If you own a bike and like riding it, you probably know that it’s excellent exercise. Who bike injury needs that gym membership when you can be riding your bike and go flying down a hill with the wind whipping past your face?
Biking works many different muscle groups, and beyond the initial outlay for the bike, helmet, and any other equipment, it costs you nothing. That’s another reason to get a bike: you don’t need to pay that monthly gym membership or the monthly cost for Peloton classes.
However, just like any physical activity, there are possible cyclist injury risks. Let’s go over some of the most common ones so you’ll know how to avoid them.
Busy Road Biking
467,000 bicyclists suffer injuries every year, and many of those come from busy road biking. You should avoid:
- Biking near highways
- Biking on main thoroughfares
Any time that you have many cars going past you in either direction, you know you’re not safe as a biker. You’d hope that the drivers can see you and notice you, but one distracted individual means disaster.
There are some drivers who simply don’t feel that bikers should be on the same roads as them. You may have the right to be out there on your bike, but it’s best to stick to public parks and quiet backstreets whenever you can.
Not Wearing a Helmet
You should also always wear your helmet when you go for a bike ride. You want to get one that:
- Provides full head cushioning and protection
- Has some great reviews
Bike helmets don’t cost very much, but they can make a huge difference. It’s like wearing a seat-belt while driving versus not wearing one.
Once you have that helmet on, you can feel a lot more confident on the road. If you do fall off or a car strikes you, you have head protection. You can often avoid concussions or more serious traumatic brain injuries.
You can also consider elbow pads and knee pads if you like. If you’re going mountain biking, they certainly make sense.
Riding at Night
You also take a real risk when you ride at night. When it’s dark out, cars can’t see you as well.
You can ride during the day and feel much better about it. When it’s bright and sunny, drivers can see you, and they can give you a wide berth.
You should also avoid riding at sunset or sunrise. There could be a tiny bit of light, which is better than nothing, but it’s still smarter to wait for a better moment. Of course, if you live in a neighborhood where there’s almost no traffic, you might feel more confident about low-visibility bike rides.
You can also get a blinking light for your bike. You can easily affix it to the handlebars or elsewhere.
You also have less of an injury chance if you ride as a group. Some drivers might not pay as much attention to a single biker. They will definitely notice a whole group of you riding together in a bunch or strung out in a line.
It’s also nice to ride with other people because it’s a bonding experience. You can encourage each other, and it’s a great way to stay fit.
Also, if one of you does sustain an injury, one of the others can call for help. This is also a great exercise idea during the pandemic because you can ride together while still socially distancing and wearing masks.
Biking During Bad Weather
Injuries often occur during poor weather biking as well. Bad weather might be snow, rain, sleet, fog, etc.
Rain is one of the worst biking conditions because the roads get very slick. You can easily skid and go down, causing scrapes or even broken limbs.
Biking in the snow is almost impossible, so you should never even attempt it. In the fog, cars can’t see you, and you can’t see them.
Check the weather forecast before getting on your bike. If you see that a squall is moving in, wait for another day, or move the ride back till later in the afternoon when it has blown over.
You should also make sure to stretch before you get on your bike. Not stretching out your arms, back, and legs can sometimes cause an injury.
You can look online for some simple stretching routines that will limber you up before you bike ride. There are good ones on YouTube and elsewhere. It’s just the same as with any other workout variety: don’t do any challenging physical activity, like peddling uphill, until you’re nice and loose.
Maybe you’ve biked since you were a little kid, and you know how to do it quite well. However, perhaps you’re new to it, and you’ve only taken one or two lessons.
Riding a bike is not the most challenging thing in the world, but it isn’t the easiest either. You do need to take some time to practice before you attempt some more extreme routes.
If you know you’re going on a bike ride where there a lot of hills, or you’re going mountain biking, build up to that by peddling through some flat areas where there’s not much traffic. Don’t tackle anything too severe until you feel like you have sufficient skills.
You should also check your bike and equipment before you hit the road. Look over your helmet and pads, and check the bike for any loose parts, rust, etc.
You want to try to catch any possible equipment or bike malfunctions before they occur. If you spot them before you’re far from home, that could save you from having to call a family member or a ride share vehicle for help.
If you haven’t gone for a bike ride before, now can be the perfect time to try. Bikes are not too expensive if you don’t get a top-of-the-line one. Just be sure to follow these instructions to avoid any potentially serious or life-threatening injuries.