Smoke On The Water

In 2017 there were terrible forest fires in northern California but the air quality didn’t suffer for most of the state. The weather was clearing out the bad air and no one needed masks unless they were sick.

Then this fall, another fire started up north (only 100 miles away) and near LA at the same time. Now there were fires above and below the Bay Area. A windless, rainless front dropped into the area and would not move. Our air quality was stagnant with smoke and haze for weeks making history. Even now I wait for the air to clear which is supposed to happen tomorrow when we finally get some rain-if we do get some rain.

Screenshot_20181109-085043_WeatherBugDon’t go outside! This was not the worst air day it got much worse. I couldn’t ride my bike for over a week until I bought N95 masks.

People not living here wonder how this could happen. For decades we had a horrible drought that killed trees, brush, and dried out our forests. When this second fire started the high winds scattered the fire with plenty of fuel to burn. Perfect fire weather.

Although we had a year in between of rain that restored lakes, rivers, and creeks in the state it didn’t stay green for long. Just as we were hoping the drought was over we had another dry year. After weeks of historically bad air quality, closures and warnings we’re told it might clear up the end of this week. Only then can we begin to figure out what happened and rebuild.

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Me biking last Thursday. Behind me isn’t fog or cloudy, the air is that thick with smoke and bad chemicals. The sun was out you just can’t see it.

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Wearing the masks made me happy for the first few rides. After I found out how irritating they are to wear I only rode 3 times with them on (meaning I only rode 3 times in weeks.) I had to keep stopping to wipe the sweat off of my face and dry off the inside of the mask. My sunglasses would fog at the worst times and be hard to wear. Drops of sweat would hang on the tip of my nose under the mask and at times felt itchy.  My nose would run. I saw only one other cyclist with a mask on-no wonder!

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The windbag at Windsurfer’s Beach hangs limp for weeks. Coyote Point is the mass of trees to the right in the background. Further down the peninsula, the landmarks like San Francisco and the airport are lost in the smoke and bad air.

This week is Thanksgiving. I last rode my bike on Saturday and should have ridden yesterday but I couldn’t put the mask on. The landscape on these masked rides hasn’t been that pretty and I feel for the animals trying to go about their lives in this soup. Everything looks unfocused, the light is strange, colors not sharp and everything smells like smoke. I did see some of the regulars who ride the Bay Trail but were surprised to see them not wearing masks. The masks truly are hard to wear exercising but to me health is everything!

Even in our homes, our air is bad there’s no getting away from it. I wear masks everywhere I go even in my car but I don’t wear one at home. Having my bedroom window open all year helps me sleep better but all windows are shut tight until this is over. Anything you run in the home isn’t safe unless it’s on a closed loop. All one can do is wait and get through it.

This is the first time that I’ve missed weeks of biking. I’ve biked every other day 20-30 miles for almost 3 years and although I’m not in training, it’s like a training schedule. I like to stay in tip-top shape. Biking helps my depression and mood swings so it’s been difficult coping without it. I’m especially thankful that I didn’t lose everything in these terrible fires.

We have a few Spare The Air Days during the year but nothing like this. I hope the news is right and the weather does change tomorrow so all of us can have a good Thanksgiving and be thankful for the clean air and peace it brings.

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Have you ever worn a mask exercising or lost time biking due to circumstances beyond your control? How frustrated were you?

Enjoy what you do have, count your blessings and be thankful!

The Right Motivation

One thing about tracking your rides with an application like MapMyRide (MapMyFitness) is at the end of the year you can look at your stats to see how you did and hopefully be amazed. I can log onto the site and look at my ride statistics including the maps, of every ride (or workout) I’ve done since the beginning. It’s great for motivation and reviewing just how hard you did work.

Learn how to track your rides.

I get emails from MapMyRide periodically to remind me of how I’m doing and this year blew my mind! You can see my stats HERE and it has some nice animation to go with it. This was my first full year riding and really was my best year yet.

My Best Year Yet Equals WOW

  • 3,630 miles, that’s equal to running 1,168 5K races.
  • 170 total workouts, that’s like working out daily for 24 weeks in a row.
  • 328 total hours, that’s like working out 24 hours for over 13 days. (Half a year, every other day.)
  • 158,185 total calories burned, that’s 427 slices of pizza.
  • 6 challenges finished, winning 19 awards along the way.

Plenty of times I didn’t want to ride. I almost always ride alone and without a bike carrier so I always bike the same 30+ miles every week. Motivation is my biggest problem. I wish I had a secret to overcoming a lack of motivation but the only way I know of is to try harder.

Overcoming Bad Motivation/Moods

  • treat yourself to something nice after your hard work (not food)
  • have a time of day for your workout and stick to it
  • eat breakfast every morning
  • hydrate, hydrate, hydrate before, during and after
  • think about how good this is for you and pat yourself on the back
  • practice a positive pre-ride mindset/ meditation to clear your mind
  • smile at others and let the scenery take you away
  • be thankful that you can workout and do what many cannot

If all else fails, do the mental work and try again. A half hour into my ride I almost always feel better. If your motivation is low don’t beat yourself up about it pick yourself up and start again. Never workout when you’re sick or have a fever and everyone needs a day off from exercise sometimes.

For most people, the number one reason many fail New Years (or other) resolutions about exercise is motivation. It took you a long time to get out of shape so it will take some time to get back into it. The more positive and realistic you are about your goals the better you’ll do.

Learn how to track your rides with a Fitbit. 

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Motivation:
ˌmōdəˈvāSH(ə)n/
noun

  • the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  • the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

There’s no way I could have done what I did last year without learning how to deal with my lack of motivation. Most of the time this was linked to my moods or the weather. This winter I’m having a problem with the weather. It doesn’t snow or freeze in my area of California but if it’s a cold day I can balk.

In reality, it’s barely below 40 degrees and adding full gloves, a head covering and a coat solves that. It’s not too cold to ride but I “feel” like it is and if I don’t challenge that in my mind I probably won’t go. In moments like this, I decide to put on my “big girl boots” and do it anyway. I’m always glad I did.

For every good reason to go work out, there are probably 3 reasons why you won’t. Motivation really is mind over matter which is why so many people fall short of their goals. The real culprit is moods we can’t give in to them. The good news is once you get into better shape you’ll feel better which will put you in a better mood. You’ll find your moods are more even and might find yourself happier.

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I’m much happier going into 2018 and I know it’s because of my love of biking. So many positive things have happened to me surrounding it besides the good health and other benefits for someone my age. I’m a more confident, comfortable person all around and planning to keep it up. And yes, I’m damn proud of myself!

Put Your Bad Motivation On Permanent Vacation For 2018

Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve and most of us are not thinking of biking at this time of year. Never mind the snow and cold covering most of the country right now, this is Christmas. Here are some ways to get through it with the greatest of ease.

That said, how can we survive the holidays this year?

  • Relax, you’ve earned a rest.

You’ve been cycling more than ever this year, so why not put the bike away and have some time off? Your legs and family might thank you for it. Your body can use the break while mentally you can reflect on your past year. Sharing memories at this time is year makes us happy. What things did you learn in 2018 that might help you in the new year? It’s a good time to plan some resolutions, challenges, rides or sportives that you want to do next year.

  • Enjoy the holiday treats but don’t go crazy.

Christmas can be challenging for the waistline, with plentiful food and temptations wherever you turn. It’s so easy to overindulge at Christmas you can easily put on a couple of pounds and if you go crazy it’s going to take a lot of cycling to burn off the calories in the New Year. Limit the damage by making smarter food choices, watching your portions and staying away from alcohol. Remember that moderation is the word to bear in mind over the holiday season. You’ll thank yourself this spring if you don’t overdo it.

  • Have a cycling challenge or ride during Christmas.

Many cyclists look forward to Christmas as the holiday can provide some time off meaning extra riding time. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands why not set yourself a riding challenge over Christmas? Ride with others or alone breaking personal challenges. There are loads already available that you can join or maybe that Fitbit (or wearable tracker) has some goals to break? The more cyclists involved the merrier.

  • Get on the indoor trainer or take a spin class.

The weather isn’t typically great at this time of year (depending on where you live) if you are determined to keep cycling through Christmas, don’t discount the value of a trainer (a device you put your bike into, to ride it indoors) or spin classes. Instead of trying to replicate a long steady ride on the trainers do a short interval session. Instead of duration, aim for a high-intensity session. Spin classes usually offer fun holiday theme rides this time of the year. They are flexible and the workouts can be on and off the bikes. This is wonderful if you can’t get outside to ride.

  • Be flexible with your riding time.

With parties, social gatherings, family events and work commitments over Christmas, it can be tricky to stick to your regular riding schedule and many people might give up trying to get out on the bike altogether. Change your morning ride to afternoon if you must, be willing to change your rides around Christmas plans you’ll still find the time. Flexibility is key, use what available time you do have to get a ride in. Don’t worry that you can’t do your regular ride just do the best you can.

  • Try something else to keep moving, get everyone involved.

If you really don’t have time to ride your bike due to social commitments, try taking a walk. Long country walks are popular at this time of year and a brisk walk is a really good exercise. Walking keeps you active and provides some fresh air and sunshine. Go for a run if you can. Even a 20 minute run around the block will get you breaking into a sweat and burn a load of calories. Grab some friends or family to go with you and make it a group affair. Dancing is another great way to burn calories while socializing. Sitting in front of screens is bad for us it’s the new smoking so let’s keep moving.

  • Grab a read.

If you can’t fit a bike ride in, why not pick up a book instead? With all the downtime at Christmas, it’s an ideal time to get around to reading that book you’ve waited to read or learn something new. I like to read about bicycling and nothing helps the winter biking blues like reading a good book or looking at my favorite bicycle magazines. Get the real thing, it’s still nice to hold and look at a real magazine. Brush up on your biking skills and more by checking in with your favorite websites like Bike With Bekkie.

  • Give in and get into it

Socialize, smile and laugh, enjoy the in-your-face moments with family and friends. Time spent like this is really healthy for us relieving hormones in the bloodstream that cause stress. Even those office parties can be fun just don’t over-do it or drink too much. Use cell phones for pictures only put them away at the party or restaurant. No matter how you celebrate the holiday season or what your beliefs are we need to step back, slow down, learn from our mistakes, rejuvenate, and heal so we can face 2018 the best that we can be and in good health no matter what age. We have a lot to deal with next year.

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Look at what my Tshirt says! My site’s motto.

It’s been 2 days since I’ve been biking. I should have gone Saturday but didn’t because my roommate is here and I wanted him to go with me (he often does.) I should have gone today but it’s cloudy which is no reason not to go. I’m being lazy after he turned me down today I didn’t want to go alone and that’s unlike me. It is Christmas Eve.

It doesn’t keep me from making cool stuff digitally (as you can see from this post) but I’m not burning mad calories biking every other day right now. This is becoming an unplanned break that I think I needed. Without getting into “readiness scores” mine has been low for a few weeks. My RHR’s higher than my normal average and my sleep stages have changed. Subtle hints to take it easy for a day or so.

Since the late 90’s I’ve spent holidays alone or with my roommate (who has no family) but that doesn’t mean I don’t participate. Some years I cook a huge meal for 2 but I don’t decorate or have a tree anymore which I miss very much. I know I get stressed out at this time of year and try to keep moving even if I stray from my cycling schedule.

To remind you, I bike 20-30 miles every other day and on Feb. 20th, 2018 I’ll be doing this for 2 years. I’m 63 and not in training but I push myself some days and do splits trying to rank on MapMyRide. Every workout has been logged and my maps/stats are available on the MapMyRide website. I wear a Fitbit Charge 2 and just bought the newest version of the Aura Ring (available in April 2018.) I’m a big believer in body sensors and health monitoring. I’m in it to win it!

Me taking time off from my daily bike rides doesn’t happen often. At the most, I do a week every 4 months or longer when I go stay in Oakland. As I write this I plan to bike on Christmas. I don’t want to take too many days off just enough to bring my RHR down a few beats and keep an eye on my deep sleep.

My roommate finally said he’d ride with me on his mountain bike! I’m so happy it’s my Christmas wish come true. I really enjoy riding with James we are well matched to ride together I let him lead the way and I follow. We always have fun he’s such a goof.

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James (my roommate for many years) and I biking last month.

I’m sipping eggnog without dark rum which is unthinkable (but has to be done) and thinking about riding tomorrow. I know the regulars will be out and about like me, at least a few of them. I only wish I had an ugly Christmas sweater or festive decorations for my bicycle but I don’t. Maybe I can hunt something up before my Christmas ride. A Christmas ride just seems right I can’t wait and it’s supposed to be sunny I’m already excited.

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I wanted to leave you with Ninja and her ugly Christmas sweater.

Tonight it’s Christmas Eve so Merry Christmas readers! Together we’ll see what 2018 and Trump’s tax plan brings to the world. (A little levity never hurt.)

'Dear Santa, if you leave a new bike under the tree, I will give you the antidote to the poison I put in the milk.  Timmy.'

Cookies for Santa. Afterwards:

4.Pot-Cookie

Merry Christmas and happy biking!