General Riding Tips
 
If you are making the transition from riding a couple miles at a time around your neighborhood to longer excursions, there are some things you need to consider.
 
Plan your trip...
Not all routes are "bike friendly."  If your route includes riding on streets, are there bike lanes?  What is the traffic volume?  What about major hills?  You usually have choices in how to get from "point A to point B," you just need to choose wisely.  The first thing you need is a good bike map.  These maps show which streets are good and which to avoid.  Most bike shops will have maps of your local area.   Another great resource is Google!  Go to Google maps and type in the city in the search window.  If you are near any metro area, the quality of the maps will be good, and will allow you to zoom in far enough to even see the bike lanes on the streets!  When I am planning a route, bike maps are not always clear on the fine details. 
 
Take tools & repair parts...
You may be in the same position we once were.  We took short rides from home, or from the car at the beginning of a bike path.  If we had a problem we just walked the bike a mile or two back to the car.  Now, on some of our rides we are 30 miles from home!  That is an awful long way to push a bike!  Be prepared.  Take a good selection of repair gear along.  We have actually had to use ALL the items listed below at one time or another.  They have saved us from some VERY LONG walks!  I would suggest the following things for starters:
     1)  Wrenches and screw drivers that fit everything on your bike (most things are the same size)
     2)
  Tube repair kit (and / or extra tubes), tire changing tools, and a tire pump 
     3)
  Chain repair kit  (you won't need it often, but if you do there is no substitute)  
     4)
  As a backup, a "Leatherman" type multi tool, electrical tape & zip ties
     5)
  Individually packaged "wet wipes" towels to clean up after greasy repairs 
Here are a couple of specific products we are really happy with...
There are many types of pumps to choose from.  The important thing is just to have one, if you have a flat.  My favorite is the "Turbo Morph G" by Topeak.  We started out with a different type, but it was hard to put enough power into your pumping to get above 50 psi.  This pump is as compact as any when stowed on the bike (far left picture).  When needed, it unfolds and works much like a full size floor pump.  With the foot peg and downward pumping motion, you have no problem getting up to any pressure level.  Also, the fold out dial type gage is very easy to read.  I've seen many similar pumps (even other models by Topeak) but none that I like as well.  We purchased ours from our local recumbent bike shop, Coventry Cycle Works (It's their favorite too).
The more you ride, the more you will encounter break downs.  It's a good idea to take along tools that enable you to fix anything that may go wrong while on the road.  But at the same time, you don't want to carry an extra ten pounds of gear!  I like the MTB-3 by Park Tool.  It's small & compact yet has most everything I need including a chain tool, all in one package.  I do carry a few additional items, but this is a good place to start.
 
Take care of yourself...
Here are a few things we suggest...
1)  Water  -  On a hot day you need plenty.  Some health resources suggest one liter of water per hour of riding.  From my own experience on hot days I would concur.  On one of our 60 mile rides I went through 6 bottles of water.  On our tandem we have 7 water bottle cages and we needed to stop to refill them part way through our ride.  We have also experimenteding with the powered electrolyte mixes to add to the water.  Medical folks say we lose more than just water when we perspire.  These mixes replace those items.  I have personally noticed a substantial reduction in leg cramps when drinking plenty of water, especially water which contains those mixes.  However, one thing we did notice was that on long rides, we got sick of drinking those beverages and just wanted plain water.  We knew we needed the electrolytes, but only wanted water.  After looking around I found a product called Endurolytes by Hammer Nutrition.  It contains the needed electrolytes in capsule form so you can drink plain water and periodically take the capsules.  So far we like that much better.  (We talk about our favorite water bottles on our Accessories page)
2)  Sunscreen  - 
If you are not used to being out in the sun for hours at a time, take precautions.  I'm prone to sunburn so I cover myself before a ride and again in the middle of a long ride.  After hearing all the news items about sunscreen:  UVA & UVB rays, the best protection from skin cancer, etc. we did a lot of label reading!  We found that Walgreens brand had all the recommended ingredients, and was half the price of most of the other name brands.  That's a good thing since we go through quite a lot! 
3)  First Aid Kit  - 
One last thing, just in case we carry some basic first aid items.
 
 

 
 
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