Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

You’ve seen “them” riding on their 10 speeds, hunched over, no fenders, wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits and zooming by you barely managing a nod. Cyclists!

I swore this would not happen to me as I turned up my nose while riding (sitting up) on my 31-year-old dutch style bicycle on the Bay Trail. Of course, in no time I was wearing colorful stretchy (in my case Yoga) outfits zooming by people…and nodding.

~gasp~

I was “one of them”!

There are all kinds of bikes to choose from sporting all types of riders but there is a common thread throughout that bonds us together as cyclists. The rituals and quirks that rub off on us all as we navigate our lives around our bicycles. Isn’t it good to belong?

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Photo from MapMyFitness

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist 

  • You can’t recognize your biking friends when they aren’t wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • The “check engine” light in your car has been on for months, but the most minor mechanical issue on your bike is fixed first.
  • You have at least one Facebook profile shot of you posing on or next to your bike with a gorgeous landscape behind you.
  • Your bike has a nickname.
  • When your driving you watch out for other riders, you slow down to a near crawl and give them plenty of room. You know what it means to be in that bike lane.
  • You also know what it’s like to use choice words when a vehicle cuts you off or a hater honks and nearly startles you off your bike. (They are out there.)
  • You run errands after your bike rides while wearing your colorful stretchy biking outfits. (Don’t forget to take the helmet off!)
  • You spend more time biking spending weekends and planning vacations around bike rides and rides with groups.
  • Stripes on your thighs and ankles, cut-out shapes on the tops of your hands, your colorful stretchy bike outfits tan lines will incite laughter at the beach and pool.
  • You ride to and from work because it’s the fastest way, and you’ve become a pro at changing in the office bathroom.
  • You don’t notice the grease on your clothes or tear in your pants until you’re at that meeting.
  • If you’re a woman, you take better care of your favorite bike clothes than your finest lingerie. (They can be expensive.)
  • If you’re a man, you have smoother legs than your wife or girlfriend.
  • You embrace fluorescent jackets, vests, and shirts. The brighter, the better.
  • You know what it means to do time in the saddle.
  • You’ve felt the shame of having to walk your bike up a hill and the pride of conquering that climb on your bike after a few weeks’ of riding.
  • You have more colorful stretchy biking pants (or shorts) in your laundry basket than jeans.
  • You’re baffled when your roommate or partner doesn’t understand why your bike can’t be stored outside.
  • Some of your hardest falls have happened when you’ve stopped or slowed to a crawl, which doesn’t make sense but happens none-the-less.
  • You take a bad fall with bloody hands and knees, but your first question is whether or not your bike survived.
  • You look and feel better than you have in some time, can’t stop smiling, and have oodles of extra energy.

~large smile~

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My bicycle photo made into a GIF using Masterpiece Art Filters from PhotoLab Pro and LunaPic.

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 Rules 2 Remember While Riding

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Use Your Hand Signals

You may not have fallen prey to all of the signs yet but I predict you will. If you fall in love with cycling you’ll enrich your health and life becoming stronger with more energy. You can do it.

You’re a cyclist! One of us, one of us, we accept you, we accept you!

Daily Articles-Cycling Sunday

I know I haven’t been writing daily here 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 workout clothes, biking in beautiful areas and taking great photos to share. I wasn’t spending much time sitting down to write.

I’m changing all that by starting Cycling Sunday, each week on Sunday I’ll share some things I’ve learned or photographs I’ve taken while riding. Sometimes I’ll write more often but there will be a new post each Sunday starting with this coming Sunday. I hope you will stop by and share with me.

Please don’t be shy either, this site has been awfully quiet with no comments on my posts. I’d love to know what my readers are thinking. I hope it’s not, “What is this crazy old woman mumbling about?”

It’s not summer anymore! My biking wardrobe now includes a knit cap under my brain bucket (helmet), long underwear under my compression jacket (with thumb holes), leather gloves, and a scarf if I need it. I wear compression capri workout pants but my legs don’t get cold enough in this weather. I keep a cheap rain suit (clear pants and coat) in my bike bag and do use it. Keeps me going until springtime.

When my core temperature warms, I get into my target heart-rate zone, my muscles warm up and I feel like I’m flying (a half hour into my ride) there is complete zen. I am one with the world and my rubber on the ground is the only thing holding me to the earth.

Guess I’ll keep biking and writing about it. Lol!

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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.

Please check back for Cycling Sundays and other articles this winter.

Happy Biking During The Holidays!

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.

Bike Rally Artfest

I thought today we’d just reflect on how awesome our bikes make us feel through some cool artwork and sayings I found on the internet. So let’s rally together and enjoy!

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(This is from a Tshirt I own.)

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I hope you liked these as much as I did! They’d be great on Tshirts, wouldn’t they? The artists that come up with this stuff are so talented!

Now take this good mood get out there and ride!

Just My Bike And Me

Wetlands passing by
the waterbirds feed
it’s a very good day
on San Francisco Bay.

To be out of the city
yet see it ‘cross the bay
even foggy days
it’s there on display.

Wind in my hair
just a gentle breeze
sun hot on my back
as I follow the bike track.

The sharp salt smell
clicking of the gears
the songbirds sing
colors on the wing.

Drifting down the trail
I feel like I’m flying
at peace so quietly
just my bike and me.

© Rebecca Sanchez 2016

I am very lucky to be able to bike the Bay Trail up close and personal at this time. Sharing my photographs and poetry is one way I can show you just how special this area is to me and why we should keep it as pristine as we can. The animals who live here and nature depend on us.

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The featured image is San Francisco with the fog coming in as seen from Coyote Point. This image is the San Mateo Bridge, Highway 92, looking from Foster City towards San Mateo. The tide is out so the wetlands are exposed but when the tide comes back in the waters of the San Francisco Bay will be all the way up to these rocks and beaches.

The Nod

The serious bikers out there all wear these funny helmets. If you ever rode a motorcycle (like me) we call them “brain buckets” and for good reason. If you have a fall or god forbid, get in an accident you will be glad you are wearing one.

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They come in all styles, even aerodynamic if you’re one of those crazy fast cyclists who move at the speed of light. It’s important to be safe but without a helmet, you will be hard pressed to communicate with the other bicycle riders and that would be sad.

Being the friendly person I am when I first started riding my bike I’d see the other person coming towards me on a bike, have a big smile plastered on my face, make eye contact and before reaching them say hello. I would feel the blast of wind, see the person streak by and nothing….

Surely it wasn’t me? I pushed on….

Soon it was clear that unless it was a family biking, people walking or someone moving at a slower speed that I wasn’t doing something right. These “bikers” were just unfriendly! How could I make contact with my own kind? I kept trying, watched and waited.

Then one day I saw it…I almost missed it because it happened so fast. To be sure I watched carefully and saw it again. It was not always accompanied with eye contact but it was given freely and in solidarity. It was “the nod.” Suddenly I understood and was elated!

It’s not always easy to see and there are some cyclists who really don’t bike to be social so they will ignore you and that’s ok but if you are like me you will want to communicate with the others.

Some people smile, some don’t but you will see the nod of the helmet, a slight, quick, forward dip of the head made easier to see by the funny helmet they are wearing. Now that I’ve cracked the code you know what to do.

Next time we pass on the bike trail I’ll not be saying hello but I will give you “the nod” meaning all is well-enjoy your ride!

Safety is no joke get a helmet and wear it when you ride.

Still Alive And Biking

As you can see from the date of my last post that I’ve been too busy to get a new post up. Shame on me! It’s not because I’ve quit biking, in fact, I’ve been enjoying my rides very much. Life just happens and I’d like to touch bases before I get on with my normal posts.

What’s Happening?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in the past but I write poetry. Every week I write with at least 4 different groups of poets and I enjoy it very much but it takes up a lot of my writing time. I’ve been doing this for years now. I often write about photographs I take on my bike rides and make my own animations. Come visit and read my poetry at Capricious Poet.

I have been blogging since around 2008 that’s a long time! I have more blogs than I have time for but I don’t write as much on the older ones. The writer resides deep within my soul and my muse never takes a break only when life interferes.

Deep Sadness

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My beloved cat and 8-year companion Boo had to be put to sleep on May 6th. He was hit with Lymphoma and a bad liver, a double whammy that took him down very fast. It broke my heart in many places and my apartment is so empty without him. He was a very good boy, a lover and a clown that made me laugh and filled my life with smiles.

Birthday Girl

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May 11th was my 62nd birthday and I spent that week with my best friends in Oakland, CA. Here I am at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkely where we went to eat that day. (My Jawbone UP3 is on my wrist quietly monitoring.)

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These 2 are my most favorite people in the world. I had a really good time that week going to 2 movies and taking long walks with Marguerite (on the left) and the dogs. Staying at their house in the Oakland Hills is a real pleasure and break from my small apartment and helped lighten my load. It has been years since I had such a wonderful birthday!

As a side note, CA (on the right) belongs to the famous Oakland Yellow Jackets a biking group that rides all over the Bay Area. Check them out, anyone can join them for rides of all types from beginners to expert.

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This is the view I had waking up each morning from the Hinton’s living room. The fog would go away by 10 am leaving beautiful and sunny weather all week.

Back Home And Biking

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It had to happen, all good times must come to an end. Lol! Just look at this view from my ride yesterday! I saw the most beautiful clouds ever on one side of the trail.

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Only to turn around and see this on the other side. It never did rain and despite the heavy winds we’ve been having I managed to ride 19 miles of blue sky and cloud bliss.

Things are pretty much back to normal and I have a lot more to say about biking and health. What it’s done for me has been amazing and I have a real need to pass it on to you. I’ve not only lost more weight being closer to my goal set last September but I am so much stronger. I joke with people that I just can’t seem to get depressed or run out of energy. The old me would have still been sitting on my ass all day crying and feeling sorry for myself. Different as night and day.

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Check back for more and if you have a blog about biking I’d love to hear about it and visit. Just leave me a link in comments telling me about it.

My bike is my antidepressant, take one with plenty of water and fresh air.

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!