It's easy to get wrapped up in the ride while riding your bicycle. But, staying mindful of a few simple precautions can ensure a safe experience out on the trail. Here’s my list of tips I've complied over the years:
As tempting as it is to just take the bike and go, check your air pressure and breaks before heading out. Also bring along a patch kit and pump.
Have a well charged phone with you. If you’re riding alone let someone know where you’re going and when you anticipate returning.
Wear colors that make you visible. Iowa’s trails can take you through areas used during hunting seasons. Make sure you’re seen.
Anticipate the trail ahead and avoid being taken by surprised. Keep an eye out for fallen branches, bumps, and puddles.
Be aware of where you are on the trail. Many of Iowa’s trails use the Trail Emergency Access System. These markers provide a specific reference point in the event 911 needs to be called. If markers aren't posted, keep in mind where you are in reference to landmarks, or road intersections.
Bike trails often intersect roads or highways. Always approach these crossings with caution and be ready to stop quickly. Not all motorists are aware of bicycle crossings.
While cycling in Iowa you’re almost guaranteed to spot deer. Wild turkey, woodchuck, fox, coyote, mink and badgers can also be spotted along the trails. While it’s tempting to get up close it’s best to keep a safe distance.
A first aid kit might seem a bit overzealous, but it’s nice to at least have bandages, pain reliever, and some wet wipes with you. I like the GetOutThere kit by Pale Spruce. It’s a lightweight, packable and specifically designed for bike touring.
Riding Iowa’s trails is certainly not a dangerous activity, but whether you're riding with others or alone make an effort to stay safe.