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Keep Outings Worry-Free

August 06, 1992|RICK VANDERKNYFF

A few notes for cyclists on what tools to buy, how to ride and whom to contact about joining a club:


Most good bike shops have their own repair departments, but it still helps for bike owners to at least know the basics of maintenance--especially when they get those flat tires 20 miles from home.

The basics include not only repairs but also regular maintenance, from brake adjustments to lubing the chain. Keeping the bike in top condition will head off bigger problems, and will enhance riding enjoyment.

One local bike shop recommends the following ingredients to a basic tool kit:

* Set of Allen wrenches.

* Chain lube.

* Y wrenches (8-, 9- and 10-mm).

* Tire levers.

* Chain tool.

* Brake wrenches.

* Spoke wrench.

* Patch kit.

* Extra inner tubes.

An under-the-seat bag with a basic road repair kit, along with a hand pump, are recommended equipment on any ride longer than a few blocks. Of course, knowing how to use the tools helps. There are plenty of books on the market giving the basics of bicycle maintenance. Also, a number of local bicycle shops periodically give seminars (often free) on maintenance.

Most bike shops offer a free tuneup a few months after the purchase of a new bike. Ask to watch the procedure--the best way to learn is firsthand from an expert mechanic.


Riding in traffic--especially the kind of traffic we get in Orange County--can be a harrowing experience for first-time riders. Getting comfortable on the road takes time, but there are a few tips that can take the edge off the experience.

These are adapted from the Existing Bikeways map of Orange County.

* Obey traffic laws, signs and signals. Cyclists are subject to the same rules as automobile drivers.

* Always ride with, never against, traffic.

* Ride predictably. Travel in a straight line and signal turns.

* When traveling straight and approaching a red light, look behind you and (when safe) move onto the line separating the right-turn lane from the right lane of traffic. If no right-turn lane is available, position yourself in the middle of the right lane; if the lane is wide enough, allow enough room on your right for cars to turn.

* Experienced cyclists can make left turns just like an auto (from the left-turn lane or from the middle of the left lane). Especially on busy intersections, novice riders are advised to make left turns as a pedestrian would: stay to the right, ride straight through the intersection to the far-side crosswalk, and walk your bike in the crosswalk.

* Watch out for cars entering the bike lane. Cars preparing to turn right are permitted to enter bike lanes within 200 feet of the intersection. Also, avoid passing on the right at intersections, as motorists turning right may not see you.

* Be aware at all times of what cars are doing. Make eye contact with drivers when possible, and watch out for doors opening on parked cars, drivers turning right or emerging from side streets and driveways.

* Watch out for road hazards. "Bike lanes" are often the worst part of the road, with potholes, grates, cracked asphalt, along with broken glass and other debris.


Biking organizations can be a great way to meet other cyclists, get into group rides and learn more about the sport. Some bike shops sponsor their own group rides or even racing teams. Two of the county's biggest biking organizations are:

* Orange County Wheelmen. In addition to holding group rides and social functions, this organization publishes an extensive monthly newsletter with articles on technical aspects of riding. Orange County Wheelmen also includes Teamwork Tandem, the biggest tandem club in the county, and the Paramount Cycling Team. For information, call (714) 956-BIKE.

* Bicycle Club of Irvine. This group sponsors its own rides and other events, and publishes a newsletter. Call (714) 854-8106.

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