Bicycling is a fun way to get fit. You can cruise on the road or in the mountains, and you can enjoy all the benefits of exercising outside. But, there are a few worst-case scenarios you should be prepared for while bicycling to help ensure your safety and well-being. You need to know how to avoid potentially dangerous situations and how to handle them should you encounter them. These tips from Geek Alabama will help you stay safe.
- Keep Your Smartphone with You
Even if you don’t want to be weighed down by your smartphone, carry one with you while bicycling. Being able to contact emergency personnel is the best way to handle a worst-case scenario when exercising outside.
Should you be in an accident while bicycling, it is imperative that you put emergency contact information and health information into your phone so that first responders can help you without needing to contact your family first.
If you have an iPhone, use the Health app and put your medical conditions and emergency contacts in the Medical ID section. If you dial 911 from your phone, your contacts will get a message with your current location once you enable the service. Enable the setting to show your information when locked.
Android phone users can update your profile to include medical information. Find emergency contacts in your groups and save your contact information. If you have difficulty saving contacts, use an app or photo editing feature to type the information on a photo and then set it as your lock screen wallpaper.
Smartphones also are handy in situations when you make a wrong turn or lose track of your location while enjoying a long ride. Use the phone’s GPS or an app to find your location and get back on course.
- Know the Symptoms of a Serious Health Issue
Be aware of symptoms of a serious health issue should you fall ill while riding. Exercising outdoors and bicycling in warm temperatures can lead to heatstroke or heat exhaustion. If you’re experiencing rapid breathing, a racing heart rate, a headache, bright red skin, nausea, vomiting, or a high body temperature, there is a good chance you are suffering heatstroke.
Other telltale heat stroke signs include being hot and dry rather than sweating and becoming confused or agitated or slurring your speech. Call 911 and immediately get in the shade and remove excess clothing. Put cool water on your head, neck, armpits, and groin if possible. Heatstroke is a medical emergency, and you should not wait to call for help.
Bicyclists also can suffer heat exhaustion. If you sweat profusely, have cold or clammy skin, have a fast or weak pulse, experience muscle cramps, or become tired, weak, or dizzy, you likely are experiencing heat exhaustion. You should move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, sip water, and put cool water on your body if possible. If you vomit, experience worsening symptoms, or experience symptoms longer than one hour, contact 911.
Denver Health additionally offers these suggestions on how to avoid heat-related injuries.
- Safeguard Your Valuables
It’s crucial that you protect your valuables when you hit the road or trail, particularly if you’re in a foreign country. Look for backpacks like the Pacsafe MetroSafe LS 350 Daypack, which offers slash-resistant material and lockable pockets.
You’ll also need to plan for the worst-case scenario. If you do lose your cash or credit cards, make sure friends and family back home have a way of sending you money. Fortunately, there are money transfer services available that allow you to securely receive funds within minutes. For instance, if you’re biking in a country like Brazil, Remitly allows people back home to quickly send you money for a nominal fee.
- Know What to Do If You Encounter an Animal
You also could encounter animals who run into your path or who give chase in the mountains while bicycling. You may be unfamiliar with some of the wildlife in the area in which you ride, so be sure you know which animals you could encounter to be prepared. Remember to avoid disturbing animals you see and to keep a safe distance at all times. Do not entice any wild animals you see to come closer to you.
If you mountain bike, you may come across a bear. If you see a grizzly protecting itself rather than acting as a predator, lie flat on the ground, play dead, and place your hands behind your head to cover your neck. Stay away from certain areas when grizzlies feed on large prey, and to take bear spray with you.
Black bears are a little less dangerous than grizzlies. They are not territorial and rarely attack humans. However, be prepared to fight back if the black bear makes a predatory attack. Stand tall and make yourself look as large as possible. Make lots of noise, do not back down, and hit it to scare it away.
You can handle even worst-case scenarios while bicycling if you keep your smartphone with you, save medical and emergency contact information in your phone, are aware of signs and symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, protect your valuables, and know how to respond to an encounter with a wild animal.
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