April 1 has come and passed and that means we’re in the midst of 30 Days of Biking!
In 2019, I rode my bike every single day. Unfortunately I didn’t get out as much this winter. That’s partly due to the record amount of snow, and also because climate change’s effects on the freeze-thaw cycle have brought new potholes to every street I’ve ridden on. I therefore haven’t left my neighborhood too many times this year. I’m now pushing myself to get back in the saddle and participate in this years’ #30DaysOfBiking, and I hope this post offers some tips and tricks for a safe and fun riding experience.
Tip #1: Ride during the day!
Potholes are everywhere! Through the windows of the coffee shop I work at, I’ve watched a crack in the road grow into a hole, and then looked on as the hole got deeper and deeper to eventually reveal the sublayer of bricks underneath. When a freight truck or bus rolls over the pothole, the floor of the shop shakes!
I’ve found that the shadows cast by a bike light can be jarring, and even when I adjust the angle, potholes will show up seemingly out of nowhere. Riding during the day ensures you have the best lighting (naturally!) until you find a route that you’re familiar and comfortable with.
Tip #2: Wear a Helmet!
Generally, I’m pretty lax about my helmet use, but this year I’m using a helmet whenever I leave my neighborhood. Many years ago I broke my shoulder by rolling over a pothole that was deeper than I thought. The helmet wouldn’t have protected my shoulder, but I don’t like to think about how much worse it would have been without it. Your head is a gift and you only have one!
Tip #3: Avoid puddles!
Although the snowmelt has mostly drained, we still may get some rain storms this month (April Showers, after all), and without a test, one has no way of knowing how deep a puddle is. Even when riding a bike at a relaxing pace, the risk of injury increases. A water-filled pothole was another factor in my aforementioned injury, and I don’t want anyone else to experience that.
Tip #4: Attend group rides if you can!
I tend to bike everywhere because I don’t drive, but in the past when I’ve attended #30DoB (or Joyful Riders’ Club) rides, even if I’m not feeling social that day it’s nice to see other people and experience the safety that comes from numbers. There is a certain magic that comes with participating in group rides, and that magic even exists in April.
Tip #5: Keep the rubber side down!
Every year, winter feels longer and longer– even as they get shorter in reality. Though we’ve got good sunlight now, I’m still waiting for T-shirt weather. And that seems forever away; it’s 36 degrees Fahrenheit and foggy at time of writing. It’s easy to get discouraged, but even in my darkest days of riding in 2019, I would force myself to ride around my block (sometimes even in slippers!) and it was always fulfilling.
I hope this helps inspire you or a friend to pull your bike down from the rafters or up from the basement and get out and ride as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
Photos by Fred Kreider