Friday, 5 April 2013

Spring is here? Let's Bike!

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Hey wonderful people, spring is in the air. Kind of. This morning I woke up to snow, but I'm hopeful. In anticipation, I want to share something glorious with you, there is a new Bixi station at the Loyola campus. What?! I know, exciting.
Last year, I had the pleasure of holding a Bixi pass and galavanting around the city from my downtown apartment. Living in NDG, however, it was not so convenient. I'm glad they're giving us on the west side a chance to bask in communal-biking glory this year and, in honour of that, here are a few of my favourite good things to know about Bixis and biking in general.

1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Seriously, a helmet is pretty awesome, head injuries suck and you can protect your noggin for no too much at your local everything store. Here's some good advice on how to pick a helmet.


Source: rei.com via Charlotte on Pinterest


Personally, I also like to make sure my pants are high enough that my bum is covered, that they aren't low enough that they get in the gears, and that I've got some gloves even if its only a little chilly (I did not know my fingers would get so cold on early summer morning rides). Things I learn.
    If you want to be a little fancier, this post has a great tip on how to bike in a skirt. DIY garters with safety pins. Awesomeness!

      2. Check your gear.
      For a communal bike system like Bixi, I learned I need to check that the brakes work, that the tire pressure is firm, and that I can actually adjust the seat before I ride off. You can do this with a few simple pokes and prods of the bike. It takes less than 20 seconds, but in a pinch, you really want to make sure of at least the brakes; safety first!
      • For the brakes, I always check to make sure that they don't get stuck when I squeeze them and that, when squeezed, the pads actually grip the wheel. 
      For a more complete check-up for your own bike, about.com has practical and simple information.
      They also have some great tips on how to choose your bike and ebicycles has  a handy calculator for choosing your frame size.




      3. Check the place.
      I like to explore the area around me when I'm in a leisurely mood, but if I'm in a hurry, it's nice to know where things are. There are definitely more than a few ways to know where you're going.
      • One app that works well for me is CityBikes. If you're using a communal bike system, it's a nice way to know where the stations are and how many bikes and spaces are there. Great when you've got to grab a bike or find out where to park. I've only used it in Montreal, but apparently it works in other cities as well. 
      • The good old Bixi map. If you don't have access to a smart phone, you can check the website before you go, not only will you see where the bikes are, but you can get directions between the stations. 
      • Google has integrated biking directions into their maps and it's handy-dandy. They may not always find the sort-cuts, but in general it's pretty good and they highlight the bike paths.
      • If you're looking for a new place to try, check out this one: users post routes of bike trips (short and long) complete with info on the terrain. Seems like a very nice way to check out areas around the world.





      Here's hoping that the snow soon melts away and that you enjoy the ride once it does. If you want some more inspiration for when spring is finally, actually here, you might want to check out this post on  free-to-cheap spring physical activity.



      Do have any biking tips to share? Do tell. If you like what you heard, don't forget to share, subscribe, or connect with me on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

      Live Well, 
      Charlotte

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