Once upon a time if you were Hip, you were cool, in the know, smooth or as Huey Lewis thought, Hip to be Square. Times have change and while it is still good to be considered cool, HIP has taken on a whole new meaning.
For us at Bicycle Ranch, Tucson, we always try to make sure customers coming in to buy a bike or those joining us on our group rides are covered to be H.I.P. which in this case stands for Hydration, Inflation and Protection.
It doesn't matter if you are buying a first bike, something to cruise around to the coffee shop, or something to race on the road or dirt, having these bases covered will ensure you have everything you need to enjoy riding your bike.
Hydration: In Arizona this is a no brainier but many people don't realize how fast dehydration can sneak up on you, even if you are just taking a little ride. The simplest thing to know is if you are thirsty, you might already be dehydrated. Basic rule of thumb is to drink 1 bottle every hour of exercise but in the summer that may double. Because the humidity is so low the sweat evaporates quickly so you don't feel like you are sweating that much but once you see the white of salt on your skin and clothes it becomes clear you need more.
So what do you need to have or buy. Make sure you have water bottle cages or holders on your bike and bottles that fit so you don't lose them on the first bump. Most bikes are able to carry two bottles but having a third in a jersey pocket is common. Making sure you have some sort of electrolyte or sports drink will help with long efforts more than water.
Your other option is a hydration pack, such as those from Camelbak that not only allow you to carry plenty of water, but also carry other necessities in the pockets of the pack. These packs range from a race friendly size of 40 liters all the way up to 150 liters of water.
Inflation; Making sure your tires are at the right pressure is important for multiple reasons. First, it will help prevent flats which are never fun on the side of the road no matter how many times you have done it. Second, running a low tire will cause the tire to wear out faster which means higher expense to replace the tires, not to mention that too low a tire will make you work that much harder.
Before heading out for a ride using a floor pump is always best to get the right amount of air pressure in the tires, so having a good floor pump is important. While on the bike there are options for inflation. For a long time people would carry a Frame pump which would fit along the top tube of the bike to be able to pump up the tires. Over time people wanted a lighter, more convenient pump option and the mini pump was created. Something that can be attached to the frame on a mount that attaches to the water bottle cage bolts, or be carried in a jersey pocket. The down side to a mini pump is no matter how good they are, you get an unplanned workout trying to inflate high pressure tires to the right amount.
Now most people will carry a Co2 inflation system. These are small Co2 cartridges that attach to a small unit that clamps on the valve stem to quickly fill the tires. These will be enough to fill a tire up to 100 plus p.s.i but you do have to be careful that your tire is mounted correctly or the high pressure will blow the tire off the rim. Even with the potential issues and the need to buy more C02 cartridges this is a great option. These are small enough to be able to place them in a small seat bag along with spare tube and tire levers.
Protection; Maybe the most important part of being HIP is the protection part. Some people still think it's not cool or hip, to wear a helmet on a bike. To us it is much better than the potential for a head injury. We always remind people, it is not how fast you are riding, it's the force of your head hitting the pavement if you fall off a bike. Even if you are standing still, fall over and hit your head, the force is equal to your head colliding with something around the rate of 35 MPH. Ready to put on a helmet now?
There are lots of helmets out there. Some are specific to road or mountain riding, urban riding, youth, time trial and designer. In the USA all helmets have to meet a safety standard but some manufactures do go far above that standard. What's the difference between a $45 helmet and a $400 helmet? Much like an expensive bike you are paying for light weight, advanced design resulting in better air-flow and yes, looks. The type of retention system, the part that tightens down to make the helmet fit better also can add to the price of a helmet. The bottom line is there is a helmet option no matter your budget and it is one part you should always budget for.
Other important Protection items are gloves. These not only make the ride more comfortable by dampening vibration and absorbing sweat they will protect your hands should you fall. Everyone has the immediate reaction to put out a hand to stop a fall so it is better to shred the gloves on the road than the skin off your hands.
Sunglasses are important to allow you to have good visibility as well as keep bugs, rocks and other debris from getting into your eyes while on the bike.
It doesn't matter if you ride during the day or around dusk or dawn, having a light on the front of your bike and a light or blinking reflector is big piece to keeping you safe. During the day the front light can be set to a blinking mode which helps keep you visible and noticeable. It is always better to have a light with you just in case you get caught out after dusk, or should the weather make visibility an issue.
There are other accessories that make riding more comfortable and efficient, such as padded cycling shorts, cycling specific shoes with a stiff sole and pedals that clip on to the shoes to aid in pedaling efficiency, but the items we have covered are what we would consider absolute must haves to be H.I.P.
Hydration, Inflation and Protection. A simple way to make sure you have everything you need to enjoy riding your bike.
If you have further questions on this or any other cycling topic be sure to stop in at Bicycle Ranch, Tucson, call us at 520-219-4311 or email at Tucsoninfo@bicycleranch.com.
Happy riding and as always, Pedal On!