Riding During The Coronavirus

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Should you ride? Should you wear a mask? Should you ride with friends? These are just a couple of the questions you’re probably asking yourself right now.

In November of 2018, we were having horrible fires in California after years of drought and to ride my bicycle I had to order and wear N95 masks. I bought a box of 20 and barely used them because the air quality improved pretty quick in my area. That’s me above riding at that time.

It was horrible to wear a mask while riding. As you can probably imagine under that mask my face was sweaty, it fogged my sunglasses, and my nose was running. I was still glad to have them at that time and now I’m glad to have the remainder since the virus showed up and you can’t find masks.

The coronavirus is making history there’s no denying it and it’s here to stay. For how long we can’t say. It’s scary and there’s a lot of fake news swirling around amongst the real news that can make your head spin. Then there’s the fact that we are sheltering in place, not allowed to see other people, and homebound while our whole lives are changing. It can drive you crazy.

I’ve been bike riding the whole time and since I’ve been riding there have been many changes. The Bay Trail where I ride went from the regulars to crowds of newcomers and their kids. These people could care less about the rules set in place for sharing the Bay Trail. It was frustrating, to say the least until the authorities stepped in. Thank heavens they did it was getting crazy and people were not distancing.

The park’s parking lots were closed, groups were limited to 10 people or less, walkways were blocked, parks were closed, and more. The Bay Trail is a very large trail that goes around the entire San Francisco Bay so there’s really no way to close it but it did limit people’s access to it somewhat.

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My friend Anoush (77) and I rode last Wednesday before most of the parking lots were shut down but we had a nice ride. We keep our distance from each other and other people and don’t hug after a ride like we used to.

Should I ride?

I think I read that if you exercise outside that you should distance yourself from others and keep within 5 miles of your home. If you ride with a large group that’s a no-no but riding with a friend or 2 should be fine as long as you’re careful and know who you’re riding with. So there’s nothing wrong with taking a ride during this time.

Keeping up with your exercise program (cycling) is extra important because it helps the boredom and keeps you healthy. Constant sitting all day is as bad as smoking cigarettes! Exercise also helps you sleep better at night. Maintain your health by daily exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep.

If you don’t ride, you should think about starting. With gyms and other workout venues being closed I think we’re lucky to have something we can do at this time! Running is good but if you want low impact biking is your answer. It gives you a strong core and strengthens your legs. It promotes balance and agility. I’m 65 and bike with people in their 80’s so anyone can do it. It’s aerobic and fun.

There are a few things to think about while riding now.

  • Don’t ride behind joggers, runners or walkers for very long.
  • Keep your distance (6 ft.) from everyone unless passing.
  • When passing keep the widest berth you can.
  • Pass as quickly as you can and don’t get distracted or chat.
  • If you see someone coughing, spitting, or blowing their nose in the air avoid them at all costs.
  • If someone gets too close or is doing something you don’t like wait or take another route past them.
  • Because traffic is sparse now the street (bike lanes) are often a good bet.
  • If riding with a friend don’t share water or sit close together on breaks.
  • When pressing buttons for street crossings use the same knuckle on either hand so you don’t touch your face.
  • There are no places to stop and sit for coffee.
  • Bathrooms are now closed so make sure you go before you bike!
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you on your bike and use it during or after you get home.

Should you wear a mask?

This is the million-dollar question. I don’t wear a mask while biking but I do when I go anywhere else. Because we are alone most of the time on our bikes in the fresh air there’s nothing to worry about. It’s those times that we encounter people on the trail and have to pass that’s important. Like I said earlier masks are not comfortable but if it makes you feel better then wear one. If you don’t have one a bandana or scarf, any type of coverage is good. The virus can live in the air for a short amount of time so the choice is yours. I feel if I’m careful I can avoid catching it.

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Peter (59) is another friend I ride with during this virus. We also keep our distance. Peter wears a bandana over his mouth but only because he has allergies.

Riding during this time is awesome to me because I still have some freedom left. When I ride it makes me feel so good it’s hard to explain. Afterward, I feel great because I burned calories, got my ya-ya’s out, maybe saw a friend, and enjoyed the beautiful trails in the springtime. I love biking and always look forward to my rides. I can only hope they don’t crack down on getting fresh air or I’m toast.

I haven’t had the flu in a couple of years nor a cold. I’m a senior (65) and only take meds for my thyroid and have no heart problems. I’m in great health and all due to living a healthy lifestyle. I have written much about how to live a healthy lifestyle on this blog so please take the time to learn. If this isn’t the time to start I don’t know when is.

Take the time to ride while we are on lockdown. Don’t be afraid to ride with a friend you can trust not to be sick. Stay in good health. People who are healthy are more likely to stay that way and don’t get sick as much. This is a fact look it up yourself. This is a historical time of many firsts for our world and we need something to help us get by. Trust in cycling and keep the faith.

Don’t get sick. Follow the rules. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Big virtual hug!

I changed the name of this blog to Let’s Ride. I hope you’ll keep stopping by to enjoy learning about biking and health.

Every Other Day For Three Years

When I started my cycling journey whilst questing for good health I often felt like quitting. Red-faced, walking my bike up the smallest hills, not being able to catch my breath and unable to keep up with anyone. I felt like a big fat failure.

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Me and my 1986 Schwinn World Tourist (10 speed), in 2016/17.

At the time I had lost my first 30 pounds by cutting calories but I still had over 30 more to lose and was in horrible shape. Maybe it was the excitement of losing the initial weight, maybe riding my bike was reminding me of happier times, probably the hormone changes and endorphins were kicking in, but something made me dig in and keep it up when I wanted to (and normally would have) quit.

Within a year I lost the rest of the weight. I was feeling wonderful and more importantly, I had a new attitude, like a new lease on life. That first year was a lot of hard work but now I was reaping the benefits of daily exercise. Almost 2 years later I’ve not gained a pound back keeping my weight within 5 pounds of my target of 139.

The biggest surprise was the change in how other people looked at and treated me that had nothing to do with my weight. They saw a hard working, positive, reliable, better me because I was now living that way. It was definitely an eye-opening learning experience about what I was really made of. One that taught me that maybe I was ok after all and that gave me the confidence to continue. It will be 3 years on February 20th I’ve never been in better health and I’m convinced I found the Fountain Of Youth.

Benefits Of Daily Exercise

  • Fights Depression Without Drugs
  • Lose Fat Around Internal Organs (the worst fat you can have)
  • More Quality Sleep
  • Eat Less/Crave Better Food
  • Maintain Healthy Weight
  • Positive Attitude
  • Get Sick Less (Colds, Flu)
  • Low Resting Heart Rate
  • Less Cortisol (Bad Hormones)
  • Reverse High Blood Pressure
  • Reverse Heart Disease
  • Reverse Diabetes
  • Reverse High Cholesterol
  • Better Bone Density
  • Fights Dementia
  • Live Longer

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Happy together, me and my 2017 Norco Rideau (24 gears), 2018/19.

What was the biggest thing that kept me going through plateaus and setbacks? All the improvements I kept seeing in my life! Even the smallest wins gave me the confidence to keep it going and get it done.

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Proud of my Lifetime Stats on MapMyRide started on Feb. 20th, 2016.

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MapMyRide ranks user’s rides. You can see how you’re doing compared to other people riding the same trails. They go by age and sex. The points are just for fun.

Keeping a record of your rides/exercise of choice is easy with all of the free apps these days like MapMyFitness (click HERE.) Made by Under Armor this system will track any kind of exercise including dog walking. Strava is another favorite (HERE.)

Wearable trackers like Fitbit offers us a way to track invisible health trends like sleep, resting heart rate and more. Click HERE for tracking your rides, HERE for tracking your rides if you own a Fitbit.

Click HERE if you want to know how to start changing your life with diet and exercise like I did. This is the beginning (part one of 3 parts), of the Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change. It worked for me it will for you.

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On the 20th I look forward to celebrating my good health, keeping the weight off, feeling wonderful, maintaining my motivation to ride 20-30 miles every other day and kicking 2019’s ass! Join me!

You don’t need New Year’s resolutions, you need to do one thing and do it well. You can do it!

Dealing With Sickness

The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bike Lane Ahead” causing me to turn around and head home.

Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.

I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.

I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.

I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.

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After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.

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Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.

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On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.

The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my earbuds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.

After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.

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After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.

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Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching a cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.

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Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.

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When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.

With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.

Treat your body well and your mind will follow.