And the last half of the interview with the delightful Rachel of Suburban Yogini:
How do you dress for cycling? What kinds of recommendations can you make to help people stay warm (or cool, as the case may be), and to be prepared for sudden weather changes?
You will always be warmer on a bike than if you are walking, so wrap up in the winter but not too much because you do soon get hot.
Wear layers and invest in a good waterproof jacket (you can get ones that keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather). Keep your waterproof with you even if it doesn’t look like rain!
Like I said, I am usually in yoga clothes which really are the best cycling gear. But really I have cycled in all sorts of clothes. I’ve even gone out to posh dinners on my bike.
What types of things do you do to keep your bicycle well-maintained? What can someone do if they have a breakdown away from home (i.e. a flat tire, a tangled chain)?
There are two things you can do here:-
1. Get it serviced twice a year at a bike shop. It doesn’t cost very much and it just keeps the bike in good condition.
2. Go on a bike maintenance course (you can usually find these as evening classes at local colleges) and learn to do it yourself.
The bare minimum you need to do between services is to keep the chain well oiled and to keep the tyres pumped up.
As for breaking down away from home in Cambridge we are really lucky and have a bike “ambulance” that will cycle out to you and change your tyre or put your chain back on. If you prefer to do it yourself, always make sure you carry a puncture repair kit, a small screwdriver and a bike pump.
I have to admit, I don’t carry these things because I have Schwalbe tyres which don’t puncture. Google them. They were expensive but they were definitely worth it.
All cyclists, should, of course, become very familiar with their local traffic rules regarding bicycles in order to ensure their safety when sharing the road with automobiles. Are there any other little tips you have found that make you feel safer when you’re on the road?
Remember that you have a much right to be on the road as the cars and that you must cycle with confidence whilst obeying the rules of the road. Stop at red lights. Stay in the cycle lanes. Always signal. Always always have lights on your bike after dark. Lights are non-negotiable. Believe me, you cannot see a bike without lights until it is too late. Have two sets of lights. Spend money on good lights. Have lights!!!
And have a helmet. I gave some tips on helmet hair above. But you can also get a cute helmet in your favourite colour. I have a skater helmet which is much cooler than your average bike helmet (link http://www.nutcasehelmets.com)!
I have a little obsession about not turning right (kind of like Zoolander). Actually thinking about it in the States this is turning left. Don’t come out in the middle of the road to make the turn. Get off your bike and push it across the road. It’s not worth it, I’ve seen too many accidents when a bike is turning right (or left in the US) at a junction.
Be mindful and allow the car the benefit of the doubt even if it is your right of way. It’s much bigger than you!
What can people do when they find themselves at a location that isn’t particularly bicycle-friendly (i.e. a store or restaurant that doesn’t have a bike rack)?
I’d just say lock it to anything you can. A lamppost, a railing, a tree, anything. You start to get used to finding things. At first always give yourself plenty of time to find somewhere and sometimes you have to accept that you might have to lock it up a little away from your destination and walk. On the whole though I’ve always found it a lot less frustrating than finding somewhere to park!
One last thing. Cycling is a massive lower body workout so don’t forget to stretch it out when you get home. It also closes up the chest so make sure you open out the chest with some big stretches!
Thank you so much, Rachel!!!
Please be sure to check out Rachel’s wonderful yoga sequence for bikers. I can say from experience that it is a great sequence and helps counter some of the tension that can build up in different areas of the body when you bike a lot.
Are you inspired to get around on two wheels instead of four? Get on out there and give it a try!