Bother to Bike

Things to remember as you get psyched to bike.  

by Caroline Miller

As you’re breaking out your short-shorts in this early-spring sun, perhaps it’s time to dig out another fair-weather item: the bike. Those breaks are itching to be tightened and the gears are ready to be cranked. Even if your bike has collected dust for years, it’s not too late – pump up those tires and give biking another chance.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you hit the streets this season.

Rules of the Road
Your bike isn’t the only thing that needs maintenance; be sure to tune up your bike etiquette as well.  Though it doesn’t have an engine or a radio, a bicycle is a vehicle. Therefore, when you’re on the road, you must obey the same laws as a car. Turn signals, lights, and obeying stop signs are not optional. It’s important to use hand signals when turning, so your hands must be free, not texting or taking selfies. To signal a left turn, extend your left arm straight out to the side.  For a right turn, use the same arm, but bend at the elbow and extend your hand upward. At four-way stops and uncontrolled intersections, you must wait your turn – cars may signal you to proceed, but don’t assume you have the right of way.

It’s important to keep in mind that by Montana state law, you must always be on the road; it’s illegal to bike on sidewalks.  When in dual-use areas (such as the Gallagator Trail), stay to the right, and when you pass someone, give a shout and let them know you’re there – this is not only courteous, but required by law. Montana law also requires a light when biking at night. This means a front lamp visible and a rear reflector, each visible at 500 feet.

A demonstration of the above signal rule.  It's not rocket science.

A demonstration of the above signal rule. It’s not rocket science.

Safety First
So what can you do to be safe? It starts with respect. Respect other drivers and make sure you are following the aforementioned laws. You are not entitled to the whole road just because you have the agility to dart in and out of people. Keep in mind, Bozeman police can issue citations for using your phone when biking. When you do make it to your destination, park in a bicycle rack (MSU may impound your bike if it’s locked to anything else). Later, when you head home, make sure you have a headlamp or flashlight. Make sure you register your bike with the City of Bozeman or University Police – should your bike get stolen, they can get it back to you promptly if recovered.  And wear a helmet, people, accidents happen.

A simple way to get your bike impounded on campus.

Why Yearn the Burn?
So if you don’t bike, why should you? Besides the health benefits – your calves will get yolked in just a few short weeks, and your lungs will thank you for the extra fresh air – there are many other advantages to biking. First, it’s an excellent way to relieve stress after a long day at school or work. Second, you reduce your carbon footprint. Third, biking can be faster than driving. As fun as it is to do laps around MSU parking lots, biking can get you to class or around town in a comparable amount of time. Lastly, you can spice up your daily commute by adding a leg on the trail – Bozeman is surrounded with bike trails also. (Mountain biking is yet another reason; click here for info on that.)

Score better parking than you’ll find in the SB lot.

Deals on Wheels
If you’re bike-less and don’t know how to get the tires spinning, there’s a variety of shops ready to sell you a fresh set of wheels. The Gallatin Valley Bike Club sponsors the Bike Swap in mid-April, where you can purchase a previously-loved bike from a fellow Bozemanite. University Police also holds an annual bike sale in where you can purchase a bike that has been impounded (so make sure you register your bike). If you want to clean up that bike that’s been sitting in your parent’s garage for 15 years, head to the Bozeman Bike Kitchen, where you can learn the necessary tips & tricks. Outdoor Rec at MSU also helps students learn bicycle maintenance. If you have the know-how already, just head down and borrow their tools.

One of Bozeman's many shops that will buy, sell, or fix up your ride: The Bike Peddler

One of the many shops that will buy, sell, or fix up your ride: the Bike Peddler, near Oak & Rouse.

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Pool Paddling

Springtime’s free (indoor) outdoor-recreation opportunity.

by Kevin Kennedy

Does launching yourself down a thundering river in a tight tube of plastic, guided only by your courage and a double-bladed paddle, strike your fancy? If so, the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center has the perfect activity for you.

Every spring and fall, the ASMSU Outdoor Recreation Program holds open kayaking pool sessions for those who want to get some paddle strokes in, knock the dust off of their roll, or try the sport of kayaking for the very first time. Best of all, the sessions take place in a warm indoor pool.

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Pool session in full effect.

This semester, free open-boating sessions are held Thursdays at 6:30-7:45pm from March 19 to April 30 at MSU’s Hosaeus Pool, and you don’t have to be experienced or have your own equipment to partake in the fun—you will, however, need your CAT Card or Facility Use Pass. The Outdoor Rec program owns 10 whitewater kayaks that are stored at the pool and available on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early if you need a boat.

For those with little or no experience, kayaking in a pool allows you to get comfortable in a boat, start learning basic techniques, and experience capsizing, all in a safe, warm environment. There are always experienced paddlers who are happy to show new boaters the ropes and help them with the basics.

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There are even two lifeguards on duty.

If the thought of kayaking doesn’t appeal to you, don’t fret — there’s another option. Outdoor Rec also has a free stand-up paddleboard session Tuesdays at 6:30-7:45pm, April 14-28 at the Hosaeus Pool (CAT Card or Facility Use Pass required). Come try out one of their new paddleboards in the pool and get stoked for a long spring and summer on the lakes and rivers of southwest Montana.

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And trips like this. Photo by Ryan Krueger.

For more info on outdoor programs, gear rental opportunities, and instruction, check out the ASMSU Outdoor Recreation website or head over to the Outdoor Rec building at 1401 West Lincoln, near Roskie Hall.