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!

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!

Tracking Your Rides Or Map With Bekkie

Sure it’s fun riding your bike but looking back at how far you’ve come in your quest for good health by keeping track of your rides is priceless. Whether you want to remember a particular ride, see the furthest you’ve ever ridden or how you rank against other riders in your area, you’ll want to use an application to record your rides using your cell phone’s GPS.

These applications act as free bike computers giving you all kinds of information on your bike rides along with a map showing exactly where you’ve been.

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Pick your type of bicycle and start your workout.

What can they tell me that I don’t already know?

  • Average speed
  • Top speed
  • Distance rode
  • Ride duration
  • Calories burned
  • Elevation
  • Splits
  • Date
  • Time
  • Rank (comparing you to people who ride your same trails)
  • Routes

These applications keep track of every ride you do with them and you can look at your rides in detail. Open an account with them, set up your profile, pick your bike type and ride. Take some time to set up your profile because that’s how the application figures out your calories burned. They will ask you for your existing weight, sex, age, bike type, and height.

Auto-pause.

On Mapmyride there are options to auto-pause your rides meaning all you have to do is press Start and the app will stop and start when you do automatically until you’re finished without touching your phone. If you walk with your phone during your workout it might act confused but when you finish and press Stop it will be correct.

Listen to your ride stats out loud.

There is a function (using your phone’s Google voice) where you can set what you want the app to tell you (out loud) while you ride. The application will tell you whether it’s paused or not and much more all without touching your phone. You don’t have to wear headphones unless you can’t hear your phone where you keep it during rides. I love that feature!

I use Mapmyfitness which is Mapmyride by Under Amor.

Confusing? Not really, Mapmyfitness is the main company that puts out the different applications for walking, running, riding, hiking and even walking your dog. To make it easy for people to find the application for their particular exercise they are color coded. No matter which one you use as soon as you sign into your account your personal info will be there.

Take a look at Mapmyride for yourself. Here are the different applications under the Mapmyfitness umbrella so you can see what I mean. You can use any of them for your bike riding they are all the same and work the same.

And there’s more…

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Connect your fitness bands, smart scales, shoes or heart rate straps.

If you have a fitness band, like a Fitbit, or a Jawbone UP3 you can connect them to Mapmyride which will share your exercise information (such as calories burned and time ridden) giving you credit on your connected band’s application. Make sure you always let your applications sync because that’s when they swap data.

For your caloric needs, Mapmyride also connects to Myfitnesspal (another Under Amor application) and will add or subtract your calories burned during biking (or exercising) to the calories you can eat for that day. Even after losing weight I still use it to log my food and maintain my weight it’s excellent.

I’ve been keeping track of my rides since my first ride on 2/20/16 when I rode 5.96 miles. It took me 1:06:06 at an average speed of 5.4 miles an hour and Mapmyride keeps track of them for me, maps and all.

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From the website, all of my personal triumphs. Clicking on any of them on the site will bring back all of my stats plus the full map.

Mapmyfitness has a website online where you can look at so many cool things about your workouts. It’s amazing how much they give you for free and although there are ads you won’t mind when you see what they offer.

What can I find on the Mapmyfitness website?

  • Workouts
  • Goals
  • Achievements
  • Calorie calculator
  • Routes (maps)
  • Challenges (get involved)
  • Blog (cycling included)
  • And more

There are other applications you can use, like Strava, that are similar but Mapmyride has been time tested by me and Under Armor is a good company. Make sure your free version offers what you want unless you want to pay monthly. Strava doesn’t offer riding stats out loud either.

When picking out your application to use make sure you look at everything offered and read the reviews carefully. You don’t want to trust your metadata to just anyone.

You might be asking yourself why would you want to go through this hassle when you can just ride? I find it helpful to look back at my old workouts and see how far I’ve come. To become healthy it’s about more than just enjoying yourself it takes work and using the right tools for the job.

Good health is a balancing act that requires eating the right foods, getting the right amount of exercise and quality sleep each night. Once you have your health under control you’ll feel great and everything in your life will be enjoyable.

Warning! Tracking your rides and data can be addicting and have serious side effects of making you very healthy.