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!

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!

May Bike Check-Up

May is a good month to get your bicycle ready for summer. Either you’ve had your bike put away for the cold season or were lucky like me and rode all year but now’s the time to see what kind of shape your ride is in. Even new bikes can need maintenance.

If your bike is in relatively good shape you still need to keep it that way by keeping your chain adjusted and lubricated. If you have gears the derailleur might need to be adjusted and cables/brake pads can wear out.

How do I know if my bicycle needs work?

Some things will be obvious when broken but many aren’t. Those things are something a professional will be able to find and fix. You might not notice things are amiss while riding but once fixed you will be able to tell the difference.

If your bicycle’s dirty wash it like you would a car with soap and water. It’s important to keep your bicycle frame clean and dry. Even with full fenders, my bicycle gets dirty. A little car wax works wonders on the paint and makes your bike look like new while protecting it.

Now give your bicycle a thorough visual inspection.

  • cables and cable housings
  • tires/hubs/
  • drivetrain (chain)
  • front or rear derailleur
  • caliper/pads or disc brakes
  • brake levers/handlebar tape

Worn tire treads are easy to see and you want to check the walls of your tires too. Cracks in the walls (sides) of your tires come with drying and age. If you have them, or your vintage bike has it’s original tires it’s time for new tires.

Take a short ride, go through the gears, check the brakes, and look for wear and tear. If you’re not sure of something take notes so you can ask the mechanic. Most of the time your bicycle will just need some tender loving care and lubrication. There’s plenty of how-to’s to be found online.

If you can’t work on your own bicycle there’s plenty of shops that will. I take mine to the shop I bought it from. Do a search and see what’s available in your area. Most shops have websites with good information. Always read reviews if available.

Take it to the nearest bike shop for service.

Most shops will have a schedule for maintenance work so when you call for service ask them what they do for that price and what service specials they have. Ask how long they’ll have your bike and about the warranty on their work/parts.

While you’re at the shop ask them to be sure your bike is set up correctly for your body. Many people don’t realize they’re riding on an ill-fitted bike. If your seat isn’t right or you can’t reach your handlebars comfortably you won’t be riding your bicycle for long!

Maybe you want to upgrade parts on your current bike or look for a new bike. Your local bike shop can help you with that too. Most shops have refurbished bikes that can get you on the road this summer for cheap. Vintage bikes like mine are in style again and ride like a dream.

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The featured image is my 1986 Schwinn World Tourist. Once you get your bike back take it out and enjoy the seasonal blooms and weather.

If you take your bicycle to a shop for service do it now before they get busy. The closer to summer the longer it’s going to take to get your bike in and out of the shop. Avoid the rush and keep yourself safe. Accidents often happen due to worn parts or tires.

And wear that helmet!

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Bicycles aren’t just for transportation bicycles are healthy and fun!