Base Miles, The Not-So-Scary Way - Cape Town Cycle Tour

Base Miles, The Not-So-Scary Way

The festive season is a great time to ride your bike, clock up some base miles for the looming (upcoming… let’s make it positive. It will only loom if you don’t get your base miles in!) Cape Town Cycle Tour and just to soak up the fantastic summer weather, wherever your travels might take you.

We live in interesting times, though, and it would be naive to ignore the potential dangers that lurk around many a corner, on-road and off. Without scaring anyone off the bike – there really is no reason to let fear keep you from riding – let’s look at a few best-practices that will see you exit January filled with fitness and joy.

Ask around

The first thing we recommend you do when you get to any new riding destination is to hit up the local bike shop for some local knowledge. This can be critical not just for finding the best routes to ride – you might not have time to learn the boring way which ones are yawn-is – but also, and most importantly, to find out where definitely not to ride. Bike-jacking is a growing problem, across the country, and the best way to avoid becoming a statistic is to find out from the locals where you must avoid riding.

Group rides rock

This leads on from the point above – safety in numbers not only reduces the chances of finding yourself on the wrong side of town, but will keep you safer on the open road than riding on your own. A peloton is way more visible to distracted holidaymakers, who may not be concentrating on their surroundings as the kids fight, the trailer wobbles and the petrol light confirms all the liquid in the car is in Suzy’s bladder. Plus, you might even get into some secret local roads or trails.

If you can’t manage to find a group, and in fact even if you can, the best piece of safety kit you will ever buy is Garmin’s Varia radar; a small electronic unit built into one of the brightest flashing rear lights on the market, that talks through your GPS to warn you when a vehicle is approaching from behind with a combination of audio and visual signals. The flagship units also house a camera, perfect for both recording your holiday scenery, and errant motorist’s number plates, should trouble reach paradise.

Tell someone

Never leave home, be it home-home or your temporary holiday ‘home’, without letting somebody know your route, your plans for coffee/pie/ice cream stops, and possible detours you might take should they take your fancy. Even better, use a tracking app – many of Garmin’s units let your family see where you are real-time, but there are others, too – so that if something does go wrong, you can get help, fast.

The final bit of best-prepared kit is an Ice ID bracelet; a wrist band with a durable stainless-steel plate containing up to six lines of essential information first responders might find vital in getting you the best care, notifying your next of kin and avoiding allergic reactions should things go wrong and you are unable to speak.

Be prepared

On the road, make sure you have a recently-inspected saddle bag with two tubes (one tube = two punctures, every time) and everything you might need to replace and inflate them. Unless you are road-riding in outer Mongolia this December, that should suffice; there are few roads where passing motorists won’t be able to help if your mechanicals are too dire to limp home. Off-road miles require a bit more preparation, with plugs ’n slugs, an emergency chain link and maybe even the ubiquitous zip-tie/duct tape fix-all in a slightly bigger bag (did we mention bar bags are IN this summer, check this awesome project out from our apparel partners, Ciovita). For all forms of riding, you MUST ride with a fully-charged phone, a lightweight windbreaker – even in summer, shock is a weird thing, and it can also be used to strap myriad broken-limb challenges – and some cash, which helps with emergency transport and maybe even as a gator when you cut a tyre.

There we go. No fear-of-god speeches, just some really simple things you can do to enjoy your festive brake rubber-side-down. Enjoy!

Cape Town Cycle Tour Strava Club

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