Ride a bicycle like a professional
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Every day, Victoria is feeling the pressures of the Eagle Ford Shale and a growing economy. There are more cars, trucks and semis on the roads than ever before, which means more traffic for bicyclists to watch out for.
Fran Yeary, one half of the couple who owns Bill's Bikes in Victoria, believes the biggest problem for bicyclists is the traffic. Another thing, is how the cyclist rides.
"To be most effective and comfortable," she said, "you need the proper size bicycle."
Fran explained that once a rider rests on the saddle of the bicycle, their leg should be almost fully extended, reaching the lowest position of the pedal. The rider should also be able to reach the ground while standing upright with the bicycle.
She also said having a good, working bike will help make riding more comfortable. Her husband, Bill, shared his own acronym - A.B.C.D. - as a helpful reminder for riders to perform bicycle maintenance.
Air - Check the air and pressure in the tires.
Brakes - Make sure the brakes are in good working conditions.
Chains - Check, clean and lubricate chains at least once a month, depending on the frequency or terrain of riding.
Drop it - Pick up the bicycle about two inches off the ground and drop it; if anything rattles, check and tighten it before riding.
"Bicycle riding is the most efficient and best mode of transportation," he said. With the way gas prices are headed, he said you'd get the most miles per gallon of gasoline, "if there was a way to put gasoline into a bicycle."
While some cyclists ride for recreation or transportation around town, others are out on two wheels for the competition and sport.
Style of bicycles
Ask the Yearys about the bicycles available and they'll be more than happy to talk about the various kinds on the market.
Bill Yeary explained there are few styles of bicycles people can choose from, including off-road or mountain bikes, comfort bikes, sports bikes, road bikes and cross bikes, which are a cross between the sport. Depending on the kind of riding a person is interested in, each bike has features that can make the rider's experience more enjoyable.
Bill and Fran Yeary have been bicyclists for nearly four decades and have owned Bill's Bikes for 31 years. The two sell and repair bicycles of all makes and models, including bicycles for both the athlete and those who just enjoy the ride.
For athletes and those interested in competing in triathlons or races, road bikes are the best option. At Swim, Bike, Run of Victoria, the trainers can help athletes choose the correct sized bicycle for them and help develop and perfect the best style of riding.
Owner Brandee Bratton said her team can help athletes discover which bike would be best suitable for the different riders.
"We work with beginners, youth or anyone looking to get into riding," she said. "Come into the store and we'll measure the rider to determine the right range for them."
She and her team of trainers will measure the rider, similar to how a tailor might measure an inseam, and provide a measurement for them to use when they shop for a bicycle. "This helps with comfort and safety," she said.
Fran Yeary added that riding a bicycle improperly may lead to increased fatigue and and cramping in muscles.
"If you are on a bike that is way too big or way too small, you'll be more prone to have an accident or injuries," she said.
Riding with manners
Because riding in groups means more than one cyclist on the road at a time, the Yearys and Bratton said that cyclists should have rider etiquette.
Those skills include knowing how to slow down, communicating between riders and other motorists and pulling off the road. Bratton, 38, said a lot of what she teaches riders is multitasking.
"When you're riding a bike, you're usually doing different things at the same time. Taking in hydration can be one of those things," she said.
If bicyclists are riding with other cyclists, they're probably riding in the presence of cars.
Bill Yeary, 69, offered two reasons why cyclists ride in the road, rather than on sidewalks.
"Ninety-nine point 99 percent of the time, the driver won't hit you if he sees you," he said. "Secondly, give yourself space between the curb and cars on the road so you have time to get out of the way."
Bratton said the biggest problem she sees in town is cyclists riding on the wrong side of traffic: Riders should always ride along the right side of traffic. Awareness of riders on the part of the drivers is a big part of the rider-driver relationship.
"It's really fun to introduce this sport to other people," she said. "It's something very special to enjoy."