Care for your bike
Be good to your bike and it will give you years of pleasure. Simple care will keep it in good running order. Lubricate wheel and pedal bearings regularly with a light oil, cleaning them beforehand with gasoline or kerosene. Oil the chain links frequently to keep them flexible and so prevent slippage on the sprocket. Wipe off water and mud to prevent corrosion. Have your brakes cleaned and checked often by your bicycle service agency. It's best to have your bike inspected by trained bicycle mechanics twice a year. In most cases, the inspection is a free service.
For cycle tours, you'll want a lightweight touring bike with small tires (1.375-to 1.5-inch width) and three-speed rear hub. The size of the bike frame depends on your size: 21 inches for persons under five feet nine inches tall, 23 inches for five ten to six feet and 24 inches for the six-footers. Travel light, carrying all equipment in bike saddle bags over the rear wheel where they won't get in your way. Try to keep the weight of your equipment under 25 pounds if possible. You'll be glad you did when you start climbing hills.
What to wear
Touring cyclists will do well to wear sweater and shorts for daytime riding, but jacket and head covering should be on hand in case of sudden weather changes and cool evenings. For winter touring, ski trousers are excellent, because they have no loose cuffs to catch in the chain. Wear heavy socks in all seasons and roomy underclothing that will allow free movement. Regular cycling shoes are highly recommended. They are properly balanced and built so the foot will be better held for the pedaling motion.
What to eat
You'll need plenty of nourishing food on tour, and you'll need it often. It's good practice to break up your ride by eating a little every two or three hours. Between meals, sweets, nuts and raisins are good sources of quick energy. Liquid refreshment on the road should be hot regardless of season—hot tea with plenty of sugar, hot soup or even hot water if nothing else is available. Cyclists should drink no ice water and should avoid carbonated drinks. In consuming sandwiches, meat or eggs on your tour, use as much salt as is palatable to replace what you lost through perspiration.
There are hundreds of bicycle clubs in the U.S. Inquiries at local bicycle stores will lead you to one in your area. If there is none and you'd like to form one, the Bicycle Institute of America, 122 East 42nd St., New York 17, N.Y., will be glad to give you some suggestions. Particulars and directions are available. Just write.
...and national organizations
In addition to the B.I.A., which is devoted to every phase of cycling for fun, health and transportation, there are three specialized national groups you may want to consult, depending on the use to which you plan to put your cycling ability. The Amateur Bicycle League of America, 42-33 205th St., Bayside, N.Y., is headquarters for all racing cyclists. The League of American Wheelmen, 244 N. Desplaines Ave., Chicago 44, Ill., concerns itself with the welfare of touring cyclists. And for all bike enthusiasts in search of inexpensive lodging facilities, American Youth Hostels, 6 East 39th St., New York 16, N.Y., is at your service.