Friday, April 29, 2011

Packing for the Mountains

You’ve got your route figured out, you’ve selected one of the toughest, best mountain biking trails in the country, and your car is gassed up and ready to go! Now all you need to do is ensure that you have all the necessary tools and accessories to guarantee that this will be the best mountain biking excursion you’ve taken!

Most mountain biking enthusiasts make day trips of their excursions, although professionals or those going long distances may choose to camp out or stay at a local hotel. For those making the trek to a local state park or natural reserve for a day of mountain biking, certain items are a must to ensure safety, health, and fun!

The Right Bike for You

For those new to this style of biking, the first thing to do is to select the right mountain bike for you. MTBs, as they are known, are designed to handle off-road cycling and the dirt, inclines, bumps, unpaved trails, and other hazards that come with it. To handle these stressors, MTBs usually feature wide rims and wheels to ensure stability, knobby, thicky tires for good traction and shock absorption, and front and rear suspension. Check out the mountain bike selection at Colorado Ski Shop, including women’s MTB models.

Safety First

Mountain biking can be a rough sport with its fair share of scrapes and tumbles. When riding over such rough terrain as rocks, dirt, cliffs, ledges, slickrock, and sand, it is incredibly important to make sure you have ample protective gear to protect yourself against the elements and any potential accidents. At the very least, a bicycle helmet and bike gloves are non-negotiable. In addition to protecting your skin from rough winds and debris, bike gloves also improve your grip on and control of the bicycle by keeping sweat from making the handlebars slippery and adding traction to the handlebars.

Bike Problems

You never know when a flat tired or busted tube is going to happen so make sure you are prepared for any eventuality by bringing along some basic bike tools. There are a multitude of small, lightweight tools available that incorporate a variety of wrenches and screwdrivers so that you have everything you need at your disposal should an accident occur. We also suggest taking a pack of extra bicycle tire tubes (usually 2 per pack) in case you do get a flat tire while riding over loose rocks.

Packing to Go

The final component of planning a safe and fun mountain biking outing is to make sure you have a sturdy and well-designed backpack in which to store everything you need to take with you. We recommend a bicycle backpack, designed specifically to sit comfortably on your shoulder as you bikes, without causing strain or discomfort. Many traditional backpacks or messenger bags have wide straps that do not rest comfortably when one is in a biking position, or that cause strain on specific parts of the body.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Urban Cyclists: Safety on the Roads

Happy spring time, cyclists and bicycle newbies! There’s nothing like spring breezes, soft sunshine and green trees to motivate us off the couch and onto our bicycles, whether it be for a ride around the neighborhood, a quick trip to the coffeeshop, or a new resolution to bike to work!

No matter what your reason for bicycling, we’re here to help you get around your town safely.
  • Know your routes and rules:

    If you plan on biking in your town, make sure to familiarize yourself with bike lanes and routes as outlined by your city. This information, along with maps of the designated paths, is usually available online through your city’s website. Bike lanes can either be a separate lane in the road separated by a slim median, or they may simply be painted into existing car lanes. Some have separate stop lights which will identify when it is safe for cyclists to cross or turn. Make sure you understand local laws concerning cycling so as to avoid getting pulled over (yes, cops can pull you over while biking!). In many cities, biking on the sidewalk is verboten. Similarly, many cities have strict laws regarding helmet and light use.
  • Safety gear for bikes:

    Nothing is more important for cyclists than having the right safety and protective gear. If you plan on riding in the city, a bike helmet is a must and in many parts of the country, it’s required by law. Make sure your helmet fits correctly and provides proper ventilation. Different types of bikes and cycling require different helmets: sports, road bike, or mountain biking helmets. For those biking at night, in low-visibility conditions (rain, fog, etc), or in areas of high traffic, we also recommend a safety vest and ample lights. All bicycles should be equipped with at minimum two bike lights, one in the front, and one at the rear. We also suggest placing a flashing bike light on your person – either attached to a backpack, or clipped to the band of your pants or shorts. With 40% of bicycle fatalities occurring between 6pm and midnight, utilizing a bike light could literally save your life!
  • Road biking:

    Biking in the city requires its own set of guidelines – always signal with your hands when you are about to turn, yield to cars and pedestrians, adhere to all road traffic rules, stop at stop signs, stick to designated lanes, etc. It is also important to remember when biking on roads to give yourself a reasonable distance from the curb. Hugging the curb while biking puts you in a precarious situation should you need to maneuver quickly to avoid a car or pothole.
  • Anti-theft measures:

    Many of the bigger bike metropolises have bike theft issues, but investing in a sturdy and durable bike lock can greatly reduce the chances of your bicycle getting stolen. The highest quality locks will be indestructible by hacksaws or cutters. We recommend U-Locks as they are strong and come in a variety of sizes! Remember to wrap your lock around both the front wheel and frame of your bicycle.