Riding On The Bay Trail

One of the great things about riding my bike for me besides the health benefits is the beauty of the Bay Trail. Although I travel the same route each day there’s always something different to see and depending on the weather the San Francisco Bay has different moods and looks.

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Leaving the home unit and ready for take-off! (Yes, I’m a big geek!)

My last ride was March 22nd (Tuesday) and as soon as I got to the trail I noticed the clouds. Puffy and dense enough to block the sun at times looking like huge cotton balls.

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A lone runner stretches before a run on the Bay Trail.

This is my view of the trail right before I get on it. I’m very lucky to live several blocks away so I can ride my bike from home. Coyote Point and the boat harbor is to the left it’s a dead end where people fish and San Francisco across the bay is closest.

To the right is my almost 20-mile round trip ride through all kinds of landscapes ending up at Highway 101 where the trail ends. If you consult the map of the Bay Trail on the bottom of my site it may look like one can bike all the way around the bay but unfortunately, many of those paths are dotted meaning they are planned and not yet connected.

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Looking towards Seal Point and the San Mateo Bridge.

I bike around that point, past the Golf Course, to the bridge and under it to the other side. Just look at those clouds! The bay was choppy but I was going with the wind on the first half of my ride.

The winds coming off of the bay on this side of the bridge can be very strong, sometimes incredibly strong. No one day is like the next when it comes to the wind. If the winds clock over 15 miles an hour it’s going to be hell biking into them. If they go beyond that it’s insanity. Those are the days I come home tired and sometimes sore. (After all, it is called exercise for a reason.) Once on the other side of the bridge, the trail meanders off of the bay and the wetlands are a pleasant ride.

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Taking a break to hear the frogs.

There are benches all along the trail I like to stop and sit at but I always stop at this one near the Golf Course because this is where the frogs are. I used to sit and listen to their funny noises on the first leg of my ride but because of the drought, it’s been pretty quiet. Only when I get stuck in the rain do I hear a few frogs and it makes me sad. Even though we’ve been getting more rain this year it hasn’t brought them back fully.

You can’t see it here but there’s water in those reeds and it’s a perfect place for frogs. I’m hoping I’ll be hearing them soon perhaps they are mating and increasing their numbers as I speak. The more rain we get the better for California’s waterways.

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Canadian Geese land to visit with me as I do a frog check.

You can see some of the water but there used to be much more. This is the only place on my ride that’s close to the trail and marsh-like although there are other spots along the ride perfect for frogs and creatures like them. This marsh is across the trail from the bay.

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The Belmont Slough.

Once I get away from the bay into Foster City towards Belmont, I follow the Belmont Slough. Let me state here that although I log and track my workouts I don’t ride to best my time. I like to stop and smell the flowers and sit on benches along the way. I haven’t used the top 5 speeds on my bike yet and I wear my camera around my neck so I can stop and snap if need be. It feels so good when I’m on the trail, too good to rush.

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As I sat to eat my Golden Delicious Apple this guy came to visit.

There were 2 of these spiders and they were curious about me. You’d think something as big as me would send them scurrying but these guys approached me with a swagger.

I don’t know what kind of spider this is but he’s awfully cute! Looks like a little crab. I left them a few drops of water on the picnic table which they checked out before I left.

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Looking towards the bay (hidden here) near Bat Ray Island.

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From the same bench, a flock of birds soar by making wonderful noises.

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These flowers have the prettiest patterns on them and bloomed early. They’re already fading littering the trail with petals.

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I love going under this overpass! Highway 101 is not far now.

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On such a perfect day I had no idea that the winds were waiting to ambush me on the other side of the San Mateo Bridge when I went back.

The camera taking all these beautiful pictures is a Nikon Coolpix, one of the first compact all digital camera made by Nikon. My roommate found it in our garbage when some people moved away. Why they did that I don’t know besides being a little beat up it takes amazing pictures and is so small I can wear it around my neck while I ride. It takes .avi movies and records sound. I tend to take terrible pictures because I always move and this makes me look like I know what I’m doing!

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Highway 101 marks my turn-around point about 10 miles out the first leg of my ride.

The Bay Trail loops around back onto itself here, taking me back the way I came. I live on Bayshore Blvd., by Highway 101 so I’ve made a big circle on the trail back to 101 only further south. If the trail went along 101 I could ride back home making a complete trip. I wouldn’t get to see the great view on the way back so I don’t mind.

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As I sit and take a break some ducks are having a great time!

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This cloud looks like it’s balancing on the tower. I enjoy clouds and take photos of them as you can see.

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The ice plants are natural but most of these flowers, trees and bushes are landscaping for all the expensive homes that line this part of the trail.

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Once back on the San Francisco Bay, it’s all blue sky and beaches on the Foster City/Belmont side until the Belmont Slough.

I have questioned myself as to whether these beaches are man-made or not and I promise to look it up. Some of the beaches are sand and some are gravel but they’re all beautiful. When on the bay it’s usually rocks on the shore so these beaches were a nice surprise.

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Looking back towards the San Mateo Bridge.

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The sun is coming out from behind a cloud as a man fishes near the windsock looking towards Mariners Point. That windsock comes in handy!

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Coyote Point, San Francisco in the distance, and the boat harbor are all signs that I’m almost home.

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On the way to my apartment I pass through neighborhoods and this house is one of my favorites with a Lilac Bush expertly trained along the front windows.

I hope you enjoyed photographs from my ride. I take them every time so I’m looking for the best way to show them off on this site so you can see all of them. Even if I repeat an area it looks different in every photo depending on the light and weather. The Bay Trail is incredibly beautiful and I consider myself lucky to live nearby so I can bike from home and take advantage.

Biking is fun, keep at it and you will be successful. Biking is low impact, aerobic and just fun. It burns an amazing amount of calories. Most of you should remember riding and having a bike when you were younger and you can feel those feelings once again.

Please leave some comments and let’s start the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you. Don’t be shy, let’s talk! I’m here to help and listen.

Get moving, keep moving and your life will move…forward!

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I Want To Ride My Bicycle

My bike is a 1986 Schwinn World Tourist bike. You don’t need to ride a vintage bike there are all sorts of bikes to choose from. It doesn’t really matter what kind of bike you have as long as it fits your needs and you enjoy riding it. Find one that you like or it will be a chore to ride.

What kind of bike do you have?

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So you want to ride your bicycle, what should you expect?

Even on a sunny day when starting out you will hate the hills, the wind will push you around and you will wonder what the hell you are doing on a bike. You may feel like you forgot how to ride! We all feel these things but after a few days, you will gain confidence and start to feel a difference.

I suggest biking 2 to 3 times a week to start. You don’t want to let too many days go in between or it will take longer for the good benefits to happen. You will want to let at least a day go by without riding to let your body rest. Getting a good nights sleep is a must because when your body is in deep sleep it heals.

What are some of the benefits of riding your bicycle?

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Ok so these aren’t exactly the physical benefits but all are good examples of how awesome bikes are. I love how quiet it is when I ride and I notice things that I wouldn’t when driving my car. Little critters cross the path in front of me and birds glide on the wind alongside me. The other day a crow flew over me with a dead mouse held in its beak dripping blood happy to catch lunch and I saw a hummingbird as small a large bug. I feel like I’m flying through a wonderland when I ride my bike.

What about the physical things that happen to you in the first hour?

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  1. 10 Minutes-A sense of freedom hits your system. You immediately grin from the joy you’re feeling as you pedal faster and faster.
  2. 20 Minutes-Your enjoyment spikes, causing a burst of activity. Your body is ridding itself of the stress hormone that can prevent deep regenerative sleep. You start to smile.
  3. 40 Minutes-Blood flow and oxygen to the brain is boosted. Keep smiling, because if you’re riding 5 days a week for 40 minutes at a time you’re likely to take half as many sick days as couch potatoes.
  4. 45 Minutes-Serotonin and endorphins are released into the blood system, helping improve your mood. This is the addicting part that I love because it lasts even after you stop riding.
  5. 60 Minutes-With every mile you tick off you’re helping reduce your risk of heart disease to less than half of those who don’t exercise. You’re burning fat and getting stronger.
  6. After an hour, your mind comes into play. To me, it’s like meditation I even think of poetry and music. As a side note, I’d like to say that this is a good reason NOT to listen to music while you’re riding it’s extremely dangerous not to pay attention to your surroundings on a bike. We all need time to think in this crazy world and this is an excellent way and time to do it.
  7. As the rave inside of you continues you might want to think about how much longer you want to bike. I bike about 2 hours at a time roughly 20 miles and I take along an apple or pear. Nothing beats choosing a bench and noshing on the trail not to mention you’ll burn it off going home.

These are just some of the things you have to look forward to. Chemically there are many changes going on inside that only an expert could explain. Speaking of doctors, if you haven’t exercised in a long time you should consult your doctor first to be safe. Nothing feels worse than hurting yourself just as you are getting used to riding, then having to take the time off to heal.

What kinds of bikes are there?

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Even with enlarging and sharpening this didn’t come in as well as I’d of liked but it gives you an idea of all of the different bicycles there are. If you want to know more about one of these styles a search would be good if you can’t read it. The “at a glance” info is interesting.

I’d like to point out that my “touring bike” is not on here. My bike is 30 years old and the other day I did a search on them only to find out they have changed like everything else. My bike is a cross between a “City Bicycle” and a “Mountain Bike” and has 10 speeds I can shift into at any time. A touring bike was made to take in the city and the country before the mountain bikes became popular making it special now. The handlebars are upright and the wheels sturdy enough to take off road without being a daredevil. I enjoy my bike very much and won’t be trading it in anytime soon.

Whether you buy a new bike, a vintage or a used bike be sure and try it out first. An old bike can always be fixed up like new so don’t neglect your old bike it can be your best friend again by taking it into a shop or doing your own work if you know how.

Your bike should be tall enough so that you have room to stretch your legs when pedaling as there are different size frames, wheels and the seat and handlebars are adjustable. Fenders become important when it rains if you don’t want water on your back. A new bike may not “fit” you perfectly have an expert help you figure out what works for you.

Having a fixed speed bike or many speeds is another personal choice. If you are older, like me, you may not want to bend over with 10-speed handlebars. There are different kinds of breaks and shifters to consider. There are large cushy seats if you don’t like the tiny ones and no matter what kind of bike you get you can always change these out. Get what you want not necessarily what the store tries to sell you.

It’s good to have a holder for a water bottle (a must) and a saddlebag of some sort to keep your things in. Saddlebags come in all shapes and sizes. Taking your cell phone is important (not so much for calls) for reasons I’ll get into at another time. I’d get a saddlebag big enough for a lunch, your cell phone, and a few extras. I even carry a small first aid kit in mine.

Now that you have a bike that fits you to a T it’s time to start riding it. When you do you’ll be glad you took the time to get the right bike it will carry you well and make you insanely happy and healthy.

Do it right and it’ll do you right!

My Story Can Be Yours

Biking on the Bay Trail every other day I never know what to expect when I look across the water to San Francisco. Every day is different. Depending on the weather or smog it can be so clear that I can see people waving at me from Fisherman’s Wharf, or it can disappear completely. Yesterday, as you can see by my photo it was a crystal clear day.

The first day of spring is today, it’s raining and for me an off day. Spring showers bring May flowers and I’m not complaining California is still recovering from a harsh drought. We need it and there’s a good chance tomorrow the sun will be out.

I’ve only been biking again since February 20th. I used to bike in 2013 but I let life get in the way like it’s prone to do sinking into depression and my living room chair. I gained more weight and almost hit 200 pounds. Every time I went to the doctor my heart rate would hit the hundreds and my blood pressure was terrible. I wasn’t on any medications yet but that was only pure luck. I looked and felt awful.

My father smoked and had adult onset Diabetes which runs in my family. He was a champion wrestler in his time but that didn’t help him in his late 50’s he was fat and depressed. My mother was an alcoholic and chain smoker that kept her thin and never worked out. They both were on meds (my father shot insulin) before their time and my mom had several bouts of cancer and illness. I’m sad to say they have both passed away earlier than they had to only because they didn’t care about their health and got sick.

Because of my parents habits when I lived at home I never put a cigarette in my mouth or had a thought to do so it’s a dirty habit. I was a moderate drinker of alcohol and never overweight. We walked to and from school as kids and grew up in a different time. I liked activities like horseback riding, hiking, outdoor roller skating, and was active throughout my life. I think these things helped me until my knees failed me.

Around 2005, an old knee surgery finally came back to haunt me so badly that even my good knee finally gave up. I was diagnosed with windswept knees and my right knee hurt so bad I was put on powerful pain killers. I had no idea! Muscle relaxers came next and before long I was hooked. I could walk with a cane but it didn’t feel good anymore so I avoided it. I ate junk food if I ate at all and was too thin. I was unhealthy, drugged up and not happy. Something had to give and it did.

One day in 2010, I got up and told my friend I was tired and going back to bed. He was going to work and decided to change his shoes. He came into the bedroom to change them and found me on my back with vomit coming out of my mouth. He checked my pulse and couldn’t find one. It had only been minutes.

Long story short they shocked me back to life on the way to the ER and put a central line in me. My lungs were full of vomit and one of them collapsed. I was in a drug induced coma for 2 days and 3 days later I woke up not remembering a thing. It wasn’t an overdose and they never found out why it happened. It should have been a wake-up call.

I finally started gaining weight. I wasn’t doing anything with my life and felt like a loser. Late in 2013, I decided to go into the drug clinic and pare down the huge dose of drugs I was still on. I stopped the muscle relaxers completely and got weaned down to a tiny dose of pain meds. I was functioning again and started writing daily. I dragged out my 30-year old bicycle which had been in storage and started riding it on the Bay Trail. I started feeling pretty good and began to have hope that I’d lose some weight.

I still wasn’t doing the right things so it didn’t work and I lost faith. I still felt my life sucked and ballooned up to almost 200 pounds. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror and developed vertigo. My depression was so bad I got put on antidepressants. I was still a mess lost interest in everything and my bike gathered dust.

The summer of 2015, I was so tired of the psych meds I stopped taking them. I put a Sky Swing on my patio and I enjoyed swinging on it. I would kick my feet and swing on it like a regular swing and I noticed my waist got a little smaller. I was intrigued and using the foot rest that came with it made up some exercises. I used weights in my hands and it would swing me like a pendulum. I was feeling much better.

October 11th I bought a Jawbone UP3 health band. I went on a health kick connecting it to MyFitnessPal and started a 1,200 calorie a day diet. I started losing weight. I have always loved vegetables, fruits and good food so it was no problem to start eating them again. My goals were to move 3,500 steps a day and to sleep 7 and 1/2 hours a night. Even though I was in pain I made a point to walk every aisle at the grocery store and to move more. My insomnia went away with a normal bedtime and sleep tips like keeping the room cool and dark. I read before I go to sleep and sleep like a baby. It was all starting to come together the weight was pouring off.

February 20th, (2016) I got my bike out and using MapMyFitness made a goal to ride it every other day. The first day I rode it 5.96 miles! I always enjoyed riding my bike on the Bay Trail and I was ready for it. I am totally addicted to it now and if the weather is bad I still go as long as it’s not pouring. I have been baptized by rain on the trail already and I felt energized by the experience. Each day I just get stronger and go further.

The first day of spring is here, I’ve lost over 35 pounds and still have 20 pounds to go but I know I can do it. My applications are connected I log my meals and workouts and they do the rest. My UP3 band gives me my heart rate and sleep info and I have never felt better emotionally or physically. I can even walk better. I write poetry again and look forward to my life. I enjoy my diet and never feel hungry. I still need knee replacement but I’m ready for that too.

Now I want to share this with you! I am going to have all kinds of bike and health related articles, recipes of mine and share my photographs I take while biking the trail. I hope to hear your stories and maybe together we can make things happen for you too. I did it alone but you don’t have to.

Without effort, there is no reward!