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!

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Reflections Of Summer

Summer is coming to a close and was I busy enjoying it! In June I finally decided to give in and try a new bicycle. It’s a hybrid step-through and I love it!

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Here on Labor Day weekend with my new (for me,) 2017 Norco Rideau, made of all places, in Canada. Sweet color, hey?

The features of this bicycle are amazing and it’s a dream to ride. A step-through with 24 gears and a crisp shifting system it’s a much lighter bicycle than a mountain bike (or my vintage Schwinn) and has a spring loaded seat post for comfort. When I ride it I never want to get off which is how you want a bike to make you feel so that you ride it.

It was very windy on the San Francisco Bay this year. I usually start my rides around 9:00, 9:30 am because it always gets windy around 1 pm but this year it was windy in the mornings too. All of us regulars bemoaned the wind this summer. It makes me look forward to the winter months because the wind will be much lighter. Although you never know….

It was a wonderful summer to ride all the same and with my new bike, I was a maniac. This was the first summer I didn’t write poetry, or much at all. I apologize but the time off did me good. My average speed scores rocketed.

I hope you had a great summer riding and that my Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change helped you to lose weight or improve your health in some way. My plan is just a simple way to start paying attention to your health so you can get healthier by logging your food, sleeping better and exercising daily. I’d love to get some feedback from you if it helped you or you have any questions. For you newbies, check out my link and get some ideas to start the brand new you. New Years isn’t as far off as you think and good health is sexy!

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I have much to write about and am ready to go. More posts on all things health and biking of course. There’s been a lot of new findings on the foods we eat and how our bodies work. It’s an exciting time to be alive and take advantage.

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No camera tricks, me at 64 and feeling fit! The featured image is my bicycle in a child’s playground at Coyote Point Park.

Keep up with the exercise it’s the most important thing you can do to get your metabolism moving so you can burn fat. I have thyroid problems so mine crawls if I don’t do something about it. It’s my main health problem I take meds for (besides my bad knees) at the moment.

I will be posting more of my photos from my rides on the Bay Trail soon.

Don’t give up! One small step at a time, you can do it!

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!