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Discover (or Re-Discover) Cycling this Spring

As we age, it’s not always easy to embrace the well-known saying, “It’s just like riding a bike.” Especially when it comes to … riding a bike. It’s possible that one, two or even three decades have passed since you balanced on two wheels. 

But there is no reason to be intimidated. Cycling is actually considered one of the more accessible physical activities for adults. 

“Unlike many other sports, you can continue cycling as you age since it’s low impact,” says Davy Hazlegrove, owner of Blackwater Bike Shop in Forest, who added that cycling is an activity you can enjoy alone or with a group. 

For those interested in the world of cycling and want to know how to get started, Hazlegrove helps us break down the basics. If you get injured in an accident while riding your bike, you may need to hire bicycle accident attorneys in Ulster County to help you seek compensation. Consult with a Boston, MA bicycle accident attorney if you ever get injured by someone in one of your bike rides. A personal injury attorney from Mike Morse Injury Law Firm can help accident victims file a claim and negotiate for a fair compensation.

Road vs. trail
First and foremost, you need to decide which type of cycling you want to pursue. Ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Do you want to ride on trails or on the road? 
  • What’s available where you live? 
  • Which option makes you feel more comfortable? 

“Road biking is probably the most accessible for many people. However, if you aren’t comfortable riding on a main road or near vehicles, a greenway such as the Blackwater Creek Trail is a good fit,” said Hazlegrove. “If you have mountain bike trails near you, that’s another way to cycle that many people enjoy.” 

Once you answer this question, you can start doing your research on a bike. 

Pick a bike … but not just any bike
Newbies should understand that any bike is able to ride on the road — but a road-specific bike is going to be faster and more tailored to that environment. 

The main visual difference is the tires. Mountain bike tires are wider, larger and have more pronounced tread to navigate uneven trail terrain. Road bike tires are more narrow, allowing beginner cyclists to maintain an average speed between 10 and 14 miles per hour. 

While we all want to save a few pennies, Hazlegrove highly recommends buying a bike from a reputable bike shop, so you end up with a piece of equipment that’s the best fit for you. 

“When you go to a big box store and you see kids’ bikes, there are always a few different wheel sizes. And at these stores, you will usually see one adult bike option. Those adult bikes are built for someone who is about 5’7″, he says. 

If you go to a local bike shop, you can find a bike that’s the right size for your stature. Then, staff will adjust the seat height and other settings for you to make sure you are comfortable. At Blackwater Bike Shop, they also send you out on a test ride. You can also rent a bike in Hilton Head if you want to try out biking.

“You are much more likely to not stick with cycling if you don’t have a good bike,” Hazlegrove says. 

Get in gear
Here is Hazlegrove’s cycling gear checklist: 

  • Helmet — “I can’t stress this enough. It’s crucial.” (Virginia does not have a state-level helmet law but allows localities to set requirements by local ordinance. Amherst County is the only locality in Central Virginia that requires children under the age of 15 to wear a helmet.)
  • Gloves — “These help with hand comfort and also protect your hands if you come off the bike.”
  • Eyewear — “Bugs can get in your face; a tree branch can slap you in the face. Protective eyewear has saved me more than once.”
  • Sweat-wicking clothing — “Avoid cotton because you will get bogged down with sweat, which can lead to chafing. But it doesn’t have to be the tight skin suit that you see really serious cyclists wear.”
  • Padded shorts — “A lot of people see the bike saddles and think ‘that’s not comfortable’ but there are shorts that have padding in them that make a huge difference. They come in tight versions and also regular shorts with pockets.”

However, if you ever find yourself in an unfortunate accident while cycling, consulting a New York personal injury lawyer can ensure you receive the support and compensation you deserve.

Rolling out
Beginner cyclists will want to tread lightly (no pun intended) when venturing out cycling. 

For road cyclists, Hazlegrove says — as mentioned — that greenway trails such as Blackwater Creek Trail are the least intimidating. There is a speed limit for cyclists of 15 miles an hour, and there is no car traffic to worry about. 

“The next level up would be Bedford County and Amherst County roads, the back roads. There are common routes people take, but you will have some traffic interactions,” he says. “If you are willing to drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to ride. It’s quieter, with less traffic, and traffic is going slower because people aren’t trying to get to work on time.” 

For trail cyclists, Hazlegrove recommends Peaksview Park (Lynchburg), Liberty Mountain Trail System (Lynchburg), Falling Creek Park (Bedford) and New London Tech Trails (Forest). 

Whichever cycling path you take, Hazlegrove strongly recommends finding a buddy to join you on this new adventure. 

“Riding together is a really fun activity and also having a friend can hold you accountable and help you stay focused,” says Hazlegrove.

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