The outdoor recreation season is in full swing. It seems a Monday doesn't go by now without a story about a weekend hiker rescue.

Often with that story, there is a reference to the essential items hikers should take with them on the trails.

But what about cyclists? What should they bring and what can they do to stay safe while tallying the miles.

Certainly obey the rules of the road like riding with traffic and not against it. Honor traffic signals and signs. When riding in town, anticipate others. Be aware that parked car doors open. Have reflectors on your bike. You should be bright as well in terms of clothing.

Before hitting the road or trail, don't forget the ABC Quick Check for your bike. A is for air, so check your tires and be sure to pump them up to the levels printed on your tires. B is for brakes, so test them. C is for cranks and chain so look them over. Q is for eyeballing your quick releases (wheels and seat) and check is to check everything over.

Wear a helmet. The helmet's an essential item as it saves lives and is a defense against injury. But it also needs to be replaced. If you're using a helmet from the 20th century, replace it. If you've crashed with it or cracked it, replace it.

Manufacturers seem to suggest replacing a helmet every three to five years. A lot has to do with usage. The integrity of the helmet can be compromised by sun and sweat. Sun's unsparing on plastics while perspiration's salt can wear away at the helmet too.

Flat's happen. It's imperative to bring either a pump or a CO2 cartridge plus a spare tube or two and/or patch kit. Just be sure you're comfortable with road or trailside repair. Choose a safe place before starting work. CO2 certainly is the quick option.

The cartridge is packed with a finite amount of carbon dioxide that fills up the tube and will likely get you to where you are going. Just be wary of the cold from the inflator. Also, the gas will dissipate in 24 hours so you're going to have to change or patch the tube anyway.

A multi-tool comes in handy for loosening and tightening parts like the seat post clamp, racks, water cages and other items. There are a variety of multi-tools but the idea is to have one with a variety of hex sizes, chain tool, phillips and flat drivers, spoke wrenches and tire lever. Many have a bottle opener too which comes in handy if your malady turns epic. Though many cyclists may not know how to use all the tools I've always subscribed to the philosophy that it's a good idea to carry the tool and find someone who knows what to do with it.

Get a grip with bike gloves. They prevent blisters and can delay some numbness. On rainy days, they give better grip and can keep you warm too. Use them to wipe sweat from your brow. They're also good to help you break a fall whether on the trail or on the road.

Drink water. Whether you use a hydration pack or water bottle is up to you. Basically, the more you sweat the more water you need to replace. You can always top it off along the way. Plus, carry snacks for energy too.

Maps, guide books and smartphone apps are excellent resources especially in unfamiliar terrain. Just remember that the valley has pockets with no coverage.

A first-aid kit and sun screen are helpful items. When mountain biking absolutely carry insect repellent. The mosquito and black fly squadron's of Mother Nature's air force can be tenacious and relentless particularly in the woods around standing water.

And don't forget common sense, the most important essential on the road and trails to a safe summer season of cycling.


The M&M Assurance Summer Mountain Bike Race Series at Great Glen Trails starts up Tuesday, July 11. The eight-week series continues through Aug. 29 with riders choosing from three courses to pedal between 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Do the whole series or cherry pick your dates. This is a race against the clock for all agilities and ages.

The White Mountains New England Mountain Bike Association chapter fundraiser is July 11 at Flatbreads at 5 p.m. There's a silent auction, too. Say hi to new chapter president Amanda Tulip.

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