Here is a Riders Safety and Equipment Document: Ride Safety & Equipment Document
Safety on Bike
- Fitness - You want to make sure that you are trained before attempting this type of distance. You should shoot for at least a couple of rides during the week and one long one on the weekend. Getting together with some of the riders for a weekly long ride will help you achieve this. Strive to increase mileage by 10% or so each week. You also want to do some speed/strength work during the week in your shorter sessions. Take advantage of spin class at your local gym or just do some intervals on your own. You may not think this is important, but when you are riding into a strong headwind you will thank me!
- Injury Prevention - Ensure you are riding at a high cadence (your pedals are spinning fast) and not pushing too hard a gear. This can be very bad for your knees. If you have a cheap bike computer, you will likely have a numerical function to help you identify your cadence. If not, you can count every time that your left foot reaches the bottom of the pedal stroke in one minute and times by two to get your cadence number. Be sure not to speed up or slow down for this. You want to be pedalling between 80 and 95 rpms (revolutions per minute). You also want to be sure that your seat is not too high (your hips should NOT be rocking back and forth) and that it is not too low (your heel should just nicely reach your pedal when it is in the 6 o’clock position and you are sitting squarely).
- Ice Baths - Get a hot cup of tea and either freeze some yogurt containers full of water or hit the gas station for bagged ice. Fill up your tub about 5″ with the coldest water your tap will run. Dump the ice in and climb on in. Exhaling on entry will help! Grab your tea and time yourself - try to go for at least 5 minutes but stay as long as you can. Trust me when I say it is very unpleasant at first but as soon as everything numbs up, it is not so bad. I do this at least twice a week and it works like a charm.
- Legs On Wall - Elevate your legs on a wall while you watch tv or read. Simply lie on your back and schooch your bum back until you look like you are sitting on the wall with your back on the floor.
- Tennis Ball - Take a tennis ball and roll it up and down on your legs and back and arms and wherever else is sore. This is a massage type trick. If you find a place that is really sore and knotted up, leave it there for a moment and press into it while taking some deep breaths. Do not overdo this one - trust your body! We can all distinguish good from bad pain!
- Stretching - K so you are going to be sore… don’t let yourself get stiff too! Just remember what I said about stretching cold muscles (don’t do it) so either do a brief bit of cardio or take a warm bath to get your muscles warmed up.
- Hot vs Cold - Take a shower alternating between as cold as you can get it, to hot.
- Massage - Either get your significant other or friend to do it or book one with a pro.
- Recovery Hydration and Nutrition - This will go a LONG way for helping you recover. Remember to take in some simple carbs after your workout (best done within 15 minutes) to top up those glycogen stores. Your body also needs water to complete this process so don’t skim on the post workout fluid! And drink and eat lots while riding. This will take some getting used of but try for 200 cals or so per hour and about 750mls.
- Swimming - Take advantage of this low impact activity on your days off. It does wonders to stretch you out… tight legs? Try a kick board and do some gentle kicking to get the gross out of your legs!
- Road Safety - If you are riding tightly together, warn your fellow riders of potential hazards on the road. You don’t necessary have to learn the complex system of cyclist hand signals, just be prepared to yell if you see gravel, a pothole, glass or anything else that might be dangerous. It would also be nice for your guys to get some experience riding close to each other before setting out and if you are comfortable, grabbing each others handle bars, picking up a water bottle off the ground or making tight circles on your bike (do this on the grass though and do not move outside your comfort level.) Handling skills cannot be overrated! Also, remember that it is illegal to ride two abreast in Alberta and that you should wear something very visible and not make any sudden movements. I would recommend everyone have a mirror so that they can see traffic come from behind and lights in case you get stuck out past dark for whatever reason.
- As a slow moving vehicle you need to stay as close as practicable to the right edge of roadway unless passing or preparing for a left turn. Therefore, if the shoulder is paved and in good repair, you are legally required to ride in it; however, if there is no shoulder or it is unpaved or dangerous, you are permitted to ride as close to the right of the road as is reasonable.
- You are required to signal your intentions - you should be doing this while riding in a group anyhow - by pointing an arm to the left or right or by putting you hand out behind your back for stopping.
- You are also required by law to ride single file.
- All other road rules apply as you are legally a vehicle - see http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/documents/Regs/2002_304.cfm?frm_isbn=0779717082 for more info.
Some good recovery strategies:
Heather “Bike Girl” Miller offers some helpful bike tips to riders, about ways to keep your ride fun and sustainable… check them out!
Cycling Tip #1 - Ride Sally Ride
The most important thing about training to do a ride of this length is to actually do the training. Time spent in the saddle before you will mean the difference between just surviving and thriving.
Cycling 50-100+km in the saddle every day for three weeks is something you donâ€™t want to just jump into even if you are a commuter cyclist. Your body needs time to develop the endurance and acclimatize to hot weather riding. It is far better to work out any issues with bike fit or equipment on the training rides, so you can enjoy the big ride.
Popular cycling wisdom says that you should increase your distance by about 10% per week. You want to be able to ride 120km by 2 weeks before you head off for the tar sands. Ideally, you will do 2 - 100km rides back to back (eg Saturday and Sunday), so youâ€™ll have a feeling for how it is going to go. It is also a good idea to do a mid-week ride of about 25-30km, or ride shorter distances every day. Commuting to work is a great way to sneak in some extra time in the saddle.
Now cycling alone can be boring, so if thereâ€™s a cycling club in your area join it. Youâ€™ll meet new people to ride with. Check out canadiancyclist.com for a list of cycling clubs in their links page. Also, many charity rides have organized training rides and may be happy to have you join them. In Toronto I ride with the People With AIDS Friends for Life Bike Rally folks as a JAFTR (just along for the ride). So to reiterate, just ride and enjoy.
Ride on, Heather Miller
Topic #2 â€“ Keep if Flowinâ€™ - Hydration
Fainting during a ride is something that can easily happen to you if you are not vigilant about drinking enough, I learned that the hard way.
Last year I was on a 100km ride on a 32C day, and couldnâ€™t stand the taste of my Gatorade, so I didnâ€™t drink it. I thought Iâ€™d drink at the 50km stop. When I got there I felt weak and a team member insisted I get something to eat and so I ordered a sandwich. Before I could pay for it I started to feel wobbly and had to put my hands on my knees, my vision started to go black, and I passed out. Fortunately I fell down next to a nurse. When I came to she walked me to a picnic table in the shade and plied me with accelerade and potato chips. About 45 minutes later I was well enough to continue my ride â€“ but barely. It was a slow painful ride â€“ the longest 50km of my life. I was escorted home by the sweep to make sure I was okay. The nurse called me at home that evening to check on me, I was in rough shape. I will never be dehydrated again.
One of the wonderful things about cycling is that you cool yourself by moving quickly through the air and donâ€™t feel the heat so much in hot weather, that is, until you stop. The downside of that is that you also donâ€™t feel yourself sweating which tells you that you should be drinking.You need to replenish the fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise. The general rule is you should be drinking 500ml per hour,or 750-1 litre per hour in hot weather. Sipping or gulping, it doesnâ€™t matter â€“ just get it down you. This can be sports drinks or a combination of sports drinks and water. You can nibble salted pretzels with your water to get salts if you canâ€™t tolerate the sports drinks. Whatever works for you is fine. A simple way to gauge if you are drinking enough, is if you are urinating enough. If you havenâ€™t needed to get off your bike in 2 hours or your pee is dark instead of clear, you need to drink more.
There are several brands of sports drinks, try a few on your training rides and see what works for you. Many people find it difficult to tolerate Gatorade or similar drinks and so use higher-end sports drinks such as e-load and accelerade. Find out what works for you and keep drinking. Bottomâ€™s Up!!!
-Heather Bike Girl
Topic #3 â€“ Dress for Success
If youâ€™ve wondered about what to wear on the bike, then read on.
Wicking clothes are very important. A cycling jersey will wick the sweat away from your and keep you cool. The also have handy-dandy pockets in the back for holding ID, money or a spare water bottle. If the price is a concern, you can forgo the pockets and use a running shirt of technical fabric. Unless you are very vigilant about sunscreen, stay away from sleeveless jerseys. You donâ€™t want to have a sunburn, One of my favourite sites for jerseys is primalwear.com. They have a factory outlet area where you can get deals on jerseys (they tend to fit small). If youâ€™re a woman then try cyclechic.com for Canadian made cycling clothes that fit well. Of course thereâ€™s always your local bike shop or Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).
MEC is also a great place to pick up bike shorts. Those sleek black spandex shorts serve a purpose, they add extra padding and help prevent chafing â€“ which can be very painful, and can even bleed. The current rule of thumb is that you pay $1 per km for the shorts your ride in. In other words, riding 50km - $50 shorts, riding 100km - $100 shorts. There are, of course, always sales. If you havenâ€™t worn cycling shorts before, you may not know that you donâ€™t wear anything under them â€“ donâ€™t even try â€“ it can cause nasty chafing. At first it feels a bit like wearing a diaper because of the chamois, which are different in menâ€™s and womenâ€™s shorts for obvious reasons. Because you go commando under bike shorts, youâ€™ll want a few pairs, so youâ€™re not constantly washing them out. BTW, the chamois may not dry overnight if you hand wash and you donâ€™t want to cycle in a damp chamois. To that end, if you are tempted to go swimming in your cycling shorts - donâ€™t.. It is easy to put a bikini or speedo in your jersey pocket to have handy to change.
So now youâ€™ve got your spiffy shorts, and I have a little secret to share. There is cream you can put on your bottom to prevent chafing â€“ a couple of brands are â€œskin lubeâ€ and â€œchamois butterâ€, both of these are available at bike stores and worth every penny. If you do find yourself getting chafed during a ride chapstik (not minty) will help prevent further damage, or even sunscreen (use the thick bit near the top of the bottle). When your day is done, and you find yourself a little red under the cheeks, youâ€™ll need to take care of it. Zinc Oxide cream works well â€“yup good old diaper rash cream - you find it in the baby isle of the drug store, any brand will do.
Cycling gloves are necessary for the extra padding and blister prevention. Remember to put sunscreen on your hands, or youâ€™re going to have a very interesting tan line.Special cycling socks and shoes are great and the subject of the next weekly tips.
Keep up with the training.
-Heather Bike Girl
Topic #4 â€“ de feet not defeat
Your feet are quite important when cycling as it is one of the three places where your body meets your bike, the other two being the hands and rear.You want to keep your feet comfy and be as efficient as possible. At minimum you should have pedals with toe clips and straps and hard soled shoes. Ideally chose cycling shoes with clipless pedals. This will allow you to get the most out of your pedal stroke by being able to pull up on the pedals as well as push down. You will be using more muscle groups and tire less quickly. There are several different kinds of pedals and shoes something designed for touring or mountain biking would be best for this trip, as you want to be able to walk in your cycling shoes. Also Velcro straps on the shoes will keep your feet snug better than shoes with laces (which just get caught in your chain anyway). Some shoes have ratcheting closures which are great as they donâ€™t loosen. Ideally shoes should have 3 closures so you can adjust around the foot. What do you put in your shoes? Cycling socks of course. They may seem like an extravagance until youâ€™ve ridden 100-km and realize you have happy toes because the socks have been wicking moisture away from your feet all day.
There are times when your shoes will get wet from rain and hereâ€™s a tip. Dry your shoes as best you can, removing the insole, then stuff the inside with newspaper, this will help to dry your shoes overnight and youâ€™ll be fresh to go in the morning.
As you set out on your bike try and keep your cadence (how fast you turn your pedals) to between 80-100 RPM. This may seem quite fast at first, but is less tiring over the course of a day. There are cycling computers that have cadence readings on them. MEC sells one for about $25. A cycling computer will help you with your map reading and let you know how fast youâ€™re going â€“ definitely worth the money. To get the hang of using your full range of muscles unclip one pedal and pedal your bike for a few minutes with only one leg. Youâ€™ll notice dead spots, work to even out your stroke. Then try the other leg. Clip back in and see if you can maintain a similar muscle movement. Being conscious of an even pedal stroke will make the ride easier. One way to envision it is to imagine that you are wiping the mud off your feet at the bottom of the stroke and you pull up.
So remember to wear good hard soled shoes, clipless or clip/strap pedals and keep your cadence up.
Ride on Heather Bike Girl
Topic #5 - Road Safety
We all know the rules of the road, but I thought I’d remind you of a few things, especially as many of you are not used to riding with other cyclists. Signaling is vitally important - we know the signals and I trust that you all use them. When riding with other people it is helpful to also call out the signal, especially “Stopping!” or “Slowing!”, so that you don’t bump into one another. If someone is behind you, they may not be able to see hazards on the road that you can as your bike is blocking their view, so please point them out. Indicate with a jazz hand and call out “Pot hole!”, “Gravel!”, “Grate”, or whatever. I’m very fond of just calling out “Crap!”. Another call is “Clear!” when proceeding from a stop sign at an intersection. Before you make that turn and call out “Left!!”, make sure you shoulder check. On a bike shoulder checking is achieved safely by tucking your chin into your shoulder. Doing so will keep your arms still and your bike headed in the direction you want it to go in.
It is also polite to ring your bell or yell out “passing” or “on your left” when passing another rider.You will find that riding close behind another rider gives you an aerodynamic advantage. This isn’t the Tour de France and you haven’t spent thousands of hours riding in pace lines, so do leave a bit of a distance between the wheel in front of you and your front wheel. Pace lines work by each rider taking a turn at being leader and then dropping to the back of the line. You’ll probably fall into something similar, but do be careful and remember to call out. If the road is quiet and you want to ride two abreast be sure to fall into single file when you hear a car. Have fun, keep riding!