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Bike doctor gives tips for healthy cycling

Paul Bogaert of The Bike Doctor on West Broadway has been keeping cyclists on the road for the last 20 years and offers some great advice for getting ready to ride this season.

Getting back to biking

“If your bike’s been stored for a while, the best thing to do is pump up the tires, check the brakes, see if it’s got a solid feeling. If you had no problems before you stored it, and it feels like it’s going to be reasonably safe to ride, hop on the bike and try it out. However if the chain’s falling off or the brakes are not functional, you should definitely bring it into any bike store and they’ll evaluate your bike for free.” This process will allow you get an idea of what might need to be done to get the bike running properly, from a simple tune-up to more extensive repairs.

“If your bike’s been sitting in the shed unused for years, you may want to examine why you haven’t been riding,” added Bogaert, noting that often in cases like this the bike doesn’t suit the type of riding that the rider wants to do. “If you had a really heavy bike that was inefficient and you were thinking of riding to work, you probably have the wrong bike to do that job.”

Choosing the right bike for you

Bogaert also noted that having a bike that is uncomfortable can easily turn people off cycling, whereas making simple modifications to create comfort, like changing the tires, the seat or adjusting the handle bars can make a huge difference. “It’s very important to have an appropriate bike that’s comfortable,” he said.

Of course, modifications for comfort are only the beginning, as seasoned riders often work diligently to customize their machines to fit their preferred riding style. This customization has led to the creation of up to 70 different cycling cultures in Vancouver (as identified by Velo City’s exhibit in 2009) where like minded riders gather to socialize and share in the sport.

Cycling and politics

Cycling has also become an especially politicized topic in the community, with business owners recently being given a chance to weigh in on the potential costs and benefits of initiatives like separated bike lanes.

“With City Council putting in these separated bike lanes and improving the bike-ways, a lot more people have felt more comfortable about cycling," siad Bogaert. "That dovetails with the fact that other people have been taking up cycling in the past number of years and have been an inspiration to others to also take it up.”

Happy cycling!

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