Know what to ride. If it ain’t a mountain bike, there’s no way you’re riding it. BMX? Nope, we’re not here for tricks. Fixed gear no brakes? You’re not in Premium Rush and it’s not the best option for the road because shifting gears means efficiency. Baskets in front? You’re not a Japanese school girl vying for the attention of senpai. Training wheels? You’re not a five year old trying to ride a bike for god’s sake. Mountain bikes offer you everything you need for urban trails and majority of dirt roads with varying slope: strong wheel-to-ground traction, good shock absorbers, head and tail lights, powerful input-output pedal. It’s the Swiss Army knife of bicycles.
Know who you are. And wear it like armor so it can never be used against you. You’re a bike, not a fucking bulldozer. Other vehicles would not yield against a two-wheeled, steel-framed bicycle and that’s the cold hard truth. See that jeepney over there? It won’t hesitate to fuck you over the sidewalk with a little back nudge. Oh, and that sneaky tricycle too, it goes around toppling us over without sending any signals. The worst perhaps are the private vehicles, driving down the lane like they own it. Keep an eye on our equally stealthy mechanized cousins, those motorcycle riders are oftentimes inexperienced and reckless youths who don’t know much of basic road protocols.
Know what to wear. Contrary to popular belief, helmets won’t save your life; staying alert will. Studies show that wearing helmets has a direct correlation with bikers getting into accidents. Why? Because helmets give you an extra sense of security, however false. You feel protected and invincible when in truth you are not. So trust me in this one, instead of bearing the weight and heat of a helmet covering your skull, use your head instead. More on this below. Now, the proper regalia if you’re no pro-cyclist (and of course would not want to wear cycling shorts unless there are no more alternatives) is a bright shirt, form-fitting shorts, and flat sole shoes. Wearing something bright will make you less ignorable amidst the bustling environment; crisp shorts will not get in the way of sprockets as compared to loose basketball shorts; and flat soles will ensure that your feet are always on the pedal because that’s where they should be. Optional but highly recommended are eye gear to protect your vision from dust and glare, ensuring that you can see everything every time. I suggest lightly tinted wayfarers because they look cool and they get the job done nonetheless. You ain’t no aviator so don’t wear fucking aviators. DO NOT WEAR NOISE-CANCELLING EARPHONES UNLESS YOU’RE GOING FOR A LEISURE RIDE AT THE PARK.
Get smart. If normal people have dual core brain processors, then urban cyclists have i7 octa cores. Wearing helmets will cause our head to overheat and we can’t afford that: while on wheels we need all our senses and our brain to function perfectly. Remember that we are the mavericks of the road — swift and agile, but hated by most — we have abilities and limitations that should always be put to practice. Don’t be a pussy, don’t be a dick, but most of all don’t be an idiot. Be wise and patient; for unnecessary haste and courage turns you into roadkill. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you? Familiarize yourself with simple traffic regulations in your area. Stop, look, listen. On most situations, taking up an entire rectangular slot on your lane is better than hugging the gutters far right because it leaves you with adjustment space. I know, I know, most motorists would find this queer, but you better be safe than sorry. You’re considered a vehicle, after all. Or at least technically. When on a crossing or a blind curve, yield and always make sure that the path is clear before you continue. Same goes for most road impediments. It’s simple, really — never go full retard. If you’re reading this you probably have a double digit IQ, so put that to good use.
Master maneuvering. If it makes you feel better, always think of it like this: your bicycle is the destrier and you are the knight. Thankfully, it is easier to learn how to ride and maneuver a bike than to tame and train a warhorse. In fact, bikes are the easiest vehicles to maneuver in terms of speed in reaction time and the efficiency of input and output. The burden here rests entirely on the rider — YOU — therefore mastery of the bicycle’s movements is necessary. The beauty of the mountain bike is that it easily allows you to shift gears when encountering slopes, coast to regulate pedalling, and stop when you have to. I am strongly against other types of bicycles because most of them do not have all three of the aforementioned features. A quick guideline on shifting gears: when going uphill, shift down to make it easier for you to complete a revolution; when going downhill, shift up (and be alert on the brakes, just in case) so your feet won’t keep on going round after round of unnecessary effortless pedalling. Learn from experience and enjoy the thrill of it.
Who to be with. Ride solo because it’s cool. Bike clubs are for middle-aged people undergoing midlife crisis. But seriously though, most of the time if you’re not going for a cross-country adventure, you’re better off alone. If you really don’t want to go out alone for some reason, tag along a friend.
When to ride. In my experience it is best to ride from dawn to early morning AND late at night. My number one reason is simple: clean air. There is also a dramatic decrease of enemy vehicles to watch for during these times. Despite this, DO NOT BE COMPLACENT.
Where to go. Explore your city. Suburbs in the provinces are the best to trek around, because you’ll see a combination of industrialized and rural scenery. Go to places cars don’t usually go; you’ll be surprised by the immensity of the unknown parts of your town (or those still unfamiliar to you, at least, but you get the point). If you’re living in Metro Manila, sorry but it sucks to be you.
Miscellaneous. Carry some water to make sure you stay hydrated; this keeps you from fainting due to fatigue. When locking your bike with a cable, make it go around the frame and the rear wheel then form a coil before finally locking the two ends. It is more secure that way. I would also recommend carrying some sort of weapon to defend yourself with (I always bring my airgun with me everytime I go out) in case trouble arises, because we never know what happens.
And that’s it. Thanks for reading, comrade!