Bike Like Me

Every time I see a new article about biking I get excited. After reading it, not so much. I feel that my kind of bike riding is totally ignored by the so-called specialists or athletes and that’s just not right.

It’s no wonder more people aren’t motivated to get back in the saddle and ride because like them I’m not interested in racing or setting up my bike so that I can be hunched over my handlebars trying to be aerodynamic wearing skin tight clothing.

Most of the people I see on the Bay Trail are like me, people on their bikes just trying to have fun and maybe lose a little weight. I see whole families biking together with big smiles on their faces and I know that’s what it’s really about!

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I smile at other bikers on the trail as they pass by me smiling back on a beautiful spring day.

Another thing that I notice is how many people seem to be riding bicycles that don’t suit them. They go to look at bicycles and buy the first shiny thing they see getting misdirected by the seller or pressured by their friends to buy a bike they aren’t going to want to ride. Or even worse a bicycle they will hate riding because it’s not the right type for them.

I see people on mountain bikes that never go on trails or expensive high-performance bikes made just for racing looking uncomfortable. If you don’t get the right bike for your body and where you ride you may be asking for a painful ride that will never get better.

If you are older you may not want to bend over on a ten-speed bike anymore and if riding on pavement most of the time you don’t need a shock absorber on your front fork you need a decent seat with springs underneath. Of course, that depends on you, we all have different needs and there are many types of bikes to choose from.

A warning up front, bikes are not made like mine anymore (my bike is 31 years old) and if you aren’t careful you could end up with a cheap bicycle that will break down more than you’d wish. Chains coming off easily, derailers with plastic parts that snap, bad breaks and pads, I’ve seen it all. Expensive doesn’t always mean quality spend a little time when you look. Get on the bike and take a test ride most good shops will let you ride first.

Even my roommate bought a mountain bike, it has 21 gears (versus my 10 gears) but when he rides with me on the Bay Trail he has to go through his gears constantly because they are for offroad use. Where my bike has stiff springs under the seat that make my bike incredibly smooth to ride, his has a front shock for landing on the wheel while doing jumps or taking large bumps on dirt paths. My bike has large wheels that roll further when I pedal and he has small knobby tires. It makes more of a difference than you’d think.

Touring bikes are your best bet you can ride them on the street but take them on the occasional trail or gravel road but they have changed! Most come with without fenders, have tiny seats without springs and drop handlebars (like a ten-speed bike.) There are “city (or commuter) bikes” that are meant for city streets that have almost straight handlebars and may or may not have fenders. The “dutch-style bikes” look more like the old touring bikes with fenders, good seats, and upright handlebars. There are so many different kinds of bike styles now so decide what you want on your bike and stick to it.

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Here you can compare a touring bike and a mountain bike. These are both Schwinn bicycles one old and one new. My frame (the sliver bike) is a girls “dutch style” bike and the red one is a unisex mountain bike. Mine is a 10-speed geared for the street and the other is a 21-speed bike geared for the dirt.

If you aren’t going to cram your bike into a trunk or car don’t get removable wheels. It makes your bike easier to steal, something else to go wrong and the front/rear breaks are affected because if the wheel comes off the breaks have to be opened up for that to happen. It does make it easier to change flats but it’s better to have fixed wheels and breaks in my opinion. You can always get a bike carrier for your vehicle.

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about. The important thing is, get the right bike for you so that you’ll be comfortable riding it because you’ll keep riding it. Get fenders if you don’t want to get wet or muddy going through puddles weather does change. Make sure the bike frame fits you and you can get on the bike. If you want an easier ride, get gears on your bike. Go to a reputable bike store and let them help you but be firm about what you want. Shop around and you’ll find that dream bike and love it as much as I love mine.

If you love your bike it will take you places and put a smile on your face!

Got Rain? Make Rainbows

If you are lucky enough to live in a place that doesn’t have snow and ice in the winter there is still bad weather to deal with. Whether you let the rain dictate when you ride or not, there are some things you can do to be more comfortable when the weather doesn’t agree with you. Sometimes stormy weather can enhance your rides, I love it!

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Featured image is a picture of deep puddles and a rainbow down the trail. Here, we found another rainbow. We saw 5 rainbows that day all on the same ride!

I think you know by now I live in northern California. We have high winds and rain during the winter. I had to find a way to stay dry and warm during storms. Water resistant clothing just isn’t good enough when it starts to pour and you are miles away from home.

I was lucky when it rained last February it was a warm winter so riding home soaked wasn’t bad and we were still having a drought. Not so this year.

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Another rainbow across the San Francisco Bay.

I looked at rain suits at bike stores and REI and are they expensive. It costs even more to get the pants. I grabbed my Chromebook and started looking at cheaper alternatives.

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A double rainbow greeted me from my living room window before my ride.

I found one on Amazon after looking at a lot of cheap stuff. A full suit with pants for $14 I was thrilled when it got delivered. I was a vision when I tried it on. Lol! Next time it rained I was ready.

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Me in the pouring rain having a ball. You can see the raindrops in the photo.

I put on the suit and went riding to see how it performed. It was awesome. It didn’t get in my way biking and I was able to wear the hood under my bike helmet. A little time drying out and it goes back in my bike bag ready for next time.

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On this day I lent my pants to my friend I was riding with but you can see them here.

Both the pants and top have snaps on the wrists and ankles that keep them out of the way. The plastic material is thick and reinforced with flaps on the pockets. A hood keeps everything dry with nothing going down your neck. It was important to me that I could roll it up small enough to fit in my bike bag.

I almost got a rain poncho. It sounded good because it would cover the legs but bicycles and ponchos don’t mix they’re too baggy in the wrong places and could get caught in your chain or spokes.

Plastic can get hot while wearing it because it doesn’t breath but I haven’t had that problem yet. I wear my suit at the most, 2 hours. They are coming up with new materials but they can be expensive.

Being warm and dry in the rain gives you the freedom to explore on days when everyone else is inside. It puts you in a certain class of bike rider/nature lover, not everyone will bike in bad weather. There’s a kind of peace to riding in the rain I enjoy very much.

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Get a bag for your bike to carry stuff in.

Having a good bag on your bike means you can take your rain suit with you on rides. The bag on the front of my bike was around $65 and as you can see the straps on the sides hold it still when bouncing around the trails. (I like this style but next time would get something more waterproof.)

The bag on the back is very old (nylon) and I use it to carry excess. It doesn’t hold much, right now there’s a knit scarf in it.

There are bags of all sizes and shapes to buy for your bike. Make sure it will attach or fit on your type of bicycle.

Things To Put In Your Bike Bag

  • first aid kit
  • health bars or fruit/lunch
  • knit hat, gloves, and cold weather wear
  • rain suit
  • money and driver’s license or ID
  • aspirins or ibuprofen
  • bandana or clean x
  • sun block/sunglasses
  • binoculars (for nature of course)
  • rape whistle (I’ve had one for decades)

All things any good Girl Scout would think of bringing. (Yes I was.) ~giggle~

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Water water everywhere. I’m so glad I have full fenders on my bike! All these photos used were taken on the same day.

If it’s not raining here this time of year it can be in the low 30’s during the day. Winds from the San Francisco Bay cut right through normal jackets and coats. Find something windproof with thumb holes (which keep the wind from going up your arms.) Layer.

I found a knit cap that fits under my bike helmet and covers my ears, a big plus. Leather gloves are the way to go and protect that neck with a scarf. Long underwear is my friend.

It’s so important to be comfortable while exercising before and after warming up. Motivation can freeze up in the face of a very cold and windy day but once you get out there it’s all worthwhile. I know how hard it is when faced with a very windy day my biggest riding nightmare! I always feel better for doing it.

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You can get some beautiful light on stormy days.

When I get home I always have some great photographs to look over and share, the kind you can’t get on a sunny day. It makes me feel alive.

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If you compare this photo with the other photo in this article (above) you’ll see it’s similar but not the same, they’re 2 different rainbows from 2 different days.

This was taken this morning from the same area (my living room window) as the first one. They both were taken half an hour apart, one from last week, one from this morning around 8 AM. I’ve never seen 2 rainbows in the same place before but now I know if conditions are right it can happen.

It was amazing!!

I have never ridden a bike in the winter. In slush yes, but not snow and ice. I do know a few brave souls who do and even ride to work all year. I give them an award of the highest respect for they are the cream of the crop of bikers compared to me! I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!

Hope you enjoyed the photos along with my advice about biking. Since this is a new site I’m still gathering readers and I want to thank you for being a reader. I’m happy to have you!

Consider leaving some comments? I’d like to know about you and your interests. How’s your health? What kind of weather do you bike in?

Another Year To Bike

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the first of January, and there’s a whole new empty slate in front of you. What will you do with it?bca4ded079550cbe706f2f062c1df9da

I don’t do resolutions anymore for the New Year, I refuse to do them! I don’t think one year ever went by where I did something that was on those lists. I just blundered through each year hanging on by my teeth anyway.

The thing to do is pick one thing, one important thing that you want more than anything, (this must be something doable, not a magical spell or witchcraft) and learn how to achieve it. Do research on it and practice it until perfect. Put the effort into it that will bring the results that make you happy.

If you want to outlive everyone, stick around for your kids, stay healthy and strong enough to enjoy the rest of your life independently then  I ask you to consider living healthier this year and riding a bicycle is something people of all ages can do.

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Last year was very good to me! After riding for months I finally felt comfortable enough to really enjoy my rides. I look forward to and get excited about them. It was not always that easy.

I rode bicycles growing up but now I was much older (old enough to break bones easily), I could barely make it up the easy hills and the wind worked against me. I had to get used to sharing the trail with critters, walkers, runners, families with kids, and other bikers.

I had some falls stopping or starting my bike (the hardest thing for me with my disability) but my balance got better. It was a good 5-7 months where I was shaky and uneasy on my bike. Now I feel great and want to share the side effects of bicycling with you!

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If you have bad knees, need joint replacement or have pain in your knees I urge you to try riding a bicycle this year to help strengthen and maybe relieve some of that pain.

My knees always hurt with swelling and I still need both knees replaced (I have windswept knees) but biking this last year has made them so much better it’s unbelievable. My knees are much stronger for walking and no more cane!

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This year I am continuing what I started in October of 2015:

  • keeping my weight regular by logging what I eat, 1500 calories/daily of good healthy food
  • no sodas or sugary drinks
  • watching my daily macros (carbs, fats, and proteins)
  • drinking 8 ounces or more of water daily
  • riding my bike every other day (that’s 4 times a week)
  • getting at least 7 1/2 hours of quality sleep a night
  • multivitamins daily

Soon, I will add weight training a few times a week. As I get older I want to keep the strength to lift things for myself and get around without needing help. There are many good articles about staying active and what to do to maintain your health and good looks for many years to come.

Staying strong is important. My one important thing (if you haven’t guessed) is my biking because without it I won’t be healthy and happy, ready to enjoy the rest of what this new year has to offer.

Let’s be harder, better, faster, stronger this year!

Happy New Year!