Although it goes without being said that safety is an absolute must when riding, it is often an overlooked aspect when excitement and adrenaline kick in. Instinct, although helpful in certain situations, cannot and should never replace basic rules and tips in riding.
General Rules of the Road for Cyclists
When signaling make sure to do so with enough time for drivers behind to anticipate change in direction.
Ride without distractions. Although everyone enjoys jamming out to a favorite tune, wearing ear buds impairs a cyclists ability to listen to oncoming traffic, and other potential approaching obstacles. Keep view unobstructed. If you decide to shield your eyes from the sun, be sure sun glasses are appropriately fitted to avoid adjusting while riding. These will also serve as a first line of defense for your eyes in the case rocks or debris are kicked up by other riders or passing vehicles.
A helmet is not an accessory. Consider it a mandatory part of your uniform, as it could potentially save your neck in a head on collision. Riding gloves are preferable, in the case of a fall your gloves will help serve as a barrier between your skin and the hard pavement. Attire should be comfortable and suitable for the weather. Light and breathable in the harsh summer sun, and multiple layers for colder climate. But more importantly chose clothing that is fitted to avoid getting it tangled within the mechanics of the bicycle.
Sunscreen is always recommended regardless of ride length, and hydration is a must. A sip of water every 15 minutes, and 20oz bottle of water every hour is the recommended intake whilst riding. Prepare for the unexpected, by always carrying an emergency kit that includes the basics in bike maintenance (spare tube, tire lever, CO2 inflater, and patch kit). Also recommend a blinking tail light and bright (white) colored clothing if riding at night.
Always let someone know where your headed before a ride, as well as a rough time frame for when you should be returning. Ride defensively, anticipating obstacles that might be experienced so as to mentally and physically prepare for any emergency. And most importantly ENJOY yourself. By following these general guidelines, cyclists with all levels of experience can ensure a more positive and pleasurable outcome.