2020-Another Year To Ride

There’s so much to look forward to in the new year! While many people are thinking of resolutions they usually break within the first few months I’m thinking about continuing what’s worked for me almost 4 years now. After putting the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind me it’s time to get back to riding.

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Whether you ride year-round or in the spring when the snow melts one thing you should do each year is to make sure your bicycle is in tip-top shape to ride. Parts can shake loose and bikes should be inspected and readjusted yearly especially if you ride daily. Yearly bike maintenance is imperative for safe riding.

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Yesterday I had a sobering reality while doing my visual check before a ride. I checked the front and back wheel levers for my quick release and everything looked good. I usually make sure they’re flipped down tight but I don’t physically manipulate them unless they look like they moved.

Right before we took off I noticed while jerking my handlebars (by accident) that something sounded loose. I first thought it was my cell phone holder on my handlebars because I was having trouble tightening it down. It wasn’t.

I shook it again and thought I saw my front tire move. No way! I picked up my front end and spun the tire, it was moving fine. Then I pushed the wheel sideways and noticed it was moving back and forth a tiny bit. OMG!

Although everything looked good I knew something was wrong. I tried the wheel release and it was very loose. I had a vision of happily riding along watching my front wheel come off and crashing violently. It was my worst nightmare!

I released the wheel fully, tightened the release screw, and put the wheel back on. I made sure the wheel was solid and the release screw was as tight as I could work it. I also checked the rear release which was good. I had saved myself from a world of hurt and a terrible accident.

This is one reason I’m against quick-release wheels! Yes, it’s nice to get the wheel off easily for many reasons but if they aren’t tight your wheel can come off. Some bikes have a guard in place so if it accidentally opens your wheel is held on but it’s no guarantee.

I don’t wish to scare you but I rode with a friend some months ago who thought he was having a front brake problem until he discovered the wheel release had come open. He rode like that for miles and was extremely lucky his wheel didn’t come off. People don’t usually have that kind of dumb luck.

Now, most new bikes come with quick-release wheels (front and back) so it’s very important to do a visual hands-on check of your bicycle every time you take a ride. Safety first!

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What To Check Before A Ride

Take the time to look at your bike before a ride. You will want to put your hands on it.

  • Check tire pressure and add air if needed. The correct pressure will be on your tires.
  • Check the frame for any damage or rust and cables for any bends, or frayed edges.
  • Try your brake handles and make sure your breaks are engaging. The brake pads or discs shouldn’t be worn.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread on them with no aging rubber or cracks in the sidewalls.
  • Manually check your front and back wheel release levers making sure they are tight and flipped shut.
  • Check the condition of your chain. Chains need to be kept clean and lubricated.
  • Keep your (rear wheel) gears clear and clean of debris.
  • Is your seat the correct height? Your leg on the lowest pedal should be fully extended with a slight bend in your knee.
  • Handlebars should be straight and tight.
  • Secure any gear properly and keep away from your spokes.
  • If wearing pants use clips or straps to keep them tight at the ankles and away from your spokes.

If you find something you can’t fix do a search for a good bike shop in your area. They will be glad to answer any questions you might have. They can tell you how much air should be in your tires (if you can’t find it) and can do yearly maintenance on your bicycle if you can’t do it yourself. A good bike shop is the best tool you can have.

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Yearly Bike Maintanence Musts

  • Inspect and adjust your derailer.
  • Inspect and adjust your brakes and brake system.
  • Inspect and adjust your chain and drive system.
  • Clean and lubricate your chain and drive system.
  • Clean and inspect your frame for wear and rust.
  • Inspect and tighten screws and parts on your frame.
  • Check tires for loose or bent spokes, worn bearings, etc.
  • Inspect tire rubber for wear.
  • Inspect all cables, cable housings, and connections.
  • Inspect handlebars, hand grips or handlebar tape, mounted brake handles, and shift levers.
  • Inspect fender clearance and hardware.

If you take your bike into a shop they will do all of this for you including cleaning your bike. Ask your shop for a list of what they charge for maintenance, cleaning, and services.

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I’m excited to have my 4 year riding anniversary coming up on Feb. 20th! Although I’ve had a bicycle my whole life I’ve only spent the last 4 years being serious about it. I started riding 20-30 miles every other day for my health and sanity. I was 60 pounds overweight and depressed on meds in very bad health after having the worst 4 years of my life. Bike riding is now a healthy habit that has kept my weight off and helped me to get over my sleeping problems. That’s what made me do this site I wanted to spread the word about how healthy bike riding is for people of all ages. (Read my full story HERE.)

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Whether you believe in resolutions or not I hope this is the year you decide to get healthy and stay that way. I’d like to encourage you to consider riding a bicycle if you don’t already. It’s low-impact, gives you a strong core, a healthy heart, promotes good sleep, improves your balance and is so much fun! It makes me feel like a kid again.

On Bike With Bekkie, I have many articles that talk about the benefits of riding a bicycle and getting healthy.  How important it is to eat right. What happens when you ride a bicycle and more. I have lovely photographs I’ve taken while riding the Bay Trail. Having trouble sleeping? I got you!

The Bay Trail is a mostly paved trail that runs around the San Francisco Bay with a view of the city, the SFO airport, and many other gorgeous landmarks. The beauty of this area can’t be beaten with its marshes, man-made waterways, and the creatures that live here. Click HERE to see the map.

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I wish you good health and happiness in 2020!

Merry Christmas Cyclists!

Tis the season to be jolly but unless you’re lucky enough to live in a state (or country) that stays warm all year you are probably wishing you could ride right about now. The holidays are good that way keeping you too busy to begrudge the cold weather and snow as you clean, trim, shop, and eat your way through the 3 months of major holidays. Hopefully, you’ll get a few presents to open unless you’ve been naughty.

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I’m lucky enough to ride all year living in the Bay Area in California although I have plenty of friends of all ages who ride in the snow and ice all over the globe. Want to meet some of them?

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I’d like to invite you to join a group I have on a social network called MeWe. When G+ (Google Plus) went away a lot of my friends joined MeWe only to find it wasn’t what we hoped for, however, I started a bike group there called “Let’s Ride” that quickly grew into over 500 members that I couldn’t give up. It’s a great group of wonderful people from all over the world that love to ride, share bike-related posts, ride stats, and more. Even if you don’t need another social network (I know the feeling) I guarantee that you’ll enjoy my group. Check us out by following either link and introduce yourself.

'Dear Santa, if you leave a new bike under the tree, I will give you the antidote to the poison I put in the milk. Timmy.'

Let’s enjoy some Christmas images I found online. Some vintage fun too.

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How are you spending your Christmas this year? I’ll be riding my bicycle and making a nice meal at home with my cat (Ninja) and roommate. Isn’t she cute in her ugly Christmas sweater? What are your fur babies wearing this Christmas?

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My Christmas sweater (sweatshirt) I got last year. I’d seen it online for many years before getting it but when I did I wasn’t disappointed. Isn’t Christmas all about ugly (or cool) sweaters?

Riding the Bay Trail this year has been beautiful and fulfilling as always. Taking a break off for surgery in August really slowed me down but I’m back at it now. I look forward to the new year with my knee replacements which have only made me better.

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I make most of these with PhotoLab by Linerook Investments LTD, an application that makes your photos into all kinds of art on Android or iPhone. You can also spiff up your selfies for social networking. Found wherever you get your phone apps. It’s free but I paid for it years ago and use it often.

It’s raining and 48 degrees outside today but the sun is supposed to show up later. I’m lucky enough to live where I can ride year-round but I do miss snow at times as I grew up in Michigan City, Indiana. I grew up ice skating, sledding, cross-country skiing and more.

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I don’t know if you heard but Grumpy Cat passed away this year. She is still the best and won’t be forgotten because as we now know, once on the internet, always on the internet.

Christmas holds so many hopes and dreams. I hope all of yours comes true and I hope you have a great Christmas! Toasting some eggnog with you, “skoal!”

* About the featured image: The Santa Rampage is coming back to Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 30. The Santa Rampage is an annual event in Milwaukee that features hundreds of people in Santa suits – as well as a wide swath of various holiday-themed costumes – riding their bicycles across the city. Over the last five years, it has reached such an esteemed cult-status that even the dodgy weather of the season does not detract from the merriment or the number of riders who participate in these festivities. They also have it in other states like Portland Oregon and the number of states participating grows each year.

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

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!