Cycling's rules of the road
March 5, 2012 at 10 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2012 at 9:05 p.m.
The 3rd annual Kiwanis's Riverside Ride is coming up March 24.
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. and the ride will begin at 8 a.m.
This year's ride will start in downtown Victoria at One O'Connor Plaza.
This is always a fun and well-supported ride, and there are four routes to choose from: 10K, 20 miles, 40 miles and a challenging 100K ride that winds through the rolling hills of Northwest Victoria County. To find out more and register, visit riversideride.com.
Before setting out, make sure the bike you plan to ride is the right size and comfortable. If you are going to buy a new bike, make sure you visit a reputable bike store with someone who has experience "fitting" cyclists to a bike.
Prior to each ride, check your tires to make sure they are in good shape and properly inflated. Also check the wheels and brakes, and make sure the wheels spin freely and the brakes are neither too stiff nor too loose.
If you have participated in an large or organized ride before, there are some rules of the road to follow to have the most enjoyable and safe ride possible.
You should always wear a well-fitted helmet with the chin strap firmly buckled, and wear bright-colored clothing, making yourself visible.
Safe cycling on public roadways requires concentration, and cyclists need to be aware of the traffic around them.
Always make eye contact with motorists as you approach intersections, and make sure they see you. I will often wave at them as well to make sure they see me.
Don't just assume motorists see you. They may be distracted and have blind spots, especially at their right rear corner.
Always obey traffic signs, lights, and road markers and use the turn lane properly.
Always give the right of way to pedestrians and use correct hand signals when turning or stopping.
Make sure to watch for obstacles in your path: Car doors opening, road problems, pot holes, litter and glass.
When riding in a big group of cyclists, you have to stay alert and very focused, especially if riding in a paceline.
In a paceline, each cyclist works hard for a little while at the front and then drops back to the back of the pack. This practice is a little risky as you are riding at a pretty good rate of speed in close proximity to others.
Make sure your front wheel doesn't overlap the back wheel of the cyclist is front of you. Always ride in a straight line, and make sure to not weave back and forth.
When changing positions within the group, always pass on the left and make sure to call out your movements, such as "passing on the left" or "slowing" or "stopping". This gives everyone a chance to be aware and make changes accordingly.
When approaching car traffic and intersections, don't assume the bike group is one "unit."
Each cyclist needs to look out for themself and yield to traffic accordingly.
Make sure to stay hydrated, and on the longer rides of an hour or more, make sure to carry energy gels or bars. This will help keep energy levels up and help your attention span.
A tired, thirsty, and hungry cyclist is less oriented and less focused, which can lead to an accident.
Cycling is one of the most fun sports to take part in. I just did a long ride Friday through the rolling hills of Mission Valley, and the wildflowers are starting to bloom.
The springtime is a fantastic time to take up the sport and enjoy the outdoors while getting more fit.
Armed with the above "rules of the road," you can make sure you will stay safe while enjoying this new adventure.
Melissa Bagnall is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in physical education from Texas A&M University and the owner of Fitness Solutions. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.fitnesolutions.com.