Health & Fitness

By Amanda Vasilikos

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This May marks the 17th Annual Bike Month NYC. In honor of the month, we asked licensed US Cycling Coach and Fitness Instructor, Avery Washington, for some handy tips on how to get back in the saddle.

To start, you need a bike! If you have an older bike at home, take it to a local bike shop for a safety inspection. (It’s recommended to get an inspection done on your bike each season.) If you’re starting from scratch, hit up a bicycle shop and have a word with an employee. Let them know how much riding you will be doing, whether you’re biking for speed or leisure and what type of road you will be riding on. The answers to these questions will help them find you the perfect bike for your needs.

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Ensure a safe trip with the right ‘gear’

Washington recommends purchasing other key items to ensure a comfortable ride, “One should invest in a pair of cycling shorts (to provide comfort on the saddle) and a bike jersey to allow your body to remain cool and breathe.” He also urges riders to “Never leave home without your helmet,” because let’s face it; we all fall down at some point. According to Washington, all helmets sold in bike shops meet the requirements for safety; he says it’s just a matter of style, “However, the more expensive helmets do allow for better air flow, are light and look good.” To help combat those nasty falls, Washington suggests bike gloves and a pair of sunglasses to guard hands from scrapes and keep dirt and other particles out of your eyes.

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One of the most important things to remember with biking, as with all exercises, is to stay hydrated. “You should always have a water bottle and be drinking from it throughout your ride,” Washington points out, “Even on a cool day you are working harder than you may feel and should be hydrating yourself.”

Now that you are prepared equipment-wise, it’s time to plan out your route. Washington says beginner riders should choose a route that other cyclists are using as well, “In case of a flat or other mechanical mishaps.” He goes on to add that “using roads with a shoulder or bike lane will provide a cyclist with some form of comfort from the passing traffic.”

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To warm up for your ride, which Washington says should be at least two hours (and built up from there); one should start out slow and allow the legs to warm up. He suggests also checking the tire pressure before you hit the road. Remember to stretch before and after the ride.

With these expert tips you’re ready to feel the warm spring air hit your body as you breeze thru the bike lane like a pro!

Originally published May 2008
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