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A week on the road….
It was a week of driving… some weeks are like that.
I drove up to Albany — theoretically a 2 1/2 hour drive each way. Of course, it was longer. It’s always longer than you think it will be.
Well, my first trip up to Albany was solo — to pick up a friend. I spent the three hour ride listening to a training program on funnel building. Always generates new ideas, thoughts, improvements in what I am doing and how I am doing it. There are times when you have to re-energize and listening to podcasts, training etc. can be a great way to do it.
The ride home was filled with catching up and story telling.
On the return trip, we got stuck in two traffic jams. One for over two hours. Not moving at all and watching ambulances, fire trucks etc go by…. helicopters fly in… people walking the highway trying to see what was happening etc. No one got angry, although we were all hot and some of us needed a bathroom, I just hoped that everyone involved in the accident ahead had survived. It sure didn’t look like it from the response. And when we finally drove past it, it didn’t look like it either. BUT, according to a local news article, everyone did survive. We were grateful to be safe sitting on the road and not involved.
We ended up meeting not in Albany but in Saugerties and they had painted sailboats all through town! Really cute town and fun painted boats.
There were so many and actually, I thought I took more pictures, but this was it.
I loved that everyone in the traffic jam was patient and concerned. That we didn’t see frustrated angry lot of people. Everyone just went with the flow…. (metaphor here, I think;)
We explored new roads and took out time even though we were on the road WAY too long! I love new roads, new adventures. Possible new routes for our upcoming bike trip.
And then there was the conversations. Always interesting and thoughtful.
Bikes are out on the road again! Its spring and the roads are beautiful. Cyclists have pumped up their tires and dusted off their helmets and taken to the roads. For drivers it means more to watch out for on the roads.
The reality is that both drivers and cyclists have an important part to play in keeping each other safe! As a driver and a cyclist I see challenges and responsibilities on both sides!
We ride as a family, with kids on the back of our tandems. We have had great experiences with our kids, touring. We ride defensively, always looking at what other vehicles are doing and trying to anticipate what they might do to keep us safe. We use hand signals, talk to each other and try to be predictable. We all wear helmets because head injuries happen to adults just like kids.
As a cyclist I believe in riding predictably, communicating my intentions as clearly as possible. I ride inside the white line whenever possible! But on the narrow country roads of New Jersey, it is not always possible. Not all roads here have shoulders that can accommodate a bike. It means that cars have to pass with caution. As a driver, it’s important to wait for the right time to pass a cyclist. Wait until you have a clear view of oncoming traffic and give the cyclist room. Legally in many states cyclists can ride two abreast, but when there is traffic on back country roads it puts the car in danger and the cyclist when riders refuse to move to single file. I know that I have been frustrated with side by side riders on curvy back country roads. I get frustrated that other cyclists ride stupidly and end up putting us all in danger.
Cyclists need to be clear what they are doing using hand signals and riding predictably.
At the same time, I have been out riding and as I approached a street I have had drivers look at me and then cut me off. Bikes follow the same rules of the road that cars do and that means that cars have to yield the right of way to a bike just as they would a car. Cars making left turns do not typically cut oncoming traffic off. This remains true if the oncoming traffic is a bike.
I know as both a driver and a cyclist I want to be safe. I want my children safe in either situation. I also know that the lifelong impact of hitting a cyclist will be devastating.
After cycling across the country from Maine to Oregon, I got home and was driving on the highway. I became frustrated when I got stuck behind a truck doing 50 instead of 65. In my frustration, I remembered that I had just spent 90 days traveling an average of 15 miles per hour, and that there really wasn’t any where I had to be quickly. That lesson stays with me. It is more important to arrive safely than to rush and not arrive!
Are you looking for a way to lose weight and get in shape? Consider riding your bike. Bicycling is a great way to raise the heart rate and see the world from another level.
Whether you choose an actual bicycle or a stationary one, cycling works the entire body. And, best of all, cycling is fun. You can do it any time of the day all year round. You’ll change your clothing for comfort but bicycles are durable and can withstand being out in both cold and hot weather.
Lets get down to the nitty-gritty. When you choose an exercise to perform, you want to know if it will actually help you. There’s nothing worse than spending your time and sweat with zero results.
1. Riding a bicycle is easy to stick with. When it comes to regular exercise, you want an activity that you can get behind for the long haul. Cycling does that. You can ride your bike around the neighborhood with family or in the park alone. If you work close to where you live, ride your bike to work in good weather. Because bike riding is versatile, riding one increases the amount of exercise you do on a daily or weekly basis.
2. Cycling builds leg muscle. We all have been told that muscle burns more calories than fat. Biking up a hill or choosing a harder gear on flat ground puts most of the work of moving the bike on your quadriceps and hamstring muscles. You will also feel a burn in the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles. That burning will be hard to handle at first but as you get into cycling, your muscles will adjust.
3. Cycling works the abdominal muscles. For exercise, any piece of equipment that has the potential to lead to a flat tummy is a jewel. Riding a bike is about balance. You realized that the first time you hopped on one. Maintaining your balance requires you to hold your stomach muscles tight. Also, bikes are designed with posture and alignment in mind. The longer you ride the stronger you will get.
4. It is a family activity. Obesity has become an epidemic in youth. Kids are notorious for starting and stopping something when they get bored. Bike riding can even stop their boredom. Take a ride after dinner or on the weekends. You can bike and talk at the same time to have a lively conversation while you burn calories.
Like walking, bike riding is another exercise that can be done alone or with a group. It is easy to begin and fun to stick with.
Who knew that there were so many choices for bicycles? When you were a kid, you got the shiny pink one with streamers or the blue one with racing stripes. Both had training wheels and a mom attached to keep you from falling. For today’s discerning cyclist, there are several types of bikes to choose from to suit your needs.
A bike is more than two wheels, a seat and handlebars. All bicycles are not equal as you will soon discover. Before purchasing a bike, decide what type of bike you are most comfortable handling.
These are the rugged bicycles riders use to jump small boulders and navigate their way through wooded areas. Mountain biking is not for the faint of heart and can be dangerous if you are on the wrong bicycle. A mountain bike has wider wheels than a standard bike. Those wheels have deep tread to prevent slipping on all sorts of terrain from grass to loose gravel to wet pavement.
One thing that you will notice is that mountain bikes have the straight handlebars that you once saw only on those grandma bikes with the wide seats. The straight handlebars allow for better control on strange terrain.
Remember those bicycle riders in spandex trying to balance skinny wheels on the white line at the edge of the paved road? They are riding road bikes. These are bikes chosen for competition by sports riders. The name of the game is aerodynamics. The wheels are thinner for speed and maneuverability.
It probably looked like there was no seat on that road bicycle. The seats are narrow to avoid slipping as you ride. The frame of a road bicycle is lightweight either aluminum, titanium (expensive), or another alloy for further speed advantages.
For most of us who are not thrill-seekers or inclined to ride competitively, this bike is for us. As a hybrid, it is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. The wheels are not as wide as a mountain bike but wider than a road bike so it could support more weight on them. The handlebars will usually be straight since it puts less pressure on your back which is good news for novice riders who really want to stick with cycling and commuters.
You’ll see cruising bikes on the beach, in tropical locations as rental bikes to tool around the city streets and for older riders. The seats are wider for comfort over a long ride. These bikes have heavier frames for security on the street and are not great for maneuvering in tight places. It is the type of bicycle for a leisurely ride when you want something to do but not for regular riding every day.
Touring bikes can be a more off road bike like a mountain bike or a traditional touring bike set up for the road or off road. Traditionally, touring bikes have drop handlebars and lots of gears!! The geometry of the bike is designed to be a more comfortable ride for long distance riding. You add racks for your gear or frame packs for gear.
Make sure that you love the feel of the bike as you will be on it everyday you are on your trip!
Determine what bike is right for your needs before heading out to the store.
When you ride a bike you want to be safe. Bicycle riders are a part of the traffic stream since more people ride bikes as a form of transportation. Here are seven ways to stay safe when you set out on your ride.
1. Check out your bike. When you roll your bike out of the garage or wherever you have it stored, take a quick look at your bike. Are the brake pads making contact with the rim and not the rubber of the wheel? Are the gears moving easily? Is any part of the frame rusty or bent? Any problem with your bike can make you a danger on the road to yourself and others.
2. Attach reflectors/lights to your bike. Many bike accidents occur at dusk or at night because riders are not easily visible to car drivers. With reflectors, a cars headlights can spot them and keep you from being the next casualty. Place them on the front and back wheels attached to the spokes and on the front and back of the frame.
3. Wear a helmet. This point cant be stressed enough. Broken bones can be fixed but a broken brain is another matter entirely. Head injuries are nearly always fatal when talking about bike and motorcycle accidents. All bike riders need a properly fitting helmet to protect their head.
4. Wear light colored clothing or a reflective vest. What if you happen to encounter issues and need to repair your bike? Even car drivers are hard to see at night when changing a flat tire. Lighter colors reflect light and are easier to see. It keeps you out of danger when riding at night.
5. Follow the same traffic laws as cars. At one point, bike riders were riding against the flow of traffic. People were afraid of being hit from behind so they wanted to see what was coming at them. The problem with that is turning around corners or riding on roads without a paved shoulder can cause the rider to swerve into traffic and become a part of a head-on collision with a car. Bike riders are supposed to ride with traffic and to ride in the lane enough to prevent cars from trying to ride next to them.
6. Use hand signals. Even if you are in a turning lane, it is helpful to use bike hand signals to let car drivers know your intentions. A left turn is signaled by holding your left arm straight out. A right turn is signaled with your left arm bent upwards at a ninety degree angle. To let drivers know that you are stopping, bend your left arm downwards at a ninety degree angle.
7. Carry a tool kit with you. Many bikes come with basic tool kits. You might need to add a few things but your tool kit needs to contain items to get you going again to reach an area where you can get help. Become familiar with the tools and how to use them before your first ride.
Remember to be safe when you set out on your bike ride. You want to have an enjoyable time away from danger.
Maybe you want to ride a bicycle but don’t have anywhere to ride. An alternative is to take a spinning class. Spinning is the popular exercise class that uses a stationary bicycle to burn the fat and build muscle.
Spinning took off in a big way a several years ago. It took bike riding to an all new level. Even if you didn’t own a bike, you could get the benefit of bike riding along with the excitement of an exercise class to keep you from being bored with it.
In a spinning class, riders use stationary cycles to complete a 45 minute to an hour routine. You can do the same thing on a recumbent bike or a stationary bike on the gym floor cant you? Not exactly. This class uses different techniques to pump up the heart rate and the fun which you wont get on the gym floor.
Spinning is a fitness class to make cycling work to build a leaner body and stronger heart and lungs. The cycle used is more like a road bike in the frame. The seats are adjustable so you can find the right distance for you between the seat and the bike pedals. The pedals are equipped with bike clips to keep your feet from slipping and causing you to bang your ankles or Achilles heel.
Some studios use a simulated road trip to engage riders. Its like you are actually biking up hills and around steep turns. The setup here would be for the instructor to be in front of the riders going the same way so that they can watch her and the screen.
Other spinning classes use the same setup as in an aerobics class. The instructor is out in front facing you. The music is used to keep the beat and maintain focus.
How is spinning beneficial? The instructor doesn’t just let you ride leisurely through the hour but will have you tighten the tension on the bike for uphill riding and standing squats. As a kid it was nothing to stand up on the pedals and tackle the big hill. Its a bit harder now but a spinning class builds strong leg muscles with standing squats and intervals involving sprinting on and off the seat.
One advantage of spinning class is that you can work the arms while pedaling. Using the arms in a workout increases the heart rate even more for fat burning. And, you don’t have to watch out for traffic.
If you cycle for fun but want to take it to another level, sign up for a spinning class. Your lower body will thank you.
You know how to ride a bike but do you know how to diagnose a problem with one? Be sure that your bike is well tuned before you set off on your day of fun or exercise. It can prevent problems later.
Before you leave the store with your new bike, purchase a tool kit. Many bike shop owners will suggest this but you need to know so you can be prepared if they do not. Regular maintenance checks will keep your bike operating in perfect condition for years to come. It starts with purchasing a sturdy reputable bike but ends with you doing your part before and after each bike ride.
Some bikes require more maintenance than others. A mountain bike stands to have more potential for maintenance needs than a bike that you ride for recreation through the neighborhood. Still, making a quick check of your bike parts cant hurt even for an occasional rider.
What do you check on your car? Unless you have a Flintstone car from the Stone Age, you’ll need to maintain the brakes. On a bike, the brake pads connect with the metal frame of the wheel when you push the brake levers on the handlebars. It doesn’t let you stop on a dime, but good brake pads slow you down so you can put your feet down and stop. Brake pads that connect with the tire ruin the pads and the rubber on the tire not to mention the fact that you could be in for one nasty accident because you have the potential then to actually stop on a dime.
Don’t forget to check your wheels. Tire pressure is important especially if you carry extra weight like books or a child. Improperly inflated tires can lead to traffic accidents. Don’t forget the tread. A worn tire needs to be replaced immediately.
Check your seat. Make sure it is tightened and at the right height for your ride. A pair of wrenches can be sued to quickly tighten a wobbly seat.
Avoid a thick layer of grime on your bike chain. Chains that have trouble gripping the gears can slip and leave you in a pickle. Prop the back wheel up on a stand and spin it as you change gears to be sure there is no problem here. Clean your bike chain after every ride.
Don’t neglect the bike frame. If it is rusty there is a chance of a weak spot forming there. One way to avoid problems with the frame is to keep your bike indoors when not in use or covered with a tarp if you house it outside.
You wouldn’t ride around in an unsafe car would you? Take care of your bike just the same so protect you and others when you are bike riding.
If there’s one thing that we like its gadgets. Gadgets make our lives easier to manage. When you bike ride, gadgets are both necessary and fun. Here are some must-have gadgets for the bike rider.
Where are you going to ride your bike? Maybe you can ride through the trails for hours on end seeing the land. Your accessories will differ slightly from someone who rides for 45 minutes through the neighborhood or goes to the park for a leisurely ride with the family.
1. Bike rack. If you want to explore different locations, you’ll need some way to get your bike there besides riding it. Your bike rack needs to be able to carry more than one bike especially if you ride with family. For competitors, you can bring a spare bike for practice or in case of problems. What you are looking for is one that secures the bikes without too much wiggling of the wheels or handlebars. If you choose a rack that sits on top of your car remember the increased height when going under overpasses or through tunnels.
2. Bike computer. Some might argue how helpful this is but if you like to track your progress it is a useful tool. These computers track mileage, trip time, clock time and speed to name a few. You can go simple or fancy depending on the stats you want to measure.
3. Water bottle clip. Many bikes come standard with this but if not, add one. Just as with any other form of exercise you need to stay hydrated. If you were ever in an accident, water will come in handy.
4. Bike pedal clips. Bike clips keep you your foot from slipping when you ride. For a casual rider, the clips may frighten them because it increases your reaction time when trying to stop. You have to slide your foot out of the clip before touching down. During a long ride, the clips can give tired feet a rest.
5. Bike panniers. This is the bag for your bike to carry necessary items. On a long rigorous ride or a family ride, this bag can be stocked with a first aid kit, took kit, snacks, a jacket and your cell phone. Wearing a purse or other bag prone to shifting can unbalance you and cause an accident. Using this accessory frees you up to move easily and also gives you a place to store things you want to carry with you.
Want to trick out your bike? Here are a few suggestions for accessories that come in handy. There are more to choose from for fun if you want convenience.