Since I am a professional cyclist, there are many tips of the trade that I can take for granted, yet it can be so beneficial to go back to the basics. Cycling is a beautiful sport that we can participate in to either race or ride our way around the county or the world. I ride my bike countless hours, and this lends for much self-reflection and a genuine appreciation for what I can do.
Here are a couple simple tips to get you on your bike and enjoying one of the most beautiful places in Northern California. Cycling has many health benefits and can be used for injury rehab, general fitness, exploration and commuting. Use these tips to open the door, saddle up, and get riding!
1. Wear a helmet. This is a no-brainer unless you want to severely injure your brain. A helmet may not protect you from suffering a concussion but it can save your life. Always ride with a helmet on, no matter how accomplished of a cyclist you think you are. Remember that helmets are usually only good for one crash, and please be cautious of any symptoms that resemble head trauma or a concussion.
2. Drink a bottle an hour. Even though the heat of summer is not upon us yet, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be hydrating on your bike. Aim to consume at least one bottle per hour to ensure you are staying hydrated and keeping fluids in your body. Try to put some electrolytes in your bottles to give yourself the added nutrients to push yourself even further.
3. Be prepared. Oh, the places we can go on our bicycles, and the different weather, conditions and hazards we may face. Make sure your bike is in working condition before you go conquer the world. Have a spare set of tubes, valve extenders, pumps and a multi-tool for those mechanical issues, and bring enough food just in case you decide to ride longer. Check the weather and know what is in store for your day. Plan your route, but be ready to go capture the day, just be prepared for what’s in store.
4. Wiggle your toes. If you just check in with your extremities every once in awhile, it will cause you to relax. We carry a lot of tension in our fingers and toes and this can result in cramping or fatigue. Wiggle your toes, play the piano with your fingers, and stay relaxed on your bike. The more relaxed you are, the more you can absorb the road and the obstacles you face.
5. Hold your line. It sounds simple, but it is more difficult to ride in a straight line than you realize. Practice riding on the white line and getting your water bottle out while maintaining your course. Look left and right while staying straight. This makes you a safer and more predictable rider to other cyclists and cars.
6. Challenge yourself. You never know what you are capable of unless you try. Challenge yourself on each ride to do something better or to push yourself further. Use others to motivate you to challenge yourself. Cycling is a great sport since you can participate with an entire community and continue to exceed your expectations. Beat your friend up Wildcat Canyon. Sprint into town. Or just chat over coffee. Cycling is a great community sport.
7. Vision broad, focus narrow. Keep your peripheral vision in line as you are completely aware of your surroundings, but look where you want to go. Focus on the exit of the corner. If you look where you don’t want to go, that’s where you will end up.
8. Recovery. To get the most benefit from your training, try to begin your recovery time within 30 minutes of getting off a long day on the bike. Drink some chocolate milk or eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to refuel the muscle glycogen and get you ready for your next day of riding.
9. Be respectful. We are all a part of a great team. We are cyclists and we are friends. Be respectful of each other and motorists. We are all on the same roads and need to share them. Be a good example for all cyclists.
10. Enjoy. Smile. There is nothing more freeing than riding your bicycle. It makes you laugh, smile and remember the simplicity of life. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to smile. We are so lucky to be able to ride around Shasta County and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Enjoy what your body can do, and take a moment to look around you.
These tips were published in the Redding Recordsearchlight today, with the correspondence I had with Jon Grabeal. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. I was very excited to be able to contribute to my hometown newspaper! Thanks for asking, Jon!