. I had sore knees and very tired muscles during the day, and it was hard to get back out, but I sucked it up and back in the saddle. Shorter ride took me along the rapids where I connected to the Aqueduct path. This is a really quiet and less traveled which is nice, however the surface is really cracking and frost has not been good to the path. I dont really recommend this path if you travel at any kind of speed.

This morning 530am was a tough sell and even worse some of my gear was still wet from washing last night. Luckily I was able to improvise and put together enough gear to hit the road. This morning was a 26km ride going along the rapids and then the Lachine canal home. It was really foggy, so much so I gave up on sunglasses as they were gathering the moisture from the foggy mist. It was a quiet day on the path, and smooth riding except for stopping for a seat adjustment along the way. I was experiencing a very sore knee which is unusual for me, and I remembered that I had moved my seat to a more forward position on Monday when I did a tune up. I had not thought to compensate the height to offset this change which was the cause of my sore knee. This adjustment led me to the subject of this blog!

I cannot begin to recount how often I am cycling and see people on a bike with the seat way too low. This is a huge mistake and leads to sore knees, sore hips, sore back. Often this is why people tell me they have stopped cycling. Proper seat height is imperative to having a comfortable ride. The quote below from about.com sums up seat height perfectly:

“You want to have the bicycle seat set to a height that allows your leg to extend until it is almost completely straight when you are sitting on the seat. There should be only a slight bend to the knee when your foot is on the pedal in the bottom position. This will maximize power and minimize fatigue.

A common mistake is for people to think that they should be able to sit on their seat and still plant their feet firmly on the ground. Riders should come off their saddles and straddle the bar when stopping the bike. If you can sit on the seat and touch your feet to the ground other than on tippy-toes, your seat is too low.”

Another thing I see far too often is under-inflated tires. As far as comfort and efficiency go this is a major problem, not to mention the risk for damage to your bicycle. Many people dont realize it is normal to have to check your tire pressure often, I check mine daily when riding frequently. When buying a pump make sure it has a gauge, especially for the floor models (leave at home ones). This will help you make sure to have the appropriate pressure. If you are not sure how much pressure the tires should be, just check the sidewall of the tires. The correct air pressure should be indicated at least in PSI and some in Bar. The image below shows you what to look for.

Properly inflated tires give you better traction and offer less resistance against the pavement. Biking on soft tires consumes much more energy and affects how the bike handles in adverse weather conditions. If you bike often check your tires daily. If you are a casual rider it is normal to have to inflate your tires after the bike has sat for some time.

Keep in mind this is just a couple of things to look out for and there are many elements to having a safe and comfortable cycling experience. If you are unsure how to have a bike properly fit, many bike shops offer this service, and there are great articles online to help you get the most out of your cycling experience.

Properly adjusted bikes are great but also keep in mind that bikes, like any vehicle, require regular tune ups. This is important for your safety and that of others on the road. Many shops offer a variety of tune up options at a range of prices. Keep in mind that in the spring many cyclists are booking tune ups and this can create waiting lists at larger shops. Many independent entrepreneurs offer this service as well, often at a competitive rate. If you are an avid cyclist it is certainly worth learning how to do tune ups yourself. If you have basic mechanical skills it is easy to learn, and there are great resources online as well as books dedicated to the subject. Community bicycle shop (co-ops) are a great place to go and learn these skills as well.

For now I will leave you with the above helpful hints, and hope that this helps enhance your cycling experience. In a future blog I will continue on the subject of bicycle safety, cycling etiquette and smart cycling.

Until next time thanks for reading, cycle safe and enjoy the open road!

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