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!

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On Your Left, Safety Counts

When I’m riding the various trails around this area it’s always surprising to realize just how many people using them have no idea there are rules to follow. This often leads to negative interactions, and worse, accidents where people get hurt because people don’t take the time to acquaint themselves with the area they’re spending time in.

Whether on foot or on wheels when on the trails the rules are the same for everyone. If you have young children it’s important to teach them to be on the lookout for moving bicycles and staying safe.

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Rules Of The Trails

  • Stay to the right-no more than 2 across
  • Call out when passing
  • Pass on the left when it’s safe
  • Observe the right of way
  • Top Speed Limit is 15 miles an hour unless otherwise posted
  • Speed Limit is 5 miles an hour in crowded areas
  • Slow down to pass
  • If you stop pull off the trail
  • Use hand signals, even if alone
  • Be polite and smile
  • Keep an eye out for dogs and children.

Bikes follow the same laws that cars do whether riding on a trail or on the street. If there’s no bike trail you use the lane just like a car does. Make sure you’re seen before advancing in traffic. I use very few bike lanes on crowded streets but living near the Bay Trail I can get away with it.

Don’t be confused with the bike in the left lane (image above.) You won’t really stay in the left lane if others are using it. This is to show how to pass someone and the correct place to be.

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“On your left,” is what you should call out when passing someone. I always say, “Thank you,” as I pass by, people resent you less for intruding with your bicycle and makes most of them smile. Being a good “Bicycle Ambassador” (a person that promotes cycling in a good way) is something to be proud of!

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Hand Signals

Hand signals are something you should learn and get in the habit of using. They are universal and easy to do. I use the easy signal on the bottom right (for my right turns) because the other way confuses me.

I don’t see these being used much on the trails but I do because it makes the path I’m taking crystal clear to others. I don’t think cyclists use them enough. You need to use them always even if you’re riding alone. Hand signals make your intentions known, show the path you’re taking and make people notice you.

There are hand signals for everything, check them out at Mapmyfitness: http://blog.mapmyrun.com/10-cycling-hand-signals-need-know/

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Your Voice Is Important

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Know Your Place On The Streets

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This is what to expect from the bike lanes. I have ridden in all 3 by now. The diagram on the right can have a solid line between the car and cyclist or not.

Protect Yourself And Your Noggin

A bike helmet (or brain bucket) is your best friend for protection in case something goes wrong. Make sure you buy a good one and that it fits correctly. Most sports stores or bike shops will be glad to help you.

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Of course, you want to have your bike checked out once a year (more often if you notice problems) to make sure it’s in tip-top condition on the road. Happy cycling!

Know the rules, be polite, ride safe and stay safe.

Writing Daily Is Hard To Do

I know I haven’t been writing daily and I plan on changing that. This is the perfect time to share what I’ve learned this last year about health and biking with you during the winter season when things slow down a bit. (Who am I kidding? Lol!) Not that I’ll quit biking here in the Bay Area, in California, I can bike all year as the weather doesn’t get close to freezing very often.

This was my first summer biking and hitting my target weight in August. Exciting times for me while I made many discoveries about myself and my health. I learned a lot and through strengthening my bad knees with my biking was able to walk for miles again. I was buying awesome new (smaller) clothes, biking in beautiful areas and taking great photos to share. I wasn’t spending much time sitting down to write.

I promise I’ll write and share my photography more often. Now that I have so much riding time under my belt I have a lot more to share with you. I have some great tips that helped me get to where I wanted to be. I hope you will stop by and share with me too. I’d love to know where you’re at in your cycling experience. What do you want to hear?

It’s not warm weather anymore! My biking wardrobe now includes a knit cap under my helmet, long underwear under my jackets, full gloves, and a scarf if I need it. I wear compression workout leggings and keep a cheap rain suit (clear pants and coat) in my bike bag. Keeps me going until springtime.

Thirty minutes into my ride when my core temperature warms up and I get into my target heart-rate zone my muscles warm up and I feel like I’m flying. I am one with the world and my rubber on the ground is the only thing holding me to the earth.

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BTW, I’m putting up more photos on my sidebar. Pictures from my rides on the Bay Trail and riding mates of course! Please be patient as I add them.

Happy Biking During The Holidays!