Merry Christmas Cyclists!

Tis the season to be jolly but unless you’re lucky enough to live in a state (or country) that stays warm all year you are probably wishing you could ride right about now. The holidays are good that way keeping you too busy to begrudge the cold weather and snow as you clean, trim, shop, and eat your way through the 3 months of major holidays. Hopefully, you’ll get a few presents to open unless you’ve been naughty.

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I’m lucky enough to ride all year living in the Bay Area in California although I have plenty of friends of all ages who ride in the snow and ice all over the globe. Want to meet some of them?

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I’d like to invite you to join a group I have on a social network called MeWe. When G+ (Google Plus) went away a lot of my friends joined MeWe only to find it wasn’t what we hoped for, however, I started a bike group there called “Let’s Ride” that quickly grew into over 500 members that I couldn’t give up. It’s a great group of wonderful people from all over the world that love to ride, share bike-related posts, ride stats, and more. Even if you don’t need another social network (I know the feeling) I guarantee that you’ll enjoy my group. Check us out by following either link and introduce yourself.

'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.'

Let’s enjoy some Christmas images I found online. Some vintage fun too.

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How are you spending your Christmas this year? I’ll be riding my bicycle and making a nice meal at home with my cat (Ninja) and roommate. Isn’t she cute in her ugly Christmas sweater? What are your fur babies wearing this Christmas?

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My Christmas sweater (sweatshirt) I got last year. I’d seen it online for many years before getting it but when I did I wasn’t disappointed. Isn’t Christmas all about ugly (or cool) sweaters?

Riding the Bay Trail this year has been beautiful and fulfilling as always. Taking a break off for surgery in August really slowed me down but I’m back at it now. I look forward to the new year with my knee replacements which have only made me better.

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I make most of these with PhotoLab by Linerook Investments LTD, an application that makes your photos into all kinds of art on Android or iPhone. You can also spiff up your selfies for social networking. Found wherever you get your phone apps. It’s free but I paid for it years ago and use it often.

It’s raining and 48 degrees outside today but the sun is supposed to show up later. I’m lucky enough to live where I can ride year-round but I do miss snow at times as I grew up in Michigan City, Indiana. I grew up ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and more.

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I don’t know if you heard but Grumpy Cat passed away this year. She is still the best and won’t be forgotten because as we now know, once on the internet, always on the internet.

Christmas holds so many hopes and dreams. I hope all of yours comes true and I hope you have a great Christmas! Toasting some eggnog with you, “skoal!”

* About the featured image: The Santa Rampage is coming back to Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 30. The Santa Rampage is an annual event in Milwaukee that features hundreds of people in Santa suits – as well as a wide swath of various holiday-themed costumes – riding their bicycles across the city. Over the last five years, it has reached such an esteemed cult-status that even the dodgy weather of the season does not detract from the merriment or the number of riders who participate in these festivities. They also have it in other states like Portland Oregon and the number of states participating grows each year.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

It’s My Biking Anniversary

Does time ever fly! On Presidents Day, (Monday the 20th) I’ll be biking every other day for one year! I am both excited and shocked at what I pulled off. I didn’t miss many days and at times felt like quitting so there were some very low points where I didn’t want to bike.

Looking back there was so much blood, sweat, and tears. I fell more than once getting bumps and terrible bruises. I not only hated hills but had to walk my bike up some of them. My face would be so red when I got home and looked in the mirror I used to look like a heart attack walking. I would collapse on my bed until I recovered.

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When I started riding my bike I had already lost 30 pounds but I was still plenty chubby and out of shape. You can see it in this picture. I was on a diet of 1,200 calories which helped get me to where I am today. Even my bike has gone through changes.

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Above, you now see a healthy woman at her target weight since last August. A woman who didn’t gain weight through the holidays or down times. A woman who’s in, and stays in shape. It’s certainly something to celebrate!!

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I feel like a movie star and so can you! I’m a real person who’s done this without any expensive diets, fads or help. You just need to do it, don’t give up, and don’t give up.

There are a few things I couldn’t have done without:

  • Myfitnesspal is an application that will help you keep track of your food calorie intake and nutrition needs. You fill out a profile and it uses your info to help you know how to eat. It’s easy to use, has all the foods, a bar code reader and you can enter your own meals. It also connects to various health bands, and exercise apps reporting your meals (calories) to them. It will also import caloric burn from other apps (including Mapmyfitness) and add it to your day’s calories.
  • Mapmyfitness is an application with GPS that keeps track of calories burned during various different exercises. I use it for my biking and it maps my ride keeping track of everything. I enter my type of bike, wheel size and profile info so it’s pretty accurate. It gives me my average speed, fastest speed, time biked, calories burned, time of day, altitude and much more. It compares my rides with other members in my area which is very interesting. It works with your phone, shoes, or fitness band including Myfitnesspal. It’s a free bike computer that’s easy to use and will announce your stats to you out loud while riding.
  • Jawbone’s UP3 is a fitness band that measures sleep cycles, steps, exercise activities, resting heart rate, food intake, and more. I’ve been wearing one since Oct. 2015 and found it has many features that are very helpful. It features a digital coach that crunches your data and gives you personal help and great articles to read. I’ve become addicted to monitoring my sleep, having this helped me with my insomnia to become a champion sleeper. It connects to Myfitnesspal and Mapmyfitness trading food, caloric and other info.

I use these apps for free with plenty of features that helped me out. Connecting applications together is easy, all these applications talk to each other which makes logging and keeping track a snap.

There are wonderful tools to use when improving your health but it’s really up to you. If you don’t take the first step you won’t get in shape. If you’re in bad health most of the time you will be obese and feel unhappy. Lose the weight and most of those problems will disappear. Add biking to that and soon you will be celebrating your own Biking Anniversary and living a longer happier life.

You just need to do it, don’t give up, and don’t give up.

Duck Feathers

After I got over the initial pain of being a beginner and settled into my workouts I found that biking was making me feel amazing. I was in the best health ever and things that normally would have thrown me into a funk during my day just weren’t happening. I found myself not sweating the small things. I told my best friend there was no way that I could be depressed while riding my bike and surprised myself when I said it.

Just a year ago I was a dark cloud raining on everything that came my way. I couldn’t see past my various moods they colored even my best days. I was addicted to foods that didn’t nourish my body and spent all my time sitting on my kiester stuffing my face. It was a terrible way to react to the world and treat myself. As I increased my health through my bike rides I found the clouds parting and the weather clearing. Now it’s darn right sunny even on the rainiest days. I never imagined how well exercise worked as an antidepressant.

Now I feel immune to things that would have brought me crashing down in the past. I have found what I affectionately call, “my duck feathers.” Anything that threatens to bring me down just repels off of me like water off a duck. My problems haven’t gone away, I’m still the same person making the same mistakes I’ve always made, but now I have an inner happiness that keeps me going on a positive note.

The health benefits of exercising eating right and good sleep are astounding. My body is slowly changing for the better I can see and feel it. I have a waist and my stomach hasn’t been this flat in decades. My skin has cleared up, my hair is soft and shiny and my energy level is through the roof. My bad knees are so much stronger I don’t need my cane anymore. Overall, my legs and core feel strong. All the hours of riding have improved my heart and my doctor tells me with vitals like mine I’m going to live a long time. After only a year of working out, that’s music to my  62-year-old ears and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

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While all these things are wonderful side effects of an aerobic exercise like bike riding, the thing that surprised me the most is the good mood that won’t go away. A good mood that didn’t require drugs just riding my bicycle regularly. With so many people having problems with depression, syndromes, and unhappiness I would think exercise would be worth trying.

Discovering “my duck feathers” is something I’m thankful for this year, that, and the fact that I found a good reason for riding my 30-year-old bicycle. Getting this twice as old woman functioning, healthy and moving again!

Join me! If you’re lucky enough to be able to ride your bike year-round do it and feel thankful for it.