A word from Sumter Cycling: Put away your bicycle?

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

With the temperatures dropping, is it necessary to hang up the bicycle in the garage and wait until spring? Absolutely not!!  Cold weather riding can be not only good exercise but enjoyable if you follow a few key tips:
– dress in multiple lightweight layers rather than one or two heavy ones, as this will give the flexibility to shed a layer if you feel too warm during the ride. Lycra or polyester based layers underneath will help to wick moisture and keep you from getting chilled. Ideally, a combination of an outer layer of a heavier cycling jersey or jacket with base layers beneath should be worn. Be sure the outer wear zips in the front, so you can open up as the hills get steeper and prevent overheating.
– the hands, feet and head seem to feel colder the quickest on rides. So plan ahead by wearing a good pair of full finger gloves with padding to cushion the vibration from the handlebars, a lightweight head cover that fits under the helmet (such as skull caps and headbands), and toe covers for your shoes and/or socks containing some wool. Wool is a good choice because it can be soft, thin, and breathable. It provides insulation even when wet and typically does not retain odors as much as synthetics. Other clothing options include arm and knee warmers that can be added to your outer layers.
-hooded coats are not recommended because movement and visibility may be restricted when you turn your head.
-recognize that if you feel chilly at the beginning of the ride, that is probably a good start, as cycling will warm you up quickly. If you put on too many clothes, you will have the challenge of getting them off and then carrying them with you on the ride.
-wear bright colors while riding such as bright or fluorescent yellow and orange. Avoid black and gray as well as dark shades of green, brown, or blue, which tend to blend with the landscape and are much more difficult to see. Lack of visibility is one of the leading factors in crashes. It is not uncommon for a motorist to say “I just didn’t see them.”
-With the time change and darkness setting in earlier, it is important to adjust your speed while riding, as hazards and obstructions may be harder to see. Nighttime can bring a higher incidence of impaired motorists due to fatigue, poor night vision, and alcohol.  Never assume that a driver sees you. Georgia law requires every bicycle used at night to 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 a red reflector on the rear of the bike (the 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 upper beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. A light emitting a red light visible from a distance of 300 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.
-drink plenty of fluids even when the temperature drops, as dehydration can easily occur when exercising. Carry at least one water bottle at all times and drink every 15-20 minutes.
These are tips specific to cooler weather riding. But regardless of the temperature, always remember the rules for the road:
Follow the law by riding with traffic and obeying all traffic signals.
Be predictable by riding in a straight line, avoid swerving, and signal your turns.
Be conspicuous by riding where people can see you and make eye contact with others.
Think ahead by anticipating what drivers and pedestrians will do next and cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Ride ready by ensuring your bike is in good working order.
Always wear a helmet.
For more information on local cycling opportunities, contact sumtercycling2020@gmail.com.

-Sumter Cycling is a local cycling advocacy group that seeks to promote easy, safe, and fun cycling Sumter and the surrounding counties.