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!

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Spring Time On The Bay Trail

It’s springtime on the Bay Trail and after all of the rain, the drought is over in California making it a happy time for plants, flowers, birds, bees, and me! I’ve been aware of the Bay Trail for decades but since Feb. 20th, 2016 I’ve been riding regularly and taking photographs of the Bay Trail on my rides.

I’m thankful that I live close enough to ride this beautiful nature trail all year round and my photographs have grown into an amazing collection.  The photos in this post are from this spring (2017) and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them.

If you check out my sidebar you can see even more of my photos and I change it occasionally so always check for more. 

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The water levels in the bay and surrounding natural sloughs are always changing with the tides. There is mud on the far left, deeper water channeling in the middle and shallows on the right. The patterns in the mud and water are always changing as nature is the best artist.

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There are crushed shell beaches along the San Francisco Bay that are great for walks when I need a bike break. The white is a nice contrast to the colors of the various plant life. This is low tide and in the distance is the San Mateo Bridge which is highway 92.

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Take a walk through Coyote Point, a 670-acre park which houses a yacht harbor, the CuriOdyssey museum and lots of places for picnics/cookouts all within a small forest of Eucalyptus trees. The paths up and down the cliffs are breathtaking with views of San Francisco, the airport, and the peninsula shoreline. There’s a full golf course nearby, a pistol/rifle range, and a playground. Kite and windsurfing are just some of the sports enjoyed here and the Bay Trail runs through it.

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Coyote Point used to be much more! As you can see here it was the Merchant Marine Cadet School in 1942 and after that, the College Of San Mateo campus until 1962. Coyote Point used to be an island connected by marshlands to the mainland. It’s now landfill turned into a golf course.

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The yacht harbor at Coyote Point with wildflowers in the forefront. Some of the flowers were brought in and some are natural it’s hard to tell which is which anymore but they’re all lovely to look at.

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I love to look for everyday shapes in nature like this rock that’s shaped like a heart. The yellow blooms are ice plants they almost bloom year round but go crazy in the spring.

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Just look at these yellow flowers, there were only 2 bushes like this. While I was taking close-ups of the flowers I almost missed this tiny hummingbird. The back of his head was bright red but my camera didn’t pick it up.

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This was one of my favorite flowers this year due to the color and detail but they weren’t around for long.

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Daisies are found all along the Bay Trail of numerous kinds and colors.

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After the purple blooms, little white flowers come out from the insides of these flowers.

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After all of the rain, we had many kinds of mushrooms growing. Not edible but very interesting.

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I like the striped petals and color of this flower. I tried to look up some of these flowers using Google Image Search but wasn’t that successful. It’s not a perfect system.

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Even the trees are amazing along the Bay Trail. That’s San Francisco in the distance but look at this tree! The foliage along the cliffs at Coyote Point and along the bay are bent and twisted from the winds and weather into some neat shapes.

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There are so many different flowers in this world and I never tire of them.

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These have yellow centers that look like the color’s running. Some are bushes some are single flowers.

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This was one of the first flowers to bloom and the petals look like someone crushed them but that’s how they grow. There’s still some left as of this write.

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Aren’t these pretty with the spotted petals? They are tiny things.

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Can you see the hawk in the center of this photo? The yellow and purple blooms are ice plants. They close at night and open with the sun.

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Get a load of these colors! They’re almost done blooming now. (These look like, but aren’t ice plant blooms.)

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The petals and shape of this flower are interesting!

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Bottlebrush flowers are the Hummingbirds favorite. I had a few trees near my patio once and didn’t need to have a feeder.

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These purple, white or pink flowers on stalks are the bees favorite and they will swarm you if you get too close. The tree (with the bare branches) looks dead but it’s not. I never see anything grow on them so it’s a mystery to me. That spot in the sky is not a plane it’s a bee.

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Can’t leave out California poppies. Bright orange, you see them everywhere even in the middle of the freeway. This year down south they had so many bloom that they could see them from the Space Station. They call that a super-bloom.

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These tiny yellow flowers grow everywhere in the wild grass.

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I had to include this cactus in a nearby garden although there are plenty of succulents that grow wild. I’m still waiting for it to bloom. (The ice plants are succulents.) Love those tiny blue flowers too!

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I could show you more flowers and plants but that’s enough for today. I’m closing with this photo of some stunning clouds above the San Mateo Bridge at low tide. The bay and sky are ever-changing from minute to minute. The birds are busy feeding and everything is peaceful on the Bay Trail.

This site is fairly new but I’m troubled by the lack of comments. Please leave your thoughts I’m waiting to hear them. If you want me to write about something now’s the time to let me know. I plan on more articles about health and biking but surely there’s something you want to hear?

Happy 200th Anniversary to the Bicycle! Read about it from the Wall Street Journal.

Dealing With Sickness

The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bike Lane Ahead” causing me to turn around and head home.

Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.

I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.

I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.

I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.

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After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.

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Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.

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On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.

The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my earbuds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.

After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.

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After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.

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Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching a cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.

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Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.

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When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.

With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.

Treat your body well and your mind will follow.