A Handbook For Safe Cycling
This article is intended for new members to show them how to ride with the Five Borough Bicycle Club. However, we hope that all riders can benefit from what is discussed below. If you follow the principals and procedures in this guide – you will have a great riding experience every time you are on the bike.
I. Your Bicycle
There are many types of bicycles that the 5BBC allows on rides. While most of our members chose to ride road bikes, many rides are also suitable for hybrids as well. Members of the 5BBC have also used folding bikes, fixed gear bikes, and tandem bikes. Of course, not all bikes are suitable for every ride the club does, and if you are in doubt – contact the Leader.
Whatever bicycle you chose to ride, having a bicycle in good repair is essential. Some of the things your bicycle needs are as follows:
- Bell – mandated under NYC Law
- Lights – White in Front and Red in Rear – mandated under NYC Law
- Properly cleaned and lubed chain.
- Properly inflated tires.
- Working gears/shifters.
II. Personal Safety
- Helmets are required. The Insurance that is maintained by the Five Borough Bicycle Club mandates that ALL riders must wear a helmet. It is true that helmets do not prevent every injury – but they are essential to minimize any head trauma. If you are not wearing a helmet – you cannot ride with the club. There are no exceptions to this rule.
- Hydration and Snacks. Even on the coldest day of the winter, you sweat on a bike. It is essential to have either one or two water cages or a hydration pack. On hot days, it is advised to fill these containers every chance that you get. Most 5BBC rides have a great lunch stop, but if you are someone who tends to get hungry during a ride – make sure to bring items to eat. Rides have liked gels, goos, dates, and good old PB & J. Proper hydration and proper calorie intake will prevent the dreaded BONK.
- Medication and Sun Screen. If you suffer from any allergies, ailments or conditions, please take the appropriate medication along. Sun Screen is always a good idea as well.
- Physical Fitness. Not all rides are the same. Some are longer and some are shorter. Some are flat and some are hilly. Some are taken at a relaxed Happy Face Pace and some are Moderate, Advanced Moderate or Quick Spin. It is essential to know your limits and your own comfort level. Again, if you are in doubt about a specific ride, the best thing to do would be to contact the Leader
III. Before the Ride – What to Do.
As with most things, prior preparation is essential for a good riding experience. What you do before a ride can be as important as what you do during the ride.
- Register for the Ride. Registering for the ride lets the leader know how many people are intending to appear, and enables the leader to plan for things like lunch. It also shows your level of commitment for the ride.
- Equipment Check. Make sure that your bike is road worthy. If it is a night ride are your lights fully charged or do you have extra batteries.
- Lay Out. Many riders find it beneficial to lay out what they intend to wear and what they intend to take with them the night before. This way, there are no last minute frantic rushes around the house for last minute items.
- What to Take. Here are some suggestions of what to pack in your bag. Lock, Spare Tube, Patch Kit, Tire Levers, Hand Pump. Hand Sanitizer, First Aide Kit, Snacks, Change of shirt or socks, appropriate tool to remove wheels if you do not have a quick release.
IV. Ride Day
- Show up on Time. We know that the subways don't always work, especially on weekends. We know that sometimes you get a flat. And we usually give a small grace period. BUT, please do your best to arrive on time so as not to hold up the group.
- Be Attentive. The Ride Leaders will be imparting important information prior to the ride. If you are not paying attention, you may miss an essential element. Also, if you are not paying attention, you will likely be distracting others. There will be plenty of time for socializing later.
- Situational Awareness. We ride in the environment, and if you are not paying attention, accidents can occur. Please observe the road conditions for holes, glass, ice, wet leaves, barricades and the like. Call out the hazards for those riders traveling behind you. If you are passing a rider, pass on the left and call out your pass. And of course, watch for motorists both on the roadway and parked.
- Riding Skills. We follow the rules of the road. We stop at red lights. We yield to pedestrians. We use the appropriate hand signals for left, right and stop. We are courteous riders. Unless we are on a designated bike trail or a park, it is best to ride single file. Intersections are not the place to bunch up as we share the road with motor vehicles.
- Learn To Read Cue Sheets. Most 5BBC rides are Cue Sheet Rides. Knowing how to read a cue sheet will enhance the quality of your ride. You will know which street we are taking. How long we are on the street. Where is the next turn. And... most importantly – when is lunch. Learning to read a cue sheet may keep you from getting lost.
- Point Drop Sweep. Most 5BBC Rides are Point, Drop and Sweep Rides. The point is always at the front of the ride. Points job is to lead the way. The sweep is always at the back of the ride and is often responsible for safety and mechanical issues. Along the way, the Point will DROP riders and instruct them to point out turns or hazards to the riders who follow. The position of DROP is most important as it impacts every one of the other riders. If you are a drop, please be attentive and alert for our riders. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR POSITION UNTIL THE SWEEP RELEASES YOU. Remember, there may be a mechanical or other issue that is taking time behind you. If you are in doubt, call the sweep.
- Accidents. While we try to be as safe as possible, accidents do occur on a ride. If you are involved in an accident try and keep calm. Assess the damage to your person and to your bike. Seek the aid of other riders and wait for the sweep to arrive. If you have a cell phone, take photos. Do your best to document the scene and the people at the scene. Above all, if you are injured, seek treatment.
- Courtesy and Thanks. Remember that we are all members of the same club and we are all out for a good ride. If you see a newer rider, introduce yourself. Please refrain from any activity that would take away from anyones enjoyment of the ride. And of course, after the ride, make sure to thank the leaders.
For as long as the 5BBC has been around, our motto has been “NYC's Friendliest Bike Club". We aim to demonstrate that on every ride that we do. By adhering to the above guidelines, we hope that your ride will be both FUN and SAFE. Let's Ride !