Friday, June 17, 2011


             Now that summer is kind of here, I bet there are plenty of riders who like to take a ride around town in the evening.  I know I like to take a leisurely stroll on my bike, just to see what is going on in the neighborhood or head down to the village for some dinner.

            As the early evening turns to nightfall (though this applies to any “hours of darkness”), it is important to remain visible while on your bike.  Under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. §347.489(1)), a person may not operate a bike during the hours of darkness unless:

            1)            The bicycle is equipped, or the operator is wearing, a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle; and
            2)            The bicycle is equipped with a red reflector that has a diameter of at least 2 inches of surface area.

            Of interesting note (maybe just interesting to a nerd like me- yes, I finally admit it) is that “a lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector.”

            So, even if the salesman at the bike shop gets you to spend some extra dough on a red rear light, just know that using the red rear light does not mean you can now remove the red reflector.  But hey, the red reflector comes with almost every bike- score! 

            Why get the red rear light?  To be more visible of course.  Think of all the things that pass by you from behind that do not emit light that would reflect of your rear red reflector (say that 3 times fast).  Like a runner, a cyclist with no front light on, an automobile driver with no front lights on and/or no working front lights, etc.

            In the end, as I always note, it is important to do as much as you can to stay safe while riding outside (or inside sometimes).  The use of lights is just another way to make you visible to others.  Also, you will avoid a possible fine of not more than $20 (Wis. Stat. §347.50(5)), which is about the cost of a set of lights.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tips to beat (survive) the heat

            No legal blog entry today.  Just some tips to avoid heat related problems cyclists face as the temps and humidity sore this summer.  (I clipped in at 5:35 am today, and before I even completed a pedal stroke, I was sweating.) 

            On a side note, nothing I am about to say constitutes medical advice, as I am not a doctor (of medicine at least).

            The obvious tip is to stay indoors with the air conditioning.  You can use your common sense on whether to stay inside or not.  Although, I think those in the medical profession recommend staying in if the heat index is 95ยบ or higher.  You could also head out early in the morning or late at night.  Don't forget safety lights if it is dark out.

            But if you are like me and want to get out in that wonderful sunshine (and less wonderful humidity)- drink way more fluids than you normally would on a ride.  This applies to casual cruisers and cyclists in it for the long haul.  Drink fluids before you head out the door, drink every 10-20 minutes while on the ride, and re-hydrate adequately when finished.  Even though you may want to power through and show your fellow riders you are a road warrior, worthy of the KOM jersey, take time out to stop in the shade and fill up your water bottles.

            Wear light colored jerseys and shorts to reflect the heat away from your body.  Heck, open that full zip jersey all the way (like the pros do on Alpe d’Huez) and let the breeze (hopefully there is one) in.  Hopefully with the air/breeze swirling around, you will be able to bring your core temp down a bit. 

            Splash some water on your body for good measure.  Unfortunately this will most likely be your own water (so use sparingly), unless you have gracious friends/family who can line the route in anticipation of your arrival, cheering you on while throwing water at you and handing you fresh bottles.  However, what is more likely to happen is people will pass you in their car and yell obscene words at you, but you might get lucky and they may throw water (hopefully cold) at you.

            Finally, if you can, acclimate yourself to the conditions.  When the temp shoots up, go out for short rides to get used to the heat and humidity.  Gradually increase the distance and/or efforts, but listen to your body and stop if you are feeling weak or having trouble riding.  The more you become accustomed to riding in such weather, the easier and less problematic it will be.

            So, be safe and use common sense when deciding to ride in incredibly hot temps, or when making the decision whether you should continue on with the ride or turn back. 

            And remember, while it may not be the best thing to re-hydrate with, an ice cold beer tastes oh-so-good after a ride on a really hot day.