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TIPS FOR HAVING A SAFE LEISURE BICYCLE RIDE:
(Source: Central Kentucky Wheelmen bicycle club) By ROBERT VILLANUEVA firstname.lastname@example.org Enjoying the outdoors and seeing the countryside are great ways to spend leisure time, and one way to do that is to get on a bike. Far more than being a timely and eco-friendly form of exercise, bicycling is a way for people to unwind. Carmen Coyle, vice president of Central Kentucky Wheelmen Bicycle Club, likened bicycling to yoga. “When you’re bicycling, you’re really in the moment,” Coyle said. Bicycling tends to give people a sense of well-being, she said. That, in turn, leads to reduced stress and feeling better. Figures cited by The League of American Bicyclists Web site from a 2003 survey by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics list recreation as the second-most cited reason that 37 percent of bicyclists ride a bike. The reason cited most by bicyclists for riding a bike was exercise/health, which accounted for 41 percent. While bicycling can be an individual experience, it can also be a group activity. “The safest way to ride is in a group,” Coyle said. That’s where a bicycle club can be helpful. Central Kentucky Wheelmen provides ride opportunities and bicycling information and education. The club hosts rides designed for various levels of riders. But before a person takes up the activity, he or she should do a little research. “The fit of the bike is the first key to actually enjoying the bike as a leisure sport,” Coyle said. Things like the size of the bicycle frame and height of the seat are among the components a new rider should take into consideration when buying a bike. Buying the wrong bike only to have an uncomfortable experience can discourage a new rider, Coyle said. When buying a first bike, a person should try out several and not be afraid to shop around. Bicycle shop owners can be helpful, too. People who plan to ride bicycles for the first time should also learn the “rules of the road,” Coyle said. In particular, the laws regarding bicycling should be reviewed. For instance, in Kentucky, it is illegal for a bicyclist to ride on the sidewalk, Coyle said. They are supposed to use the road. New members of Central Kentucky Wheelman are read the rules of the road upon joining. “They have to hear it at least once from me,” Coyle said. Safety is important to enjoying bicycling as a leisure activity. The right bike, knowledge of the rules and proper bicycle maintenance help create the needed foundation for a good experience. Plenty of water or a sports drink like Gatorade are a necessity during bicycling excursions. “You can get dehydrated so quickly on a bike without realizing it,” Coyle said. Some other things bicyclists should make sure to carry are all the tools needed to fix a flat, a snack, a cell phone, driver’s license and an insurance card. “Those are things that make leisure riding just a little less scary,” Coyle said. For many bicyclists, just getting outdoors is a big attraction to the activity. “It’s like a little mini-vacation,” Coyle said. “You see things you’d never notice from a car. It’s a whole different experience.” Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.