Bohol bikers celebrate cycling bond in Unity Ride May 25-26

It is the merry month of May again.

And while the fiestas all over Bohol allow the people to shovel into themselves huge cholesterol overloads, local bikers look up to the annual two-day ride that brings them to pedal around the island’s belting road, bond, have good clean fun and detox.

The annual Unity Ride, also known as Bohol 360 this May 25-26 this year is sponsored by TriBohol, the local elite triathlon group, who since the start, wanted to nurture amateur bikers and pedal with them through the 264 kilometer course.

The Unity Ride is a long ride and surviving it is enough of a feat. As to surviving the pain, a perfect fit with the bike helps a lot.

So what is perfect fit? It is your fit and the bike’s adjustments to attain your stance as against the bike geometry.

Considering your height, that means your stand-over-clearance (standing between the frame leaves your groin at least an inch from the frame) and your reach (which is often measured by the tip of your elbows touching the front of the saddle, knuckles reaching the tip of the steering tube). By attaining a good if not a perfect bike fit, it allows one the most comfortable painless ride especially over long distances.

Also, put in the right seat-post height, saddle position, stem length, stem length and right handle bars for long rides.

Having done that, now, gear up.

The month of May happens to be one of the hottest months. A good rash guard or those fitting arm sleeves would be helpful.

Or maybe a generous slap of sunblock on exposed skin. Sun shades.

And bike gloves if you have it. Wearing leggings, cleat shoes and a hydro bottle.

The Unity Ride is a no-helmet, no-ride event, so gear up and more: ready a spare tube and air pump.

Next up, your rig.

Do some bike spot-conditioning. Re-grease, check for chain slack, dampen the creaks, check on the tire pressure.

With over a hundred bikers all together pedaling off from the Rizal Park in Tagbilaran Saturday morning, for newbies and riders who have not gone as far through the highways, learning simple and yet basic group ride etiquette might be of help for a safe, fun and gratifying ride.

We compiled some basic things a biker must do to be in an orderly group ride. Here are some of them.

1. Drafting. Staying very close to the biker ahead of you, riding directly behind on his stream lined airflow reduces your drag, watch out however from half-wheeling. That is, instead of maintaining a healthy and safe distance from the lead, you come so close that your front tire hits the leader’s rear, which could be causing dangerous pile-up crashes.

2. Signals. In group rides, if you are a beginner, it is always advisable to stay at the back of the pack and observe. Even then, chances are, some bikers are on your tail, that allowing them to know what is ahead is more of a safety than courtesy. Extend your right hand when turning left. Extend your right hand when turning right. Raise your left hand, palms flat to signal a stop. Pump your palms below the waits to signal to slow down. Point to a hazard on the road like potholes or stones. Wave your hands on your back to direct the tail to evade an obstacle (follow me). Do not ride more than two abreast, so you can share the road with other drivers. And, maintain constant speed.

3. Do not spit. At the urge of spitting, use the proper hand signal of breaking off to the left or right, check for other bikers behind and spit away from the group riders. Be careful when reentering the group.

4. Be predictable. Grabbing on the brakes unexpectedly, standing up out of the saddle when it isn’t necessary and decreasing speed without alerting others can all lead to a crash when riding in a group.

5. Announce when you are overtaking. In highway group rides, there might be times when you might have to advance to cover a gap in the riding column, use hand signal when breaking off and inform the biker ahead by saying: Biker on the Left, or Biker on the right. Communication is the key here.

6. Leave your aerobars at home. Pack riding is often keeping close distances between bikers so each can ride on the air flow of the leader to reduce drag. Using an aerobar or time trial rigs and putting yourself in that position keeps your hands far from the brakes, lessening your control of the bike immensely.

7. Help other bikers hurdle a climb or navigate a curb. In group rides, the consistent speed often exhilarates newbies that push them to pedal harder and show off. Coaching them on maintaining cadence, using the right gear ratio most often allows them to keep pace and tire less.

8. Give each one responsibility. Long rides can be sustained when everyone helps each other. Take turns in leading the pack, assigning a rider to take the lead for, say three minutes, after which he moves to the left so the one behind him can assume the lead and the last rider on the left can fill in the space vacated by the advancing riders. Rotate and you will find out you can ride faster and wouldn’t even realize you’ve gone that far in so short a time.

9. Wait for others on climbs. Keeping a group together on a climb can be tough. Because of this, avoid racing up long climbs unless it’s been agreed upon that the group plans to regroup at the top. Let the middle of the pack dictate the pace, and everyone adjusting to the pace, so that the slower climbers can be motivated. Help those who have mechanical trouble. For safety reasons, no single rider should be left on the road alone.

10. Maintain good attitude. Sharing with others your love for cycling is part of what makes group rides so much fun. Group rides are a great time to learn from others, make friends and enjoy the camaraderie that can only be shared with other cyclists. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

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