Bicycling is gaining popularity across the country. While it’s a great way to improve fitness while seeing a wider variety of sites than possible in walking or running, bicycling is not without its hazards. In most communities, urban and rural, bicyclists must share the road with motor vehicles. Even when bike lanes are available, they are often repositories for trash swept from the main roadway. In these cases, bike lanes can be more hazardous than mixing with traffic on the roadway.Fortunately, in some communities like Louisville, local bike enthusiasts have stepped up to help new riders cope with the challenges to make bicycle riding an enjoyable and safer sport.
I recently completed one such course, put on by volunteer members of the Louisville Bicycle Club. The course, held at six times per year, is underwritten by Baptist Health Sports Medicine and the City of Louisville.
The course consists of five sessions with these topics:
- Bike basics – bike/helmet fit; traffic laws; ABC Quick Check.
- Gearing/shifting; lane positioning; parking lot drills.
- Five layers of safety; riding in groups; parking lot drills.
- Tools & basic repairs; tire changing.
- Nutrition/hydration/clothing; evaluations.
Additionally, each class features a group bike ride of about seven miles which includes a busy street and quiet neighborhoods.
There is no cost to attend this course. It is only required that you register on the Louisville Bicycle Club website. The class is also held in various locations around the City of Louisville. My particular class was in the parking lot of Baptist Eastpointe, near the Gene Snyder Freeway and Old Henry Road in the East End.
Our class was moderated by David Wittry, a long-time Louisville bicyclist. He shared personal experiences to punctuate the lesson plans. In all, the sessions were very laid-back but informative. There were a couple of things I really wanted to get better at — fixing a flat tire out on the road, for one — and David shared some ‘tricks’ which made the whole process much easier.
There was also emphasis on proper lane positioning, depending on circumstances and the rider’s upcoming intention. Contrary to what most bicyclists have heard, riding ‘as far to the right as possible’ is not always advisable, and not always safe. David gave us practical examples of various real-life scenarios.
Yes, There is a Test
After a road check and a written exam, we were all given a Louisville Bike Club bicycle jersey and a free one-year membership to the Louisville Bike Club.
While I was pleased to with these benefits, underwritten by Baptist Health, the real benefit was that I learned some techniques to make me a better and safer bicyclist. And that’s something beneficial for anyone who enjoys the sport.