Elements of Bike Riding 44

By Peter Burns

Spring Riding

In the winter, I ride just to get around town. As the snow recedes and the weather gets warmer, I return to riding for pleasure. Because I ride all year round, I have a base level of fitness which makes it easy to gradually extend my rides in the spring. I go a little further on each ride until I am back to my summer level of fitness. I am careful not to overdo it. 

No need to get sore by doing a 50-mile ride in the early spring. I don't have a car so my world is tightly circumscribed in the winter. In the early days of spring, when I start getting away from Winooski and Burlington, I feel a sense of things opening up. Sometimes I feel like crying with joy. In April I think about all the warm days ahead of me. It is as if I am a very rich person, with those days to come in a bank and ready to be used.  

On March 12th, riding home in a snowstorm, I heard geese flying overhead. I knew spring was on the way!

Spring Check-up

In the spring I check all my bikes to make sure the portable pumps work, the spare inner tubes are still in good shape and my quick releases are functional. Sometimes quick releases need some lubricant after a winter of riding through snow and salt.  


If you are swaying back and forth in the saddle as you climb a hill, shift to a lower gear. If you find yourself swaying and straining, even when the bike is in the lowest gear, get off and push your bike up the hill. Straining to get up a hill is not good for the knees. There is no shame in not riding up every hill. 

Body Position

When seated the upper body should be relatively still, with a straight back. Both knees should be pointed forward. Bike seats that are too high or low can also present pedaling problems. At the bottom of the stroke, the leg should be slightly bent.  

Christmas Day Walks

I live in Winooski and work in Burlington on North Winooski Avenue. It takes about an hour to walk there. I can either take Riverside Avenue or Colchester Avenue. I was curious about which route is longer, so on Christmas morning, as I set off, I started the outdoor walk app on my watch. I went by way of Riverside Avenue and when I got to work I had gone 2.52 miles. In the evening I started the outdoor walk app again so I could measure the other route, the one by way of Colchester Avenue. The sidewalks and roads were very icy. Freezing rain had been falling for a couple of hours. I was grateful for my Ice Bug boots, which have metal studs on the bottom. Even with the studs, I had to be careful. When I got to the steep hill on Colchester Avenue, I noticed that a car had gone off the road and crashed into a pedestrian crossing pole. A police officer was talking to the owner of the car. Other cars were sliding all over the place and getting stuck halfway up the hill. I was wearing a reflective vest, so car drivers kept asking me questions because they thought I had some official position. I explained that I was just an ordinary pedestrian but I tried to help by walking back up the hill and telling the officer about the other people stranded on the hill. He said he could not do anything, and that they had to wait. One woman was rude to me and demanded that I do something for her. Sadly, there was nothing I could do. Walking back up the hill messed up the total for the walk home, so I will have to do that route again sometime and measure it accurately. 

About the author:

Peter Burns is a long-time bike enthusiast, and one of the original year-round bike riders in Burlington. He writes amazing monthly blogs and teaches a variety of Everyday Biking workshops.  In addition to his work at Local Motion, he also works at a group home for people with Psychiatric disabilities, teaches classes for the Vermont Humanities Council, teaches swimming at the Burlington YMCA, and is a regular host of Storytelling VT.