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What to bring


• PROTECT YOUR DOME Louisiana laws require motorcyclists and bicyclists to wear helmets, but that doesn't mean the laws are enforced — or that everyone complies. Visit a bicycle shop to make sure your helmet is properly fitted to your head and meets state and local guidelines. "(It's) one of the simplest and most important ways to prevent serious injury," Delaney says.

• AIR SUPPLY — Portable, pressurized air cartridges of CO2 can inflate a flat tire when used properly with an adapter. Over-inflation can cause a tire to burst, however, so familiarize yourself with the proper tire pressures. Delaney carries a small set of Allen wrenches in case of mechanical problems.

• H2O — As New Orleans slips into its hottest months, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is critical to a safe and healthy workout. Sports drinks are also fine, says Montgomery — "so long as you're drinking."

• DRESS FOR SUCCESS — Inappropriate clothing can trap in heat and sometimes gets tangled in your wheels, leading to a brief and unpleasant ride. Delaney suggests purchasing a jersey and shorts made specifically for cycling, preferably in bright and reflective colors. "A lot of the new stuff is well-made, in materials that are specifically designed to pull heat away from your body," he says. The lightweight nature of the fabric makes them ideal for layering, so riders can maintain a comfortable temperature on longer rides.

• LIFELINE — From flat tires to serious bruises, accidents happen on the open path. Having a cellphone to contact a medic and obtain a ride home ensures your safety in the event of a serious problem. "I also usually keep a few bucks in my pocket, just in case," Delaney says.

• SAVING SKIN — "Most people focus on the bumps and bruises when it comes to cycling, but when you exercise outdoors, your skin is exposed to the sun for longer periods, and it's important to address that," Montgomery says, recommending everyone apply sunscreen. For the most effective protection, opt for a waterproof formula with a high SPF.

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