Get Ready For Your First Big Bicycle Trip

One of the best things about cycling is that it creates so many opportunities to see new places. You can bike in your neighborhood, your state, across the country, or explore the world.
The options are endless, and you’re only bound by your imagination.


If you’re planning to take a tour or join a race, you should make sure to be completely prepared. Here are a few tips to get ready for that big bike trip.


Build up your mileage gradually
As with any physical endeavor, you have to train. Start with short loops of 12-15 miles near your home, gradually adding mileage. As your stamina and endurance gets better, start increasing out-and-back trips until you’re fit enough to ride the distance you expect to ride on your trip.


Get your bike tuned up

Don’t wait until the last minute for this. During the busiest time of year, bike shops can be backed up. Tell the bike shop staff that you’re going on a multi-day trip so they can check your equipment and make sure it’s in top shape for your adventure. A few days before the event, stop by the shop for a quick safety check. If you don’t know how, ask someone at the bike shop to show you how to change a tire. You never know when this lesson will come in handy.


Pack light

If you’re going on an overnight trip, you’ll have to carry all your gear. Keep your stuff to a minimum and with weight in mind. If you’re traveling with a partner, split the shared equipment between you. Try weighing your stuff individually so you can find ways to cut back on excess weight. If you’re deciding between two items, choose the lighter one.


Get the apps

There are several great apps for cyclists, including Strava, Map My Ride, and more. These apps can keep track of your mileage but also alert others to your whereabouts in case of an accident. You should also make sure someone knows where you’re going, especially if you’re traveling solo or in a small group.

Take sunscreen and plenty of water

If you’re a cyclist, you should already know this, but it bears repeating. You’re participating in a strenuous outdoor sport. Heat and sun are an issue any time of year, so it’s best to stay hydrated and protected against the sun’s harmful rays.


Practice for the terrain
If your trip will include a lot of hills, make sure that’s part of your training, and carry your backpack with you. Find similar terrain in your area to get yourself ready. When you hit those hills on your trip, you won’t be quite so miserable.


Race prep

If you’re preparing for a race, get a heart rate monitor and practice under similar conditions as the race. Adding in resistance training can contribute to your overall endurance. You can build up your leg muscles with deadlifts, squats, and leg presses. Know what the race will include and plan for it.


Last but not least


While you’re out of town, make sure your home is secure. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your house, have the post office hold your mail, and set up light timers. These are all ways to keep people from knowing you’re out of town. Don’t announce your trip on social media, especially if you have followers you don’t know. A home security system can also help, particularly one that has electronic home monitoring. This will give you peace of mind when you’re on the road, trails, or city streets.


Cycling is a great way to see the world, meet new friends, and stay active. Plus, you’ll make amazing memories that you’ll cherish forever. By being as prepared as you can, you’re giving yourself a leg up on a fantastic adventure. And when you get back home, you’ll be ready to start planning your next cycling trip!

Jason Lewis is a personal trainer and caregiver to his elderly mom. He enjoys sharing his fitness knowledge on his website,

Canadian Bikin’: Lessons From Vancouver

Last month, Bike Utah presented about Mobile Active Transportation Tours and the Active Transportation Benefits Study at the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is often listed in the top ten as one of the most livable cities in the world.

Prior to arriving in Vancouver, I hadn’t done much pre-trip research about what to see and do or the environment for bicycling. To say that I was “pleasantly surprised” would be a drastic understatement. Upon returning to Utah, I mentioned to a friend, “it’s the closest you can get to having a European bicycle riding experience in North America.”

Of all the things bicycle-related that I saw and experienced in Vancouver, I have distilled them down into three major themes:


Make it Safe

Vancouver has truly created a low-stress bicycle network that anyone from 8 years old to 80 years old can take advantage of. The vast majority of their infrastructure is made up of protected bicycle lanes, bicycle boulevards, and multi-use pathways. In addition to separating cars and bicycles, Vancouver has also made every effort to separate people on bicycle from pedestrians. Most of the multiuse pathways have dedicated lanes for both users, which helps to improve flow and increases safety.


Make it Easy

Creating a bicycle network that is easy can refer to two things. First, it should allow anyone to get from Point A to Point B without having to look at a map or ask directions and without unintentionally getting off of their desired route. Second, making an easy network means that bicycling is the easiest and fastest way to get around. Again, Vancouver has both of these areas covered. Wayfinding throughout the city is top notch and on virtually every street and path. Even the street signs have a symbol indicating if that particular street contains bicycle infrastructure. In terms of making it the easiest and fastest way to get around, Vancouver has employed vehicle diverters on many streets. However, at these junctions, people on bicycle are still able to pass through the intersection. These diverters have multiple positive impacts: slower vehicle speeds; lower traffic volumes; and it makes the bicycle more competitive when it comes to travel time.


Make it Quantifiable

I can easily say that, in two days of riding, I crossed more bicycle counters in Vancouver than I have over the course of the rest of my life combined. Every path and bike lane seemed to have counters installed at half-mile to one-mile intervals. Most of the counters were loops installed into the pavement; a few had displays that showed how many bicyclists had crossed that location during the day; and many of them also had a secondary tube counter to verify that the loops were getting accurate counts.

The counts are great to have in their own right to show the widespread use of their infrastructure. However, the true benefit of having such a widespread system is that it allows the jurisdiction that oversees the bicycle infrastructure to determine the impact of changes and how bicycle infrastructure can maximize usage. Similar concepts have been applied to motor vehicles for decades and it necessary to start utilizing data-driven decision making as it applies to bicycle infrastructure.


Is it Working?

One of the sessions I attended at the conference was by a staff member from the Vancouver City Planning Office. Through their Greenest City Action Plan, Vancouver set a goal of over 50% of trips by bicycling, walking, and public transit by 2020. As of April 2015 they had already attained this goal and were on their way to the next goal of 2/3 of their trips by 2040. All in all, Vancouver is setting the standard for what it means to be a bicycle friendly city.

How To Avoid a Bicycle Accident

1: Take Advantage of Bicycle Friendly Lanes

Did you know that there are over 150 miles of bicycle lanes and trails in Salt Lake City? While a bicyclist can legally use any city street in Salt Lake, some roads are more geared towards cyclists than others. If possible, it is always best to plan out your route before you leave home so you can take advantage of using bike friendly lanes.

You can view a map of the Salt Lake City bikeways on or pick up a free printed map at the Transportation Division Office at 349 South 200 East, Suite 150.

You can also put in your route on Google Maps and use their “bicycle” roads feature to see which roads and routes are most bike friendly.


2: Stay Visible

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32% of bicycle accidents happen between 8:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Because of this heightened risk, it is required by law to equip your bike with lights during nighttime.

A set of front and rear lights can be purchased at your local bike shop for under $25 and will make your more visible to cars at night.


3. Use the Whole Lane (when appropriate)

It’s often safer to take the whole lane, or at least ride a bit to left, rather than hug the right curb. Here’s why:

-Cars at intersections in front you can see you better if you’re in center

-Claiming the lane prevents cars from passing you too closely on narrow roads

-Riding a bit to left prevents you from being doored by a person exiting their vehicle


Fortunately a lot of the bike lanes in SLC are bicycle-only, but when you’re using a shared lane don’t be afraid to use the entire lane.


4. Anticipate Drivers’ Next Moves

Avoid the “right cross”, which is the most common way to get hit (or almost get hit.) This is where a car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right.

First try and make eye contact with the driver. If you can’t, wave your arm and try to gain their attention. You will also be more visible to the driver by riding further to the left in your lane. If the driver still doesn’t see you, you are able to go even farther left to avoid getting hit.


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What to do if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident

Bicycle accidents are more common than you might think. According to one study published by the Utah Department of Health, more than 20,000 bicyclists in the state were injured or killed over a four-year period in collisions with motor vehicles. If you are one of the unfortunate bicyclists involved in such an accident, it is important to understand what steps you should (and should not) take immediately following a collision.

Utah Laws Governing Bicyclists

It is important to understand that Utah considers a bicycle a motor vehicle just like an automobile or truck. This means bicyclists must adhere to the “rules of road.” For example, a bicyclist must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian and give appropriate turn signals. Failure to follow applicable traffic laws may render the bicyclist liable for any accident.

Contact the Police

If you are in an accident, you should call 911 right away and wait for the police or paramedics. Obviously receiving medical attention for injuries should be your top priority. But it is also important to speak with the police. An official police report is often a valuable piece of evidence when dealing with insurance companies or, If necessary, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

Do Not Admit Fault

That said, you should also not volunteer any information that might constitute an admission of fault for the accident. You must never lie to the police, but you should not make enter into any discussions with the other driver or any other person at the scene about who was at fault. Even saying “I’m sorry” might be construed as an admission by an insurance company or judge.

Gather Additional Evidence

Most of us carry smartphones with built-in cameras. You should take photographs or video of the accident scene. This again may provide valuable evidence when dealing with an insurance company or lawsuit. You should not only take images of your bicycle and other vehicles, but also any traffic signs or other environmental factors that may be relevant to the accident.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Bicycles are generally covered by your automobile insurance policy. That is why you should contact your insurer as soon as possible after a bicycle accident. Your insurance agent will explain what benefits you are entitled to under your policy. In addition, if the driver who hit you lacked sufficient insurance, you may also be eligible to collect uninsured motorist benefits under your policy.

Speak With an Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Even a “minor” accident involving a bicycle can lead to larger legal problems. If you need assistance in dealing with an insurance company or bringing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, it is vital you seek assistance from an experienced bicycle accident attorney.

Can You Name These Cycling Moments in History?

From the Olympics to the annual Tour de France there have been countless memorable moments in cycling history over the past 50 years. Contender Bicycles, a local bike shop in Salt Lake, put together this quiz to test how well you know popular moments and people from cycling history.

So, are you a cycling history historian or a cycling history noob? Take the quiz to find out!

Want to write an article for the Bike Utah blog? Send your ideas to

5 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Fall Cycling

Cooler temperatures and a vibrant landscapes can make fall one of the most rewarding seasons for a cyclist; here are a few tips to help keep your wheels turning til winter…

1. Stay Visible– The sun is setting earlier these days, so make your evening commute a little safer with a quality set of lights (white in front, red in rear). USB rechargeable lights are a good option- the initial investment will save you money on batteries in the long run.

2. Fenders– Here in Utah, fall can be a bit…wet. Don’t be caught unprepared! Get some fenders on your ride before the rain starts. If you don’t currently own a pair, check out your local Bicycle Collective for a variety of affordable options.

3. JacketJust because it isn’t raining or chilly when you enter that coffee shop, doesn’t mean it won’t be when you leave 15 minutes later… always keep a jacket in your bag in case of unpredictable weather. Ponchos or packable rain jackets are both good options, you can throw one in your bag and forget about it until you need it.

4. It’s the Little Things – Arm warmers, reflective stickers, a good hat, or toe covers are all small things that can make riding through the in between season a little more enjoyable.

5. Change Your RouteHave you been avoiding a canyon climb or taking the long way to work because of the heat? Now is the perfect time to explore, we promise you won’t regret it.

Let us know your tips for riding through fall…


N + 1

Have you heard the phrase “N + 1”? Many of us who are obsessed with bicycling tend to live by it.

If you haven’t heard it, this is the formula to determine how many bicycles you need to own. “N” is the number of bikes you currently own. “+ 1” basically means that you always need one more bike.

I have tried my best to live by this formula over the years, but at a certain point I decided this formula needed to evolve for the greater good.

For all of us who are already riding, “N + 1” would be better applied to how many people we need riding bicycles.

Here’s how this recalculation might improve things for everyone:

For those of us who currently ride bicycles, one more rider would mean broader support for creation and maintenance of bike lanes, paths, and trails. Also, more people riding bicycles means less cars and a greater likelihood that those people who are driving also ride a bicycle on occasion, making road conditions safer for everyone.

For the racers out there, you would see greater demand for racing. More races, bigger and better sponsors, improved permitting, higher attendance by racers and spectators, and greater economic impact (which most communities love).

For bike shops, more people on bicycle means more people buying bicycles, clothing, gear, and everything else that comes along with riding. Rather than marketing for a piece of the pie, make the pie bigger.

For people who breathe air, the bicycle is the ultimate single occupancy vehicle. A large percentage of air pollution is comprised of emissions from motor vehicles. One more bicycle is one less car.

For people who only drive, more people on bicycle means less traffic. And if people on bicycle have their own lane, there is less likelihood they will slow you down.

For those who just want to get healthy, integrating bicycling into your daily life can help people manage weight, improve chronic health conditions, and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.

My interest is both philanthropic and self-serving. By investing a small amount of effort in helping another person to ride, I hope their life will be better. At the same time, I want more and better maintained trails, lanes, and paths. I want the roads to be safer and the air to be cleaner. By getting more people riding, the odds are better that I can improve conditions for my own riding

For me, getting more people riding is reason to celebrate [probably with a new bike]

5 Ways to Stay Visible at Night

In the heat of summer, oftentimes the best times to ride is early in the morning and later in the evening. However, the times outside of daylight hours are the most dangerous for bicyclists.

Here are five simple ways you can stay visible. The more of these you use, the safer you will be.

Lighted Streets – If you have the ability to travel on a route that has streetlights, these lights will help to improve how well you can be seen by others.

Ride Where You Can Be Seen – Rather than staying as far to the right as possible, move a little further into the bicycle lane so you can be clearly seen by vehicles approaching from behind.


Lights – Adding a front, white headlight and a rear, red taillight makes you more visible from a distance. A larger amount of power for the light will help you to be even brighter and more noticeable.


Reflectors and Reflective Material – In addition to lights, the addition of reflectors and reflective material help to improve visibility from multiple angles. Spoke reflectors and other reflective material on the sides of bicycles help to improve how well you are seen at intersections.


Clothing – Selecting the proper clothing can also help to keep you visible. Bright-colored clothing with reflective material is much more noticeable for people in motor vehicles. In addition, reflective material on your ankles can also help as motion helps to attract attention.
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