Novice and Century Prep Safety-Session Outline
This outlines the 25 minute pre-ride "safety session" or "advice
clinic" which I give prior to GPC Novice and Century-Prep rides.
(Yes, it can all be covered in 25 minutes if one is concise.) I
posted this in hopes it may be useful to other ride leaders. But
it's an outline only: If you don't already know the material, some
of it won't make much sense.
(BIKING — MINDSPACE — WHY?)
SIMPLE BIKE CHECK
- Brakes — adjustment; not rubbing against sidewalls.
- Cables (visual)
- Bounce check — quickly reveals many problems — investigate any rattles.
- Tires pumped
- Quick visual tire check — for cuts, etc
- Careful tire glass check (not right now, though)
- Quick release — correct tightening
- Derailer check (not right now, though)
- Anyone who fails — go see a co-leader for adjustments.
ELEMENTARY BIKE HANDLING
- Starting — the correct way. It checks your brakes, too.
- Relax your hands and body. Avoid "death grip".
- Arms bent. Hand positions. Thumb position!
- Power comes from thighs & glutes. Pedal in 'circles.'
- Avoid upper body gyrations.
- Trunk braces the legs.
- Pedal in 'circles.' How to tell and practice
- Steering: largely with your weight. The bike naturally goes straight when your weight is centered. (That's why riding no hands works). Internalize this ... it may save you a spill!
- Constantly scan the road surface for hazards: potholes, debris, glass.
- Looking back: Chin touches left shoulder (L.A.B. method). Neck stiffness/looseness.
- How to brake:
- Evenly, but front does the work.
- (Demonstrate front vs. rear, walking the bicycle)
- For hard braking: weight back.
- Control your speed on downhill. Feathering & pumping brakes.
- Posting (demonstrate).
- Bike handling classes, e.g., Mike Cox.
RIDING MULTIUSER PATHS
- Be courteous of peds, etc. You are the faster & heavier vehicle.
- Watch out for dogs, kids, baby-strollers, rollerskaters, etc.
- Pass on the left; call out and ring bell.
- Single up if the path is busy.
- Some have posted speed limits, e.g. 15mph.
- If stopping, pull off the path.
- Less challenging & less excercise than open road.
RIDING IN TRAFFIC
- Lots of novice bikers are afraid of riding in traffic. They shouldn't be. They simply haven't been educated.
- Share the road. This means:
- Bikes & cars share the roads, often the same travel lanes.
- Same roads, same laws.
- Cooperate with drivers and they should cooperate with you. Eg: Let them pass when you can.
- Vehicular biking: Think like a vehicle; act like a vehicle. You'll be treated like a vehicle.
- Be just as alert to traffic & obstacles as if you're a car driver.
- Where to ride on the road? Lane positioning: done
- To the right;
- Not so far right you're in the doorzone / debris zone;
- Not in the shoulder, unless it's very good quality.
- Not on the sidewalk, unless under 18 (depends on municipality).
- Not in right turn lanes when you're going straight.
- Be predictable. Don't weave. Act the way you'd want a car driver to act.
- Always observe lane markings, traffic lights, etc. Always ride with traffic.
- Intersections (done by destination): Always take
the right-most lane that goes where you want.
- Turning left: Use the left lane (or rightmost left-turn lane, if several).
- Going straight through an intersection which has right-turn-only lanes: Where should you be?
- Differences if entering a road from a bike path. Then what are you?
- Take the lane:
- Always, when stopped in an intersection.
- Whenever the lane is too narrow for safe sharing.
- When safety otherwise dictates — e.g., moving same speed as auto traffic
- But not unnecessarily.
- Summary: "Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." —John Forester.
- Drive defensively, bike defensively.
- Common sense and common courtesy.
RIDING IN A GROUP
- Great fun, but need to avoid problems.
- Ride a 'straight line'. Again, be predictable. Think of being in a freeway lane.
- When much traffic: ride single file, except when the group takes the lane (e.g., to turn left)
- Be alert to other bikers, ahead and behind.
- Bad things to do:
- Quickly stop in front of someone.
- Veer into someone's path.
- Don't follow too closely — but assume someone is following you too closely
- Don't pass on right — except if very safe and necessary; then call out. (Exceptions)
- Calling out:
- "Car back" (single-up for cars to pass) (don't over-call this one)
- "Car up" (narrow tricky roads only)
- "Ped up" (if on the right)
- "Slowing" "Glass" "Stopping"
- Hand signals
- Left. Right. Slowing. Stopping.
- Point out hazards.
- Drafting, pacelining, and tight packs are advanced techniques. Not for novices.