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.

Hardest Thing I Ever Did/Dual Knee Replacement

My date for surgery was August 26th. I was at my doctor’s (orthopedic) at Standford on May 10th. I was hoping for another cortisone shot to the ligaments in my legs and more physical therapy but I was sorely mistaken. I was limping yet again because my left knee had moved inside and was causing me a lot of pain when I used it.

Dr. A (everyone calls him that because no one can pronounce his name) wasn’t having it, “It’s time we replace those troublesome knees. Let’s set a date for the surgery.”

What could I say? I had one terribly bent knee that caved in because of the pressure of supporting the other damaged knee. It made me walk funny, limp, and people always noticed it when they saw me. It was very painful and had gone on for decades now causing problems with my hips and other leg structures. I sighed a big sigh.

“When I do surgery I can straighten your legs and you’ll be better than ever,” Dr. A offered with a smile.

So the day before my 65th birthday I said yes to having both knees replaced at once. Dr. A felt that I was in great shape for my age and would do well after surgery. So did I but I was hesitant.

The week before surgery I got a call from Dr. A’s assistant. He said if I came in for a special scan that they could use robotics during my surgery. I felt lucky to be picked because it would help correct my windswept knees.

The scan was nothing special they taped a bar to each leg and scanned them. The bar was part of the reference that the robot would use. It was really space-age cool stuff. Of course, I would be asleep and that was fine with me.

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Happy rides! Because of my dual knee replacement, I’ll be taking a 4-6 week break planning to be back at it real soon.

Tick tock….time flew by and one night I got the call to be at Standford Hospital for check-in at 6am with surgery at 8:15am. It was….

~Go Time~

Everything went smoothly I was in a daze and after drugs, I barely remember anything before surgery. I was under for 3 hours, (it took a little longer with the robotics) and then I woke up to a world of WTF!

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I had nerve blocks in each thigh and pressure cuffs on my lower legs for clotting. Those are pressure bandages too. I was glad for the nerve blocks when they were working.

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When they removed the pressure bandage this was what I saw. Later they got me up with a walker and make me take a few steps. I barely remember it now. Those bandages are waterproof and protect the stitches keeping them dry and together while they heal.

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With all of the drugs, I was trying to keep it together but little did I know…..

One of the nerve block boxes wouldn’t stay together (I had one in each leg) and would stop working putting me in great pain. They wouldn’t give me a new one so I had to put up with it. They even had a technician look at it. He put the battery door back on it and deemed that it would now stay put and work. It did not and when I pushed the bottom nothing happened. Each time a hapless nurse would fumble with it so I could finally get some rest.

They were very stingy with the pain meds and kept me in more pain than I should have had to put up with. When I asked for pain meds they acted controlling and secretive. I didn’t get a lot of information out of them until I pushed the subject.

I was very unhappy with the Standford Hospital and felt treated like a second-hand patient. For being a top-rated hospital they seriously treated me badly and there was a lot of broken equipment. I got no shots in the belly for clots nor did I get the plastic thing to blow in to make sure your lungs are ok after being under. Pretty shocking looking at my age and considering its standard operation after major surgery.

They left my catheter in for 2 days (until I left the hospital) and stopped giving me IV fluids for a whole day knowing I was anemic from losing so much blood during surgery. Hospitals aren’t supposed to release someone who’s been under until they are using the toilet but they pulled the catheter and sent me off in the medical transport.  This messed my kidneys up sending my potassium levels sky-high.

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Now that I’m older I’m very hard to IV as you can see. I’m glad I was out when this happened. You should see the other hand….

By the time I got to El Camino Rehab Hospital in Los Gatos, they had to IV me again and give me liquids to save my life. The high potassium levels were damaging my kidneys and they were afraid I’d have a heart attack. Luckily, they got another IV in without harming me because they got their best person from the hospital to do it. I still cried because my veins hurt badly in my arms.

The potassium levels went back to normal and I was relieved. I lost blood during surgery and the hospital should have never stopped giving me IV fluids. I was thankful but my kidneys were recovering slowly. They told me I lost a lot of blood during surgery.

Lucky I’m recovering (per the strength of my own body reserves.) My doctor is monitoring me as I speak to make sure I get back to normal body functions.

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Every dark cloud has its silver lining and this was mine. Little things keep one going when recovering from surgery or an illness.

The rehab hospital I was in was excellent! We got 2 hours of Physical Therapy and 2 hours of Occupational Therapy every day except for Sunday.  They worked us hard and helped me reach my true potential. They joked that PT really stood for Pain and Torture. I had to agree (in a good way.) The therapists and nurses really did a good job of preparing us to do our best when we get home.

Every time it was something different with a few group therapy classes thrown in. It was fun sharing exercises (and war stories) with other people who have similar goals. They let me ride the stationary bike 15 minutes at a time a few times.

I will say it now. This surgery is the hardest thing I ever did.

The support staff there were polite and helpful and the nurse’s helpers would braid my long hair. I don’t know how to do my own hair so I really appreciated little things like that. It wasn’t for fashion I needed to keep my hair out of the way in PT.

Almost everyone working at the El Camino Rehab Hospital in Los Gatos, CA were first-rate. It was the best experience I’ve ever had with a hospital. Refreshing after what I went through with Stanford after surgery. I plan to write El Camino Rehab a great review on their website after a few months of recovery.

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Soon my waterproof bandages were wrinkled and peeling off from exercising and showering. I was finally home it was a little shocking at first.

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I took to my apartment building sidewalk with my walker enjoying the flowers. My neighbors looked at me like I was crazy since they had no idea about my surgery. 

After 9 days at the rehab hospital, I was sent home with a mess of medicine, instructions, and a walker. Now I could walk around my apartment on my own. I never needed the extra equipment I got for the toilet and shower stool because our apartment is that small. I was so happy to be home with my own bed.

I can ride my bicycle again?!?!

On Sept. 13th I had an appointment with Dr. A’s assistant to have my bandages taken off. At this time I didn’t know what to expect under the bandages I was shaky about it. She was gentle with me.

She covered those stitches about with a light tape that helps the wound stay protected and heal while the stitches melt. She told me I could walk without the walker and use a cane if I wished. She also gave me the ok to ride my bicycle again and drive. She told me to be careful but if I felt strong enough I could do it.

She told me at 4 weeks I was performing at a 6 or more week level. All along, my team of health care people involved in my dual knee replacement knew the plan was to get me back on my bicycle ASAP. My job was to push myself and heal. They were very happy with my performance.

Before I left she showed me pictures of the robot working on my knees with Dr. A and the other doctors. I could see what the robot saw on the screen. I only saw 2 pictures but they were amazing.

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The scar on the right is shaped like that because I had an old surgery scar there and Dr. A used the same scar so I wouldn’t have 2 scars. They are pretty much healed.

My new knees work well, my legs are straight and I’m taller. Both legs are the same length (which doesn’t always happen) and I can bend them as much as before. I can do stairs and I’m learning to walk normally. I’m so thankful but have a lot more healing to do. Talk to me after 6 months.

I can’t believe the taller part it’s freaky and I notice it.

I’m taking PT at Standford’s Clinic once a week for a few months using their stationary bikes so I can learn to walk again, get stronger, and get back on my bike confidently. My next post will be about this so check back!

For anyone who’s going to have this surgery, I say do both knees at once. Get it done and you won’t have to do it again. It helps to be in shape. Make sure you have a doctor that you trust that talks to you. Do your homework and go to a good rehab facility. They really help and if you don’t have anyone at home because they can get you ready to go home.

Anything worth doing is worth working for.

I hope I didn’t offend with my surgery photos. Got any advice? Stories about your experience? Questions?

600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the US.

May Is National Bike Month

May is a great month, the month I was born but it’s also National Bike Month! This is the month to grab your friends, get on your bicycles and celebrate everything about bicycles. Become a bicycle ambassador. There’s a lot to feel good about!

Become a bicycle ambassador for your area. Spread the word!

May is a wonderful month to start cycling if you’re not already enjoying this popular sport. It gets you outside, it’s fun and it gets you fit. You will see people of all ages on bikes with smiles on their faces. The smiles and good feelings are genuine.

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Proud to be a Bicycle Ambassador for the Bay Trail. Be the best cyclist you can!

There is a movement for bike riders of all backgrounds to become more of a cohesive community following similar beliefs by banding together. Urban cyclists and the racing world combined. I consider myself a Bicycle Ambassador of the Bay Trail loosely following rules set by other communities being formed all over the world.

One of these in Portland Oregon, 21st Avenue Bicycles (a shop), launched The 21 Ambassadors program, to directly support the urban cyclist. They believe:

“To ride a bicycle is to be part of a community, to share a common experience, as much as it is about good health and helping the environment […] We believe that as a community we should support each other in bad times as well as good. We, the 21 Ambassadors are here to help you. When tires flat and spokes break, when chains fail and gears groan, when you need a hand, we hope to be there to assist.”

I believe we can all become Bicycle Ambassadors simply by riding mindfully and stopping to help others. I’m not much help mechanically when someone has a flat, or a broken spoke but I do have my phone, some cash, a first-aid kit, protein bars and can direct you on the trail. I have (what I call) “can do.” We can all do our part.

  • stop and offer assistance to fellow cyclists
  • use hand-signals and follow all rules of the road
  • set the standard for exemplary riding
  • be polite and helpful-some people may decline your help

It makes this urban cyclist feel good to say I’m a Bicycle Ambassador! A great way to participate in National Bike Month. Be the best cyclist you can!

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If you don’t ride daily May is a great month to start! Riding your bike 3 to 4 times a week will reward you with better health, weight loss, a stronger core, quality sleep at night and make your real-age lower than your birth age by as much as 10 years! All good reasons to ride your bicycle daily.

Consistency is your secreat weapon! Use it liberally. 

Consistency is a useful tool when trying to make a lifestyle change. For some people, working out at the same time each day helps but others benefit from just linking exercise to some other event during the day. People who do this and make it a habit find it’s easier to maintain.

This is something I take advantage of. I have breakfast at the same time every day and after doing dishes I get dressed to ride. I am fueled for my morning while getting out early for a ride before coming home to a clean kitchen. It works!

National Ride To Work Day During Bike Month

If you ride to work, first of all, I want to say you are awesome! That is a lot of miles to and fro every week navigating commuter hours. I salute you! Ride To Work Day is the day your place of employment may have some surprises just for you. (More about that soon.)

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Bike Month has all kinds of unexpected perks and ways to celebrate it. Perhaps a group you didn’t know about is having a group ride? Maybe there’s someone you’ve been wanting to ride with but haven’t asked? A new route you wanted to try? This is the time to do it. Meeting others who ride and learning from them is a huge plus.

In the coming months I’ll be posting on some of these subjects:

  • health benefits
  • ride safety
  • helpful gear
  • free applications for tracking rides
  • food choices/recipes
  • bikes
  • sleep

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I’m going to start sharing my rides here so will be writing more often. I meant to do so at the beginning of Bike With Bekkie but got caught up with sharing my weight-loss and health improvements because I wanted to tell everyone what I discovered. I was a hot mess and I knew if I could lose weight and get healthy so could others.

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Kids love to ride their bikes too! Take them out for National Bike Month!

Cyclists banding and sharing together for the future. Power in numbers!