You may have noticed some awesome infrastructure upgrades around Montevallo recently, including a lot of newly paved roads. Riding your bicycle on fresh asphalt provides a smooth ride comparable to floating on a cloud. Unfortunately, riding on clay bricks provides a mostly unpleasant experience that most cyclists avoid. Brick pavers have been part of Montevallo since 1896 and avoiding brick roads on campus isn’t always practical. Follow these tips to learn how to ride on brick pavers:
Route choice – plan your route to avoid the worst sections of road. There are many newly paved sections of campus such as Bloch and Vine Streets that have smoother bricks for riding. As tempting as it is to ride on the sidewalk, remember that in Alabama it is not lawful to do so.
Scan Ahead – keep an eye out ahead for bad sections of road so you don’t wait until the last moment to react to a large bump in the road. A predictable cyclist is a safe cyclist.
Bunny hop – use the standard bunny hop to avoid an unforeseen obstacle. The same move you used as a kid can be practiced and used as an emergency measure when needed.
Ride on the saddle – although it is tempting to stand on your pedals to take the shake out of your backside, you need weight on the back wheel to maintain traction and stability.
Bend your arms – do not lock your arms straight while riding on bricks; doing so can transfer the bumps directly to your head and spine. Keeping your arms bent allows them to become shock absorbers when riding.
Relax – staying relaxed and flexible on the bike will help you avoid pain. Tensing your muscles amplifies the knocks of an uneven surface.
Grip – Finding the balance between a firm and light grip on your handlebars will take some practice. The right balance will assist in navigating the pavers.
Tires – consider wider tires that allow for lower pressures. While you don’t want to allow your tire pressure to dip below the recommended range (this could create a pinch flat that will lead to a flat tire), higher pressures bring an intimate meeting with every road bump.
By using these tips, you can easily navigate the uneven roads in our community. Practice these strategies the next time you are riding around town – the more cyclists in town, the safer the streets are for riders!