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Health & Safety

Bicycle Safety
The Colorado Rough Riders believe in safe and responsible riding. Mixed terrain travel can be dangerous. Ride within your means and remain very visible on roads with cars. Please visit the safety resources to the right.

Bicycles & Health
Bicycle riding can be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Our current reliance on automobile travel and television has encouraged an unhealthy lifestyle for many kids and adults in America today. Changing our focus to bicycle travel has the potential to raise the general level of heath in the U.S.

An interesting read about bicycles and health is Pedalling Health (pdf 420 kb), 1996 by Ian Robert, et al. This study by researchers and doctors in Australia explores activity levels in modern society and the health effects of riding a bicycle.

Bicycles, Pain & Injury
Sooner or later every cyclist experiences pain while biking. Repetitive injury is common for bikers and usually means something is wrong. It needs to fix fixed before it gets worse. A first step may be to visit Sheldon Brown's web page on bicycle pain (link at right). But it's best to see a doctor specializing in sports medicine like Dr. Tod Sweeney of the Sports & Family Medicine clinic here in Colorado's Front Range and a Rough Rider Club member. Read Tod's article called Mountain Bike Injuries (pdf 25 kb).

Getting a bike fit from an expert like George Mullen at Peak Bikes in Downtown Golden is also a good idea. He uses a special bike like contraption and computer to analyze a rider's posture and power output. A poorly fitting bike can cause many problems.

General Alpine Safety
Mixed terrain cyclists visiting alpine environments should be well versed in mountain safety. Learning from experienced mountaineers through a friendship or club is probably best. Consider taking course by the Colorado Mountain Club or the American Alpine Club, both based here in Downtown Golden. Or find a seasoned Rough Rider to ride with.

Below is an abbreviated list of ColoradoRough Rider mountain safety tips:

  • Mountain weather changes fast
    One thing you can count on in the mountains, the weather is likely to change. A nice sunny morning may end turn to rain or even snow showers later in the day, even in summer. Always be prepared for any weather condition. Don't rely on skimpy road lycra when alpine touring, bring true mountaineering technical clothing. In late winter and spring be aware of potential avalanche danger. Yes, some mountain roads & trails are subject to late spring water slab slides.
  • Lightening strikes after lunch
    If you are riding at high altitude be aware that lightening strikes more often on spring and summer afternoons. Consider scheduling the higher altitude parts of your ride for morning.
  • Be altitude smart
    Even those of us living at altitude can get altitude sickness. Know the symptoms, watch yourself and fellow riders closely. Go low if any trouble begins.
  • Stay hydrated
    Dehydration is one of the leading catalysts of altitude sickness and general trouble when riding in the mountains. Bring lots of water and possibly a water purification system. Don't drink naturally occuring water, even near the source mountain water can have giardia or parasites.
  • Protect from the sun
    The suns rays are more intense in the mountains. Thinner air filters the suns rays less. Snow reflects rays intensifying exposure. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Carry the 10 + 8 essentials
    It's a good idea to carry the classic 10 essentials of mountaineering on any extended mixed terrain trip away from civilization supplemented with the most useful bicycle tools. The 10 essentials are: Map, compass, sunglasses & sunscreen, extra clothes, headlamp, first-aid supplies, firestarter, matches, knife, extra food. The 10 essentials was orginally developed in the 1930's by the Seattle based "The Mountaineers" organization. For a good read get Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills still the bible for mountaineers and still printed by The Mounaineers. The 8 bike specific essentials to carry usually includes: Patch kit, tire levers, pump, multi-tool or equivalent separate tools, cell phone or satelite messenger (not exactly bike specific - but they weren't invented in the 1930s), Identification/money/insurance card, lubricants, spare parts. Spare parts carried depends on the duration of your ride but may include spare tube, spare tire, brake pads, cables, spokes and other likely needed items.
  • Prepare for your adventure
    Preparing for your adventure before starting out greatly minimizes risk. Having the right equipment for the trip takes carefull planning and can make a big difference in the success of your adventure. Inspecting and ensuring your bike is well maintained can make the difference between a fun outing and an epic.
  • Always know where you are
    It sounds simple, but not getting lost means always knowing where you are. It's very easy to start down a fun trail only to realize at some point, you have no idea where the trail is leading. Always carry a map & compass. GPS is great, but should not be relied on as the only means of route finding (batteries wear out).

Bicycle Health Resources

Acute Overuse of Legs
CDC on Bike Saddles
Cycling Pain - Causes
Sheldon Brown on Pain

Bicycle Safety Resources
Bicycle Information Center
Bicycle Safety Guide
City of Golden Bike Rules
Ken Kifer on Bike Safety
NHTSA Bike Page


Mountain Bike Injuries
Pedalling Health