Get cycling this fall

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Okinawa

This summer, my husband and I decided to bike to dinner one evening. We dusted the cobwebs off our bikes, aired up the tires and found our tucked-away helmets.

I felt like a carefree 10-year-old again, back when I rode my bicycle for hours on summer afternoons because I didn’t have class, homework or anything else to worry about.

While the leaves are turning shades of yellow and the temperatures are dropping in the evenings, the days are still long and perfect for a cycling trip to dinner. Take advantage of the last few weeks of pleasant weather to explore your village from a different perspective.

Benefits of cycling
There is a huge list of reasons why cycling is good for you. It is excellent cardio that burns calories and helps relieve stress. Cycling is better for the environment than driving, and is a fun activity for couples and families. It is also easy to pick up — remember the expression, “it’s like riding a bike. ”

Don’t own a bike?
No big deal. You can rent one from Outdoor Recreation to find one that you like. You can also find reasonably priced used bicycles on yard-sale/classifieds websites. And perhaps a nice neighbor or friend will let you borrow one for a few days.

I don’t recommend purchasing a new bike unless you’ve been properly fitted and plan to use it more than a couple of days a year. I spent $450 — it was the cheapest option at the Exchange at the time — for a hybrid bicycle that was the closest size available. I would have been better off splurging on a more expensive bike that was a perfect fit because I frequently ride 15 to 30 miles. I become quite uncomfortable by the end, and my shoulders are sore through the next day because I have to really stretch to reach the handlebars.

Safety first
Whether you rent or buy, ensure that your bicycle has reflectors, a bell and working front light. You also need a helmet and bike lock.

Check Google Maps or find trail maps in your area. Any time you are on streets, you are required to follow the same traffic laws as if you were driving a car. You can even be fined or arrested for riding a bicycle while intoxicated.

Bring along reflective gear, and use your bicycle light if you are cycling at dusk or after dark. Also, watch out for unguarded railroad crossings on bike routes.

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