2020-Another Year To Ride

There’s so much to look forward to in the new year! While many people are thinking of resolutions they usually break within the first few months I’m thinking about continuing what’s worked for me almost 4 years now. After putting the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind me it’s time to get back to riding.

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Whether you ride year-round or in the spring when the snow melts one thing you should do each year is to make sure your bicycle is in tip-top shape to ride. Parts can shake loose and bikes should be inspected and readjusted yearly especially if you ride daily. Yearly bike maintenance is imperative for safe riding.

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Yesterday I had a sobering reality while doing my visual check before a ride. I checked the front and back wheel levers for my quick release and everything looked good. I usually make sure they’re flipped down tight but I don’t physically manipulate them unless they look like they moved.

Right before we took off I noticed while jerking my handlebars (by accident) that something sounded loose. I first thought it was my cell phone holder on my handlebars because I was having trouble tightening it down. It wasn’t.

I shook it again and thought I saw my front tire move. No way! I picked up my front end and spun the tire, it was moving fine. Then I pushed the wheel sideways and noticed it was moving back and forth a tiny bit. OMG!

Although everything looked good I knew something was wrong. I tried the wheel release and it was very loose. I had a vision of happily riding along watching my front wheel come off and crashing violently. It was my worst nightmare!

I released the wheel fully, tightened the release screw, and put the wheel back on. I made sure the wheel was solid and the release screw was as tight as I could work it. I also checked the rear release which was good. I had saved myself from a world of hurt and a terrible accident.

This is one reason I’m against quick-release wheels! Yes, it’s nice to get the wheel off easily for many reasons but if they aren’t tight your wheel can come off. Some bikes have a guard in place so if it accidentally opens your wheel is held on but it’s no guarantee.

I don’t wish to scare you but I rode with a friend some months ago who thought he was having a front brake problem until he discovered the wheel release had come open. He rode like that for miles and was extremely lucky his wheel didn’t come off. People don’t usually have that kind of dumb luck.

Now, most new bikes come with quick-release wheels (front and back) so it’s very important to do a visual hands-on check of your bicycle every time you take a ride. Safety first!

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What To Check Before A Ride

Take the time to look at your bike before a ride. You will want to put your hands on it.

  • Check tire pressure and add air if needed. The correct pressure will be on your tires.
  • Check the frame for any damage or rust and cables for any bends, or frayed edges.
  • Try your brake handles and make sure your breaks are engaging. The brake pads or discs shouldn’t be worn.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread on them with no aging rubber or cracks in the sidewalls.
  • Manually check your front and back wheel release levers making sure they are tight and flipped shut.
  • Check the condition of your chain. Chains need to be kept clean and lubricated.
  • Keep your (rear wheel) gears clear and clean of debris.
  • Is your seat the correct height? Your leg on the lowest pedal should be fully extended with a slight bend in your knee.
  • Handlebars should be straight and tight.
  • Secure any gear properly and keep away from your spokes.
  • If wearing pants use clips or straps to keep them tight at the ankles and away from your spokes.

If you find something you can’t fix do a search for a good bike shop in your area. They will be glad to answer any questions you might have. They can tell you how much air should be in your tires (if you can’t find it) and can do yearly maintenance on your bicycle if you can’t do it yourself. A good bike shop is the best tool you can have.

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Yearly Bike Maintanence Musts

  • Inspect and adjust your derailer.
  • Inspect and adjust your brakes and brake system.
  • Inspect and adjust your chain and drive system.
  • Clean and lubricate your chain and drive system.
  • Clean and inspect your frame for wear and rust.
  • Inspect and tighten screws and parts on your frame.
  • Check tires for loose or bent spokes, worn bearings, etc.
  • Inspect tire rubber for wear.
  • Inspect all cables, cable housings, and connections.
  • Inspect handlebars, hand grips or handlebar tape, mounted brake handles, and shift levers.
  • Inspect fender clearance and hardware.

If you take your bike into a shop they will do all of this for you including cleaning your bike. Ask your shop for a list of what they charge for maintenance, cleaning, and services.

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I’m excited to have my 4 year riding anniversary coming up on Feb. 20th! Although I’ve had a bicycle my whole life I’ve only spent the last 4 years being serious about it. I started riding 20-30 miles every other day for my health and sanity. I was 60 pounds overweight and depressed on meds in very bad health after having the worst 4 years of my life. Bike riding is now a healthy habit that has kept my weight off and helped me to get over my sleeping problems. That’s what made me do this site I wanted to spread the word about how healthy bike riding is for people of all ages. (Read my full story HERE.)

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Whether you believe in resolutions or not I hope this is the year you decide to get healthy and stay that way. I’d like to encourage you to consider riding a bicycle if you don’t already. It’s low-impact, gives you a strong core, a healthy heart, promotes good sleep, improves your balance and is so much fun! It makes me feel like a kid again.

On Bike With Bekkie, I have many articles that talk about the benefits of riding a bicycle and getting healthy.  How important it is to eat right. What happens when you ride a bicycle and more. I have lovely photographs I’ve taken while riding the Bay Trail. Having trouble sleeping? I got you!

The Bay Trail is a mostly paved trail that runs around the San Francisco Bay with a view of the city, the SFO airport, and many other gorgeous landmarks. The beauty of this area can’t be beaten with its marshes, man-made waterways, and the creatures that live here. Click HERE to see the map.

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I wish you good health and happiness in 2020!

May Bike Check-Up

May is a good month to get your bicycle ready for summer. Either you’ve had your bike put away for the cold season or were lucky like me and rode all year but now’s the time to see what kind of shape your ride is in. Even new bikes can need maintenance.

If your bike is in relatively good shape you still need to keep it that way by keeping your chain adjusted and lubricated. If you have gears the derailleur might need to be adjusted and cables/brake pads can wear out.

How do I know if my bicycle needs work?

Some things will be obvious when broken but many aren’t. Those things are something a professional will be able to find and fix. You might not notice things are amiss while riding but once fixed you will be able to tell the difference.

If your bicycle’s dirty wash it like you would a car with soap and water. It’s important to keep your bicycle frame clean and dry. Even with full fenders, my bicycle gets dirty. A little car wax works wonders on the paint and makes your bike look like new while protecting it.

Now give your bicycle a thorough visual inspection.

  • cables and cable housings
  • tires/hubs/
  • drivetrain (chain)
  • front or rear derailleur
  • caliper/pads or disc brakes
  • brake levers/handlebar tape

Worn tire treads are easy to see and you want to check the walls of your tires too. Cracks in the walls (sides) of your tires come with drying and age. If you have them, or your vintage bike has it’s original tires it’s time for new tires.

Take a short ride, go through the gears, check the brakes, and look for wear and tear. If you’re not sure of something take notes so you can ask the mechanic. Most of the time your bicycle will just need some tender loving care and lubrication. There’s plenty of how-to’s to be found online.

If you can’t work on your own bicycle there’s plenty of shops that will. I take mine to the shop I bought it from. Do a search and see what’s available in your area. Most shops have websites with good information. Always read reviews if available.

Take it to the nearest bike shop for service.

Most shops will have a schedule for maintenance work so when you call for service ask them what they do for that price and what service specials they have. Ask how long they’ll have your bike and about the warranty on their work/parts.

While you’re at the shop ask them to be sure your bike is set up correctly for your body. Many people don’t realize they’re riding on an ill-fitted bike. If your seat isn’t right or you can’t reach your handlebars comfortably you won’t be riding your bicycle for long!

Maybe you want to upgrade parts on your current bike or look for a new bike. Your local bike shop can help you with that too. Most shops have refurbished bikes that can get you on the road this summer for cheap. Vintage bikes like mine are in style again and ride like a dream.

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The featured image is my 1986 Schwinn World Tourist. Once you get your bike back take it out and enjoy the seasonal blooms and weather.

If you take your bicycle to a shop for service do it now before they get busy. The closer to summer the longer it’s going to take to get your bike in and out of the shop. Avoid the rush and keep yourself safe. Accidents often happen due to worn parts or tires.

And wear that helmet!

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Bicycles aren’t just for transportation bicycles are healthy and fun!