The Hippo


Sep 23, 2019








Gadgets and gear 

A few extras to bring along on your ride
Mirrors: Attach one to your helmet or glasses so you can check what’s coming up behind you.
Flashing tail lights: Get LED lights, also visible in the daytime for added safety.
Speedometer: Track your speed and distance to set goals for the next ride. 
GPS: Either a dedicated device or smartphone app. Good for new routes and a guarantee to find the way home.

Pedaling around
Explore local roads on two wheels

By Allie Ginwala

When you think of cycling, maybe you see yourself cruising down the road amidst a group of riders out together on a warm spring afternoon. Or maybe you fancy yourself as a solo rider racing toward the finish line for a stage win in the Tour de France. Whichever style of road biking you prefer, make sure you’re prepared with these gear, safety and nutrition tips from local bike shops. 

Gear up
The first thing you need to go out road biking is, of course, a bicycle. If you don’t own a bike, try renting one from a local shop before making the big purchase. Many shops offer rentals by the day so you can give it a spin before buying or just rent from time to time to keep the hobby alive. 
Whether you’re going out with your own bike or a rental, make sure you have a flat tire repair kit. 
“Flat tires are common because it’s rubber tire on asphalt,” Jason Marshall, store manager of Goodale’s Bike Shop in Hooksett, said in a phone interview. 
With debris on the road like broken glass or metal, you never know what you might hit. Never changed a flat bicycle tire before? You’re not alone.
“I do notice a lot of people have never changed a flat,” Charlie Goodspeed, owner of DG Cycle Sports, said in a phone interview. 
DG Cycles, with locations in Nashua, Londonderry and Epping, offers free training for those who want to come in and walk through the process of fixing the flat and identifying what caused the issue. 
“Make sure you know why you got the flat and fix the problem before you replace the tube,” he said.
When determining other essentials to have while road biking, think of the body’s contact points with the bike: seat, pedals and handles. 
“I would say cycling shorts are one of your most important pieces of not just apparel but equipment,” Marshall said. 
Even for beginning cyclists, he said, a person can easily do 15 to 25 miles per ride so it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable. Find traditional spandex shorts or baggy shorts with pads.
“It gives you a little bit of cushion and abrasion resistance so you don't get sore while riding,” Goodspeed said. 
He also suggests wearing polypro or non-cotton clothes to wick moisture from the skin. 
Shoe options for riding are either a bicycling-specific shoe that clips into the pedal or a stiff shoe that slips into straps around the pedal. Both options have benefits for increasing efficiency and speed and are based mostly on personal preference. If you do decide to go with a shoe that slips into pedal straps, make sure it’s not a running shoe, Goodspeed said, as those tend to be too malleable. 
Other gear to have when heading out for a ride is eye protection, gloves and a helmet. Both Marshall and Goodspeed said that the most important thing to remember when selecting a helmet is to get one that fits properly and is comfortable. 
“Doesn’t matter if you spend $40 or $500; if it doesn't fit it’s not going to do its job, regardless,” Marshall said. 
Hit the open road
Once you’re geared up and checked to make sure the tires and brakes are in working order, it’s time to hit the pavement. 
“What’s nice about [road biking] is you can leave from your house,” Marshall said. 
When a sunny day comes, take off from your garage and ride through neighboring towns. 
“That’s the beauty of it. … You can get to 25 or 30 miles and not realize it.”
When it comes to picking a route, base it on your comfort level. While seasoned cyclists may have no qualms riding alongside cars on a busy road, beginners may opt for roads less traveled. 
“That’s usually where riding through small towns [is] definitely the best,” Marshall said. 
He lives in Milford and likes the roads west toward Keene and Peterborough that are quieter and wider. If you live in southern Manchester, head toward Litchfield, or for Concord residents, try the roads in Bow or Loudon. 
“One thing people tend to do that is a mistake is they ride the roads they drive,” Goodspeed said. “Those are generally the more overused roads and more crowded with cars so try to stay off the common routes and go the back routes.”
If you’re still unsure of where to ride or nervous about planning a route on your own, check out a local bike shop for group rides. Both DG Cycles and Goodale’s Bike Shop have regular group rides through area back roads and rail trails that provide encouragement and a learning opportunity for new riders.
“Riding in a group tends to push you a little bit more [and] it’s a lot more enjoyable with the social aspect,” Goodspeed said. “You learn how to ride better and more efficiently, techniques to climbing and spinning and general riding that you might not pick up if riding by yourself.” 
Marshall said riding in a group is also helpful for when things go wrong, since most likely at least one person knows how to fix a flat tire or a broken chain.
“We go out and do a ride and show people where to go and teach how to ride in a group,” Goodspeed said. “We stay off the busy state routes … [there are] a ton of backroads with very few cars and you get to ride several bikes abreast and no one gets mad.”
Safety first
Even though cars are supposed to give bicycles three feet of space, it’s essential to stay aware of traffic while riding. 
“Always ride with traffic,” Marshall said. “As a cyclist you are supposed to be a vehicle, so follow all the rules, stopping at lights and stop signs. Generally you want to try to stay close to the edge of the road, but within reason.” 
“Stay as far as you can to the right, but you do have the right to avoid potholes,” Goodspeed said. 
Another good idea is to always assume cars don’t see you and to ride defensively. 
“Don't think you’re going to outforce a truck [because] you’re going to lose every time.”
Eat, drink and be nourished
The best way to make sure your body is ready to ride is by drinking plenty of water.
“People generally tend not to drink enough,” Goodspeed said. “If they’re feeling thirsty they’re already behind.”
To ensure you’re getting enough water, aim for drinking a bottle of water per hour when you’re out sweating. If you want the benefits of electrolytes without all of the sugar, dilute Gatorade with water or put electrolyte powder directly into a water bottle. 
“Every half hour or so have a snack, a goo gel or a granola bar or something just to keep energy going in,” Goodspeed said. 
Bananas are a popular choice for a good source of potassium in a natural package, Marshall said.
“Generally for nutrition-wise a lot of shops have energy gels of some sort,” Marshall said. “They suggest taking it 15 minutes before you go and every 45 minutes after that.” The great thing about gels is they’re in small packages, which makes it easy to take a couple along each time you ride. 
Once you’ve finished, clean off your bike, take a breather and enjoy a cup of chocolate milk, a great recovery drink post-ride. 
As seen in the April 23, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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