Your health: Biking pointers for a comfortable ride around Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Your health: Biking pointers for a comfortable ride around Lake Tahoe

Chris Kozlowski
Special to the Bonanza

A cyclists rolls by Emerald Bay during a ride on the South Shore. Wearing bike shorts is the start to a smooth, comfortable bike ride.

Biking season is in full swing for mountain and road riders alike in the Lake Tahoe region. Here are a few pointers for riding smoothly, safely and more comfortably all season long:

Don't wear underwear under bike shorts

I've had this conversation with several patients and it's worth mentioning loudly and boldly. Bike shorts are supposed to be worn commando and without undergarments. It decreases chafing from seams and makes the ride more pleasant.

Wear bike shorts

The extra cushion and protection will make the ride better, and a good pair is worth the purchase. Cycling shorts will also decrease hand pressure by limiting weight pushed on the handlebars, and put less weight on your backside.

Inspect your bike seat

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Increased hand pressure may also come from the bike seat's position. If the seat's nose is tilted up, your arms may automatically push you off the nose and move the weight to your hands. If the seat's nose is tilted down, you could be sliding down and using your hands to push yourself back up on the seat. Just millimeters can make a difference in seat positioning.

Bend your elbows

Keep about 10 degrees of flex in the elbows to absorb road shock. Mountain bikers typically flex their elbows, but I see a lot of roadies locking out theirs. A slight flex will decrease the shock absorbed and increase comfort, from your hands to your neck.

Wear bike shoes

Mountain bike and road cycling shoes are built with a firmer sole to increase pedaling efficiency; tennis or running shoes aren't optimal due to an increased flex.

This little variation makes a big difference, especially when climbing uphill.

For those riding platform or clipless pedals, make sure the pedals have the proper grip and that shoes won't slide off them. Clipless pedals increase efficiency upwards of 30 percent.

Ride on the right side

If a car is coming at you, you're on the wrong side. California and Nevada bicycle laws state that bikers ride with the flow of car traffic and as close to the right as possible.

This is safer for you, other bikers and drivers alike.

Chris Kozlowski, PT, conducts professional bike fits at Barton Health Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. She is a certified bike fitter and USA Cycling Level III cycling coach — schedule a bike fit with her by calling 530-543-5896.