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Improving

14 Apr

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This graphic from Pinterest/Pro Bike Roma caught my eye this morning.

As someone participating in the #30daysofbiking challenge (all except for day 1, April 1st – because I forgot – April fool on me!) for another year, and understanding how it serves to kick into high gear my biking season, I can only imagine how much my fitness, well-being, biking prowess, etc., would improve if my “season” ran 365 days!

As I was setting my goals for 2015 late last year, I thought about committing to riding every day but wimped out. Even when just considering the times when I’m away, with no bike available, I knew it was highly unlikely I could ride every single day. I wish I’d said “so what”. Even if I was successful only 90% or 75% of the time I would be way ahead of where I am now.

Which leads me to think, suppose I just continue my April #30daysofbiking challenge to May, and maybe June or God help me through December?! I know I wouldn’t ride every single day, things come up, but how about a year when I rode more days than not?

Sounds like a good year.

Ride Every Day.

What Kind of Bike Should I Get

1 Nov

One of the most difficult things about getting started with bicycling is deciding what type of bike you should get.

On the surface a cruiser type bike seems like a good bet. They are usually cute looking bikes and look like they would be comfortable to ride.

Although is it true somewhat that they are comfortable to ride, it is equally true that they require more effort to go. Those big, plush tires and the heavy frame means you have to work harder to pedal that comfy, cute bike around. For beginners particularly, this can be put a quick end to any interest in bicycling.

A better choice, particularly for people concerned about balance, is a bike with a step-through frame. This type bike is often referred to as a city or urban bike. They usually have 28 or 32 mm tires, often an aluminum frame and often with an internal geared hub. The beauty of a bike like this is maintenance is low, gear shifting is easy – with the push of a thumb, generally – and the bike isn’t a heavy tank, thus more enjoyable to ride.

The bike below does not have an internally geared hub, it has a rear derailleur but is still easy to shift. The bike below is a great bargain in my opinion, currently on sale for $449 (and no Public isn’t paying me to say that).

I remember when I paid $350 for my first “real” bike, a Schwinn hybrid, I thought it was so expensive. The local bike shop convinced me it would be worth it (kept thinking about how much cheaper I could get a Wal-Mart bike) and it was. It cost roughly a dollar a day for one year, an investment that I could enjoy for years after which I did.

With many things, the old saying that you get what you pay for, is true. It’s true with bikes, especially entry level bikes.

The trick is to get a decent bike that fits you. Visit your local bike shop and talk to them. They’re great about answering basic questions and getting you started. When I bought that Schwinn I had been to the shop numerous times talking and test riding before I ever actually bought the bike. I knew nothing about biking so I had a lot of questions!

Test riding at least a couple of bikes is a good way to find the best bike for you.

Neon

13 Oct

While out riding today, I noticed a few of my fellow cyclists were riding in dark clothing and consequently, were very difficult to see. To make it worse they didn’t have any type of rear blinky light. Not smart.

I hope you weren’t one of them.

Always ride in bright clothing, preferably Hi Viz orange or green but any color that is neon bright will work. You know the kind of thing, the color that hurts your eyes if you look at it too long.

While I’m playing mom, would you also ride with a blinking taillight?

Here’s a great article to read to help you choose:  The Best Bicycle Taillights of 2013

Hi Viz clothing is easy to find. You can find it at your local bike shop, or Performance Bike, REI or Amazon, just to name a few. A great solution is to buy a Hi Viz vest that you can wear over your jersey or shirt. Hi Viz is important, especially this time of year. Do yourself a favor and pick up a rear blinky light and the BRIGHTEST jersey or vest you can find. It’s more important than riding with a helmet in my opinion. Helmets protect you if you’re hit, lights and Hi Viz clothing helps to keep you from being hit.

Presently, I ride with the Planet Bike Super Flash taillight and clothing wise I own the versatile Pearl Izumi Hi Viz Barrier Convertible Jacket/Vest. Besides being great for visibility it also is a great piece of clothing that can take you from spring to fall as a jacket, and use the vest during the summer or over your warmer layers in the winter.

Repeat after me: Cyclists cannot be too  VISIBLE!

 

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I Can Bike Success

13 Aug

The I Can Bike camp ended Friday, and as advertised, most of the campers could ride a regular two-wheel bike on their own! If you’ve ever taught anyone how to ride a bike you know what an astonishing accomplishment that is.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I Can Bike is a national program designed to teach individuals with disabilities the skills to ride a bike independently. Their approach is solid, using a variety of different sized rollers in place of wheels/training wheels they teach the skills necessary to ride a bike. As a person’s skill develops they move to a smaller roller, allowing for more movement of the bike thus mimicking the feel and movement of a two-wheeled bike.

For instance my rider, Parker, Monday used the full size roller; on Tuesday he progressed to the smaller roller and most importantly rode on the front of a tandem with one of the instructors. This gave the instructor a good idea of Parker’s biking abilities and any areas he might need to work on – like steering or leaning.

On Wednesday Parker and the other riders made a big jump in their biking ability. There were way fewer starts and stops and more fluid pedaling and better turning. They were also faster which meant more running for volunteers to keep up with them!

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Thursday is known as launch day – the day the rollers come off and participants ride a regular two-wheel bike and use a hand brake for the first time – outside. Up to this point we were inside in the gym. I wasn’t able to be there on Thursday unfortunately so I missed the launch, but from what I heard they primarily worked on braking and using either a power start (using the traditional foot on upturned pedal to start) or a frog start which is both feet on the ground pushing off for a count of 3 then pedaling.

On Friday Parker graduated from the “frog start” to the “power start” and as the session went on his braking and pedaling became smoother. His balance and turning also improved as did the speed in which he rode – and for volunteers (and Parker’s dad) the difficulty in running to keep up grew exponentially!

Watching Parker and the other campers biking around the parking lot was incredible. The transformation that took place over 5 days was nothing short of amazing and to be a part of it was something special.

Besides being a great guy, Parker had a very cool bike, retro style with a crimson and cream color scheme going on.

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Although this was Oklahoma City’s first I Can Bike camp, the plan is to do it again next year. I plan to volunteer again and encourage you to consider it. You can find more information here.

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.loveofbikes.com.