Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to wear a helmet to ride with the group?
Yes, for your safety we require all riders to wear an ANSI approved helmet.
What happens if I can’t stay with the group?
We always try to make sure that everyone has a SAFE and fun time. If there is a group leader he/she will slow the group within the stated pace of the ride. If you are still unable to stay with the group due to fitness or equipment issues the leader will ensure you know the way back, and if you need help will arrange for themself or a volunteer to ride back with you or to get a ride back for you.
Why does a ride require I have a headlight and tail light?
Some rides may start during the late afternoon and the ride leader feels that the ride might continue during dusk or evening. As a club we always do our best to ensure that all our rides are as safe as possible.
Must I sign the ride waiver?
Yes, for the liability protection of our volunteer ride leaders, if they request you sign a waiver prior to starting a ride you must sign it to ride with the group. The waiver is also a part of the annual membership application and the Spring Metric Ride registration.
Why does the description recommend a bottle of water and spare tube?
Most of our rides consist of roadways and country riding where bathrooms and water fountains may not be readily available. You may get a flat tire. While many of our riders will happily help you fix your flat, they may not be able to help you if you do not have a spare tube.
Must I be a club member to join a group ride?
No, anyone can join in group rides as long as they have an approved helmet and sign the ride waiver, but only club members can lead a ride.
I’m new to riding do I have to wear the skin tight clothes?
No, ride whatever you feel comfortable in. Many of our members wear regular workout clothes like shorts and t-shirts. You may want to join us for a few mellow rides to learn the ropes of group riding first. Tips to increase riding endurance and comfort. <Learn More>
How do I change gears?
REI provides excellent information on Basics of Bike Gears and Shifting that includes diagrams of proper shifting technique and the drivetrain parts. Here are some of the key points:
- Gears and shifters help you maintain cadence – a constant pedaling speed – during your ride. Generally, a higher cadence on an easier gear is more efficient than pedaling slower in a harder gear.
- Pushing hard gears might seem faster, but it will sap your strength more quickly, and it can take a toll on your knees.
- At a high cadence, you’re working in your aerobic zone, which means your muscles can clear lactic acid and postpone fatigue.
- Once you find a comfortable cadence, shift your gears to help you maintain that cadence for as much of your ride as you can.
- Try to anticipate the terrain, and shift right before you start climbing, not halfway up when you’re nearly stopped with maximum pressure on the pedals.
- If you are using your gears correctly, it should also feel like you’re spinning your legs, not powering through the gears.
Tips for Safe Cycling
- Always wear a helmet. Don’t let the Illinois summer heat tempt you to ride without full protection for your brain. Consider investing in a helmet with extra vents for air flow and cooling properties. Drink before you’re thirsty. Dehydration is a leading cause of heat exhaustion. Keep hydrated to reduce your risk and improve your performance.
- Always do an ABC Quick Check before you ride. Checking the air pressure & tire condition, brakes, crank, chain (drive train) and quick releases before your ride will reduce the likelihood of getting stuck on the side of the road with a mechanical problem. Nobody wants to fix a flat in the middle of nowhere with the Illinois sun beating down on their neck.
- Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sizzling summer rays.
- When riding on trails, follow the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Rules of the Trail: leave no trace; always yield to pedestrians, horses and slower moving traffic; and never scare animals. For more information on the Rules of the Trail, visit the IMBA website.
Bicycle Safety Resources
With more and more people getting out and cycling, it’s no surprise there are many resources available offering info ranging from cycling tips to safety. Here are a couple of links you may find useful:
- League of American Bicyclists has developed five short videos (each less than 1:30 minutes) to help new and new-ish riders understand safe riding practices and bicycle safety checks.
- Smart Cycling Tips from the League of American Bicyclists
- Ultimate Bike Safety Guide
- Bicycle maintenance & safety – Includes an extensive list of additional bicycle related websites
- How to ride a bicycle in traffic? – Graphic instructions for most situations that you will encounter. Source: wikiHow
- Test your bike safety knowledge! Quiz from Ride Illinois. Pass and get a wallet card certificate for show and tell!
Tips for New Riders
You don’t need to wear spandex to enjoy cycling. But avoid clothes like blue jeans and wear bright workout friendly shirts. Be sure to tuck you shoe laces and keep you pant legs away from your chain to keep you clothes clean and you safe.
Always carry water with you and drink before you thirsty, about one water bottle every 12 miles. If you’re riding with a group and aren’t comfortable drinking while riding wait for the group to stop first, we usually stop every few miles. A word from the wise, “drink before you are thirsty and eat before you are hungry.”
Increase you distance gradually, know your pace (average speed) and only increase one at a time. When pedaling try not to pedal really fast / hard and only stand when sprinting or hill climbing.
When braking be sure to do so carefully, if you squeeze toe hard on the front brake you could go end over end. When braking in groups be sure to call out and not to brake suddenly or you could cause a pile up.
Only pass when traffic allows safe passing and only on the left of a rider, pedestrian or vehicle. Be sure to let the person know by calling out loudly, “On your left!”
When crossing railroad tracks adjust your speed and cross at a right angle. Crossing tracks sideways could cause tire to slip and you to fall.
Numb hands/groins or sore neck/back?
If you find that riding constantly causes problems be sure to change positions regularly and stretch any time the group stops. You may also consider padded cycling gloves, a different seat, and/or adjusting seat height and distance from handlebars. If the problem persists look into getting professionally fitted to your bike.
Dog owners are required to either keep their animals locked up or under control at all times. Please report all incidents to the proper authorities. Also, remember, a dog does not have to be Mastif to cause problems. Many dog-bicycle accidents are because the animal ran into the front wheel of the bike causing the rider to go down.
Animal Control officers investigate bite incidents. After reporting the incident through emergency services or area dispatch centers, a representative from Animal Control will contact you. If this is an emergency, dial 9-1-1 immediately. For non-emergency situations, please contact your local police department.
- Bloomington residents: Call 309-820-8888
- Normal residents: Dial 309-888-5030
- McLean County residents: Dial 309-888-5030
Guidelines if you are bitten by a dog (source Chloe Harshman, Wabash River Cycle Club):
Go to the nearest house and call animal control or the police. Do not leave until you can file a report or complaint. Keep copy of the report….get medical help..take pictures of injury , get witness names. Keep all info relating to the incident. Call animal shelter to make sure the dog is quarantined for two weeks and has rabies shots. Above all do not leave the scene until someone in authority can validate the event. This way you have proof of the incident if you should need to sue for damages or get the dog owner to pay your medical bills. This procedure also will produce a record of first offense directed at the dog owner. A subsequent offense will be handled appropriately by the authorities.
Communicating to Others
Signals: Only do the arm signals if you can do so safely.
- Left turn-point left with arm straight out fingers together and outstretched.
- Right turn-point right with arm straight out fingers together and outstretched.
- Slow down and stop – left arm pointing downward, open palm fingers together and outstretched.
Group Riding: Verbalize to warn those around you:
- Say loudly what you are doing – “slowing”, “stopping”, “left turn”, etc.
- Do your arm signal before the turn and have both hands on the handlebars for the turn.
- Speak loudly your left, right turn and especially the slowing and stopping intention.
- Point out and SPEAK road hazards – “hole”, “gravel”, “roadkill”, “glass”, etc.
- Speak loud and clear, relay warnings from ahead or behind you to keep fellow cyclists informed.
- The consensus from most bicycle clubs is to NOT yell “Clear” to riders behind you at intersections. Everyone has the responsibility to make their own decisions in traffic.
Group Riding and Trail Etiquette
- Don’t weave. Ride in a straight line.
- Stay on right side of road. Never cross middle line in the road.
- Even when riding side by side – stay to the right and don’t even get close to center line. Only ride side by side only when safe.
- A lot of our rides include a section on the Constitution Trail (CT) to get in and out of town. Be respectful of other trail users, ride single file, and pull completely off the trail when stopping.
- Do not run red lights or stop signs. Obeying traffic laws encourages acceptance of cyclists on the roadways.
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