Whether you are on your bike or in your car, the biggest thing you can do is to be informed and aware or the law. When you are biking on the road, you are considered a vehicle and have all of the rights and responsibilities you have when driving a car. Visit the NH Highway Safety Website and check out their brochure on bicycle laws and safety guidelines. For even more info, such as safe routes to school and info about rail trails, visit the NH DOT website.
Another important factor in cycling on the road is to know the safest and most bike friendly routes and have a plan for unexpected occurrences. Make sure someone knows where you will be biking and how long you will be gone. Learn how to change a tire and always carry an extra tube and flat kit. Bring a bottle of water or a sports drink, and carry a phone with you. Carry a form of ID and emergency contact info on you. An easy way to do this is to get an ID bracelet such as Road ID, which is especially important if you have any medical conditions.
Beyond knowing the law and having a plan for your ride, there are many other things you can do to ensure you are being as safe as possible. Use a properly fitted and non-expired helmet, reflective gear and lighting in low light, a handlebar or helmet mirror and proper footwear and gloves.
For help with purchasing and learning proper use of these items, and how to perform basic maintenance on your bike, visit your Local Bike Shop. They are always happy to help keep riders as safe as possible!
I am nervous riding in a group. How can I increase my confidence and comfort level riding with others on the road?
The best way you can do this is to join a regular group ride. Most of the bike shops in the Seacoast area have regular group rides. There are groups for every ability level, speed and distance available, so if you’re feeling intimidated, there is a ride for you! They will typically review basic group cycling skills, traffic signaling on a bike and laws for any newcomers, and there is always someone willing to answer questions. Consistently riding in a group will increase your confidence level, and the cycling community is welcoming and enthusiastic! For information about various shops in the area, visit the group rides page on this site, and give the bike shops a call for the most updated ride schedules.
I have a hard time climbing a hill without getting really winded. How can I get better at climbing hills?
The best way to increase your hill climbing ability is, of course, practice, practice, and then practice some more! However, here are a few tips to make climbing hills more manageable as you increase your skills.
- Start by spinning in a lower (easier) gear and to stay seated for as long as possible. Being in a high gear or standing too early in the climb will tire you out too soon. If necessary, move into a higher gear and stand as the last push to get you to the top.
- Position your hands on the hoods of your handlebars and open your chest so you can breathe as easily as possible. Be mindful of using your core as an additional source of power.
- Move back on the saddle. Shifting on the saddle will use different muscles in your legs, so if you are on a long climb, move around on the saddle to give yourself a break.
- Continue to pedal as you ride over the crest of the hill. It’s easy to stop pedaling as hard when we are nearing the top and the end is in sight, but this will actually make it harder to finish the climb, and you will lose precious momentum!
- Envision yourself on the downhill. Often, giving yourself a pep talk and picturing the finish line (the top of the hill, in this case), can provide us with that extra “oomph” we need to get up to the top! Believing you can do it will often make all the difference in your climb.