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What to know and Where to Go If You're Picking Up Cycling

What to know and Where to Go If You're Picking Up Cycling

June 12, 2020

Cycling can be anything you want it to be. A commute to work, a family outing, part of a cross fit program, or a complete all-encompassing way of life. For all of the gear heads and hammer heads out there traveling every weekend to race and ride, you know what I mean. My recent social post got me thinking about all the people that may be just getting started or would like to step it up a bit due to our recent period of relative confinement. So, if you are looking for a place to ride or explore, Western Pennsylvania has some absolute beautiful rail trails. Maps are easy to come by, access is convenient, and many are only a short drive away. Just a few words of advice for those looking to hit the (rail) trail in an attempt to make your experience more enjoyable AND SAFER. For those that really know me, I just can’t help but look for ways to minimize risk ; ) and no, this won’t be financial advice.  

  1. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP. The scenery can be truly beautiful along many of the trails, which can cause you to “drift off” mentally and can result in your “drifting off” the trail. This can create a serious and sudden problem if the trail is burned or the surface is loose. The Rail trails can also have varying surfaces. You could find yourself transitioning from asphalt, to gravel, to aggregate, then back. You just need to be alert. There will be other riders, walkers, runners, and occasionally wildlife using the trial. We love that you want to engage in the activity of riding a bicycle, but you don’t want to join the broken collar bone club right away.
  2. Ride a bike that fits. Poor fit leads to injury, discomfort, and a bit that is harder to control than it should be. Many times, it’s a simple seat or handlebar adjustment.
  3. As Paul Sherman would say, have your “machine’ tuned up. You want to enjoy the ride.  You don’t want to be spending time adjusting your brakes or listening to your chain skip while you are trying to take in nature.  And please, put air in your tires.
  4. Drink more WATER. I know you aren’t drinking enough even when you aren’t riding. So now you need to drink even more. This doesn’t mean drinking a half of a bottle of water on your way to the trail head. Your body is mostly water, stay hydrated. Besides it’s summer, it’s hot, and your body will thank you.
  5. Have some fun and support a local merchant at some point during your outing. I’ve been told that a coffee or expresso prior to your ride helps get things going, and I may have seen a few fellow riders indulging in cold one once the bikes were back on the rack.