Another Year To Bike

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the first of January, and there’s a whole new empty slate in front of you. What will you do with it?bca4ded079550cbe706f2f062c1df9da

I don’t do resolutions anymore for the New Year, I refuse to do them! I don’t think one year ever went by where I did something that was on those lists. I just blundered through each year hanging on by my teeth anyway.

The thing to do is pick one thing, one important thing that you want more than anything, (this must be something doable, not a magical spell or witchcraft) and learn how to achieve it. Do research on it and practice it until perfect. Put the effort into it that will bring the results that make you happy.

If you want to outlive everyone, stick around for your kids, stay healthy and strong enough to enjoy the rest of your life independently then  I ask you to consider living healthier this year and riding a bicycle is something people of all ages can do.

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Last year was very good to me! After riding for months I finally felt comfortable enough to really enjoy my rides. I look forward to and get excited about them. It was not always that easy.

I rode bicycles growing up but now I was much older (old enough to break bones easily), I could barely make it up the easy hills and the wind worked against me. I had to get used to sharing the trail with critters, walkers, runners, families with kids, and other bikers.

I had some falls stopping or starting my bike (the hardest thing for me with my disability) but my balance got better. It was a good 5-7 months where I was shaky and uneasy on my bike. Now I feel great and want to share the side effects of bicycling with you!

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If you have bad knees, need joint replacement or have pain in your knees I urge you to try riding a bicycle this year to help strengthen and maybe relieve some of that pain.

My knees always hurt with swelling and I still need both knees replaced (I have windswept knees) but biking this last year has made them so much better it’s unbelievable. My knees are much stronger for walking and no more cane!

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This year I am continuing what I started in October of 2015:

  • keeping my weight regular by logging what I eat, 1500 calories/daily of good healthy food
  • no sodas or sugary drinks
  • watching my daily macros (carbs, fats, and proteins)
  • drinking 8 ounces or more of water daily
  • riding my bike every other day (that’s 4 times a week)
  • getting at least 7 1/2 hours of quality sleep a night
  • multivitamins daily

Soon, I will add weight training a few times a week. As I get older I want to keep the strength to lift things for myself and get around without needing help. There are many good articles about staying active and what to do to maintain your health and good looks for many years to come.

Staying strong is important. My one important thing (if you haven’t guessed) is my biking because without it I won’t be healthy and happy, ready to enjoy the rest of what this new year has to offer.

Let’s be harder, better, faster, stronger this year!

Happy New Year!

Avoiding Painful Rides

Whether you are a beginner or just doing something wrong biking can be a real pain. It’s no fun to find yourself 30 minutes into your ride wishing it was over with already. Hands falling asleep, arms hurting, backaches and backside aches are common complaints that make us want to give up but with practice, we can avoid some of that pain.

What hurts you beforehand?

Before taking up any sport it’s good to be aware of your weaknesses. Prior injuries or disabilities will haunt you if you don’t plan ahead and protect yourself. It’s a good idea to have a talk with your doctor about biking and whether it’s something you can do first. Your doctor will tell you the best way to protect yourself so you don’t make any problem areas worse.

A pain in the butt.

Not many people come away from a bike seat saying it feels great. Most bikes come with the smallest size seat you can get similar to what comes on a 10-speed bike. There are 3 sizes of seats and unless you want to buy a new seat you can learn to use the one that comes on your bike.

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My bike has a medium size seat which is standard on a touring bike but even my seat was painful at first. Instead of buying a new seat, a cheaper alternative is a seat cover. They cost about $20 and come with memory foam or gel to give you a more comfortable ride. Easy to install and remove you can take your seat cover with you if you change bikes.

When riding your bike you’re not always pedaling. When coasting, lift your rear off of the seat a little resting it. You can always stand while coasting stretching out your body and giving your rear a rest. Added up these small breaks can really help.

Benches give us a great place to take a break but rather than sitting again stretch in place or take a small walk.

If all else fails a new seat may be in order but make sure you get one with springs underneath they make all the difference in smoothing out your ride.

My aching back.

Back pain is always a sign that you are straining rather than letting your legs and core do the work. When riding a bike you don’t want to “put your back into it” you will be in extreme pain. Before your legs are strong enough to take the slack it’s easy to pull or tense your back going up that hill rather than relaxing in the seat and using your legs.

Concentrate on letting the bike carry you. Sit high in the saddle and don’t hunch forward or round your back. Don’t lean heavily on your hands keep a light grip and relax.

When you are tired this is the time you should be the most careful with your back. Take a break, stretch your back and remember to pull with your thighs and core when you pedal relaxing your back. Develop a good riding style watching the angle of your back and stay comfortable.

Make sure the balls of your feet are on your pedals pushing forward. Be patient, in time you will build the core and leg muscles it takes to bike with less effort without back strain or pain. The key words are bike fit, core muscle stability and riding style—all of these likely contribute to back pain.

 

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Use the correct bike posture for your type of bike.

My hands are falling asleep and my arms hurt.

If you are grasping the handgrips too tightly you will be on pins and needles. Leaning heavily on your handlebars will cause your arms and shoulders to hurt moving into your back. It’s good to have some options so you don’t have to keep your hands in one position during your ride. Changing hand positions is a big help.

If it’s possible, ride with one hand resting the other. I can do this with my touring bike because the handlebars are upright. Put the weight on your seat not your arms or hands. Keep a light but firm grip on your handgrips.

Watch your wrist and arm position with elbows bent depending on your handlebars. It’s possible to get padded riding gloves and handlebars that offer more than one hand position if you can’t get used to your setup.

My neck is killing me.

Whether in a bike lane or on a path when cycling you must watch for traffic. On bike paths, you ride on the right-hand side and get passed on the left, always. You need to be aware of what’s around you. It can give you a sore neck. If you are tense this can get worse.

Relaxation goes a long way in bike riding. I look at it like Yoga on a bike. If you keep the parts of your body relaxed you will have less pain. It takes concentration and if necessary, stretching beforehand. Do some neck circles before riding…simply sit and gently move your head in full slow circles one way, and then the other.

Keep your head moving when you ride. You’ll want to take in the view and watch for other bikers, people walking, objects in the path and cracks in the path that can capture your tires. Keep your eyes and ears open.

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The position that you ride in makes all of the difference. Get acquainted with your type of bicycle and select the right bike fit for you. Adjust your seat and handlebars as suggested for your bike. When done right it will serve you well and keep you comfortable while you ride.

Pick the right bike for you and where you are going to ride. 

There are many kinds of bikes to choose from when you buy your bike do some research and get what you need. If you are going to bike on pavement but take the occasional dirt or gravel path a touring bike is your best bet. A 10-speed type of bike is good for paved bike trails.

If you don’t mind a little extra weight on your bike you may rethink having fenders on your bike when there’s a puddle or you drive over hot asphalt. I’m not talking about high-performance biking on Bike With Bekkie I’m talking about biking for good health and enjoyment.

Many people ride mountain bikes on the Bay Trail but they are made for mostly dirt paths and don’t offer the best ride on pavement. They make the mistake of buying mountain bikes for everyday riding but they are uncomfortable for long rides and the gearing is different. The right bike makes all the difference.

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If you still have pain after doing all you can with your bike it might be time for a new bike. I feel biking is for almost everyone and see people of all ages biking when I am out. The common denominator is the smile I see on everyone’s faces.

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Here I am taking a break to stretch. I do this at least 2 times while I’m on a ride. I used to have terrible back pain, a nerve would get pinched and half of my back would go numb. One day it hit me that I was putting my back into it not my upper thighs and on hills, I’d tense up my back muscles. When biking into the wind I’d yank my back around instead of gearing down and relaxing. It is so easy to ride the wrong way if you don’t think about what you’re doing. Now my back never hurts and the pinched nerve has not come back.

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Keep these tips in mind and ride pain-free.

Got any questions or comments leave them behind and I will give you the best advice I can muster. It’s summer in the US and prime riding time.

The more you ride the better you feel!