Cycling is a healthy activity on any occasion, but it is doubly so when you’re riding to raise money for cancer research.
The Anti-Cancer Challenge on June 10-11 is a charity ride with 10-, 30-, 60- and 100-mile routes, all starting and ending at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Now is a perfect time to sign up, raise funds for a good cause and perhaps start training for one of the more ambitious ride options.
All ride proceeds go to support lifesaving cancer research at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UC Irvine Health.
Safety is a top priority of ride organizers, and it should be for you, too. If your bike has been collecting dust lately, UC Irvine Health family and sports medicine physician Dr. Christopher Kroner offers some tips to help ensure you and your riding companions have a fun, injury-free day.
“It’s important to make sure your bike has a seat height and a handlebar height that are correct for you,” says Kroner.
Back and neck pain can be caused by a misadjusted seat, which can put your head and shoulders in an ergonomically incorrect position. Leg strains or groin strains along the inside part of your thighs can also be seat related, especially on long rides.
Visit your local bike shop for a bike fitting. This is also a fine time to ensure your bike’s drivetrain, tires and brakes are all in good working order.
Wear a helmet. Studies show that a helmet reduces your risk of serious head injury in a crash. Worn properly, a bike helmet should sit level on your head with the straps fastened securely.
While helmets are helpful, good riding skills are actually far more valuable since they can help you avoid collisions in the first place.
Know and follow the rules of the road, especially:
- Always ride with traffic, not against it
- Avoid riding on sidewalks or hugging the curb – you want to be visible to drivers
- Be predictable and consistent in your actions
- Stay alert (no earbuds!) and ride defensively
- On group rides like The Anti-Cancer Challenge, ride single file on roads
See more cyclist rules of the road ›
Benefits of cycling
“Cycling can give you a very good cardiovascular workout,” says Kroner. “When you ride with some speed and you’re getting resistance from your pedals, you really develop strength in your quadriceps. This helps you to build knee stability, which can be useful for other activities.”
Best of all, he notes, cycling puts relatively low impact on your joints. This is particularly true when you’re riding a properly sized and fitted bike.
Where to train
Kroner notes that while car-dependent Orange County may not be the top-ranked place for cycling in the country, there are still plenty of bike paths and trails you can ride, especially if you’re riding for training and exercise rather than daily commuting.
“Seek out the more open roads or well-marked bike paths. It’s worth the little extra time and distance it might take to find them.” Download the OC Bicycle Map (PDF) ›
Hint: The Anti-Cancer Challenge courses all include a section of the Santa Ana River Trail, a long-distance bikeway where it’s easy to put on car-free (and carefree) training miles.
Keep it fun
Be familiar with your own level of fitness and comfort. As Kroner advises, “Know your preferred riding speed. Don’t push yourself harder than you should, since that will greatly increase your fatigue later in the day, and more fatigue increases your risk of accidents and injury.”
See The Anti-Cancer Challenge website for more safety tips and to sign up for the event, which also includes a children’s ride, a stationary bike ride, a 5K run, exhibits and fun activities.