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RIDE RIGHT Safety Tips: TIP #1 The RIGHT Stuff

  • 19 May, 2011
  • Jared

By Mark Wyatt, Iowa Bicycle Coalition

If you have committed to riding RAGBRAI this year, it all starts with Tip #1, the RIGHT stuff.  And when I say stuff, I mean bicycle.  Every RAGBRAI veteran knows having a smooth running, well-serviced bicycle can mean the difference between an enjoyable or not very enjoyable RAGBRAI.  

A klunker or bargain basement special might be just fine for getting around town, but if you are going to ride across Iowa, you might need a better bike.  Investing in a road bike can make riding the 60 to 90 miles per day on RAGBRAI much easier and more comfortable.  

Road bikes are usually the double diamond frame bicycles with dropped handlebars.  They generally have skinny tires.  There are many variations of road bicycles. You should find a bicycle that fits you properly.  

If you need a new bicycle, the first place to start is your local bicycle retailer.  Many people are going to the local bicycle stores right now to shop for that new bike that will take them from Glenwood to Davenport.  Your local bicycle store will have knowledge and experience to find the bicycle that fits your needs.  

So maybe you aren’t shopping for a new bicycle.  Many people purchase used bicycles or borrow one from a friend.  If you are going that route, be sure the bicycle is in good working order and has serviceable parts.  Take it to a local bicycle retailer for a tune-up.  

Also, be sure your used or borrowed bicycle actually fits you.  Bicycles come in different sizes.  A tall person needs a larger bicycle and a short person needs a smaller bicycle.  They are not generally interchangeable.  One of the simple ways to measure is stand-over height.  Stand astride your bike with your feet planted firmly on the ground.  You could be able to lift your bike 1-2 inches off the ground.  

For a more exact fit, visit your local bicycle retailer for a fitting session.  It could cost a little bit, but it will make you more comfortable on the long rides.  

A little planning for the RIGHT Stuff now, can equal more riding this summer.  If you need to invest in a new bicycle for RAGBRAI, make sure it is smooth running and efficient.  If you are going with a used bicycle, be sure it fits.  

If you are going to ride RAGBRAI safely, you are going to keep in mind the following safety tips:

1. The RIGHT stuff.
2. The RIGHT gear.
3. The RIGHT communications.
4. The RIGHT riding.
5. The legal RIGHT.
6. The RIGHT frame of mind.
7. The RIGHT abilities
8. The RIGHT attitude
9. The RIGHT attention.
10. The RIGHT condition

Mark Wyatt is the executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, a statewide advocacy organization for bicycling.  Mark is also a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), board member for the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking.  More information about the Iowa Bicycle Coalition can be found at www.iowabicyclecoalition.org.  

 

3 Comments

  1. Lenny Scovel

    The right fit can not be over stated! Also good gear (shorts especially) will make a huge difference. Invest in your health & happiness!

  2. Bill

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you very much for posting such an informative and motivational piece (“RIDE RIGHT Safety Tips: TIP #1 The RIGHT Stuff”)! Like many other riders, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    This will be my first RAGBRAI and I have some concerns about my bike. I have been riding on and off for many years, but have never ridden more than 50 miles in a day. And though in pretty good shape, at 62 I suppose I would be considered a ‘junior senior citizen.’ By July 24 I will have completed the recommended 1,500 miles of training, but here is my question:

    I have a Gary Fisher Dual Sport, Model 129. The bike is in great condition, well maintained and ready to roll (Right Stuff!), however, what is your take on my riding a hybrid-style bike for a journey of nearly 500 miles? I skinnied up the tires, stepping down from the stock 700c x 42 to a lighter and more flat resistant Bontrager 700c x 28 “Hard Case.” But the Dual Sport is not really a “road bike” and, in spite of the aluminum frame and thinner tires, is still a bit heavy. Am I biting off more than I can chew by attempting RAGBRAI XXXIX on this bike?

    Your input…as well as that of other readers and fellow travelers would be welcome and appreciated.

    Many thanks!

    Bill
    Chicago

    Gary Fisher Dual Sport, Model 129:
    http://tinyurl.com/44hj77s
    http://tinyurl.com/3epnb73
    http://tinyurl.com/3epnb73
    http://tinyurl.com/3c6ks4d (Genesis 29″ Geometry)

  3. zinzen1

    May 25, 2011 (Mark Wyatt)

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you very much for posting such an informative and motivational piece (“RIDE RIGHT Safety Tips: TIP #1 The RIGHT Stuff”)! Like many other riders, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    This will be my first RAGBRAI and I have some concerns about my bike. I have been riding on and off for many years, but have never ridden more than 50 miles in a day. And though in pretty good shape, at 62 I suppose I would be considered a ‘junior senior citizen.’ By July 24 I will have completed the recommended 1,500 miles of training, but here is my question:

    I have a Gary Fisher Dual Sport, Model 129. The bike is in great condition, well maintained and ready to roll (Right Stuff!), however, what is your take on my riding a hybrid-style bike for a journey of nearly 500 miles? I skinnied up the tires, stepping down from the stock 700c x 42 to a lighter and more flat resistant Bontrager 700c x 28 “Hard Case.” But the Dual Sport is not really a “road bike” and, in spite of the aluminum frame and thinner tires, is still a bit heavy. Am I biting off more than I can chew by attempting RAGBRAI XXXIX on this bike?

    Your input…as well as that of other readers and fellow travelers would be welcome and appreciated.

    Many thanks!

    Bill

    Chicago

    bwln82@sbcglobal.net

    Gary Fisher Dual Sport, Model 129:

    http://tinyurl.com/44hj77s

    http://tinyurl.com/3epnb73

    http://tinyurl.com/3epnb73

    http://tinyurl.com/3c6ks4d (Genesis 29″ Geometry)

    http://tinyurl.com/3ze2773

    http://tinyurl.com/3wpga3t

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