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Be Prepared

David Meltzer | Published on 4/8/2014

"Be prepared, that is the Boy Scouts marching song.
Be prepared, as through life you march along."

Tom Lehrer

Much goes into the preparation for a ride. First, there is always the idea. Where are we going? How will we get there? Where will we eat? The ride gets mapped out. Co-Leaders are chosen. And we are ready for step two.

Rides are always scouted. You really cannot rely on a map to determine many things. I had a great map and cue for a ride to the Tibetan Museum in Staten Island. It looked so good on paper. We got to an intersection were my cue sheet said "turn right." We all looked at each other and said a collective NO. SUVs clogged the road, honking and growling. It was just not safe. We asked a local who sent us along Morningstar Road. Little traffic. Easy riding. But there is far more to do on a scout. Where are the bathroom stops? When is lunch? Are there bail out points? And above it all are the two guiding stars of scouting - is it safe and is it fun?

You never know what is going to happen on a ride. Perhaps the best adage is to expect the unexpected. It is for that reason that a good leader, and a good rider, does prepare for the eventualities the seem to pop up. As a leader, this means being prepared to step in a lead. On one of Bill's rides, Fritz's bike went on the fritz. Fortunately, I was ready to step up and fill in as the sweep. I was even there to fix Maureen's flat tire. But that could not happen to me and my bike, could it? Well, it was right before the large hill on Riverdale Avenue when I heard the snap. The bolt holding my seat just crapped out. At that time, leader training and preparation kicked in. I pulled the group together and handed off the ride to Steve Vacarro. And of course, Steve was ready to lead. There may have been a wrong turn or two, but he was able to hold the group together, able to keep a positive attitude. The show went on.

But leaders are not the only ones for whom preparation is essential. Every cyclist should have a few basic necessities. Flats do happen. Ask Ben Bromberg who helped dig an industrial size staple out of my puncture proof Gatorskin tire. I always carry a spare tube. In fact, I normally carry two of them. I have tire levers and a pump at all times. One thing that I also tote along is a first aid kit. Sometimes you need Ibuprofen. Sometimes Tiger Balm does the trick. Bandaids, alcohol wipes, gloves, and other supplies are always with me. I normally take Mejool dates or Turkish figs along in case I need a burst of energy. And of course water. And in the winter a thermos with a warm beverage. And, it is always better to get everything together the night before.

Finally, every rider should have a road worthy bike. When was the chain last cleaned and lubed? Should I look into the strange sound coming from the region of the rear derailleur? Spending time and/or money fixing the bike or taking it into the shop is not usually a memorable experience. But, breaking down in the middle of nowhere usually is.

If you went to Brooklyn Law, the odds are that you had Professor Farrell for Civil Procedure. He was a nuts and bolts sort of guy. When it came to the law, he preached The Six "P"'s. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. The same is just as true on the road. As Tom Lehrer said, "Be Prepared."

David MEL Meltzer