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Cycle This Summer: Become A Biker

May 24, 2016 - TCO

Cycle This Summer: Become A Biker

Did you know Minnesota was ranked the #2 most bicycle-friendly state in America in 2015? And right behind it at #9 was Wisconsin. There’s no question we embrace the summer months, looking for any excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Hopping on a bicycle is one of the best ways to explore new areas, make short trips, and even get to work.

From buying a bike and learning proper maintenance, to figuring out where to ride, we’ve compiled the Ultimate Summer Biking Guide to help inspire you explore new roads this summer!

1. Biking Basics & Safety Tips

Learn how to ride a bike.
If you don’t know how to ride a bike (or know someone who doesn’t), it’s okay! In fact, there are a lot of adults who never got around to learning to ride a bike, and it’s more common than people think. The good news is, it’s never too late to learn! Check out this guy’s entertaining story and tips for learning to ride a bike as an adult.

Find the right bicycle.
Buying a bike can be a little intimidating because there are so many styles, brands, sizes, and price ranges. New or used? Local bike shop or Craigslist? How to decide?

First, figure out which bicycle type will fit your needs. Are you looking for something comfortable that you can use for rides around the neighborhood, short errands, or commuting? Then a hybrid bicycle might be the option for you. Looking for something even more comfortable for coasting around town or to work? You may enjoy a cruiser bike. Or perhaps you’re looking for something light, simple and hip. A fixie, or fixed gear bicycle, may be the way to go.

Check out this link for a detailed description of the many types of road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and cruiser bikes. If you’d rather speak to an expert, we don’t blame you. There are many excellent bike shops around the Twin Cities with friendly, knowledgeable staff waiting to help you find the perfect ride.

Of course, you can always rent a bike, too.

Find the right equipment.
Bicycle safety should be your first and foremost concern. The best tip we can share is to invest in a quality helmet. Try on several different models and styles (local bike shops are a great place to start) and choose a helmet that fits comfortably and properly. You want it to feel good while fitting snugly on your head, and hey – you might as well look good while you’re at it. Good helmets range anywhere from $50 to $100+, and are absolutely worth every penny for your safety.

Since many cyclists ride at night, or during times of low light, active lights and reflective materials are very important. The goals are to see, and to be seen. You should have a clear view of the road at all times, and it should be easy for other vehicles such as cars and trucks to easily notice and recognize you.

Finally, make sure you purchase a quality bike lock, especially if you’re planning to leave your bike parked outdoors for long periods of time. Like good helmets, good locks can run upwards of $100+, but they provide great peace of mind. Chain locks and U-locks are more secure than cable locks. Of course, remember that no lock is entirely thief-proof, so be smart in where and how long you park your bike, especially overnight.

Learn the rules of the road.
Whether you’re going to be a casual neighborhood rider or a serious commuter, be sure to brush up on the latest bicycle rules and regulations in Minnesota.

Nice Ride MN has a very helpful bicycle safety page with tips such as:
• Be visible by using reflectors, reflective clothing, and safety lights.
• Be predictable so drivers and walkers can anticipate your movements.
• Signal turns and lane changes.
• Use bike lanes, and avoid biking too close to vehicles, even parked cars.
• Don’t ride on the sidewalk, especially where prohibited (downtown and in business districts).
• Communicate for confident cycling (hand signal illustrations)

Be safe.
We simply cannot stress this enough. Wear your helmet. Only go as fast as you’re comfortable going. Be aware of your surroundings at all time, and always err on the side of caution – especially at intersections. Even experienced cyclists occasionally make mistakes or get into unavoidable accidents. If you or a loved one gets hurt on a bicycle, remember TCO Orthopedic Urgent Care locations are open for walk-ins 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.

2. Where To Ride

Learn your local bike trails, paths, and routes.
Part of the reason biking is so popular in the Twin Cities is because of the infrastructure. From dedicated biking trails to bike lanes on roads, our cities are mapped out for people who want to bike. Below are some helpful links.

Minneapolis Bike Trail Map
St. Paul Bike Maps
State of Minnesota Maps
State of Wisconsin Maps

Tip:  Cross-reference Google Maps biking directions with your city/state maps.

Sign up for a cycling event!
The Twin Cities area has several great cycling events for participants of all ages and ability levels. From competitive races and charity events, to brewery-sponsored leisurely rides, there’s something for everyone.

Check out this 2016 Bike Event Schedule, and find an event you’re interested in this summer!

At Twin Cities Orthopedics, we’re dedicated to helping everyone enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Bicycling is a great way to exercise and spend time outdoors with the whole family, and we hope you’ll take advantage of our great trails, paths, and roads this summer. Stay safe!

Thanks for reading!