While we look at exploring local places I also wanted to look at ways to get around. Sometimes when we have that desire for adventure and need to explore, if we go down a familiar road in a different way then it becomes the adventure that we desire. If it is the adventure that we desire, we didn’t even have to drive far to get it. I have written about geocaching, letter boxing, and looking at local attractions. The question is how do we get there?
Behold the humble bicycle!!
The bicycle has a somewhat controversial history. The main controversy arises when one tries to pinpoint the time that it was invented and by whom. A casual glance at Wikipedia tells us that the first verifiable bicycle was a running machine (picture a bicycle with no chain) in 1817. Since that time the bicycle has had many different incarnations and purposes. When someone thinks of bicycles it is common to think of the Tour De France. The Tour De France it is a race that is 21 stages and lasts over 3 weeks. The race is usually around 2200 miles and has between 20 to 22 teams of 9 riders each. The riding that I am writing about is not nearly as grueling as that! I wanted to introduce bike riding here for some who may not know much about it. I enjoy bicycling because once the initial purchase is made it can be a very inexpensive way to get around and have some much needed adventure!
Types of bicycles
There are different types of bicycles and variations within each kind. A bicycle can cost from a little bit of money to a large amount of money. Road bikes have tires that are tall and narrow. They don’t have much width to the tread of the tire for speed. Someone who is reasonably fit can ride a road bike to a speed of around 25 mph and maintain it for a time. It is difficult to measure this with certainty because everyone will have different levels of fitness and experience for riding. Road bikes are built of different material for the frame to save weight. The other source of cost for road and mountain bikes alike is the components on the bike. Things like the gears and brakes contribute to cost as well. When it comes to a road bike the lighter the bike the more expensive it will be is a good rule of thumb. Usually when someone buys a road bike they have speed on the mind.
While a road bike is built to stay on the road, has high amounts of pressure in the tires and doesn’t handle bumps very well a mountain bike is different. When someone gets a mountain bike they are usually more trail minded. I have much more experience with mountain bikes than I do road bikes. Mountain bikes have different types of suspension. When I first started riding there was no suspension, but now there are generally two types. The first is where the front tire only has a shock on it and this is known as a hard tail. The second is where the front tire and rear tire both have it. This is known as full suspension. Full suspension bicycles are usually quite costly and to get a good one there are usually only two choices. First be prepared to spend lots of money, or second find a good deal. If someone was to purchase a bicycle with full suspension and the quality is cheap it will not be a very enjoyable ride. In fact if someone was to ride a full suspension bicycle that lacks quality I will compare it to riding a pool noodle! The bicycle that I ride is a hard tail mountain bike with disk brakes (I got it at the end of the season on sale for a good price, I can’t afford a full suspension mountain bike!!)
Where to buy a bike?
There is a saying, “You get what you pay for”. It holds true on many things and I believe bicycles are included in that also. I also believe that someone should be careful when getting into a new hobby. So we almost have a scale with these two things at opposite ends. On the one side we have cost, and value is on the other. I would encourage someone to take an honest look at how something will be used. It doesn’t make sense to have a bicycle that will just sit around and in my opinion it doesn’t make sense to buy something that won’t last either. If a low quality bike is bought in my experience riding it will not be very enjoyable. I also think resale is important. If a low quality bike is bought it has almost no resale value. If the purchaser decides that a quality bike is the way to go then there are places to try and pick one up without spending a great deal of money. The used market is a good place to start. One could check the internet or even the local news paper to try and find a deal. Sometimes someone will buy a new bike and never ride it, this can translate to big savings for you. I mentioned that I got my bike on sale at the end of a season, a good bike shop can also be a good place to go. If you buy a bike from a bike shop as long as they are reputable they should be able to answer all of your questions and not try to get you into something that you don’t want. If you want to buy a bike that is used you can bring it into a bike shop to get the opinion of one of the technicians before you buy it. In addition to these options one can also try to see if there are any bike clubs in the area. The club could furnish knowledge and maybe have a bicycle to purchase. If someone is really unsure if he or she would like to ride then maybe it would be a greater benefit to rent a bike. Rentals can be had from bike shops or vendors who only rent bikes. Taking a good look around an area can yield excellent choices that are available.
Helpful things to know
The first and most important thing to know for riding a bike is safety. Before anyone gets on a bicycle I believe that a properly fit helmet should be worn every time the bicycle is ridden. I feel it is helpful to know your turn signals if you are going to ride around traffic. While riding the bike take the necessary precautions to keep clothing from getting caught in the chain. It is important if the bike is going to be ridden for any distance it is good for the rider to have basic tools and knowledge to fix common problems with the bike. I can do write ups on some things if someone desires. Among the tools for the bicycle a portable pump, patch kit, and possibly a spare tube are very good things to have.
Where I used to live I was surrounded by dirt roads. I would attach my GPS and go on one, from there I would try to navigate my way home. I have ridden my bicycle around town to check the mail, run errands, go to school etc. I like to take camping gear on my bicycle and leave from my house for a camping trip. Riding a bicycle for geocaching makes the adventure even more interesting also. I would encourage someone to check the weather and be prepared, take a great amount of water, take basic bike tools, have a map if needed, and don’t forget the keys!! There is a funny story there, imagine riding your bike for a long ride, getting dirty, feeling tired, and not having keys; or imagine riding your bicycle into town to check the mail and not having your PO Box key! Not that either of those has happened to me. I hope this helps you get just beyond the bend if you crave adventure.