Biking 101: Getting Started Traveling on Two Wheels

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bikelifecities.comGetting around town by bike is convenient, easy, quick, inexpensive and, best of all, fun! One of the best aspects is simplicity; you really don’t need much to get started. Anyone can do it—just roll up your pant leg and go! Here’s what you need to get started.

A FUNCTIONING BIKE. You’ll need a bike that is comfortable and fits you properly. If your bike has been sitting in the garage for a bit, have your local bike shop give it a tune-up. Before every ride, check your ABCs:

Air: Squeeze tires and inflate if needed, tires should feel firm.

Brakes: Squeeze brake levers, rock bike forward and back, wheels should stay put. Release brakes and spin wheels, wheels should spin freely.

Chain: Chain should move freely when you back pedal. Lube chain if needed. Also, many bikes have quick releases (instead of bolts) that fasten the seat and wheels. Quick releases should be securely closed.

A HELMET. You should wear a helmet not only to protect your head in case of a crash, but also because it’s the law! A properly fitting helmet stays put when you move your head. Be sure to wear your helmet level, Y-straps snug around ears and under chin.

A LOCK. Prevent theft by investing in a good lock. We recommend a U-lock as many cable locks are easily cut. When locking your bike, park in a visible location, lock the frame and both wheels if possible, and take off lights and any other easily removed accessories.

LIGHTS. See and be seen! Washington law requires a white headlight and a red rear reflector. But we strongly encourage also using at least one rear light. The more lights, the better.

Beyond these basic necessities, there are a few other items that may enhance your comfort, safety and enjoyment biking. Here are some top picks, or poll friends and colleagues about their favorites.

A BIKE MAP. Use the Seattle Department of Transportation’s bike map, which shows hills and quiet streets. Click HERE to download a map or order a paper copy for free. Or plan your trip using Seattle’s interactive online bicycle map.

RAIN PROTECTION. Investing in good rain gear is investing in comfort. Jackets with a long “ducktail” protect your backside from getting wet and dirty, while waterproof bags will keep your cargo dry. Rain pants, gloves and shoe covers are popular during the colder, wetter months. Additionally, fenders keep you, your bike and those riding behind you drier and cleaner when riding in the rain.

A BACKUP PLAN. It never hurts to carry a bus pass in case of bad weather or mechanical mishaps.

TAKE A CLASS. Does riding your bike or keeping it tuned seem like a mystery? It doesn’t have to be. Cascade Bicycle Club offers classes for all ages and skill levels where you and your family can learn everything you need to know to be a confident, educated cyclist. Check out all of the class offerings at Cascade.org/Learn.

These tips come courtesy of the Cascade Bicycle Club.