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Cycling Tips

Cycling Tips!

We are frequently asked for various tips regarding cycling. While we don’t have all the answers, we certainly try to have as accurate information as possible. We encourage you to research other sites for additional information.

The laws governing cycling are constantly changing – please check your local and state government agencies for all the updates. This is for general information only.

  • Laws Governing Cycling in Georgia
  • Tool Kit for Carrying on a Bicycle
  • Prevent and Eliminate Knee Soreness
  • Riding in Groups
  • Tips for Shopping for a Road Bicycle
  • Winter Riding

 


Answers

Laws Governing Cycling in Georgia

There are several laws in the Georgia Code that apply to bicycles. Here’s a selection of some of the key provisions. Like most legal language, it can be a bit tough to interpret the meaning behind the words… As we are not legal experts, we will not attempt to interpret the underlying meaning of the language in these laws. Consult a lawyer if you have questions about the interpretation of these laws.

NOTE: This is not a comprehensive list of all the laws of the State of Georgia that govern bicycles and their operation. Contact the State of Georgia for a more complete set of laws in the Georgia Code.

40-6-293.

No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.

40-6-294.

(a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right of the roadway as practicable, except when turning left or avoiding hazards to safe cycling, when the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, when traveling at the same speed as traffic, or while exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; provided, however, that every person operating a bicycle away from the right side of the roadway shall exercise reasonable care and shall give due consideration to the other applicable rules of the road. As used in this subsection, the term ‘hazards to safe cycling’ includes, but is not limited to, surface debris, rough pavement, drain grates which are parallel to the side of the roadway, parked or stopped vehicles, potentially opening car doors, or any other objects which threaten the safety of a person operating a bicycle.

(b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

40-6-296.

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 to the rear may be used in addition to the rear reflector.

(b) Every bicycle sold or operated shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level pavement.

(e)(1) No person under the age of 16 years shall operate or be a passenger on a bicycle on a highway, bicycle path, or sidewalk under the jurisdiction or control of this state or any local political subdivision thereof without wearing a bicycle helmet.

(e)(2) For the purposes of this subsection, the term ‘bicycle helmet’ means a piece of protective headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

(e)(3) For the purposes of this subsection, a person shall be deemed to wear a helmet only if a helmet of good fit is fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet. In addition, may jurisdictions, including the City of Atlanta, limit or prohibit people from riding on sidewalks:

150-210. Riding on Sidewalks

(a) Business District. No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district or the central traffic district.

(b) Age Restriction. No person 13 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district.

Updated 06/27/07

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Tool Kit for Carrying on a Bicycle

By far, the most likely problem to occur during a ride is a simple flat tire. All of us can fix that kind of problem, as long as we have the right tools to do it:

•   It’s a good idea to carry two or three tire levers so you can remove the tire and tube from the rim of your wheel. Don’t use a screwdriver, as it’s likely to damage the tube or tire and maybe even the rim.

•   Carry a patch kit so you can repair a small puncture in your tube. The two main kinds of patch kits are “classic” using glue, and glueless. Both kinds have a small piece of sandpaper to scuff the tube a bit, making the patch adhere to the tube better. The glueless patches were introduced a few years ago by a tool company called Park Tools, and they’re still the best available. Essentially, these glueless patches are like Band-Aids – you peel off a backing to expose the sticky side and apply it to the tube, covering the puncture. Some people like the classic patches; I prefer the glueless type.

•   Carry a spare tube (or two). It’s always easier to put in a new tube, and then patch the puncture in the old tube later in the comfort of your living room. Be sure to get tubes that are the right size for your tire and has the right kinds of valve to inflate it. There are two kinds of valves – the kind that looks like a car tire valve is called Schraeder, and is common on mountain bikes and hybrids; the other kind is narrower and has a small metal screw top. It’s called a Presta valve and is common on road bikes. The reason it matters is the valve needs to fit through the hole in the rim, and the two types of valves have different diameters.

•   You need a way to inflate the tube. There are three options. You can carry a pump which can fit in the bike’s frame or clip into a holder near the water bottle cage. Some people prefer to use pressurized carbon dioxide cartridges. The cartridge fits into a dispenser that you can use to put the CO2 into your tube and inflate it. For both the pump and CO2 options, again, be sure to get the right type for your type of tube. These days, many pumps and CO2 dispensers can be used for either type of valve. The third and worst option is using the air pump at a gas station. It’s too easy to blow your tube apart this way, because it’s difficult to regulate the pressure going into the tube.

Before you put the new (or patched) tube back into your tire, inspect the tire for whatever punctured your tube in the first place. It’s really  frustrating to replace a tube and have the new one go flat in a mile or two because a glass shard was left in the tire. It’s a good idea to practice fixing a flat at home before you need to do it on the road.

A more serious situation is when you hit an object that cuts the sidewall of your tire. It’s much more difficult to repair this type of flat, and you’re likely to have to replace the tire as well as the tube. To get you home or to the bike shop, though, you can put a folded dollar bill into the tire at the site of the cut. The fabric in the bill will temporarily prevent the replacement tube from pushing through the cut. This type of cut is typically long, maybe an inch or more, rather than just a small hole. That’s why you’ll need to replace the tube, and probably the tire.

You may want to consider carrying a “multi-tool” that contains hex wrenches, socket wrenches, screwdriver heads, and possibly a chain tool. Think of this as a Swiss Army knife for your bike. Good examples are made by Park, Spin Doctor, and Topeak. This kind of tool can save your ride from disaster.

You can wrap your tools in a cloth to keep them from rattling around in your under-the-seat pack. And use the cloth to wipe your hands after making the repair.

You can purchase all of these items at your neighborhood bike shop, and they can give you instruction in how to use them.

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Prevent and Eliminate Knee Soreness

It’s ironic that knee pain is one of the most common cycling-related injuries.  Cycling is often recommended therapy for rehabilitating knees injured in weight-bearing sports.  But the knee is also one of the least stable joints in the body, and pedaling a bike puts constant pressure on your knees.  If you pedal continuously at about 83 pedal strokes per minute, you’re bending and extending each knee about 5,000 times and hour.  Overuse – too much too soon too fast – is at the heart of most knee problems.  Often, the soreness you feel in your knee(s) is due to patellar tendonitis – inflammation of the tendons that connect your quadriceps muscles to your kneecap.

This is not professional medical advice.  But years of cycling teach us a few things about how to prevent knee soreness, many of which are common sense:

•   We should always warm up before a hard effort.  Thankfully, spinning low gears on a bike for a few minutes is an ideal way to lubricate your joints (literally) and warm up your muscles.  This is particularly important for those of us who are getting up there in age.

•   Stretching your hamstring muscles eases the pressure on your quadriceps muscles.  It only takes a few minutes, and you can do it watching videos of past bicycle races.  It’s best to stretch by sitting on the floor with both legs stretched in front of you.  Bring one foot in, so that the sole of that foot is pressed against the inside of your upper thigh.  Then, with your back as straight as possible, bend forward at the waist.  Hold the stretch for no more than five seconds and release.  Repeat a few times on each leg.

•   Be sure your saddle is at the right height.  Your bike seat should be high enough that there’s just a small amount of bend in your knee at the bottom of your pedal stroke.  Soreness above the knee often means your saddle is too low; soreness behind the knee often means your saddle is too high.

•   If you have clipless pedals, align the cleat on your shoe so that your pedal stroke is natural.  That is, avoid angling the cleat to make your ankle or your knee twist oddly while pedaling.

If your knees are sore, you can treat the pain by reducing the inflammation:

•   Back off the distance and intensity of your riding.  You don’t have to stop completely but cut your mileage in half and avoid grinding up steep hills.

•   Ice the area.  Ice acts to relieve the pain and swelling.  Apply ice 20-30 minutes three times a day until the swelling and soreness are gone.

•    Use anti-inflammatories like aspirin or ibuprofen.  Take as directed to reduce the swelling caused by patellar tendonitis.

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Riding in Groups

It’s a good idea to review some basics of riding in groups – mostly being considerate of other users of the road…  Remember that we cyclists have to follow the rules of the road, just as motorists do.  We have the right to be on the road, and we have to take the responsibility that comes with that.  Many of us have horror stories of times when things went wrong that could have easily been avoided.  Here are some good ideas for riding with others.

•   Be predictable.  Don’t weave side to side, making it difficult for others to anticipate what you’re going to do next.

•   Signal your intent to turn or stop.  Indicate left turns by extending your left arm straight out to the side; right turns by extending your right arm straight out to the side (or using your left arm, and bending your forearm up at the elbow); slowing or stopping by extending your left arm out and bending your forearm down at the elbow, palm facing back.  It also helps to call out that you’re slowing or stopping.

•   Please communicate with one another.  It’s good to call out and point to debris in the road, traffic approaching from behind (“car back”), traffic coming from ahead (“car up”), and the curious dog.

•   Always pass on the left.  Follow the principle that slower traffic stays to the right and faster traffic passes on the left.  You don’t want to be squeezed between the edge of the roadway and a rider on your left.  That cyclist may have to move to their right to avoid something in the road, and being on that person’s right, you risk blocking them or getting pushed off the road surface.

•   Give the passer room to move over.  If the rider passing you needs to move back into the line of riders, create a gap between you and the rider in front of you.

•   Don’t follow other cyclists too closely.  It’s too easy for a front wheel to overlap a leading rider’s rear wheel.  If the wheels touch, even a little, it’s likely that one or both riders will fall.  Leave the pacelines to really experienced cyclists.

•   It is legal to ride two abreast in Georgia.  But of course it’s considerate and safer to ride single file in areas with traffic and/or limited visibility.  Discretion is always the better part of valor on a bike.  Even though it’s legal, the person driving the car might react badly to feeling blocked in the road.

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Tips for Shopping for a Road Bicycle

The following piece comes from the owner of Intown Bicycles, who has been servicing and selling bicycles for over 30 years. These are good thoughts to keep in mind when selecting a bike – or encouraging your friends to start riding and join Team Noodle.

If you’re considering purchasing a new road bike, or just studying up on the subject for future reference, there are basically three things to now about road bikes: Frame Materials, Frame Geometry, and Components.

Frame Materials: Manufacturers use four materials to make bicycles – Aluminum, Steel, Carbon Fiber, and to a lesser degree, Titanium. Each material has different properties and lends a different feel to the ride of the bike. Manufacturers sometimes use a combination of these materials in different parts of a frame and fork to achieve a particular ride characteristic they want in the bike.

Aluminum is by far the prevalent material used by bike manufacturers today. Builders like aluminum because it is lightweight and stiff. With aluminum, they can make bikes that flex less under load and thus direct more of the rider’s energy into forward motion, rather than the frame absorb the rider’s energy. However, aluminum can also make the ride bumpy and less comfortable.

Steel in the other hand, which has been used to build bikes for decades, gives a smooth, more comfortable ride to the bike. It is a more pliant material, and therefore absorbs road vibration well. Steel is also a very strong and reliable material. It weighs only a little more than aluminum.

Carbon Fiber, though, touts the best qualities of both steel and aluminum. It is lightweight and lends a very smooth ride to the bike. Carbon fiber is also a very versatile material. It can be laid out to be either stiff or compliant, depending on what part of the frame it is use din, and depending on what ride qualities the builder wants in the bike. We’re seeing more and more carbon fiber used on bikes these days. The technology has advanced and the price has come down.

Titanium, finally, tends to be the most expensive material builders use. It is a very hard metal and difficult to work with. It most resembles steel in its ride qualities in that it gives a very smooth ride. However, it has the advantages of weighing less than steel, being very corrosion resistant, and incredibly durable. Titanium bikes just don’t wear out. Incidentally, Litespeed, one of the most highly regarded titanium bike makers, is located just up I-75 from Atlanta in Chattanooga.

Frame geometry is the second thing to know about road bikes. As the term implies, frame geometry refers to the lengths of the frame tubes and the angles at which they are assembled. The frame geometry, like the frame material, affects how the bike rides. More specifically, frame geometry determines how the bike handles. A touring bike, for example, has longer chain stays, more fork rake, and less acute angles in the head tube and seat tube. Thus, a touring bike handles more like a Mercedes or Lexus: smooth, stable, and comfortable – desirable qualities for a bike to be ridden great distances, loaded with heavy gear, or used for commuting.

Conversely, a bike made with more acute frame angles, a shorter wheelbase, and less fork rake handles more like a Porsche or Ferrari: light, quick, and responsive – desirable qualities for racing or just the joy of performance.

The components used on a bike, i.e., the brakes, gears, wheels, etc. comprise the third element that determines a bike’s ride quality. The Shimano brand dominates the bicycle parts market, especially the transmission market for road bikes. (Of course, Campagnolo still makes fine road bike components, but not really on the scale of Shimano.) When you hear mentions of words like “105” or “Ultegra” these are references to the model of Shimano components used on the bike. Most manufacturers make a bike featuring each of these model component groups. “Dura-Ace” is the top of the line component group where Shimano does all of its research and development. It is very expensive stuff, but the technology developed there gradually filters down the line to the less expensive component groups, namely: Ultegra, 105, Tiagra, and Sora.

The higher quality components employ better materials, are machined to closer tolerances, and have finer finishes, which means they work better and last longer. The shifting feels crisper, more precise; the braking faster and more controlled.

Now that you know all about frame materials, frame geometry and components, forget all about them. You don’t need to know about any of that to buy a bike. All you really have to do is this:

Visit a bike shop you like, determine your proper frame size, pick the price/quality range you want to afford, then test ride some. See how they fit, feel, and handle.

It’s the combination of frame materials, frame geometry, and components that determine how a bike will ride, not just the characteristics of a single element such as the frame material or frame geometry.

You’ll find that bikes are very competitively priced from brand to brand and store to store. At a given price point, you’ll see similar, if not identical, components use don them. Thus, you can focus your attention more on how they ride than how they’re priced. You’ll know when you find the right bike. It’s sort of like buying shoes. When you “try on” the right one, it just feels good.

Your bike shop staff can help you determine the right bike for your body and the type of riding you plan to do.

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Winter Riding

Cycling in Georgia can be a year-round pleasure. An issue of “Shifting Gears” – the newsletter of the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign – includes a useful article about preparing to ride in cooler weather. Here’s an excerpt from that article:

The health benefits of biking are far too great to let go of biking in the winter, but it does take a little extra to ride comfortably. The winter cyclist outfits him/herself for function and dependability, not necessarily for fashion or speed. The recommendations below may add weight or “complexity” to your ride but they will get you from home to your destination and back with the greatest of ease and comfort.

Clothing – You don’t have to wear “expensive” bike clothes to ride in the winter. Wear comfortable clothes in layers, just as you would for other outdoor winter activities. You can find inexpensive clothing for layering (fleece and wool are good), shoes, socks, gloves, etc. at discount clothing and sporting goods stores.

The rule about layering is you should feel slightly cool when you leave home. If you feel warm, you’ll get hot in just a few blocks and begin to sweat. Sweat will cause your clothing to get wet or damp, and when you have to stop (like at an intersection), the wet clothes will make you feel cold. So if you start to feel warm, partially unzip your windbreaker jacket or remove a layer. It’s a good idea to check the wind-chill factor when determining how you should dress. It’s usually colder than you think, as we generate wind-chill just by riding. Experiment with what clothing options work best for you.

Don’t forget to cover your legs. Many people think that since the legs are working so much they do not need to be covered until the temperature is really cold. The experts disagree with that concept. Most say that knees should be covered below 65 degrees and legs at about 50 degrees. Remember, though, to wear close-fitting pants so your pant leg does not get caught in the chain. Tights are good, or you can tuck a pant leg into your socks. Bike shops also sell straps or clips to hold your pant legs close to your ankle.

Gloves or mittens will keep your hands warm so you can steer, shift gears, and apply the brakes You may want to invest in a couple of pairs to keep your hands warm in a range of temperatures from about 55 degrees to below 20 degrees. Don’t forget your ears and the top of your head – a huge percentage of body heat is lost through your head. Wear a cap under your helmet, or a full head covering called a balaclava. Remember to wear ear/head coverings that allow you to hear traffic as you ride.

Lighting and Reflectors – How many times have you seen the “invisible” cyclist when you are driving at night? You know, the one with no lights or with only a dim tail-light. With the days being shorter, you may find yourself riding in low light. Get the best lighting you can afford. At a minimum, you need a headlight, so you will visible to motorists approaching you from the front, and a rear blinking red tail-light. Generally, it’s important for motorists to see you in low light/darkness. A reflective vest is useful and lightweight, and can be worn as a supplement to headlights and tail-lights.

[Note that Georgia law requires a headlight and rear reflector when riding a bicycle at night:

40-6-296.

(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a light on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety which shall be visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 to the rear may be used in addition to the rear reflector.]

Safety – being safe regardless of the season is the goal of every cyclist. Roads you are familiar with will look different and ride differently in the winter months, so be prepared for the unexpected. Remember that puddles might hide a pothole, so ride around puddles. The same is true for roadside debris – leaves and pine straw can be very slippery, so ride around them if you can. And if weather conditions change or you find yourself ill-prepared for the ride home, always opt for the safest way. Call someone for a ride or take public transportation. All metro Atlanta bus systems have bike racks and bikes are allowed on all MARTA trains.

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