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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tour de Belleville, Tour de Donut safety tips

Two of the St. Louis area's largest group rides are coming up -- the Tour de Belleville on Friday night and the Tour de Donut on Saturday morning -- and it's time to offer these tips to make your ride a fun and safe experience.

These same tips can be used for rides such as the St. Louis World Naked Bike Ride on Aug. 15 and the Moonlight Ramble on Aug. 29-30 in St. Louis, as well as other similar rides throughout the country

Tips for newbies:
  • If you're a slower rider, try to ride as far to the right as safely possible so faster riders can pass you. If you have to walk up a hill, walk your bike as far to the right as safely possible.
  • Groups of cyclists should not take up the entire lane, again so other people can pass.
  • If you plan to stop, be sure to give some type of warning. At a minimum, give a verbal warning such as "braking" or "stopping." It's also a good idea to give a hand signal by extending your left hand toward the ground. For a good illustration of that, download the Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road (pdf file).
  • If you're stopping for an extended period of time, pull off the road so other cyclists can pass safely.
  • Use your gears. Most new cyclists tend to use a gear that's too big for them. Find a gear where you feel comfortable riding 60 to 90 pedal strokes a minute. When you approach a hill, you probably want to shift to a lower gear before you start climbing.
  • Above all, ride at a pace that's comfortable for you. The Tour de Belleville is not a race, so don't get tempted to ride at a faster speed than you're used to just because you want to keep up with other people.
Tips for experienced riders:
  • Be patient with the less experienced riders. Remember that you once were an inexperienced rider yourself.
  • Ride defensively. When approaching a family with young children, give yourself plenty of room to get around them because you never know when someone will suddenly veer to the left or right.
  • Use caution on hills. There's a good chance someone will try to climb a hill only to run out of gas and suddenly stop. Give yourself plenty of room to maneuver around them.
  • Slow down. This is not the time for a 20-25 mph training ride and long pacelines. Events like the Tour de Belleville are meant for fun, so slow down and smell the roses. The exception here, of course, is Tour de Donut, which is a race.
  • Be a good ambassador. The way you behave will influence whether a newcomer will stick with the sport.
After riding last year's Tour de Donut, I have to say I'm concerned with some of the riding I saw last year. Way too many people were riding three or more abreast on portions of the course that are open to motorized traffic -- which is most of the course -- and too many people were crossing the yellow line to pass them.

Too many people think that because the first part of the course through Staunton is closed to traffic that the entire course is. That's not the case. Once cyclists make the turn off Illinois Route 4 on the southern edge of Staunton on Renken Road toward Prairietown, the rest of the course is open to motorists. This year, please use common sense and obey the rules of the road.

I hope all of you have a safe and fun experience on whatever big ride you choose to do.

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Roger 2 comments links to this post 11:37 AM

Comments:
thanks Roger!
tracy
 
Rodger,

Great article. I echo your point about last years TDD.

I wrote a short blog about that yesterday.

http://kspt.blogspot.com/2009/07/2009-tour-de-donut.html

Keith Sutorius
 
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