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.

Summertime Blues

The summer riding season has flown by so fast! Where does the time go? I had the best intentions to write about biking and health but ended up just enjoying myself. I have a good reason though, let me explain.

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It was a wonderful summer riding the Bay Trail here in San Mateo, CA. From Coyote Point Harbor you can see San Francisco down the peninsula.

I’ve had bad knees for decades starting with a motorcycle accident in the early ’70s that caused me to have surgery on my right knee. Now that I’m 65 that surgery has grown old making that knee unstable while the strain on my left knee (the good knee) caused it to fail and become crooked. This took years to happen, years where I was fine to outdoor roller skate, jog, play sports, and pretty much do anything I wanted. Now I’m paying the price.

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I am going to miss riding my bicycle! In most pictures, I try to hide my knees or I stand to the side so it’s harder to see. One knee is bigger than the other because of scar tissue.

If you read my blog you’ll know my history, if not you can read about it here. I was overweight, depressed, walking with a cane and in bad shape until I decided to exercise regularly by riding my bicycle every other day. Now, almost 4 years later I’m in great shape and my knees are the best they can be. Unfortunately, the best is far from functional. Losing the extra weight and riding my bicycle made my knees stronger and less painful but the damage was done.

I put off doing something about them for far too long but on May 10th something shifted in my left knee and I could barely walk. After seeing my doctor we decided enough was enough. On the 26th (this Monday) I’m having both of them replaced at the same time. They’re also going to straighten my left leg. It’s going to be a long recovery and hard work but I look forward to the end result. Not only that, but my doctor chose my case to use robotics which is going to be awesome.

I will be in the hospital for 2 days and in an acute rehab facility for 1 to 2 weeks so I’m going to be busy. In the rehab facility, they will make sure I’m comfortable and know how to deal when I get home. They will be teaching me how to walk all over again with straight legs. I don’t like to admit it but when I walk now I have a side to side movement and people can clearly notice my bent leg.

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This is how you keep your bicycle from being ripped off.

I’ll be so glad to get rid of these knees. They click, move on me, give out on me, I can’t do stairs, and cause me a lot of pain. I fall way too much when I stop my bike because putting a leg down doesn’t always mean that leg is going to hold. I fell just last Sunday which I shouldn’t be doing with my surgery is coming up.

Despite all of this I’m very nervous and not sure how long it will take for me to recover fully and get back on my bike which are my main objectives. I’m in good shape because of my bike riding so my doctor says I should recover fast.

I’ll be off my bike for at least 6 weeks and will have to start all over again. It makes me sad when I think about how much work and time it took for me to get into this top physical condition. As long as I come out better and stronger it will be worth it.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about blogging while this is going on so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep. We’ll see how I feel. I look forward to getting this over with and getting back to the things I love.

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Hoping for the best on Monday and looking forward to better knees, better health and being a better bike rider!

Take care and stay healthy. You can do it! Keep riding your bicycle and eating your spinach. You’ll be hearing from me soon, I still have a lot to share.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

Smoke On The Water

In 2017 there were terrible forest fires in northern California but the air quality didn’t suffer for most of the state. The weather was clearing out the bad air and no one needed masks unless they were sick.

Then this fall, another fire started up north (only 100 miles away) and near LA at the same time. Now there were fires above and below the Bay Area. A windless, rainless front dropped into the area and would not move. Our air quality was stagnant with smoke and haze for weeks making history. Even now I wait for the air to clear which is supposed to happen tomorrow when we finally get some rain-if we do get some rain.

Screenshot_20181109-085043_WeatherBugDon’t go outside! This was not the worst air day it got much worse. I couldn’t ride my bike for over a week until I bought N95 masks.

People not living here wonder how this could happen. For decades we had a horrible drought that killed trees, brush, and dried out our forests. When this second fire started the high winds scattered the fire with plenty of fuel to burn. Perfect fire weather.

Although we had a year in between of rain that restored lakes, rivers, and creeks in the state it didn’t stay green for long. Just as we were hoping the drought was over we had another dry year. After weeks of historically bad air quality, closures and warnings we’re told it might clear up the end of this week. Only then can we begin to figure out what happened and rebuild.

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Me biking last Thursday. Behind me isn’t fog or cloudy, the air is that thick with smoke and bad chemicals. The sun was out you just can’t see it.

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Wearing the masks made me happy for the first few rides. After I found out how irritating they are to wear I only rode 3 times with them on (meaning I only rode 3 times in weeks.) I had to keep stopping to wipe the sweat off of my face and dry off the inside of the mask. My sunglasses would fog at the worst times and be hard to wear. Drops of sweat would hang on the tip of my nose under the mask and at times felt itchy.  My nose would run. I saw only one other cyclist with a mask on-no wonder!

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The windbag at Windsurfer’s Beach hangs limp for weeks. Coyote Point is the mass of trees to the right in the background. Further down the peninsula, the landmarks like San Francisco and the airport are lost in the smoke and bad air.

This week is Thanksgiving. I last rode my bike on Saturday and should have ridden yesterday but I couldn’t put the mask on. The landscape on these masked rides hasn’t been that pretty and I feel for the animals trying to go about their lives in this soup. Everything looks unfocused, the light is strange, colors not sharp and everything smells like smoke. I did see some of the regulars who ride the Bay Trail but were surprised to see them not wearing masks. The masks truly are hard to wear exercising but to me health is everything!

Even in our homes, our air is bad there’s no getting away from it. I wear masks everywhere I go even in my car but I don’t wear one at home. Having my bedroom window open all year helps me sleep better but all windows are shut tight until this is over. Anything you run in the home isn’t safe unless it’s on a closed loop. All one can do is wait and get through it.

This is the first time that I’ve missed weeks of biking. I’ve biked every other day 20-30 miles for almost 3 years and although I’m not in training, it’s like a training schedule. I like to stay in tip-top shape. Biking helps my depression and mood swings so it’s been difficult coping without it. I’m especially thankful that I didn’t lose everything in these terrible fires.

We have a few Spare The Air Days during the year but nothing like this. I hope the news is right and the weather does change tomorrow so all of us can have a good Thanksgiving and be thankful for the clean air and peace it brings.

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Have you ever worn a mask exercising or lost time biking due to circumstances beyond your control? How frustrated were you?

Enjoy what you do have, count your blessings and be thankful!