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I could write 100 pages on how to be safe while mountain biking and it still might not be completely sufficient. I can’t stress this enough: Safety has to be your number 1 priority while you’re out on the trail (or any time really). Part of the fun involved with mountain biking is the excitement you get from going across rustic trails and being with nature. These beautiful things also pose some serious health risks and every area has its own set of problems to deal with.

There are a lot of ways to improve mountain bike safety. Some will argue, including me, that wearing a helmet is the single most important step you can take. However, the second most important step should never be overlooked; you should always ride in control.

Riding in control not only helps prevent crashes, but it also keeps others on the trail safe as well. When you ride out of control, you lose the ability to adjust to the terrain and environment as you pass through it. This can and does lead to dangerous crashes and injury to yourself and others.

Mountain biking is inherently dangerous and we all like to push the limits sometimes, but there is a fine line between pushing the limits safely and pushing them recklessly. Follow these steps to stay safe on the trails and on the right side of the danger line.

Steps For Safe Mountain Biking
  • Gear Up
    Always wear a helmet and any other appropriate safety equipment for the riding conditions. If you are riding in an extremely rugged area I suggest kneepads and if you plan on doing any stunts or going down large hills then a chest plate can prevent some particularly nasty injuries from twisted handlebars.
  • Never Ride Beyond Your Abilities
    There is no shame in walking sections of the trail you don't feel confident enough to ride and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
  • Use Appropriate Equipment for the Terrain
    Some bikes are better for different situations. Just because you can see tire tracks, doesn't mean you can ride it with your bike.
  • Keep Your Speed In Check
    Always keep your speed at a level that will allow you to adjust to any unforeseen obstacles or changes in trail conditions.
  • Know The Trail
    Never push the limits on a trail you are not familiar with. You need to get to know the trail you are riding at slower speeds before you can ride it like the trails you're used to.
  • Slow Down for Blind Corners
    You never know what or who is around a corner when you can't see past it.
  • Stop and Look
    Stop and look at sections of the trail that look like they may pose a challenge before you ride them.
  • Plan on the Crash
    Always look at the consequences of crashing in a particular section or on a particular stunt before trying to ride through it. Sometimes a section can look easy to ride but can have deadly consequences to a crash.
  • Start Small, Go Big
    Work your way up to obstacles and stunts. Find ways to practice moves in less difficult and dangerous situations or at lower speeds before committing yourself to something more dangerous.
  • Play It Smart
    If you think what you are doing is not the smartest, you are probably right. Think about what you are doing and trust your instincts.
  • Approach animals with caution.
    Wild animals are very unpredictable so approach them with caution. Never startle them by shouting or making any loud sounds.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
    Safety against criminals is something you have to look after. Be wary of suspicious people you see on the trail. Always ride in a group and avoid using the same trail often.
  • Avoid riding in the dark
    We’ll talk about night safety in a minute but my general rule of thumb is that you should only ride in the dark if you know the area very well and usually if you have a friend riding with you. Unless you absolutely need to ride at night I don’t recommend it.
  • Plan your ride
    Know more or less how long it takes. If riding in the dark is unavoidable, be sure to have reflectors on your bike and on your clothing. Headlights will also be useful.
Mountain Bike Night Safety

Many people find biking during the night to be extremely exciting and a bit more thrilling than “regular old day riding.” For others, the night is the only time for them to ride, being busy with things like school and work. Regardless of your reasoning, night time is the prime time to keep your eyes on safety. As I said earlier I really don’t recommend riding at night unless you have to; there are substantially more risks involved with riding a bike at night, especially if you’re biking in an extremely suburban or extremely rural area. In the city you have to worry about cars and people; in the wilderness, you have to worry about large animals and hidden obstacles. Here are a few tips to keep you out of harm’s way during your night mountain biking sessions:
Avoid riding alone. If you can ride with a friend then it’s really the best way to ride, especially in the wilderness. Having a riding buddy is not only great for safety but it’s usually a lot of fun to have a person to share your mountain biking experience with.
Invest in a good lighting system. A lighting system is the most important thing in night mountain biking. Lighting systems include headlights (attached to the handlebar), taillights, and may also include helmet lights. It is advisable, however, to have both a headlight and a helmet light since headlights only let you see where your handlebar is pointed, while helmet lights allow you to see where your head is turned. Taillights are necessary for riders behind you to see where you are going. Get headlights that are lightweight, bright, and can last for a long time. Helmet lights should also be lightweight, but not as bright as your headlight.
Check the duration of your lighting system. It’s important to know how long those lights are going to last. If they are only going to last for 4 hours, then don’t ride beyond 4 hours. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the darkness.
Never ride alone. If an accident occurs while riding in the night, no one might be able to help you. So always ride in a group, and never stray away from it. It’s also a good thing to carry a warning device such as a whistle or a horn to alert your fellow riders in case of an emergency.
Familiarize yourself with the trail. Go through the trail a few times during the daytime before riding it in the night. Things will look different once the sun goes down, so it is best to have a good knowledge of the trail so as to prevent confusion. Also, exploring new trails during the night can lead to accidents and even getting lost.
Slow down. The night makes things harder to see, so it is recommended to step your riding pace down a bit. Take a little more time to examine what’s in front of you, and adjust accordingly. With that said, expect night rides to be a bit longer than daytime rides.
Wear bright clothing. This will make you more visible in the dark. Neon colors like yellow and orange should do the trick.
Wear protective eyewear. You can never tell if some bugs or low-hanging branches are about to poke you in the eyes, so you’ll need to protect them all the time. A pair of clear glasses or goggles is what you need.
Bring a small flashlight along. Flat tires and other bike-related accidents are inevitable. A pocket-sized flashlight will come in handy when taking care of these things. Using it instead of your helmet light will allow you to conserve the latter’s battery life.
Train, train, and train. Mountain biking is a physically-demanding sport, so make sure you go through the proper training exercises before trying this activity so as to prevent injuries.
These are just some basic safety guidelines for mountain biking during the night. Make sure to follow them each time you and your friends decide to go for a ride after sundown. And as you go along with this activity, you will probably learn new things that are not mentioned here. So the best way to get better at night mountain biking is to do it often. Just remember to stick to these safety tips so that you may live to ride your bike another day.

Have All The Supplies You Need

To ensure your safety during a ride, you need to be prepared for anything that can happen. This also means that you need to bring some kind of survival kit or first-aid kit that can help you with the first problems you encounter. When riding on trails, it would be good to bring a few essential things that you might need. These may vary with the distance of trail riding you will be doing.

The list for short distance trailing would probably fit in a small CamelBak Hydration Pack with small compartments. However, for long distance Mountain Bike trailing, a daypack would be more appropriate with the amount of stuff you will be bringing. This is why it’s always a good idea to bike with a buddy or two so that you can split the emergency supplies up and not have a bunch of stuff weighing you down.

Short Trips (Under 10 miles)

 Long Trips (Over 10 miles)
  • Map of the trail you will be using
  • Cellular or satellite phone
  • Compass (GPS, if you have the budget)
  • Small flares
  • Bicycle headlight and tail light
  • Matches
  • Windbreaker or Jacket (depending on the temperature)
  • Compact multi-tool set
  • Whistle or Horn
  • Pump and repair kit
  • Allen wrenches
  • Chain breaker
  • Emergency Money
  • Identification with medical info
  • First-aid kit
  • Food and drink (take extra just in case)

These are the basic things that should be included in your Mountain Biking Survival Kit. Of course, it is up to you if you want to bring more equipment. It really depends on what you think you will need on your trip. It is so important to be proactive and forward thinking when it comes to safety.

Next Up: Mountain Bike Maintenance

The post Mountain Biking Safety & Supplies appeared first on Love to Bicycle.

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There are all sorts of things to consider when choosing the best mountain bike: Where do I buy from? What size do I need? How many gears do I need? Does the name brand matter? What’s a good price? Hopefully, I can answer all of these questions and then some for you.

Determine Your Price

Mountain bikes are pretty much like any vehicle; there’s practically no limit to how much you can spend. If you’re a casual enthusiast you may want a $50 bike from a chain retailer or if you’re a “hardcore” professional you could end up spending thousands on a bike. To keep your spending under control, figure out what price range you are willing to pay for your new bike and try to only look at bikes within that price range.

What Type of Bike do You Need?

I’m assuming you are interested in a mountain bike. These are generally designed for more rugged terrain and aren’t necessarily for cruising at high speeds on flat streets. Even within the category of mountain bikes, there are a variety of specific bikes designed for several different riding styles and terrain. You will need to figure out what type of riding you will be doing most of the time. Is it smooth trail riding, cross-country racing, all mountain cruising or lift accessed gravity mayhem? Make sure the bikes you look at fit your riding style and not the sales staff.

Enjoy a quick video of an example of general mountain biking.

The affiliate links below will take you to Amazon where you can see full product descriptions and images.

Cross country mountain bikes

These usually have less than about 4.5 inches of suspension travel. These bikes are built for efficiency, low weight, and self-propelled speed. While they can handle most trails, they do not handle the rough stuff as well as longer travel bikes. So, if you want to win a cross country race, get to the top of the hill first, or if you ride on relatively smooth trails then these bikes are for you.

Mountain and/or Trail Bikes

These usually have about 4 to 6 inches of suspension travel. These bikes are built for more aggressive terrain than cross country bikes but are generally slightly heavier. They aren’t exactly cross country race bikes, but they are perfect for aggressive trail riding as well as long epic rides. If you are looking for an all-around mountain bike that can take you almost anywhere without busting a lung, these bikes are for you.

“Freeride” bikes

These usually have about 6 to 8 inches or more of suspension travel. These bikes are built for abuse. Big drops, jumps, long shuttle rides, and other stunts are where these bikes shine. While most of them are still designed to get you up the hill as well, you will notice the extra weight. If you want to spend most of your time in rough terrain, big drops, jumps, and manmade stunts, and you don’t care how long it takes to get you there, these bikes are for you. These are also great bikes for riding the lifts at your local mountain bike park.

Downhill bikes

These usually have about 7 to 10 inches of travel. These bikes will suck up almost anything you throw at them, but pedaling up a hill can be quite a challenge. Downhill bikes are designed for high speed and highly technical downhill racing and little else. If you think you might want to get into downhill racing, get a freeride bike. If you’re really serious about it, a dedicated downhill bike is for you.

Women-Specific Bikes

Within all of these bikes, there are often styles that are specifically designed for the female physiology. Women’s specific mountain bikes are designed to fit a majority of women but cannot be designed to fit all women. You should try to test ride both women’s specific mountain bikes as well as non-women specific bikes and decide for yourself which designs fit your body best. The majority of women-specific designs are designed around an average woman’s body. This body standard is smaller, lighter weight, and has a shorter torso and arms than the body standard of the average male that most non-women specific bikes are designed around.

If this average female body standard describes you, then you will most likely find a better fit with a woman’s specific design. Otherwise, if your build differs from this average woman’s body standard, a nonwomen’s specific design may be a better choice. For some women, it simply boils down to size. There are a few companies now that offer extra small and XX-small size frames; some are women’s specific while others are not. Generally, you won’t notice a big difference unless you’re a very petite woman but if you can’t find the bike you’re looking for don’t be embarrassed to look in the kid’s sections; kid’s mountain bikes are every bit as professional as adult’s bikes they’re just designed smaller.

Comfort vs. Efficiency

The next thing you want to determine is if you need a full suspension or a hardtail bike. A full suspension bike has suspension on both ends (sort of like shocks) and a hardtail has none on the back. I always recommend a full suspension mountain bike if you can afford it. Hardtails, without rear suspension, are lighter weight and pedal more efficiently but full suspension designs offer more comfort and better control. You will want to decide based on your price range, riding style, and terrain.

Full-suspension mountain bikes are much more comfortable, enjoyable, and better controlled when compared to their hardtail counterparts. The trade-offs of a little extra weight and slightly less efficiency are well worth the added benefits.

Some people will disagree with me on this subject. Hardtails do pedal more efficiently especially when the terrain is smooth. Hardtail mountain bikes are also a bit lighter than full suspension designs and require less maintenance.

A good number of cross-country racers still use hardtails for the above reasons, but most endurance and other types of racers have switched over to full suspension. I should also note that hardtails are also especially popular among the dirt jumping crowd where they pump better from jump to jump.

Unfortunately, full suspension mountain bikes are a bit more expensive than hardtails. If you can’t afford a full suspension with decent and reliable components, I would recommend buying a good reliable hardtail from a specialty bike shop before going to a mass merchant such as Costco or Wal-Mart for a bike that may fall apart after you ride it for a few days.

Which Components are Right for You?

Because of the seemingly endless combinations of components, you can have in your mountain bike it’s almost impossible to compare them all side by side.  I recommend finding a few components that are most important to you for comparison and make sure the rest fall within some sort of minimums for your price range. I usually start with the fork and then look at the wheels and rear derailleur.

If you’re not very familiar with the individual components that make up a mountain bike then the primary ones you should at least be concerned with are the breaks and the tires.

Breaks: Disk Breaks & Rim Breaks

The two types of breaks for bicycles are disk brakes (like modern car breaks) and rim breaks. Rim breaks are the most common breaks for bikes; they’re the primary types of breaks on any budget bike and any bike that’s over 20 years old. Disk brakes are more advanced and they’ve only been used heavily on bikes for about 20 years. Rim breaks work by having a set of pads that presses up against the rim of the bike to stop the wheels. Disk brakes work much like disk breaks in cars: a hydraulic system compresses brake pads against a type of rotor to slow down and stop the bike. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If you want better, more consistent brake performance in all conditions and don’t really care if it weighs a little more or costs a little more, choose disc brakes over rim brakes. If you want the lightest set-up you can have and are willing to accept small variances in brake performance, or if a low price is really important, choose rim brakes over disc brakes.

Mountain bike rim brakes have gone through several design changes over the years. They started with the original cantilever brakes, went through the dark U-Brake years, and are now known as V-Brakes. V-Brakes work well in most conditions.

Rim brakes have some drawbacks. They require straight un-damaged rims to perform their best. Rim brakes perform poorly in wet or muddy conditions. Over time, Rim brakes can wear right through the side of your rim literally causing the side of the rim to blow off (I’ve seen this happen and it is not pretty.).

Disc brakes have been around for a long time in cars but weren’t seriously used on bikes until the mid to late 90’s. There were definitely some issues with some of the earlier models but the disc brakes of today, cable actuated or hydraulic, perform quite well.

The performance of disc brakes is considerably better than rim brakes, especially in wet or muddy conditions. Disc brakes usually require less force to apply and aren’t affected by the condition of your rims or wheels. The biggest downside to disc brakes is the added weight. By the time you add everything in, including front and rear brakes and the added weight of the disc specific hubs, you end up with around 150 to 350 grams additional weight to the whole bike (It doesn’t seem like much weight but remember this is not a street bike; you’ll be riding this up steep hills). This weight number greatly depends on the wheels, rims, hubs, and disc brake system you choose.

Cost is certainly an issue as well. Disk brake systems are usually more expensive compared to rim brakes. Mechanical or cable actuated disc brakes are a closer match but will still cost a little more. Hydraulic disc brake systems can cost significantly more.

To switch from one system to the other you will in most cases not only have to buy the new set of brakes but you will have to buy a new wheelset as well. Disc rims usually cannot be used with rim brakes and the standard hubs that are used with rim brake wheels usually cannot be used with discs. The trend in the industry is certainly towards discs and the technology is improving every year.

Learn how to change your own bike brakes and any other parts on your bike with DIY Bike Repair. 200+ step by step videos,  TuneUp Secrets and Upkeep Tips Book, Complete Bike Repair and Maintenance Manuals, Free Lifetime Updates, Free One-On-One Training (limited spots!Learn More about DIY Bike Repair

Tires: Tubed and Tubeless

Some people will have absolute success with tubeless tires and some people will have nothing but trouble. What makes the difference? Well, it can be a lot of factors like different rims, tires, and tubeless tire systems as well as different riding styles and terrain. Overall I do recommend tubeless tires to anyone who wants higher performance and fewer flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation trouble and maintenance. How much trouble these systems can just depend entirely on the bike that you chose.

So what’s the physical difference between tubeless tires and tubed tires? Well, tubed tires are the traditional tires that many people are used to seeing on bikes. The bike has an outer layer of the tire that everyone sees and inside of that, between the outer layer and the rim, there’s a rubber tube. This tub is soft and pliable and is filled with air. Conversely, tubeless tires do not have this tube. Tubeless tires work exactly like the tires on all modern cars; the outer layer fits against the rim and is held onto it by air pressure. Instead of having an inner tube to hold the air, the seal between the outer layer and the rim keeps it in.

In general, tubeless tires weigh less than tubed tires, allow for more traction and are not susceptible to pinch flats—flats that occur when the tire gets pinched up against the rim. Tubed tires are less expensive, more widely available, easier to install and easier to repair in the event of a flat.

With the right setup, going to tubeless tires will improve your bikes performance. This is especially true for riders who have to run higher pressures to prevent pinch flats. I recommend using an internal tire sealant such as Stan’s No-Tubes for a more robust system and fewer flats. I still recommend this even if you have tubeless specific rims and tires.

If you use a tubeless kit to convert your standard tube/tire system into a tubeless tire system make sure your tire, rim, and kit are compatible. Check the web site of the tubeless kit manufacturer for compatibility.

You can use non-tubeless tires if you use an internal sealant but don’t use super-light tires with thin sidewalls. Thicker sidewalls provide better cornering performance and if you ride in terrain with sharp rocks they provide better protection from sidewall cuts and tears. You will still need to carry an extra tube and pump. All tubeless tire systems let you put a tube in if you get a flat and you can’t get your tire to seal up again.

If you try to lower your tire pressure too much, you will be more likely to damage your rim when you hit rocks and you may feel the tire roll under during hard cornering. When this gets really bad, you can burp air out and end up with a flat, unsealed tire. Follow the installation instructions carefully and pay attention to every detail. Take the necessary time to get compatible products and to install them correctly. A properly installed tubeless tire system is capable of handling any condition and riding style. You can easily race cross-country or downhill with tubeless tires.

Performance

From the performance standpoint, tubeless tires are hard to beat. Tubeless tires don’t pinch flat so they let you run lower tire pressures. Lower tire pressure is the best way to improve a tire’s contact with the ground and, with that, comes better bike performance. That being said, tire pressure is one of the most influential adjustments you can make to your bikes performance.

  • Tubeless tire supporters claim that rolling friction is reduced in a tubeless tire. Most people won’t see a noticeable difference either way but many say there is evidence to support this.
  • Using an internal sealant is well worth the little added weight. Tubeless tires still get flats from thorns and other punctures. It is in most cases more difficult to fix a flat in a tubeless tire than a standard tire.
  • Compatibility is a big issue. Choose the wrong tires or rims and you will end up blowing your tires right off the rim either during installation or on the trail.
  • While it is tempting to go with the lightest tires you can find it is more important to get a tire that will perform well and won’t end up forcing you to put a tube in later. No amount of sealant will plug a good cut or tear in a tire sidewall.

Don’t expect to lose a huge amount of weight. Some systems are lighter, some heavier, it all depends on the system and the tires used. The real benefits are a better performance with lower tire pressures and fewer flats.

Seat Types: More Important Than You’d Think

Your seat must fit your type of riding and your body. The faster you ride, the more likely it is you’ll want a narrow, racing-style seat. This is because a fast-riding position on a bike shifts you forward placing more weight on the hands and feet and reducing a lot of the weight on the seat. Also, as you pedal more vigorously, you spin faster and you can’t tolerate interference from the sides of the seat.

As you ride more casually, however, such as on a cruiser bike with wide backswept handlebars, most of your weight is planted directly on the seat. Plus you don’t pedal quickly at all. These factors make a wide, heavily padded saddle ideal to support your weight and provide cushioning.

Equally important, most manufacturers offer their popular seat models in both men’s and women’s versions and there are significant differences.

Because male and female pelvises differ (women’s are wider), it’s usually a good idea for men to start with men’s saddle models and women with women’s saddle models (though not always: women sometimes do fine on men’s seats). The men’s is a bit longer and narrower while the women’s is a bit shorter and wider.

See all Men’s Bike Saddle Models

See all Women’s Bike Saddle Models

Next, the seat must fit your particular anatomy. You can sometimes see how you fit a seat if you sit on it for a while then get off and immediately look closely at the back of the seat top. If a saddle is right for your body, its rear will support your sit bones (the ischial tuberosities – those two protrusions that bug you when you sit on a hard bench). These bones will form dents in certain types of seats. If the seat is correct for your anatomy, the depressions will be centered on the pads of the seat on either side.

While the rear of the seat supports your sit bones, the front (nose) of the seat is designed to help you control the bike with your thighs and support some of the body weight.

The problem with the nose of the bicycle seat is that it bothers many riders, both women and men. This is the part of the seat that’s most likely to compress nerves, irritate, cause chafing and generally abuse the body. Fortunately, there are plenty of seat models currently available that address the issue with various innovations.

Certain models incorporate a channel centered down the length of the seat. Others use a hole toward the front of the nose. Seats with channels and holes are often called Cutaway seats. Some seats feature soft foam or gel in the nose and soften the base of the seat beneath to reduce the stiffness. These are usually called Gel seats. The important thing to know is that if you find the seat’s nose a problem, there are models designed to remove the intrusion. Try a few until you find the model that works for you.

There are 7 basic types of seats you can look into: Racing Seats, Mountain Bike Seats, Gel Seats, Suspension Seats, Cutaway Seats, Extra Wide Seats, and Leather Seats. Racing seats are great when you’ll be wearing cycling clothing and going fast. Mountain Bike Seats are best for general purpose riding; this is what you’ll likely want to choose for your mountain bike. Gel, Suspension, Cutaway, and Extra Wide seats are made for the sake of comfort. Gel seats have a soft gel covering that molds to your body and can be found in any of the other designs but they do add some weight to your bike. You can also get a gel seat cover for your existing seat. Suspension seats generally look like racing seats but they have a suspension system so that they have more give and can bounce under pressure. Cutaway seats have sections cut out so they introduce less stress to certain pressure points and can alleviate pressure, tingling, and numbness. Extra Wide seats are exactly how they sound; they have wider-than-average frames and usually some extra cushion. While they’re very comfortable they can make it difficult to pedal fast. Leather seats are somewhat hard to find; they look nice and can eventually mold to your body but they’re expensive and susceptible to water damage.

If none of the standard types of seats really work for you there are a myriad of alternative designs that incorporate all sorts of strategies to make you comfortable. Some seats are like hammocks and others have two pads for the buttocks, there really are a million varieties. The only caveat to these is that many of them are far from optimized for mountain biking. If none of the 7 basic types of seats work for you then definitely consider sticking to a low-impact biking path.

The post Tips On Buying A New Mountain Bike appeared first on Love to Bicycle.

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There are all sorts of things to consider when choosing the best mountain bike out: Where do I buy from? What size do I need? How many gears do I need? Does name brand matter? What’s a good price? Hopefully I can answer all of these questions and then some for you.

Determine Your Price

Mountain bikes are pretty much like any vehicle; there’s practically no limit to how much you can spend. If you’re a casual enthusiast you may want a $50 bike from a chain retailer or if you’re a “hardcore” professional you could end up spending thousands on a bike. To keep your spending under control, figure out what price range you are willing to pay for your new bike and try to only look at bikes within that price range.

You can save a lot of money from going to a large chain but I don’t really recommend buying a bike from a mass-merchant store such as Wal-Mart or Costco simply because they really aren’t as knowledgeable about bikes as an actual bike shop. Support your local bike shop and get a better product and much better service. Your local bike shop will know a lot more about the products their selling, have a better in-store guarantee and be able to help you choose the bike that’s truly right for you.

What Type of Bike do You Need?

Since you’ve got this book I’m assuming you want a mountain bike. these are generally designed for more rugged terrain and aren’t necessarily for cruising at high speeds on flat streets. Even within the category of mountain bikes there are a variety of specific bikes designed for several different riding styles and terrain. You will need to figure out what type of riding you will be doing most of the time. Is it smooth trail riding, cross-country racing, all mountain cruising or lift accessed gravity mayhem? Make sure the bikes you look at fit your riding style and not the sales staff’s.

Cross country mountain bikes

These usually have less than about 4.5 inches of suspension travel. These bikes are built for efficiency, low weight, and self-propelled speed. While they can handle most trails, they do not handle the rough stuff as well as longer travel bikes. So, if you want to win a cross country race, get to the top of the hill first, or if you ride on relatively smooth trails then these bikes are for you.

Mountain and/or Trail Bikes

These usually have about 4 to 6 inches of suspension travel. These bikes are built for more aggressive terrain than cross country bikes but are generally slightly heavier. They aren’t exactly cross country race bikes, but they are perfect for aggressive trail riding as well as long epic rides. If you are looking for an all-around mountain bike that can take you almost anywhere without busting a lung, these bikes are for you.

“Freeride” bikes

These usually have about 6 to 8 inches or more of suspension travel. These bikes are built for abuse. Big drops, jumps, long shuttle rides, and other stunts are where these bikes shine. While most of them are still designed to get you up the hill as well, you will notice the extra weight. If you want to spend most of your time in rough terrain, big drops, jumps, and manmade stunts, and you don’t care how long it takes to get you there, these bikes are for you. These are also great bikes for riding the lifts at your local mountain bike park.

Downhill bikes

These usually have about 7 to 10 inches of travel. These bikes will suck up almost anything you throw at them, but pedaling up a hill can be quite a challenge. Downhill bikes are designed for high speed and highly technical downhill racing and little else. If you think you might want to get into downhill racing, get a freeride bike. If you’re really serious about it, a dedicated downhill bike is for you.

Women-Specific Bikes

Within all of these bikes there are often styles that are specifically designed for the female physiology. Women’s specific mountain bikes are designed to fit a majority of women but cannot be designed to fit all women. You should try to test ride both women’s specific mountain bikes as well as non-women specific bikes and decide for yourself which designs fit your body best. The majority of women-specific designs are designed around an average women’s body. This body standard is smaller, lighter weight, and has a shorter torso and arms than the body standard of the average male that most non-women specific bikes are designed around.

If this average female body standard describes you, then you will most likely find a better a fit with a woman’s specific design. Otherwise, if your build differs from this average women’s body standard, a non-women’s specific design may be a better choice. For some women it simply boils down to size. There are a few companies now that offer extra small and XX small size frames; some are women’s specific while others are not. Generally you won’t notice a big difference unless you’re a very petite woman but if you can’t find the bike you’re looking for don’t be embarrassed to look in the kids sections; kid’s mountain bikes are every bit as professional as adult’s bikes they’re just designed smaller.

Comfort vs. Efficiency

The next thing you want to determine is if you need a full suspension or a hardtail bike. A full suspension bike has suspension on both ends (sort of like shocks) and a hardtail has none on the back. I always recommend a full suspension mountain bike if you can afford it. Hardtails, without rear suspension, are lighter weight and pedal more efficiently but full suspension designs offer more comfort and better control. You will want to decide based on your price range, riding style and terrain.

Full-suspension mountain bikes are much more comfortable, enjoyable, and better controlled when compared to their hardtail counterparts. The trade offs of a little extra weight and slightly less efficiency are well worth the added benefits.

Some people will disagree with me on this subject. Hardtails do pedal more efficiently especially when the terrain is smooth. Hardtail mountain bikes are also a bit lighter than full suspension designs and require less maintenance.

A good number of cross-country racers still use hardtails for the above reasons, but most endurance and other types of racers have switched over to full suspension. I should also note that hardtails are also especially popular among the dirt jumping crowd where they pump better from jump to jump.

Unfortunately, full suspension mountain bikes are a bit more expensive than hardtails. If you can’t afford a full suspension with decent and reliable components, I would recommend buying a good reliable hardtail from a specialty bike shop before going to a mass merchant such as Costco or Wal-Mart for a bike that may fall apart after you ride it for a few days.

Which Components are Right for You?

Because of the seemingly endless combinations of components you can have in your mountain bike it’s almost impossible to compare them all side by side.  I recommend finding a few components that are most important to you for comparison and make sure the rest fall within some sort of minimums for your price range. I usually start with the fork and then look at the wheels and rear derailleur.

If you’re not very familiar with the individual components that make up a mountain bike then the primary ones you should at least be concerned with are the breaks and the tires.

Breaks: Disk Breaks & Rim Breaks

The two types of breaks for bicycles are disk brakes (like modern car breaks) and rim breaks. Rim breaks are the most common breaks for bikes; they’re the primary types of breaks on any budget bike and any bike that’s over 20 years old. Disk brakes are more advanced and they’ve only been used heavily on bikes for about 20 years. Rim breaks work by having a set of pads that presses up against the rim of the bike to stop the wheels. Disk brakes work much like disk breaks in cars: a hydraulic system compresses brake pads against a type of rotor to slow down and stop the bike. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

If  you want better, more consistent brake performance in all conditions and don’t really care if it weighs a little more or costs a little more, choose disc brakes over rim brakes. If you want the lightest set-up you can have, and are willing to accept small variances in brake performance, or if a low price is really important, choose rim brakes over disc brakes.

Mountain bike rim brakes have gone through several design changes over the years. They started with the original cantilever brakes, went through the dark U-Brake years, and are now known as V-Brakes. V-Brakes work well in most conditions.

Rim brakes have some drawbacks. They require straight un-damaged rims to perform their best. Rim brakes perform poorly in wet or muddy conditions. Over time, Rim brakes can wear right through the side of your rim literally causing the side of the rim to blow off (I’ve seen this happen and its not pretty.).

Disc brakes have been around for a long time in cars but weren’t seriously used on bikes until the mid to late 90’s. There were definitely some issues with some of the earlier models but the disc brakes of today, cable actuated or hydraulic, perform quite well.

The performance of disc brakes is considerably better than rim brakes, especially in wet or muddy conditions. Disc brakes usually require less force to apply and aren’t affected by the condition of your rims or wheels. The biggest downside to disc brakes is the added weight. By the time you add everything in, including front and rear brakes and the added weight of the disc specific hubs, you end up with around 150 to 350 grams additional weight to the whole bike (It doesn’t seem like much weight but remember this is not a street bike; you’ll be riding this up steep hills). This weight number greatly depends on the wheels, rims, hubs, and disc brake system you choose.

Cost is certainly an issue as well. Disk brake systems are usually more expensive compared to rim brakes. Mechanical or cable actuated disc brakes are a closer match but will still cost a little more. Hydraulic disc brake systems can cost significantly more.

To switch from one system to the other you will in most cases not only have to buy the new set of brakes but you will have to buy a new wheel set as well. Disc rims usually cannot be used with rim brakes and the standard hubs that are used with rim brake wheels usually cannot be used with discs. The trend in the industry is certainly towards discs and the technology is improving every year.

Tires: Tubed and Tubeless

Some people will have absolute success with tubeless tires and some people will have nothing but trouble. What makes the difference? Well it can be a lot of factors like different rims, tires, and tubeless tire systems as well as different riding styles and terrain. Overall I do recommend tubeless tires to anyone who wants higher performance and less flats but doesn’t mind a little extra installation trouble and maintenance. How much trouble these systems can be just depends entirely on the bike that you chose.

So what’s the physical difference between tubeless tires and tubed tires? Well, tubed tires are the traditional tires that many people are used to seeing on bikes. The bike has an outer layer of the tire that everyone sees and inside of that, between the outer layer and the rim, there’s a rubber tube. This tub is soft and pliable and is filled with air. Conversely, tubeless tires do not have this tube. Tubeless tires work exactly like the tires on all modern cars; the outer layer fits against the rim and is held onto it by air pressure. Instead of having an inner tube to hold the air, the seal between the outer layer and the rim keeps it in.

In general, tubeless tires weigh less than tubed tires, allow for more traction and are not susceptible to pinch flats—flats that occur when  the tire gets pinched up against the rim. Tubed tires are less expensive, more widely available, easier to install and easier to repair in the event of a flat.

With the right setup, going to tubeless tires will improve your bikes performance. This is especially true for riders who have to run higher pressures to prevent pinch flats. I recommend using an internal tire sealant such as Stan’s No-Tubes for a more robust system and less flats. I still recommend this even if you have tubeless specific rims and tires.

If you use a tubeless kit to convert your standard tube/tire system into a tubeless tire system make sure your tire, rim, and kit are compatible. Check the web site of the tubeless kit manufacturer for compatibility.

You can use non-tubeless tires if you use an internal sealant but don’t use super-light tires with thin sidewalls. Thicker sidewalls provide better cornering performance and if you ride in terrain with sharp rocks they provide better protection from sidewall cuts and tears. You will still need to carry an extra tube and pump. All tubeless tire systems let you put a tube in if you get a flat and you can’t get your tire to seal up again.

If you try to lower your tire pressure too much, you will be more likely to damage your rim when you hit rocks and you may feel the tire roll under during hard cornering. When this gets really bad, you can burp air out and end up with a flat, unsealed tire. Follow the installation instructions carefully and pay attention to every detail. Take the necessary time to get compatible products and to install them correctly. A properly installed tubeless tire system is capable of handling any condition and riding style. You can easily race cross-country or downhill with tubeless tires.

Performance

From the performance standpoint, tubeless tires are hard to beat. Tubeless tires don’t pinch flat so they let you run lower tire pressures. Lower tire pressure is the best way to improve a tires contact with the ground and, with that, comes better bike performance. That being said, tire pressure is one of the most influential adjustments you can make to your bikes performance.

  • Tubeless tire supporters claim that rolling friction is reduced in a tubeless tire. Most people won’t see a noticeable difference either way but many say there is evidence to support this.
  • Using an internal sealant is well worth the little added weight. Tubeless tires still get flats from thorns and other punctures. It is in most cases more difficult to fix a flat in a tubeless tire than a standard tire.
  • Compatibility is a big issue. Choose the wrong tires or rims and you will end up blowing your tires right off the rim either during installation or on the trail.
  • While it is tempting to go with the lightest tires you can find it is more important to get a tire that will perform well and won’t end up forcing you to put a tube in later. No amount of sealant will plug a good cut or tear in a tire sidewall.

Don’t expect to lose a huge amount of weight. Some systems are lighter, some heavier, it all depends on the system and the tires used. The real benefits are better performance with lower tire pressures and fewer flats.

Seat Types: More Important Than You’d Think

Your seat must fit your type of riding and your body. The faster you ride, the more likely it is you’ll want a narrow, racing-style seat. This is because, a fast-riding position on a bike shifts you forward placing more weight on the hands and feet and reducing a lot of the weight on the seat. Also, as you pedal more vigorously, you spin faster and you can’t tolerate interference from the sides of the seat.

As you ride more casually, however, such as on a cruiser bike with wide backswept handlebars, most of your weight is planted directly on the seat. Plus you don’t pedal quickly at all. These factors make a wide, heavily padded saddle ideal to support your weight and provide cushioning.

Equally important, most manufacturers offer their popular seat models in both men’s and women’s versions and there are significant differences.

 

Because male and female pelvises differ (women’s are wider), it’s usually a good idea for men to start with men’s saddle models and women with women’s (though not always: women sometimes do fine on men’s seats). The men’s is a bit longer and narrower while the women’s is a bit shorter and wider.

Next, the seat must fit your particular anatomy. You can sometimes see how you fit a seat if you sit on it for a while then get off and immediately look closely at the back of the seat top. If a saddle is right for your body, its rear will support your sit bones (the ischial tuberosities – those two protrusions that bug you when you sit on a hard bench). These bones will form dents in certain types of seats. If the seat is correct for your anatomy, the depressions will be centered on the pads of the seat on either side.

While the rear of the seat supports your sit bones, the front (nose) of the seat is designed to help you control the bike with your thighs and support some of the body weight.

The problem with the nose of the bicycle seat is that it bothers many riders, both women and men. This is the part of the seat that’s most likely to compress nerves, irritate, cause chafing and generally abuse the body. Fortunately, there are plenty of seat models currently available that address the issue with various innovations.

Certain models incorporate a channel centered down the length of the seat. Others use a hole toward the front of the nose. Seats with channels and holes are often called Cutaway seats. Some seats feature soft foam or gel in the nose and soften the base of the seat beneath to reduce the stiffness. These are usually called Gel seats. The important thing to know is that if you find the seat’s nose a problem, there are models designed to remove the intrusion. Try a few until you find the model that works for you.

There are 7 basic types of seats you can look into: Racing Seats, Mountain Bike Seats, Gel Seats, Suspension Seats, Cutaway Seats, Extra Wide Seats and Leather Seats. Racing seats are great when you’ll be wearing cycling clothing and going fast. Mountain Bike Seats are best for general purpose riding; this is what  you’ll likely want to choose for your mountain bike. Gel, Suspension, Cutaway and Extra Wide seats are made for the sake of comfort. Gel seats have a soft gel covering that molds to your body and can be found in any of the other designs but they do add some weight to your bike. Suspension seats generally look like racing seats but they have a suspension system so that they have more give and can bounce under pressure. Cutaway seats have sections cut out so they introduce less stress to certain pressure points and can alleviate pressure, tingling and numbness. Extra Wide seats are exactly how they sound; they have wider-than-average frames and usually some extra cushion. While they’re very comfortable they can make it difficult to pedal fast. Leather seats are somewhat hard to find; they look nice and can eventually mold to your body but they’re expensive and susceptible to water damage.

If none of the standard types of seats really work for you there are a myriad of alternative designs that incorporate all sorts of strategies to make you comfortable. Some seats are like hammocks and others have two pads for the buttocks, there really are a million varieties. The only caveat to these is that many of them are far from optimized for mountain biking. If none of the 7 basic types of seats work for you then definitely consider sticking to a low-impact biking path.

The post Mountain Bike Anatomy appeared first on Love to Bicycle.

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Bike To Work Week Is May 13th – 17th 2019

Bike Week is an annual international event. It is full week event that promotes, advocates and celebrates bicycling for transportation. Bicycle commuting has been steadily gaining popularity in American, Asian and European cities and countries over the past decade as more people are interested in finding ways to achieve healthy, sustainable and economical way to get to and from work.

History of Bike To Work Week

In 1923, the first Bike Week was held in the UK. It was then this wonderful tradition of promoting riding your bike to work was born. This annual event is almost a century old!! Some dates of a city’s Bike Week can be different, but the event remains the same.

Bike To Work Day is Friday May 17 2019 International Bicycle Day is Monday June 3 2019 Positive Changes From Bike Week

The popularity of Bike Week has encouraged cities to do major overhauls in regards bicycle commuting. Many cities that hold annual Bike Week have committees who push for these improvements of the city for cyclists and bicycle regulations. Providing bicycle lanes on city streets, bicycle specific stop signs, Green Ways, DIY bike repair stations and robust bicycle laws are being implemented and also demanded by cyclists. This demand is causing positive change in bicycling communities and also the cycling industry.

Now Is The Perfect Time To Give Bike Commuting A Try!

Many employers and communities get involved with Bike Week. Check with yours to see how they celebrate. You can also ask what ongoing programs are happening  or what benefits that are offered through your employer.

Click here for more resource on starting or planning events in your workplace or community.

Get Ready For Bike Week 2019!!

If you are new to bicycle commuting you are welcome to check out my post on Bicycle Commuter Etiquette for some helpful tips. Also if you haven’t been on your bike for a while please make sure it is safe to ride and make any needed bike repairs. It will be better to know about them before you leave for work rather than on your commute there. You can bring you bike to a local bike shop for a spring tune-up or needed maintenance or you learn how to do these repairs yourself at home with the DIY Bike Repair Online Tutorials Program. Click DIY Bike Repair to learn more.

Please wear a proper fitting helmet for bicycle safely.  Below is a link to Amazon’s Best Seller in Adult Bike Helmets. It is the Schwinn Thrasher. It offers a lightweight Microshell featuring a 360 degree comfort system with dial fit adjustment. They offer many colors and sizes for adults, youth, and children. Also a fun way to promote bike safety especially for cyclists that are biking at night are these Spoke Lights. They are so fun and look so cool!!! To think I just had an old playing card and some tape when I was a kid. Anyone else remember doing that?

Get geared up for Bike Week 2019!!!  See you on the bike path! Nicole

The post Bike To Work Week 2019 – Commuting To Work By Bicycle appeared first on Love to Bicycle.

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Have you ever wished that there was way you could capture the sense of motion in a still picture? Well, today, using just our camera and a special technique we’re going to learn just to do just that. Panning is the art of tracking a subject with your camera – blurring the background, while keeping the subject in sharp focus.

I’ll be walking you through the equipment required, how to choose a subject & location, ensure the background is appropriate, and pan smoothly!

Introduction

“In photography, panning refers to the horizontal movement or rotation of a still or video camera” – Wikipedia. The basic idea behind panning is moving your camera along to follow a moving subject. If executed correctly, the result will be our subject (e.g. a biker riding a bicycle) “frozen” and sharp while the background is smeared in the apparent opposite direction, hence creating the illusion of movement. While not simple to execute, panning is a very rewarding technique that can be used in a great variety of situations to produce a unique and outstanding picture.

Equipment

One of the great things about panning is that it can be achieved using almost any camera. There’s no need for a big and shiny DSLR but this style of camera will offer the best results with a quality picture. Canon EOS Rebel is a user friendly and widely supported camera. But even a small compact camera could do the trick as long as it allows you full control over those 3 settings: shutter speed, aperture size and ISO sensitivity. It’s also possible to do with a film based camera like he Canon AE-1. Since panning is a lot of “trial and error” it’s going to take so practice and using film could get expensive. I don’t recommend it until you’ve already mastered this technique.

In addition to a camera, you should also bring along a good tripod. Although a tripod is not a must, it can make your life much easier as a beginner. For all the pictures in this article I used a JOBY GorillaPod. The flexibility of the and the things you can while using this tripod are incredible!

Choosing the right subject and location

There is one rule about the subject, it has to move! There are endless possibilities: A moving car, a running person, a rider on a bike, walking dogs and even jumping horses. Basically if it moves, it can be panned. Since panning usually requires lots of trial and error to get it right, a location where the same event repeats itself many times and usually at the same location is advised. i.e. if we want our subject to be a runner, we should try and find one of those running lanes or a promenade that can be found in many parks or by the sea. We then try and position ourselves in a place where our view of the subject will not be obstructed by anyone or anything else. A very important thing to remember is ensuring that there is enough room to move around and find the best spot.

Choosing the right background

Now that we have chosen our location, we put our focus towards finding the right background. Since that one of the main goals of panning is for the subject to “pop out” of the picture, we need to make sure that our background is not distracting from the subject.

Try not to pick backgrounds that are considerably brighter than your subject, as they are likely to be over-exposed. If you can, find a nice plain background, because bright lights and sharp shapes might be distracting when blurred. Try to find a background that contrasts (red-blue, white-brown, blue-yellow etc’) with your subject, to make him stick out even more.

Setting your camera

Now that we have our desired subject, background and location it is time to get our gear ready. The first order of business is to change the camera shooting mode to manual. Now play around with the settings until you get a good balanced exposure (the camera histogram can come in handy here), trying to keep your ISO level around 100-200 and the aperture as closed as you can to achieve maximum depth of field in our subject.

When we have a well balanced picture, we need to estimate the correct shutter speed. This is difficult, and depends on two main factors: the speed of the subject and the distance from the subject. The faster the subject is moving, the faster the shutter speed, and the closer you’re to the subject the slower the shutter speed.

You’ll need to play around with the settings until you get it right. Here are, for reference, average speeds for some objects – start out with these and do your own fine tuning until you get it right: walking person (1/10), bicycle rider (1/20), moving car (1/60). I recommend starting out shooting faster objects because camera shake becomes a larger issue at a slower speed. This step might be a bit frustrating, especially for beginners, so don’t give up until you get it right. A tripod can really help and make a huge difference in your pictures.

Panning

Now that everything is ready, it’s time to put our photographer hat on and get started. The first step is to plan where exactly you want (and expect) the object to be in the picture. Try and find something that can be used as a mark; a road sign or tree for instance. It should be easy for you to spot during the action.

If your camera is not equipped with a good tracking auto-focus, you should set your focus on the marker by half-pressing the shutter button. Now the camera is focused and all that is left to do is take the picture! Identify your object and start tracking it with a steady, smooth motion. Try gauging speed and adjusting your own accordingly. Remember that the closer it is to you, the faster you’ll have to move your camera.

When your subject reaches the chosen mark, depress the shutter gently (to prevent unwanted camera shake) while still tracking the subject until you’ve heard the shot is complete. The key is to execute the entire movement as steadily as possible – study your subject, notice where it slows down and where it speeds up, and adjust your location if necessary. Done correctly, you should have a good panning blur with a sharp subject.

Some older cameras (or entry level point & shoot) have what is known as “shutter lag” problem. Shutter lag is when there is a slight delay between the moment you press the shutter and the moment the camera actually starts taking the picture. If your camera suffers from this problem, you’ll have to anticipate this lag and click the shutter a little earlier than expected.

For an appealing composition, place your subject towards the side of the picture, opposite to the direction of movement. It should look as though the subject has room to move into within the frame.

Patience is a virtue

Panning is all about patience – it’s a trial and error process, and can be difficult to perfect. Try shooting as many images as you can until you get it right! Remember that nothing is set in stone, experimentation is key, and most importantly: have fun!

Another take on panning

In this article I focused on the more “classic” panning technique in which we’re moving our camera in sync with our object. However there is another way to achieve a similar effect – instead of moving the camera, we’re going to be the one doing all the movement.

Imagine two cars driving side by side at the same speed – if you capture the car right next to you and set a low shutter speed, the same smearing effect will appear in . This technique is much easier to execute, although there are fewer situations where you are moving side by side with your object and at the same speed.

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Bike To Work Week Is May 13th – 17th 2019

Bike Week is an annual international event. It is full week event that promotes, advocates and celebrates bicycling for transportation. Bicycle commuting has been steadily gaining popularity in American, Asian and European cities and countries over the past decade as more people are interested in finding ways to achieve healthy, sustainable and economical way to get to and from work.

History of Bike To Work Week

In 1923, the first Bike Week was held in the UK. It was then this wonderful tradition of promoting riding your bike to work was born. This annual event is almost a century old!! Some dates of a city’s Bike Week can be different, but the event remains the same.

Bike To Work Day is Friday May 17 2019 International Bicycle Day is Monday June 3 2019 Positive Changes From Bike Week

The popularity of Bike Week has encouraged cities to do major overhauls in regards bicycle commuting. Many cities that hold annual Bike Week have committees who push for these improvements of the city for cyclists and bicycle regulations. Providing bicycle lanes on city streets, bicycle specific stop signs, Green Ways, DIY bike repair stations and robust bicycle laws are being implemented and also demanded by cyclists. This demand is causing positive change in bicycling communities and also the cycling industry.

Now Is The Perfect Time To Give Bike Commuting A Try!

Many employers and communities get involved with Bike Week. Check with yours to see how they celebrate. You can also ask what ongoing programs are happening  or what benefits that are offered through your employer.

Click here for more resource on starting or planning events in your workplace or community.

Get Ready For Bike Week 2019!!

If you are new to bicycle commuting you are welcome to check out my post on Bicycle Commuter Etiquette for some helpful tips. Also if you haven’t been on your bike for a while please make sure it is safe to ride and make any needed bike repairs. It will be better to know about them before you leave for work rather than on your commute there. You can bring you bike to a local bike shop for a spring tune-up or needed maintenance or you learn how to do these repairs yourself at home with the DIY Bike Repair Online Tutorials Program. Click DIY Bike Repair to learn more.

Please wear a proper fitting helmet for bicycle safely.  Below is a link to Amazon’s Best Seller in Adult Bike Helmets. It is the Schwinn Thrasher. It offers a lightweight Microshell featuring a 360 degree comfort system with dial fit adjustment. They offer many colors and sizes for adults, youth, and children. Also a fun way to promote bike safety especially for cyclists that are biking at night are these Spoke Lights. They are so fun and look so cool!!! To think I just had an old playing card and some tape when I was a kid. Anyone else remember doing that?

Get geared up for Bike Week 2019!!!  See you on the bike path! Nicole

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How to set up your Medical ID in the Health app on your iPhone

Your emergency contact and medical ID helps Police and First Respondents access your critical medical information from the Lock screen, without needing your passcode. They can see information like allergies and medical conditions as well as who to contact in case of an emergency. This is critical and life saving information to have available.

How to set up you Medical ID:
  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit. If asked, tap Edit Medical ID.
  3. To make your Medical ID available from the Lock screen on your iPhone, turn on Show When Locked. In an emergency, this gives information to people who want to help.
  4. Enter health information like your birth date, height, and blood type.
  5. Tap Done.
To edit your emergency contacts:
  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. To add an emergency contact, tap  under emergency contacts. Tap a contact, then add their relationship
  4. To remove an emergency contact, tap  next to the contact, then tap Delete.
  5. Tap Done.
If you live in the United States you can also sign up to be an organ donor:
  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Under Organ Donation, tap Sign Up with Donate Life.
  3. Fill out the registration form, then tap Continue.
  4. Confirm your registration, then tap Complete Registration with Donate Life.
  5. Tap Done.

If you need to edit this information with Donate Life:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then tap Edit Organ Donation.
  3. Update your information. To remove your registration, tap Remove Me.
  4. Tap Update.

For more information on Donate Life America’s privacy policy, please visit their website here.

For further support setting up you Medical ID or your iphone please visit Official Apple Support here.

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Before you start peddling on your adventure by bike, there are a few items I’d like you to think about bringing with you.

Are you are often on your bike and a shorter ride turns into to a longer one? This happens to me often. I just love being out there riding. Biking to and from work may be the main reason you peddle your bike. Hopefully you also enjoy recreational bike rides it also and exploring new places as well.

Downtown or in a busier city, with all the activity, lights and places to stop and get a coffee or water, offers excitement around every turn. But when you need a little more room to breathe an adventure beyond city limits is waiting for you! There is so much to see out there and let me tell you it is amazing!

Before you take off on this wonderful adventure there are a few items I’d like you to think about bringing with you that will help you and offer you comfort. Carrying these items will give you the means to keep you and you bike going.

Water & Food

I recommend bringing an extra water bottle or two when going for longer rides. Please try not to forget to drink water. It is so important to keep your body hydrated. I installed an extra water bottle cage on my frame. I also picked up some extra tall water bottles for these longer biking adventures. The best part is the bike gets lighter as I go. I also add an electrolyte powder for flavor and yes the benefit of the electrolytes too.

Food might not be to big of a concern pending how far your adventure is taking you. I think it is a good idea just to throw a couple quality bars and some nuts into your saddle bag then they are there if you need them. Always good to have if you are feeling low on energy, a granola bar or nuts will help give you the energy boost. Just remember to drink water with your snack.

Ladies ~ All this water and we are out in the county on an adventure, grab some toilet paper before you leave home. I like to use the travel Kleenex tissues. Then it stays nice and clean in the package.

Identification & Money

Everyone should always carry personal identification this is just a given. Especially in case of the worst possible scenario happens. Carrying ID can help the police or hospital staff verify your identity if you’re involved in an accident. Also, if you have any medical conditions I urge you to carry a means to communicate them to anyone who may need to come to your aid.

It is nice to have some cash and your debit/ATM card can get you out of all sorts of problems. There could be a situation where you can no longer ride your bike, you’ll be thankful that you can pay for a Uber or public transit to get you home. And you never know what you may find for sale on those country roads.

The Best country roads / bike trail system in my opinion that I have ridden on in is the Root River Bike Trail in Lanesboro Minnesota. Bringing cash and having saddle bags on your bike is a must if you like fresh jam, honey, bread and so much more. Check it out here

Cell phone

I know this may be a bit controversial as some of us ride our bikes for that sense of freedom and having a cell phone with is really not “unplugging”. But it is really good to have with you in case you get lost or hurt. Your phone can get you out of all sorts of difficulties.

You can even use your phone to store emergency contacts and medical information. I store my under ICE. Emergency people know that stands for In Case of emergency. You are able to set your phone so this contact is available without it having to be unlocked. Learn how to set up your iPhone here.

Plus you never know what you might see out there during your ride! Your phone is an awesome way to take pictures you never want to forget or the proof of an accident you wish never happened.

Basic repair and maintenance kit, for the bike and yourself

Getting a flat tire while you’re on your bike is a concern. You never know where or when it’s going to happen and you may end up having to call for help or be stuck walking your bike home. Carrying a bike tire puncture kit on your bike or in your bag can help get you fix your flat and get you back on your adventure.

The basic supplies you should have in your kit include a spare inner tube, tire levers, patch kit, mini-pump, and a folding multi-tool. Even if you’re unsure how to patch a flat tire or make the necessary adjustments having the tools could mean a good passerby can help you out.

Also having a small first aid kit with in the event of a wipe out is very nice to have!

If you would like to learn more about how to make repairs to your bike please check out this DIY video tutorial series completely on bike repair *here. I have it and have learned an incredible amount on how to repair and maintenance my bike.

Have fun!!

Pack your bike safety kit and fill your water bottles, your adventure awaits you!! I am so excited for you to go on your “out of town” bike riding adventure!! There is so much activity and new growth happening in the now that it is Spring. I hope you have the most amazing and peaceful biking adventure!

I would love to hear all about and if you would like to share a few pictures that would be great! I would enjoy seeing where your rides take you and what your part of the world looks like!! .

Safe riding & enjoy!! Nicole

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When you head out on the road with your bicycle for the very first time as a commuter bicyclist you’ll be joining many others that “ride a bicycle for transport”. Very quickly you will feel a sense of joy and be smiling big just like the rest of the cyclists you see on your commute. What a wonderful way to start and end the work day with a bike ride!

As a new bicycle commuter, you may also see and encounter a couple of things that look unknown.

There are written and unwritten rules of the bicycle culture which help ensure all riders of this street feel protected. Below are a few of the most essential pointers in my opinion that will assist you get started feeling comfortable like you have been a bike commuter for years. They don’t just apply for commuters but really anyone riding bicycling. Above all, always wear your helmet, stay secure, and make some new bike riding friends.

Passing Others On The Road

When you are on your bike you will end up passing virtually every kind of person on anything that you have ever seen on the road before. Cars, people walking, other biker riders, wheelchairs or scooters and even children on tricycles or bikes with training wheels pending where you are riding. Be ready for anything and everything!

When in comes to people on foot and other bicyclists you need to look forward and behind to guarantee the lane is clear that you pass onto the left. Often folks walking can hear you coming but you can offer an audible noise if you think it is a tight squeeze with little room to pass. A horn, bell or vocally tell them you are passing on their left will work. Before merge back in be sure that you have given those behind you 2-3 bicycle lengths of space. When it’s raining, and you do not have fenders give much more space prior moving in front of them so they do not get sprayed from the wheel spray.

When passing drivers, you need to keep as far to the right as you can without placing yourself at risk of having a door opened up on you. Ouch! Don’t pass on the right when there’s a road, driveway or parking place a vehicle can turn into. When vehicle is suggesting that they’ll be making a right-hand turn or if the vehicle is at a committed turning lane then you can have to shoulder check and move them on left-hand side.

Signaling Your Turns

Use proper hand signs to warn others you will be turning soon. Do it soon enough that people who may be trying to maneuver you do not try to do so from the intersection you anticipate turning in.

Be Visible At Night

Many helmets come with front and rear light for night riding. Like a vehicle, red taillights in back, white headlights in the front. I highly recommend reflective clothing as well. One time I had to work late and did not wear reflective clothing that day. The batteries on my helmet light were starting to wear down so they weren’t as bright as they should be. I felt pretty uncomfortable riding and not being visible to the traffic.     I bought reflective tape and placed that on my frame and I always now carry two AA batteries with me in my bike kit. Always be prepared and please do not ever ride at night without having lights for safety.

Stopping At Intersections

When you are coming to stop at a light or stop sign you need to stop behind the automobiles along with other cyclists facing you. Do not make your way to your front. Be patient. You are able to pass once everybody gets moving, and pass them you will. Best thing about riding a bike in my opinion.

You may at some point have to come to an abrupt stop for one reason or another, be sure to pull over. Just like when driving, stopping abruptly can place the biker behind you in harms way. Try to avoid stopping in the flow of traffic just like you would if you were driving a car on the street.

Parking Your Bicycle

Park your bike considerately. Bike parking shouldn’t interfere with people walking, vehicle or truck motions. Utilize bicycle racks correctly, so more bicycles may park. When bicycle rack is completely filled up do not shove your bicycle between others in risk of damaging other people’s bikes. Start looking for the upcoming available stand. Use a quality bike lock.

Enjoy The Ride And HAVE FUN!

The majority of bicyclists wish to construct a supportive and lively community. Say hello to a fellow commuter, do not be bashful. You may find someone that may need help, stop and see whether they want a hand. Wouldn’t you hope that someone would do the same for you? Pay if forward I say. Even if you don’t understand how to fix a bike chain which has dropped off or fix a flat bike tire perhaps they simply require another pair of hands or words of encouragement. Never know, maybe you will make a great friend!

Ride safely and smile big! Nicole

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