Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the calming breeze and explore the outdoors. A bike tour can be an exhilarating experience and a pretty addictive one. Once you’ve been on your first tour, chances are you’ll want to do it over and over again.
Yet, what was meant to be an exciting activity can be dangerous. Safety is a major concern when touring. Here are six of the most important safety precautions you need to take when going on a cycling tour.
1. Understand Relevant Local, State and Federal Law
Cycling is fun but it also comes with responsibilities. Finding out what laws govern cycling in the area should be one of the first things you do when planning a bike tour. Different states in the US have their own set of bike rules. You are likely to attract respect from drivers and cyclists if you demonstrate respect for applicable laws and other road users. Do not, for instance, ignore red lights or stop signs. If you are in a group, ride in single file.
2. Stay Visible
Visibility may not be a major issue if you’re riding in broad daylight unless you’re passing through poorly lit passages such as tunnels. It’s a totally different ball game though if you expect to be on the road under low light conditions like early morning, late evening, at night or in poor weather. In such instances, wearing bright or reflective clothing allows drivers to easily spot you. Make sure the bicycle has reflective lights on the front, rear and side.
3. Cycle Defensively
Defensive cycling is especially important if you are touring a place you’ve never been before or don’t regularly visit. Be cognizant of what is in front of and behind you. Keep a close eye on potential hazards such as gravel, sand, snow, potholes, water puddles and railroad tracks. Significant cracks on the road can make you lose control of the bike if you are moving fast. Parked cars going in reverse or whose occupants are opening their doors without looking are potentially a danger to you.
4. Wear a Helmet
Some states do not have a problem with adults not wearing a helmet. Still, your own safety should be a priority even when legal regulations do not exist. Blunt trauma to the head from bike falls can be fatal or lead to permanent injury. The helmet should be properly fitted and fastened.
5. Trust Your Instincts
Over thousands of years, humans have acquired certain evolutionary traits meant to ensure their survival. Intuition is one. During a tour, you may come across circumstances that just do not feel right. If a situation seems okay on the surface but you have a strong subconscious urge not to proceed, trust your intuition. Don’t mistake intuition for fear or anxiety though. Some degree of fear is expected particularly when in a new place. Intuition is a deeper, more rational sense of looming danger.
6. Choose a Reputable Bike Rental
It goes without saying that you should rent a bike from a trustworthy bicycle rental company that maintain their bicycles regularly. Although there’s nothing wrong with going through a cycling safety checklist yourself, working with a professional bike rental company reduces the risk of missing something important. Don’t forget to check whether the company has a safety routine they follow before renting out their bikes.