By TITO SANQUI SR.
Biking is so beneficial to us – health-wise and environment-wise, but there are important things to remember to keep bikers safe on the road.
Whether we ride the bike for recreation or for sport, the most basic safety measure is to use the proper equipment. Helmets are essential to protect the biker’s head from crash injuries. Padded gloves protect the biker’s hands from blisters, and ensure a tight grip on the handlebars. Bikers should also wear padded shorts, stiff-soled shoes and eye protection.
When biking at night, use blinkers or reflectors. Always watch out for humps and holes. Since bikes do not have built-in turn signals, cyclists need to use hand signals to indicate their intentions to drivers or riders behind them (see illustration).
Safety becomes all the more crucial when you go into competitive biking.
Road racing is the oldest type of bicycle competition. There are several formats of road racing, including stage races, one-day events, time trials, and criteriums.
Stage races can last for weeks and cover thousands of kilometers. Each day’s race is called a stage. The rider with the lowest cumulative time after all the stages is the overall winner.
The Tour de France, a 25- to 30-day race covering about 3200 km, is the most prestigious bicycle race in the world. Here in the Philippines, we have a similar tradition dating back to the Tour of Luzon in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which later expended into the Tour ng Pilipinas.
One-day races usually last from four to seven hours and span from 150 to 400 km. Examples of one-day races include the world championship road race, the Olympic road race, and European spring classics such as Paris-Roubaix.
In time trials, the object is to cycle as fast as possible from one point to another, while being timed by a clock. There are usually two or three time trial stages in the Tour de France. In the Philippine versions, the Baguio leg is often of this race variety.
A criterium is a multi-lap race held on a loop course with each lap only a few kilometers in length. These races are often held in downtown areas, where large crowds gather to cheer the riders as they pedal by on each lap. Unlike stage racing and time trialing, the emphasis in a criterium is on speed and bike handling rather than endurance.
We’ll have more of competitive biking on our next issue when we share the results of the Loakan Invitational. #