Biking During the COVID-19 Crisis
Regular Tips Apply to Pedaling
During the coronavirus crisis, biking is especially recommended, as it provides exceptional aerobic and cardio exercise, relaxation and because it maintains social distancing. Keeping in mind proper equipment, fitness, safety and other factors can make it even more fulfilling during this difficult period.
Choose the right bike. Those designed for roads and pavement are generally lighter and have more gears than mountain bikes, which have more shock-absorbing features, plus more lower gears to help traverse inclined terrain. Urban and commuting bikes feature a slightly more upright riding position that allows better sightlines and improved visibility by motorists.
Use a bike shop with mechanics that test and adjust the bikes they sell, including determining the proper seat height—which facilitates proper alignment of hips and a full rotation—and the ideal distance from the handlebars to the seat tube. Back, knee or hip pain may develop if a cyclist has to stretch his or her legs to get to the pedals, according to the League of American Bicyclists. A biker doesn’t get proper leg extension if the seat is too low. The legs should be almost, but not totally extended at the lowest point in pedaling.
Safety takes many forms. Even well-marked bike lanes don’t guarantee safety, so use caution. Some motorists are careless about entering bike lanes and don’t correctly stop at crosswalks or look behind before opening doors. Keep at least five feet from the sides of cars to avoid being hit. Don’t weave in and out of traffic, always don a helmet, signal turns and watch out for runners and walkers. Use the stop signal (left arm extended downward) to alert bikers that may be traveling behind.
Proper pedaling can help prevent strains. In addition to ensuring they’re employing proper leg extension, it’s advised that bikers pedal a little faster in a lower gear; ideally, 75 to 90 revolutions per minute, which is easier on the knees with less muscle fatigue than traveling slower in a higher gear.
Routine maintenance includes “cleaning and lubing the chain, replacing brake pads, and changing and fixing a flat tire,” according to major bike and outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. (rei.com). The website has helpful tips on tools to obtain, along with basic information on bike maintenance, cleaning and fixing a flat tire.