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Cycling suggestions: 5 tips for a fun and safe ride

With the rise in popularity of so-called "Fat bikes," named for the width of their tires and celebrated for their ability to handle virtually any riding surface, cyclists in Wisconsin can now enjoy the freedom to ride on sand, in rain and snow. If you own such a bike, now the shift in seasons will not prevent you from enjoying a quick spin outside. Your ability to disregard seasonal limitations, however, should result in increased awareness of road safety. While the drivers sharing the road with you in the summer may expect to find a peloton crowding country roads, they may not anticipate cyclists on the road in January. Keeping that thought in mind, review these bike safety tips to ensure your ride is exciting for all the right reasons.

1. Anticipate problems

One of the best steps you can take to make certain that your ride is a safe one is to plan for issues on the road. Using a car to review your route will help you see if your intended path is strewn with sharp objects that can puncture your tires or has a good shoulder width to give you distance when cars pass. It is also helpful to pack a safety kit containing a spare tube or patch kit should your tires become perforated. Carrying a cell phone and money will serve your needs, should your ride prematurely end and you require a cab ride home.

2. Dress for safety

It should go without saying that you should wear a helmet for safety. In addition to the helmet, you should don a jersey or shirt that increases your visibility on the road. If you are riding at night, you will find that reflective gear will announce your presence better than a bike lamp in some cases.

3. Ride aware

While the joy of the open road may be enhanced with your own soundtrack, you should avoid listening to music when you are riding. The steady beat that can help you maintain your cycling cadence also mitigates your focus on your surroundings, so it's best to leave your ear buds at home. You need remain vigilant because there are many drivers who are belting out tunes in their own cars and may fail to share the road adequately.

4. Follow the leader

When you head out with a buddy, it may be tempting to ride side by side. On especially busy streets or riding through hilly terrain, cyclists should follow each other in single file, so that drivers have ample passing space. Drivers become as irritated with bike congestion as cyclists do with automobile traffic.

5. Know your signals

As you coast to an intersection, avoid the temptation to breeze through a stop sign without putting on the brakes. When riding on the road, cyclists also need to follow the rules of the road. Additionally, since your turn signal doesn't light when it's activated, use your arms to communicate your intentions with turning. There are only a few hand signals you need to display to reveal your route to those driving.

Fall rain and winter snows may be in the forecast on the day of your ride. No worries! You and your bike are ready for any adventure when you follow these safety suggestions.

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