Avoiding injuries after a long bike ride

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The weather has had its ups and downs this summer, but when the sun is out, you are definitely seeing more people out riding their bicycle.

If you are looking to get your bicycle out of the garage or shed for the first time in months, or years, it's always critical to remember some simple tips when hitting the road.

When it comes to where you ride, a safe riding environment is important and a quiet neighborhood street during low traffic hours is usually best.

Bike trails can be crowded with kids, strollers and dogs which can lead to accidents for inexperienced cyclists.

Head injuries are common in bike accidents so you should always wear a helmet and be sure the strap is adjusted and buckled properly for maximum protection and comfort.

And if you're incorporating cycling into that fitness plan or yours, using varied distances and intensity levels will get you the best results.

"Don't go out and ride the same exact distance every day 3 or 4 days a week," said Dr. Michael Schaefer of the Cleveland Clinic. "A - you'll be very bored doing that, most people couldn't tolerate it. But, B - you get less fitness gains than you would if you started slow, gradually progressed more and more intensely, or varied the amount of activity from day to day."

It also may not be unusual to have pain in your neck or back after a long day of riding your bicycle. But there are some tips to manage that pain.

Soreness in the back of the neck or shoulders can be treated using heat or ice - ice is best if the area feels swollen or warm.

If your neck is sore, it's a good idea to take a break from your bike until you feel better.

Doctors don't recommend aggressive stretching for pain but say gentle stretching can help.

"Touching the chin to the chest and then the ear to each shoulder is a good way to loosen up these muscles," said Dr. Schaefer. "Appropriate adjustments of your handlebars and your seat, or saddle, to put your whole spine in a good position is the way to avoid problems with your neck."

To get an idea of where you can ride your bicycle safely in a bike lane, you can check out a map here to see where they are located in Michiana.