For a safe and enjoyable ride, here is a collection of basic things to consider:

  • Bike Check
  • Gear Check
  • Route Check
  • Rules of the Road
  • Rules of the Trail
  • Enroute Repairs

Bike Check

  • Ensure your bike is in good condition before setting out. Check the following and correct any problems, rather than letting them spoil your ride.
  • Tires: no cuts or bruises, good tread, and enough air
  • Wheels: rotate straight and freely; quick releases or wheel nuts are secure
  • Drivetrain: pedals and crank bolts are tight, and pedals rotate freely; chain lubricated and running freely
  • Handlebars: bolts tight; bars rotate freely
  • Brakes: Adjusted properly and working; cables not frayed
  • Seat: secure and at good height for you
  • Accessories: racks, bags and other items are secure
  • Shifting: works as you expect; cables not frayed
  • Lights: for dim conditions at dawn, dusk, night and in the rain, ensure lights are working

Gear Check

  • Dress for the weather and take along additional clothing (jacket, etc) for possible weather changes
  • Check that your helmet is adjusted and fits well. Wear it!
  • Generously apply sunscreen when conditions warrant
  • Take a full water bottle for each hour you'll be riding. Know where you can stop for refills along the way. For hot weather, you'll need more, and consider using a sports drink as well.
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from bright sun and glare, as well as bugs, branches and gravel thrown up by passing vehicles.
  • For long outings, take snacks along e.g. fruit, fig bars, energy bars; they all work.
  • Ensure you've got I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) contact information with you, as well as some money and/or a credit card. A cellphone can be helpful too (turned off unless needed).

Route Check

  • Know where you're going, about how long you'll be gone and the route you're following. Share this with someone not going (preferably your I.C.E. contact).
  • Plan your road route to avoid high traffic and provide the most enjoyable trip.
  • Plan your trail route to mitigate risk (e.g. wet rock surfaces after a rainfall)
  • Know where possible stops along your intended route are located (for washrooms, food, drinks and shelter from sudden storms).
  • Know the expected weather conditions for the region and time you'll be out.

Rules of the Road

  • In Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act stipulates that bicycles are vehicles, and that bicyclists have both the rights and duties that apply to all road vehicle operators. Think of yourself as driving a bike, and follow all the rules of the road.
  • Keep to the right of the road as far as is safe and practical. In urban areas, this means riding about one metre out from the curb in order to track a straight line, avoiding potholes, debris and grates. In rural areas, this means riding out from the edge of the road in order to be visible to overtaking, oncoming, and side-entering drivers. You can squeeze over closer to the edge of the road as a driver is about to pass you.
  • Ride a safe distance out from parked cars to avoid being 'doored'.
  • Signal your turns.
  • Stay off sidewalks (unless you are, or are with, a child); walk bikes across pedestrian crosswalks.
  • Remember that you are an ambassador for all cyclists. How you behave needs to be a reflection of how we'd all like to be viewed by motorists and the general public.

Rules of the Trail

  • Share multi-use paths (like the St. Lawrence Recreational Trail) with consideration for pedestrians and other cyclists.
  • Ride on open trails only. Do not trespass on private property. Be aware that mountain biking on trails in many designated park areas is prohibited.
  • Leave no trace. Stay on marked trails and don't cut new ones. When conditions are wet, soft or muddy, choose other trails or routes to avoid damaging the trail base.
  • Control your bicycle. Inattention and speed are the main causes of getting wrapped around a tree or bounced off rock fields.
  • Yield to others. Do your best to let others know you're coming around that turn, or up/down that hill. Yield to pedestrians unless the trail is signed for exclusive use for cycling. Downhill riders should yield to uphill riders, unless the trail is clearly signed as one-way or downhill-only. Pass other riders safely and courteously.
  • Never scare animals. Deer and horses, when spooked, may bolt and cause a collision with you or others around you. And, don't surprise a skunk. Ever.

Enroute Repairs

  • Be prepared for the occasional mechanical difficulty when you're on the road or the trail. A little training, planning and practice will let you ride home instead of having to make that embarrassing call for a pick-up. Know how to fix a flat, put your chain back on, and fix your gearing into a selected gear if a shifter or cable breaks. A basic repair kit will contain the following:
    • Two spare inner tubes as well as a patch kit.
    • Tire levers to assist taking the tire off the rim.
    • A pump and/or CO2 inflator with at least two CO2 cartridges.
    • A rag or wet wipes.
    • A multi-tool with screw drivers and hex keys.
    • A more elaborate kit for longer-distance riding and touring may contain much more, for example:
      • A spare tire
      • 3 spare spokes for each length on the rear and front wheel, and a spoke wrench
      • A spare brake cable and a spare shift cable
      • A mini chain tool, a short length of chain, and a couple of chain quick-links.
      • Zip ties (a.k.a cable wraps)
      • A spare pedal cleat with cleat bolts
    • For repairs to your most important equipment (you!), consider adding a small first aid kit if you're setting out for a multi-day tour.


Healthy Eating for Cyclists 

Generally for a long ride, eating before cycling helps to fuel your body.  It is suggested that your pre-cycling meal or snack be eaten 1-2 hours before you ride and that it consist mostly of carbohydrate, some protein that are low in fat.  Some examples of pre-cycling meals or snacks are:

  • A sandwich on whole grain bread with fruit, and a beverage of milk or juice
  • A bowl of whole grain cereal with milk and fruit
  • A low fat cereal bar with non-fat or low fat yogurt and fruit
  • Pancake topped with fruit, non-fat or low fat yogurt and juice

To help you stay hydrated; drink water, milk, soy drinks, unsweetened juices and even small amounts of diluted tea or coffee.  Aim for at least 500mL (16 ounces) of fluid 2 to 3 hours before cycling and an additional 250mL (8 ounces) 10 to 20 minutes prior to starting.

It's important to eat and drink during your ride.  It provides you with energy and rehydrates you.  Eating every 30 to 60 minutes during your ride will help you to ride longer and help you feel better.  At the same time, be careful not to overeat.  Pack foods that you can easily carry on your bike or stop at the rest stops to fuel up on small snacks such as:

  • energy bar
  • bagel with peanut butter
  • trail mix
  • fig or date cookies
  • fruit

During cycling, the rule of thumb is to drink approximately 150-350mL (5-20 ounces) of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes to keep you hydrated.  Tip: don't wait until you are thirsty before you drink. Especially if the weather is hotter than normal, you will need to increase your fluid intake to help prevent dehydration or heat exhaustion.  Some warning signs of dehydration iclude dark yellow urine, loss of energy, dizziness, loss of coordination, cramps, headaches, or unusal fatigue.

After cycling, it is important to replenish your body with fluids, carbohydrates and protein.  This will replace your energy stores and rebuild muscle tissues.  It will also help you for the next days' ride.  Have something to eat and drink shortly after your ride.  Water is great to rehydrate our body, as well as milk (chocolate or white), 100% fruit juice , sports drink or yogurt.  These fluids, together with a snack, will replenish carbohydrate stores.  Everyone is different and some sweat more than others.  If you sweat a lot during your exercise, you will need to drink a lot more fluids to rehydrate yourself. Tip: drink enough fluid until the colour of your urine is clear.

Sport drinks are not needed if you do not cycle for more than 60-90 minutes.  You can make your own sports drink by mixing 500mL (8 ounces) of unsweetened orange juice with 500mL (8 ounces) of water and adding a pinch of salt.  This will provide approximately 54g (5.4%) of carbohydrate and 0.5-0.7g of sodium.  It is important to avoid salt pills because they are too concentrated, require a lot of water for adequate dilution, and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. (Information taken from keu messages for cyclist, Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, 2009)

The high-grade fuel that is required for muscles and the brain is carbohydrate - the starch and sugar in food.  Therefore, carbohydrate containing foods need to be the foundation of each meal and snack.  Sources of carbohydrate are Vegetables and Fruit, Grain Products, Milk and Alternatives, and Meat Alternatives. 

In addition to good sources of carbohydrate, cyclists need all the other essential nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.  Choose food from each of the four Food Groups to create your menu:

  • For breakfast include foods from at least 3 out of the 4 Food Groups
  • For lunch/dinner include foods from 4 out of the 4 Food Groups
  • For snacks include foods from at least 2 of the 4 Food Groups

Avoid trans-fats by choosing fewer processed and packaged foods and reading labels.  Prepare meals using healthier, lower-fat cooking methods such as baking, boiling, broiling, barbequing, grilling, microwaving, steaming, roasting, sauteing, or toasting.  Reduce or elimate oils used for stir-frying and mayonnaise/dressing used in sandwiches or on salads.  Serve sauces, fats and spreads on the side such as margarine, jams, cream cheeses, gravy, and sauces.

Cyclists on a long haul need to start the day well hydrated and with a full tank of fuel provided by the evening meal the day before and breakfast the morning of the ride.  You need a steady supply of water on board and fuel throughout the ride provided by snacks and lunch.  Following the ride they need to refuel to prepare those hard working muscles for the next day's ride.  This is provided by a snack, immediately following the ride, and the evening meal (Healthy Eating Catering Guidelines for the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, 2009)

Remember to keep your body fuelled-up and protected from the sun by wearing sunscreen and a helmet.

This information has been adapted from the Healthy Eating Catering Guidelines for the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure and the 2009 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.


Bike Shops and Repairs

North Shore Runners and Cyclists

Boyko's Source for Sports


Cycling Clubs and Organizations – North Shore Cyclists – Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club – Silver Spokes Cycling Club


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