Cycling Merit Badge Ed Payne & Jason Baldwin
Cuts & Scrapes • Cuts and Scrapes (Abrasions) Cuts may be caused by knives, razors, or broken glass. An abrasion is a wound that occurs as a result of the outer layers of the skin being rubbed or scraped off. Abrasions may happen when the skin is scraped against a hard surface, for example, when a bicyclist falls onto the pavement. The wound may not bleed very much. The greatest danger lies in contamination and possible infection of the wound. To protect yourself from cuts and scrapes, dress appropriately for the activity—for instance, jeans, boots, gloves, long-sleeved shirt. A few simple precautions can help you avoid the pain of the treatment and healing process. Treat a minor cut or scrape by flushing the area with clean water for at least five minutes, or until all foreign matter appears to be washed away. Apply triple antibiotic ointment if the person has no known allergies or sensitivities to the medication, and then cover with a dry, sterile dressing and bandage or with an adhesive bandage
Blisters • Blisters are pockets of fluid that form when the skin is aggravated by friction. Foot blisters are common injuries among backpackers, whereas blisters on the hands might be more common among canoeists. To help prevent foot blisters, wear shoes or boots that fit, change socks if they become sweaty or wet, and pay attention to how your feet feel. To help prevent blisters on the hands, wear gloves for protection and pay attention to how your hands feel. A hot spot—the tender area as a blister starts to form—is a signal to stop immediately. To treat a hot spot or blister, cover the pinkish, tender area with a piece of moleskin or molefoam slightly larger than the hot spot. Use several layers if necessary. There are a couple of helpful new products on the market— Second Skin® and Blist-O-Ban®—that may be worth trying. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Change bandages every day to help keep wounds clean and avoid infection. If you must continue your activity even though you think a small blister will burst, you might want to drain the fluid. First, wash the skin with soap and water, then sterilize a pin in the flame of a match. Prick the blister near its lower edge and press out the fluid. Keep the wound clean with a sterile bandage or gel pad and moleskin. Blisters are best left unbroken. If a blister does break, treat the broken blister as you would a minor cut or abrasion. Diabetics who develop blisters should see a physician.
Sunburn • Sunburn is a common injury among people who enjoy being outdoors. Most sunburns are first-degree burns, but prolonged exposure to the sun can cause blistering—a second-degree burn. Repeated sunburns over a long period of time can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. People with lighter skin are most at risk, although others are not immune. Treat painful sunburn as for any heat burn or with cool, damp or wet cloths; change the cloths frequently. Prevent further injury by getting the person under shade. If no shade is available or you are out on a hiking or boating trip, have the person wear a brimmed hat, pants, and a long sleeved shirt for protection from the sun. I
Heat Exhaustion • Heat exhaustion can be brought on by a combination of dehydration and a warm environment. Heat exhaustion is not uncommon during outdoor activities conducted in hot weather, especially if participants are not fully acclimated to the conditions. Signals of heat exhaustion include severe lack of energy, general weakness, headache, nausea, faintness, and sweating; cool, pale, moist skin; and a rapid pulse. First Aid for Heat Exhaustion Get the person in the shade (or an air-conditioned vehicle or building). Encourage him or her to drink small amounts of fluids, such as cool water or a sports drink. Apply water to the skin and clothing and fan the person to help the cooling process. Raising the legs may help prevent a feeling of faintness when the person stands. Usually after two or three hours of rest and fluids, the victim will feel better but should rest for the remainder of the day and be extra careful about staying hydrated.
Heatstroke • Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition. Call for medical assistance immediately. While waiting for medical personnel to arrive, work to lower the victim’s temperature. Move the person to an air-conditioned or shady area. Loosen tight clothing and further cool the victim by fanning and applying wet towels. If you have ice packs, wrap them in a thin barrier (such as a thin towel) and place them under the armpits and against the neck and groin. If the person is able to drink, give small amounts of cool water.
Dehydration • To treat mild dehydration, drink plenty of water or a sports drink to replace fluids and minerals. Drink one to two quarts (or liters) of liquids over two to four hours. See a physician for moderate or severe dehydration. Severe dehydration requires emergency care; the victim will need intravenous fluids. Rest for 24 hours and continue drinking fluids. Avoid tiring physical activity. Although most people begin to feel better within a few hours, it takes about 36 hours to completely restore the fluids lost in dehydration. H
Hypothermia • A hypothermia victim may experience numbness, fatigue, irritability, slurred speech, uncontrollable shivering, poor judgment or decision making, and loss of consciousness. Treat a hypothermia victim by preventing the person from getting colder. After summoning help, use any or all of the following methods to help bring the body temperature back up to normal: • If fully conscious and able to swallow, have the person drink warm liquids (soup, fruit juices, water; no caffeine or alcohol). • Move the person into the shelter of a building or a tent. Remove wet clothing. Get him or her into dry, warm clothes or wrap the person in blankets, clothing, or anything handy that could be used, like jackets or a sleeping bag. • Wrap towels around water bottles filled with warm fluid, then position the bottles in the armpit and groin areas. • Monitor the person closely for any change in condition. Do not rewarm the person too quickly (for instance, by immersing the person in warm water); doing so can cause an irregular and dangerous heartbeat (rhythms).
Poisonous Plants • The oily sap from the leaves, stem, and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac irritates the skin of most people. Once the sap gets on skin, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause a rash with redness, blisters, swelling, itching, burning, fever, and headache. The severity of the reaction depends on the individual and the extent of the exposure. The best form of prevention is to learn how to recognize the poisonous plants in your area and to avoid contact with them. Learn what poisonous plants look like and stay away from them. “Leaflets three, let it be” might help you remember to avoid plants that have leaflets grouped in threes, such as poison ivy. White berries are another signal of poisonous plants, although not all plants with three leaves or white berries are poisonous. Wear protective clothing (disposable coveralls, rubber-coated or non-latex gloves) and take care when handling tools, clothing, and gear that could be contaminated. The sap of these plants must be on your skin for 10 to 20 minutes before it starts to cause problems. So, if you think you have touched a poisonous plant, immediately stop to wash the exposed area well with soap and water. Wipe with rubbing alcohol and apply calamine or other soothing skin treatment. If the reaction is severe, if the genital area is affected, or if plant parts were chewed or swallowed, seek immediate medical attention. The sap also binds well to clothing, so change clothes. Keep the outfit you were wearing separate from your other clothing, and wash it separately back home.
Snake Bites • The bite of a venomous snake can cause sharp, burning pain. The area around the bite might swell and become discolored; however, a venomous snake does not inject venom every time it bites. Here are the steps for treating the bite of venomous snakes. Step 1—Get the victim under medical care as soon as possible so that physicians can neutralize the venom. Step 2—Remove rings and other jewelry that might cause problems if the area around the bite swells. Step 3—If the victim must wait for medical attention to arrive, wash the wound. If it is a bite of a coral snake, wrap the area snugly (but comfortably) with an elastic roller bandage. Step 4—Have the victim lie down and position the bitten part lower than the rest of his body. Encourage him to stay calm. He might be very frightened, so keep assuring him that he is being cared for. Step 5—Treat for shock. Do not make any cuts on or apply suction to the bite, apply a tourniquet, or use electric shock such as from a car battery. These methods could cause more harm to the victim or are not proven to be effective
Tick Bites • The bites of mosquitoes, chiggers, and no-seeums are irritating but not usually dangerous. More troublesome are ticks, some spiders, and some ants. To avoid getting bitten by ticks, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt whenever you are in tick-infested woodlands and fields. Button your collar and tuck your pant cuffs into your boots or socks. Inspect yourself daily, especially the hairy parts of your body, and immediately remove any ticks you find. Ticks bury their heads beneath the skin of their victims. To remove a tick, with gloved hands, grasp it with tweezers close to the skin and gently pull until it comes loose. Don’t squeeze, twist, or jerk the tick, as doing so could leave its mouthparts still buried in the skin. Wash the wound with soap and water and apply an antiseptic. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling a tick
Insect Bites: Spiders • The female black widow spider (which is responsible for bites) is glossy black with a red-orange hourglass marking on the underside of its abdomen. These spiders like to dwell under stones and logs, in long grass, brush piles, barns, garages, latrines, and other shadowy spots. Its bite can cause redness and sharp pain, sweating, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain and cramps, and severe muscle pain and spasms. Breathing might become difficult. The brown recluse is a medium-sized, yellow tan to dark brown spider with a violin-shaped mark on its back. These spiders often hide in little-used storage areas such as cellars and closets, and outdoors in protected areas under rocks and loose tree bark. A victim might not notice the bite at first, but within two to eight hours, there will be mild to severe pain with redness at the bite site. The area becomes swollen and tender, and a small blister usually forms, followed by an open sore. The victim might suffer fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and a faint rash. Wash the bite site with soap and water, and apply a cold pack to the area. Seek medical attention immediately.
Insect Bites: Ants • The sting of a fire ant can be extremely painful. If disturbed, fire ants will swarm and attack cooperatively and aggressively, often grabbing hold of the victim’s skin and stinging repeatedly. Be careful not to break the tiny blisters that form from the stings. Wash the injured area well, using antiseptic or soap and water. Cover with a sterile bandage and, for relief, try a paste made of baking soda and water, and take a mild nonaspirin pain reliever. The blistered area should heal within a week. Brown recluse spider (enlarged) Some people may be highly allergic to fire ant bites, which can cause the life-threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis).
Insect Bites: Bees • If you are stung by a bee but are not allergic to bee stings, you can simply remove the stinger by scraping it out with a knife blade. Don’t try to squeeze the stinger out. Doing so will force more venom into the skin from the sac attached to the stinger. For bee, wasp, or hornet stings, use an ice pack to help reduce pain and swelling
Anaphylactic Shock • Anaphylactic shock is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis range in severity from dizziness, loss of consciousness, labored breathing, swelling of the tongue, low blood pressure, blueness of the skin, and heart failure. Without immediate treatment, a person who goes into anaphylactic shock can die. People who are allergic to bee or wasp stings, fire ant bites, or peanuts, shellfish, and certain other foods can have similar anaphylactic reactions. Small children may be especially vulnerable to a severe reaction.
Helmets! Each year, more than half a million Americans will end up in emergency rooms because of bicycle accidents. Head injuries account for one third of the emergency room visits, two thirds of the hospitalizations, and three fourths of all deaths. Also, cyclists who have head injuries are twenty times more likely to die than those who have injured some other part of their body.Does wearing a helmet mean you won't get a head injury? No. But it does make it less likely. In the event you do hit your head, see a doctor -- even if you were wearing a helmet. Surprisingly, many cyclists who fall and hit their heads but don't have any other injury requiring medical care often do not go to the doctor. Remember, head injuries can be very serious and often don't produce symptoms right away, and sometimes for months or even years. If you receive a hard knock on the head, it's always best to have a physician look you over.
1. Qualified Supervision • All unit, district, council, and national event activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult at least age 21 who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the safety of children in his or her care, who is experienced with the skills and equipment involved in the activity, and who is committed to compliance with these BSA safety guidelines.
2. Physical Fitness • Biking is strenuous. Long treks and hill climbing should not be attempted without training and preparation. For Scouting activities, all participants must present evidence of fitness with a complete health history from a physician, parent, or legal guardian. The adult supervisor should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any potential risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event of any significant health conditions, proof of an examination by a physician should be required by the adult leader.
3. Helmets and Clothing • All cyclists must wear a properly sized and fitted helmet approved by either the Snell Memorial Foundation, CPSC, or ASTM standard. Layer your clothing for warmth on cool days so you can avoid chilling or overheating. Cover up for sun protection on clear days.
4. Buddy System • When the program activity is a bicycle expedition or trek, the buddy system must be used. When a program element emphasizes individual performance skills, one buddy observes while the other takes his turn. In competitive activity where the buddy concept cannot be applied practically, all activity must be directly observed by the adult supervisor. (Youth members should be taught that biking with a buddy is best. When biking alone, apart from Scouting activities, youth members should be encouraged to tell someone their route, schedule, and destination before departing.)
5. Position in Traffic • Ride with the traffic flow, as far to the right as is safe. Avoid curbs, storm drains, soft or loose gravel on shoulders, and other hazards.
6. Safety Rules • Obey all traffic laws, signs, signals, and street markings. Watch for changes in road conditions. Ride only one to a bike. Do not ride after dark. No stunts -- trick riding is only for professionals who use special equipment. Yield to motor vehicles even if you think you have the right-of-way. Never hitch a ride on another vehicle. Keep your head and ears open and do not wear headphones while riding.
7. Turns and Intersections • Look left, right, back, and ahead before turning. Stop and search all directions when entering a street from a driveway, parking area, sidewalk, or alley. Signal all turns using universal hand signals. Walk your bike through or across busy intersections.
8. Equipment • Ride only a bike that fits you. Select a bike that permits you to put both feet on the ground while standing over the top tube. The handgrips should be no higher than your shoulders or lower than your seat.
9. Bicycle Accessories • Every bike needs a horn or bell and reflectors (front, back, and sides). Items should be carried only in baskets, in saddlebags, or on a rear carrier rack. If you must ride in traffic, a bike- or helmet-mounted mirror is recommended. For long trips, a bike-mounted container for drinking water is recommended.
10. Maintenance • Keep your bike clean and well maintained, especially the brakes and drive chain.
11. Racing • Open street racing is dangerous. Race only with supervision on marked courses that have been set up to exclude other vehicle or pedestrian traffic, to eliminate fall hazards and minimize collision risks. Clearly define "start" and "finish" points.
12. Planning • Plan both the route and timing of bike trips to avoid heavy traffic and hazardous conditions. Biking is unsafe on wet pavement and on windy days. Plan for at least hourly rest stops and a maximum of approximately six hours on the bike per day.
13. Discipline • All participants should know, understand, and follow the rules and procedures for safe biking, and all participants should conscientiously and carefully follow all directions from the adult supervisor.
Front and Rear Brakes • The front brake is your primary means of slowing down and stopping. Some cyclists are nervous about using it, but you will only be pitched over the handlebar if your body position is wrong and you snatch at the lever. • The rear brake is useful for moderating your speed but not for reducing speed in a hurry. Because then it will lose traction and skid. Once you're skidding, you're no longer in control. • In normal circumstances, you will use both brakes. Reach for the front brake first and apply more force through that. On slippery surfaces, such as ice and gravelly descents, leave the front brake alone: keep your speed low and use your rear brake with care. If the back wheel slides, you can usually stay upright. If the front wheel slips, you will fall.
Slowing & Stopping • Scan well ahead so that you don't have to brake suddenly. As you approach junctions or traffic lights, brake gradually and change down into a gear that you can easily accelerate away in. • Stop-start cycling is more tiring. You'll save energy if you're able to glide up to give way markings and then, if there's nothing to give way to, continue through the junction. Don't compromise your safety or break any rules. Be ready to stop. • Unless it's an emergency, aim to brake as gently as possible. Keep your weight on the saddle so that your centre of gravity is sensibly low and so that there is more weight over your rear wheel, which will help prevent it skidding. Be aware that other vehicles can stop quicker than you can. Do not tailgate cars. • Keep your feet on the pedals until you come to a stop, and then put one foot down. Leave the other resting on the pedal with the crank in a forward position. That way you can easily start off again.
Emergency Stops • Sooner or later, someone will do something stupid: for example, a car will pull out of a side road right in front of you. Your natural reaction will be to slam on your brakes. You might be better off swerving or accelerating. If you're too close, you won't be able to stop quickly enough. • That said, emergency braking is sometimes the best or only option. Since your weight will get thrown forward, you need to counteract that by pushing yourself off the back of your saddle. As you straighten your arms, drop your wrists by rotating your hands (a bit like you're twisting a throttle). And drop your heels down. You will now be able to brace the heels of your hands against the handlebar and your feet against the pedals. Squeeze the front brake hard and apply the rear brake too. If the rear wheel skids, let go of that brake lever and then re-apply it. • It's well worth practising emergency stops away from traffic, so that you know what it feels like, how hard you can pull the brakes, and how far you'll travel before your stop. It's not a skill you will need often, but you will need it.
Remove the Wheel • It's much easier to fix a flat if you first remove the wheel from your bike. Removing the wheel is a 2-step process: • First, Release Your Brakes • Most brake assemblies sit very close to your wheel rims and use a quick-release system to disconnect and reconnect them. The exact location and design of these release systems will depend on your style of brakes. • Some have a knob at the end of the pull-cable that catches on a notch in the caliper arm. Squeeze the brake arms together to release the cable. • Others have a quick-release lever, just like on your axle, which can be opened to release the brakes. • If your bike has disc brakes—most mountain bikes have these—be careful not to touch the rotor when opening the quick-release mechanism. The rotor is located very close to the quick-release lever and can become hot enough to burn you. • Then, Release Your Wheel • Once you've disengaged the brake assembly, your wheel is still held to the frame or fork (depending on if it's the rear or front wheel) by the wheel axle. To release the axle, check to see if you have a quick-release lever—most bikes have this—or a bolt-on nut.
Quick-Release Axles • Front wheel: To remove a front wheel, simply open the quick-release lever and unscrew the securing nut slightly on the opposite side as needed to release the tension holding the wheel in place. • Note: Some bicycles have retention devices designed to hold a wheel in place even when its quick-release lever is open. If your wheel doesn't pop out after you open the quick-release lever, check the owner's manual that came with your bike for details on its particular release-and-retention system. • Rear wheel: Removing the rear wheel is almost as easy as removing the front wheel, but the chain presents an added complication. See our video below or follow these instructions. • Before removing your rear wheel, shift your chain onto the smallest rear cog. To do so, adjust the shifter up then raise your bike and spin its wheels until the gear-shift is complete. Turn the bike upside down, then turn the rear axle quick-release lever until it's fully open. You may need to unscrew the nut slightly on the opposite side. Pull back on your rear derailleur to give yourself some slack, then lift out the wheel with your other hand. The wheel should pop free without getting tangled in your chain. If your wheel stays put, it's likely there's a retention device holding it in place (see the note above).
Bolt-On Axles • These work just like quick-release axles except that they must be loosened with a wrench instead of a lever, so it takes a bit longer. • To loosen a bolt-on axle, simply grab both ends of the axle with 2 good-fitting wrenches and turn both wrenches a couple of full turns. If you only have one wrench, alternate between ends of the axle bolt, loosening each a half turn or so at a time. • If you're removing a bolted rear wheel, follow the procedure described above to avoid getting it hung up in your chain.
Check for Damage: Outside • It's important to find the origin of your flat tire. It may be a nail that is now long gone, leaving you with a hole in your tube and tire. Or it may be a thorn or piece of glass that is still stuck in the tire and could damage your newly repaired or replaced tube. • When searching for the cause of a flat, begin on the outside and work your way in. • First, check the outer surface of the tire for any signs of damage or wear—things like foreign objects lodged in the tread, cuts or tears in the tread or tire sidewall, or worn/cracked tread patterns. • Next, get inside the tire and check both the inner tube and the inside surface of the tire for similar damage.