Biking season is finally back and, no, it’s not the same as “open season” on bicyclists where you take a bead on a roadside cyclist to see if you can clip their elbow with your passenger-side rear view mirror.

In Maine, where I live and bike, state law requires that when passing a bicycle with a motor vehicle there must be a distance “of not less than 3 feet while the motor vehicle is passing the bicycle.” Of course, the law does not define “3 feet,” leaving that open to interpretation for some people. For the most part, motorists give a wide berth except when they’re drinking, texting, watching YouTube or are generally angry. Thankfully, that still leaves more than half the drivers willing to share the road.

This is my third year biking. I’ve put on almost 1,000 miles each season and plan to do the same this year. It sounds like a lot, but anyone can do it by logging just 2.74 miles a day — for the entire year. If that doesn’t suit your lifestyle, you can cover 250 miles in four easy sessions and, Bob’s your Uncle, you’re there.

If you are thinking of starting down the bike path to better health or at least the illusion of better health, which, really, isn’t such a bad thing, I have a few tips for the new biker.

Get a helmet. You hardly need one on the average bike ride, but what you want to avoid is the very uncomfortable and dangerous situation where people gang up demanding to know why you aren’t wearing a helmet. This happens a lot in America, as opposed to the Netherlands, where bicycle helmet use is just not part of the cycling culture. As it turns out, Dutch people don’t generally fall on their heads during a bike accident, whereas Americans are known for plowing headfirst into nasty situations and giving it a think later.

It’s curious how much concern there is for cyclists’ heads in America, yet we don’t wear helmets around the normal course of the day at home and work, where most (47 percent) of traumatic brain injuries occur because of falls.

Second tip: Get a mirror. Some of the new cars are surprisingly quiet. Either that or your helmet may be interfering with how you hear cars sneaking up behind you.







While I’m dispensing tips, as a motorist, don’t toot your horn at a cyclist for any reason. Okay, there is the exception where your steering wheel has come off in your hands and you are careening directly toward a cyclist. In this case, yes, give it a blast with the horn. On most cars, however, the horn activator is an intrinsic part of the steering wheel and it’s just one of those brutally ironic things that when you most need your horn, it probably won’t function if your steering wheel is disconnected from your car.

If you are an older guy, expect to get passed by other cyclists — a lot. Don’t be ashamed when young girls zip by hollering, “Hey, Pops! Don’t have a coronary; passing on your left.” It may help to realize that, unlike you, these riders aren’t carrying around extra pounds. You just have to wonder how fast these younger bikers would be with a 90- pound bag of cement tied to their frame. Be stoic in your confidence that someday you may gain enough stamina and power to pass another, perhaps older, bicyclist.

I recently met an elderly cyclist who wanted to get T-shirts printed on the back reading, “You just got passed by an 85-year-old” but it didn’t seem like he had the energy and endurance to get his idea off to a running start.

If you qualify, and you’ll know in your heart if you do, you can join my club “Old Men on Bikes.” It’s not a social organization, as we never have meetings and we all tend to ride alone. There is no reason to create a situation where you have to talk and might even argue when you can just ride alone in peace.

That’s the beauty of cycling: riding alone in peace. So let’s all try and not disturb the peace of bike riders by getting too close with the car or calling them out for being old and fat or making an issue of what they wear on their heads.

And for heaven’s sake, if your steering wheel is loose, get that fixed right away.