Pedal Power Tips (Issue 1 of 7): route choice, loose brakes, side-by-side, and doughnuts!

You Go, Girl!

Welcome to Pedal Power Tips, a companion resource to my proprietary Pedal Power with Pattie basic bike skills classes here in Metro Atlanta and beyond. Need more help? If you are a woman or teen girl new or returning-to-bikes, see here for free classes available four ways (including the first bike skills classes in the world delivered remotely via text, TikTok, and downloadable PDF). Plus, I created this free You Go, Girl toolkit with you in mind, featuring additional resources and inspiration.

The Path of Least Resistance — Nervous about mixing it up with motor vehicle traffic? Listen to your instincts. Choosing a route with which you feel comfortable is the most important thing you can do to enjoy riding your bike again. Good news — there are an increasing number of safe routes both off and on road throughout Metro-Atlanta. I’ve created a bunch of welcoming routes for you. See here

A Barrel of Fun
 — Did you know that if you can pull your brake so tight that your thumb can't fit between the brake lever and your handlebars that it's too loose? And did you know that there is a minor adjustment you can make that can fix this for FREE? You simply loosen the little barrel that's either on your handlebars, coming out of your brake levers, or on the brake arms themselves (see photo) and you will notice that your brake lever is now tighter. If this doesn't work, please see your local bike shop or learn how to fix it yourself with expert assistance at the SOPO Bike Cooperative (check for hours as they have been closed a lot during COVID-19). It's not a barrel of fun to be brakeless on a hill!

Fall in Love — What better way to kick off Fall than side by side with someone you love? And guess what? It's legal to do so on most roads in the State of Georgia. In fact, on roads where it makes sense for bike riders to "take the lane" (when the lane is too narrow for motor vehicles to pass legally by giving the 3' clearance of bike riders required by law, for instance), riding side by side with a fellow bike rider makes you more visible and means motor vehicles only need to pass the length of one bike rider, not two. If you take a class with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, you will most likely get to experience doing this, which will make you more comfortable if you don't currently feel, well, in love with this maneuver. Even if you don’t think you’ll be riding in the streets, it’s good to learn how in case your path is blocked. Sign up for classes here.

Go Nuts for Doughnuts-- Bike riding burns calories, and lots of them, and you'll probably discover pretty quickly that although bike riders eat healthy to fuel their rides, they don't skimp on the treats afterwards. That might be why people on bikes swarm to places like Revolution Doughnuts not far from the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail. Let's put it this way -- that coconut one is my favorite thing in the world, and I don't even like coconut! (And, bonus goodness, all three doughnuts pictured are vegan!) There’s even a fun yarn-bombed bike rack in front of it (here’s why #BikesMeanBusiness, by the way, even more so when ridden by women), and a great Little Free Library across the street (where you may sometimes even find my book).

Hope to see you out and about, traveling at the speed of bike!

Trust the journey,

Pattie Baker 

League Cycling Instructor #5384, PeopleForBikes Ambassador, first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, and publisher of Traveling at theSpeed of Bike book and blog