The Freedom Ride began in Johannesburg in February 2014. This initiative was brought to life by cycling activists, including the Standard Bank Africa Cycle Fair Director, Mr. Rob Heath, and in partnership with the City of Johannesburg. The concept of the ride is to get the people of Johannesburg onto bicycles and riding the streets of the city. The ride is a social event bringing together people of different economic and social classes. It aims to be a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s legacy; to break through the social barriers and connect both people and places. The Freedom Ride connects communities across Johannesburg, taking the riders from city centres passed historically important landmarks and into disadvantaged areas. The first hand exploring of the social diversity is enlivened by the ride’s route through rich cultural and historical areas. It is a truly free experience.
Unlike other events, the Freedom Ride is free for all and just require riders to register. The event is sponsored by the City of Johannesburg and other stakeholders who wish to share in the effort. Amongst its many objectives, the ride also promotes the use of bicycles as a daily mode of transport and highlights cycling routes within the city; routes with implemented cycle lanes and those which are planned for the future of cycling development.
With the next event taking place this Sunday 11 October 2015, we thought it best to give some handy tips and safety outlines before new riders take to the streets of Johannesburg.
ACF Cycling Tips and Safety outlines:
1 ) Always check your bicycle the week before your planned ride. Book a service to ensure your brakes are working properly and wheels are free of tears and thorns. Last thing you want on your Freedom ride is a flat tyre. Make sure you have a spare tube, tools and chain links in your kit before you start your cycle.
2) No helmet no ride. Safety first – always. If you cannot get a helmet in time, try borrowing one from a friend or online second hand cycle shops like Bikehub SA.
3) Safety Identification is crucial. Always make sure you have some form of identification with your medical details on you. If anything does happen to you on the road, fellow cyclists and emergency services can assist a lot faster once they have all your information. We highly recommend you get an ICE ID. ICE, In Case of Emergency identification will speak for you in the event of an emergency. Emergency Medical Personnel are trained to first look for medical identification jewellery on a patient. ICE ID’s will alert paramedics of your health and personal information. Also remember to carry any medication you might need with you.
4) Wear Protective Gear. You don’t need to be kitted out in the latest cycling fashion but we suggest you get a few basics to protect your bottom, hands and feet. Again, if you don’t want to spend money on the matter, try and ask other cyclists for some of their older gear they might not use anymore. Gloves will protect your hands in case you do take a tumble on the gravel. Cycling specific pants will have a cushioned area called a ‘shammy’ which will protect your bum from unnecessary chaffing. You don’t need cycling shoes to start with. Normal training shoes will do as long as your toes are covered and protected.
5) Hydration and Nutrition. Summer temperature in our city is high. Always make sure you have a minimum of 750ml (bottle) of water on your bicycle. We recommend you fill these the night before and store in the fridge. Just remember them before you leave for your ride. Most athletes add some form of supplement to assist them when training, but we suggest you start with the basics and only venture into the field of supplemented nutrition when you do take cycling and training more seriously. A simple sachet of Rehidrate can be added to your bottle to ensure you get all the electrolytes needed for your Freedom Ride. Pack a little snack like a banana, dates or protein bar for your cycle. If you eat during your cycle you will not run out of energy and will enjoy your cycle more. Healthy is better, so choose something not laced with sugar.
6) Sun Protection. Ensure you cover any skin showing with Sun Screen before you leave the house. We recommend a SPF30+ for our harsh sun in summer. Always carry an extra tube with you to reapply before your cycle. Getting sun-burned, is definitely not one of the memorabilia’s you would want to take home with you. Also remember a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
7)Remember to greet and smile. Cyclists are very friendly. Make sure you find yourself in a comfortable group who cycle at your pace and start chatting. Make friends and training buddies. We can almost guarantee that this will not be your last cycling event. Smile and wave as you pass motorists stuck in traffic. This might encourage them to take up the sport as well. Be friendly to pedestrians as they have right of way. A warning shout like ” passing on your right” or a bicycle bell will assist in safe cycling and always remember to thank them for giving you right of passage.
8) Be aware of your surroundings. If you do cycle with earphones, make sure the volume is low so you can hear hooting of cars and a warning shout. Before you turn left or right, look back to ensure you don’t cut-off a fellow cyclist. Cyclists need to cycle on the same side as traffic in South Africa. If you plan a turn at a stop, indicate by putting your arm out into direction of your planned turn. This will warn other motorists and cyclists. Always remember to look back and forth before crossing a street. We have many motorists in our country skipping red lights at intersections, so make sure its safe before you cross. When you are stationary at an intersection, make sure your phone, money and music device is not visible and easy to nick out your pocket. Be vigilant and be aware of the areas you cycle through. If you feel unsafe, turn-around and find an alternative route, or ask someone to accompany you.
We hope our list will help you in your preparation for sunday’s ride and your commuting to work during Ecomobility month. And if the cycling bug does bite, we recommend you visit our fair at the end of the month and come test some new bicycles. Just like Freedom Ride we too believe in #cyclingforeveryone.