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DCL

Now that the warm weather is here, we pull out our list of tips and tricks to keep your bike in tiptop shape for that commute to work or even just a ride to the store. Some are inspired by Now Magazine's city cycling guide; others from the school of hard knocks.

Carry a Kit

Some day you will get a flat tire, and what started as a short ride can become a very long walk; I got a flat while wearing cycling shoes that were not broken in for walking, and got a blister that took a week to heal pushing the bike home. Repair kits are cheap and can often fit right under the seat.

Find a Friend with a Wrench

Even if you buy your bike at a Wal-Mart, find a local bike mechanic and get a tune-up twice a year. He or she will get to know you and your bike, and can give you great advice as well as keeping your ride in good shape.

Get a Good Lock

Mine weighs almost as much as my bike, and cost almost as much as I paid for my bike at a police auction ten years ago, but I love it and am not letting anyone take it from me.

Park it in a Good Location

As Now Magazine puts it, "A good lock won't help you if you hook your quick-release front wheel to a chain-link fence in an unlit back alley for a week, doofus."

Wear a Helmet

You don't carry your notebook computer around without a case to protect it, why would you not give your brain the same protection?

Be Loud and Ugly

I mean your clothing. Get a lurid orange or yellow vest so people can't miss seeing you.

Get a Road Bike

After resolving to ride my bike all winter, I bought a mountain bike, thinking it would be safer in the snow. Switching back to the road bike a few weeks ago, I found that I could go twice as fast with half the effort; the difference in weight, wind drag and rolling resistance was amazing. Once you get used to it, it is more comfortable as your weight is more evenly shared among the pedals, seat and handlebars instead of being almost entirely on your bum.