Freeman Cebu Lifestyle


Archie Modequillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – In the light of the recurrent oil fuel shortage, public interest in the bicycle has been re-awakened. Aside from the economic advantage of not having to use fuel, bicycling is a great form of aerobic exercise. It is a good workout for the heart without straining the leg joints the way other exercises, like running, can.

Compared to cars or motorbikes, bicycles are easier to manage, especially in terms of speed, making it possible to go at a pace to enjoy the passing sights. Breezing along a country road on a sunny afternoon can perk up the body and mind.

But simple as it seems, bicycling also requires an awareness of safety precautions like all modes of transportation or pieces of equipment. It is not advisable for people who haven't been bicycling in a while to just hop on a bike and go. A quick review of simple tips is necessary.

First of all, the bike must be in good order and condition. This may mean replacing an old sentimental favorite that has grown weak and rusty after a long time in the basement. It is important that the bike is easy and safe to ride and sturdy enough to withstand the rider's body size and weight. Or, if the old bike is just too sentimental to let go of, it shall first undergo thorough cleaning, lubricating and checkup by a professional at a bicycle shop. Then, and only then, is it ready to hit the road.

When riding a bike, wearing a helmet is a must, both for the driver and the back-rider, if any. Next to the bike itself, the helmet is the most important piece of bicycling equipment. Many potential injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet. Besides, not wearing one is an infraction of road-safety regulations.

Wearing appropriate clothing is also important. Loose, lightweight clothing is advisable because it allows for more dexterity necessary in maneuvering a bike. It should not, however, be too loose to flap in the wind or get stuck to any part of the bike. Shorts, for instance, should fit just right so they move comfortably with the legs when pedaling. If available, skin-hugging stretchable cycling shorts are better since they decrease wind resistance and skin rasping.

As much as possible, cycling shoes shall be used. Cycling shoes are so designed to easily slide in or out of the pedal's toe clips. This is very helpful in pulling the foot out to get off the bike quickly. In addition, cycling shoes have soles that are strong enough to hold under constant foot pressure, thus protecting the feet from sores which often develop especially during long rides.

Sunglasses should be used on any long daytime ride, even if the sunlight isn't all that strong. The glasses protect the eyes from flying particles and protect the retinas from getting washed out during the day, which results in poorer vision at night.

In bad weather, warm clothing that breathes is necessary. Cotton is best to have on the skin, then layered on with polypropylene to transfer moisture away from the body, and then topped off with wool on the outside, for added warmth. A snug, woolen cap or head wrap under the helmet and water-resistant gloves will keep the head and hands warm. For the feet, a thick pair of socks will allow good blood circulation. A thin layer of petroleum jelly on the face is good protection against the wind.

Finally, a tool kit should be an indispensable outfit to the bike. It should contain a few items for simple repairs and flat tires - screwdrivers, wrenches, a pump and tire gauge. Being able to perform a quick repair can spell the difference between getting to the destination and having to walk for several kilometers.

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